Preview: Tom Robinson’s Solo Row Across the Pacific – Update #19 – Maiwar Arrives in Pago Pago

May 23, 2023

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from Tom “Mahuta” Robinson’s Shore Team

After 38 days at sea, Tom arrived in the American Samoan Port of Pago Pago on Sunday 21 May at 12.20pm local time (9.20am Monday Brisbane time). Tom had travelled 810 nautical miles (1,500 km) from Penrhyn Island at an average speed of .89 knots.

In our most recent update we said that Mahuta was aiming for Tau – the most easterly populated island in the American Samoa group. As he passed by, he had a good look at Tau which, at 931 metres high, was easy to see from a distance. However, given that a more populated port would make the tasks of provisioning and maintenance so much easier, Tom decided to forgo a visit to Tau and head for American Samoa’s capital Pago Pago on Tutuila Island. The indomitable Bob McDavitt, otherwise known as metBob, was most helpful in providing guidance during the latter stages of Maiwar’s approaches to Tau and Pago Pago.

Close to exhaustion after 3 days on the oars and with almost no sleep, Tom decided to shelter in Fagaitua Bay just a few miles east of the entrance to Pago Pago Harbour for a well earned rest. He then rowed the last 5 or so nautical miles (9km) to the port facilities at the head of Pago Pago Harbour.

As he passed through the 1.5 kilometre wide entrance to the harbour, Mahuta would have been able to see its northern most extremity almost 3 kilometres distant. The harbour is ringed by lush mountains that are the remains of the caldera of an ancient volcano. He may also have experienced the delights of the olfactory emissions from the tuna fishing boats and the tuna canning factory on the harbour shore. These days Pago Pago sometimes gets a bad rap on account of its cannery and the aftermath of the pollution caused by the 2009 tsunami which resulted in large amounts of debris and oil being deposited in the harbour. We’re sure Tom will be unfazed by these factors and be pleased to meet the locals. Described as one of the South Pacific’s finest deep water harbours, Pago Pago’s infrastructure includes a container wharf and facilities for visiting cruise ships. With Pago Pago having a greater-area population of over 15,000 people Tom should be able to find all that he requires for the next stage of his row.

The Samoa Islands. Note that statute, not nautical, miles are shown. Source: From U.S. National Park Service circa 2002.

Interestingly, the Samoan islands are divided into Samoa and American Samoa.  They’re also divided by the International Date Line.  Fun fact:  Samoa, Tonga and The Line Islands (Kiribti) are the first places in the world to welcome-in each new year.  

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