June 14th, 2010, posted by Jo Royle Tags: Islands, Jo Royle, Plastiki daily update

We have had a busy time carrying out a lot of work on the Plastiki’s structure and rig during our stay in Western Samoa, I now feel confident that we are setting sail with the Plastiki back to her original strength, if not stronger.

As you might have already read, we discovered that a few of the joining elbows, which support the sub beams (the beams that support the cabin/deck) to the bulk heads (which can be thought of as the Plastiki’s vertebrae), had buckled out of place. This had been caused by the flex in the super structure holding the loads generated by the rig (our mast and sails), which had been exaggerated as the material softened in the intense tropical heat.

Dave.T up the mast to change the rigging

On the last leg from Christmas Island to Western Samoa we had noticed the increased movement in the super structure, and as a result we had organized to change most of the wire rigging to rope. The rope acts as a shock absorber to the loads generated as a result of fluctuating pressure through the sails and the motion of the waves. Reducing these point loads in turn reduces the pressure going through the beams.

To fix the two buckled elbows and prevent further buckling we have added metal struts on top of the srPET elbows. This flattens out the elbows and allows them to flex in the way the boat is designed to, but without popping out of place.

Being forced to carry out this work in the middle of the Pacific could have meant big delays in the expedition. However, I felt like we discovered a hidden treasure in making land fall in Apia, Western Samoa. Our angels were definitely looking out for us when the weather conditions meant it was sensible to stop in Western Samoa rather than Fiji to make our final crew change over, as there were so many great people willing to help!

Ian Black, of Yacht Services in Apia, Western Samoa, was the friendly source to anything we required on the Island. On our arrival he hooked us up with Trevor, who came out to assist us through the reef and then today guided us back out into the open seas. Trevor is a really talented marine engineer and extremely competent boat captain, as well as a wonderful chap to enjoy a beer with. Not to mention a ‘right fittie’, as the Lancashire lass would say, so Singeli and I were chirpy on arrival!
Ian also introduced us to Joey and John from Transam, who were invaluable in helping us carry out our work with the Samoan Port Authority (SPA) – although they are not a ‘spa’ as Luca thought when we arrived.
There are not many ports in the world that would have welcomed us and allowed to use their commercial dock space as openly as SPA.
Clare, Tu, Herman and Solman, were just some of the people who ensured that we could carry out the work as quickly as we did. Dave, from Dino Welding, also carried out speedy work in providing us with the metal we needed to reinforce the supports for the sub beams.


Another fantastic help was John, who built the Plastiki the most beautifully finished lee board. The lee board is an eight foot by three foot foil shaped board that is attached to the leeward side of the boat to assist in preventing the sideways crabbing that occurs with the Plastiki. We are using it right now, and in these very light winds, with only 2 knots of boat speed it has really improved the steerage of the boat.

A great friend of Ian’s, Sila, became a good friend of ours as well. He and his boys really helped us with the work on the boat, and taught us a lot about life in Samoa. We unfortunately had to leave without saying ‘see you later’ in person. But Mr T and I hope he gets our message.

Mr T, David and Matt depart Western Samoa with memories inked not only in their minds but also in the form of traditional tap tap tattoos!

I had a wicked last night on the island as I bumped into three friends with whom I share wonderful memories of previous ocean missions; Steve and Muzza, who I met in the Beagle Channel, (the inland channels of Cape Horn). Muzza and I spent fun days running around the hills and glaciers of where the Andes fall into the Southern Ocean – such an awesome part of the world. The place holds an unexplainable energy. Magus and I sailed from Iceland to the UK onboard ‘the Song of the Whale’, a boat owned by International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), who’s work into Whale research I have been following since I was 16, and provided me with great inspiration to become a sailor.

Magnus, Muzza and Steve are all a part of the Waka’s, which is an incredible expedition currently in the Pacific. The Waka’s are based on the traditional Polynesian sailing canoes. There are currently five Waka’s, each one assigned to a different chain of islands and crewed by up to 17 people, most of whom are from the island that the boat is named after. The project is working to maintain and revive traditional Polynesian navigation skills and knowledge that has been passed down through generations, such as the rise and homing of stars, wave patterns and sea life. Through the voyages of the Waka’s the various island nations involved are also discovering a huge amount about the relationships between their cultural traditions.

In true tropical style the lights of the sky have suddenly switched off on our first day in the third leg of the Plastiki expedition. The Southern Cross and Centaur are behind us, with Ursa Major ahead, all back to front as we sail around the north side of the island of Savaii, before gybing onto course for the north of Fiji. The sea is so calm, the Plastiki is unusually quiet. The new sliver of moon is really clear, but not over shadowing the bright stars, the Milky Way and the torch of Venus. I know we all could have spent longer on Western Samoa, but our departure today has been made entirely worth it thanks to this beautiful night which makes it so wonderful to be under the ocean sky, with the lights of Upolu fading into the background.

Thank you to the sea of smiles that is Western Samoa.

Love, Jo x

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  1. Amber says:

    This is wonderful to hear. I work at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and we did a live video through skype with you guys and it was amazing. We had well over 150 people attend this. I think its amazing what your doing and I’m glad this didnt hinder you too much on your voyage. I’ll be watching for more updates!! Good luck!!