Monday, August 30, 2010

Swimming at Niuatoputapu

Hello All,
After getting checked in yesterday we went to shore to look around. This is a very small place and after the tsunamis last September it got a little smaller. The 3 main villages that are on the main road and are about a mile apart got wiped out. They are rebuilding but it devastated the Island and most were homeless. According to the health inspector, that we had to pay a visit to yesterday for our check in, the Island went from 900 souls to 700. Most went to the other Tonga Islands looking for work or just wanted to get out after there property got destroyed. It is still a very unique place and the folks here love to cater to the sailboats. We found a guy that sells a few groceries, a lady that makes bread and along the way we found a fresh water spring to cool off in the heat of the day.
This morning I spent 2 hours rebuilding the carburetor on the out board. The salt water corroded some parts and I had to get it all cleaned up to work right. After all that fun was over we took the dingy out to the pass where we entered and went snorkeling. Outside the breakers the water was clear to 100 feet and we saw some nice coral and a lot of fish. The closer we drifted in the more cloudy the water became, so we came back inside and looked around in the shallow water. The Tsunamis did a lot of damage to the coral as well. All and all it was a good day and we got to do some exploring in the water for a change.
When we returned I jumped back in the water to clean the bottom of the boat. It had been a while so it was pretty dirty with sea growth. I only got half of it done so I will finish the rest tomorrow. It is a lot of work and not much fun either. I am not sure what else we are doing tomorrow, but I am sure we will think of something. I will talk to you later.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Arrived in Niuatoputapu

Hello All,
We made it to Niutoputapu Island. It is the most populated of the Niua group of Islands of Northern Tonga. We arrived at 1000 and made it in the pass with no problems. It is well marked and my plotter was spot on for navigation. We got to sail all the way down here and had good wind and seas. This place has a beautiful bay to anchor in with a sandy bottom and protected by the Island on one side and the rest with a fringing reef. One of the locals contacted us on the VHF when we got in and welcomed us to the Island and said the officials will get with us in the morning to check in. It is a very small Island, about 4 miles wide and 11 miles long with a 450 foot mountain in the middle. There is suppose to be good snorkeling here and hiking. On a side note, when we were coming in Jon was on the bow eye ball navigating and he asked how deep it was, I told him 113 feet, he told me he could see the bottom perfectly. That has to be the clearest water I have come across.
Well that is all for now. I will keep you informed of our stay here.

We are a day ahead now so it is Sunday. I will let you know what happens in the future LOL


14 35.21S - 73 11.86S

Hello All,
We are sailing right along at about 5 knots. We are almost half way to Tonga (7:30 p.m. Aug. 27,2010). If all goes well we should be there in the morning sometime. We are close hauled so we are bucking into the swell a little bit. The seas are not to bad and the wind is at 25 knots. I have the main double reefed the staysail up and the small working jib. There is a lot of sea water flying around so it's hard to stay dry on deck.

All is well so far but there is a squall that just came up so I better go.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Sailing away to Niuatoputapu Island

Hello All,
We are now under way to Niuatoputapu Tonga. It is the most northern Island of the group and we hope to be there in a day and a half. We left out of Asau Bay at 1700 on Thursday August 26,2010. The wind is about 20 to 25 knots and the sea is about 6 feet. We are sailing right along and it feels good to get out sailing again. We are under a double reef main and the staysail for the night. The wind is suppose to let up to 15 knots by tomorrow.
Okay that is all I have for now. I will talk to you soon.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The two Samoes

Hello All,
We are still here in Samoa waiting for weather so I thought I would take the time to compare the 2 Samoa's.
The First place I will talk about is American Samoa. The main Island Tutuila is the center of government for the 7 Islands that make up the unincorporated territory of the United States. The main and basically only harbor of the Island is Pago Pago Harbor. It is very well protected and is said to be one of the finest in the South Pacific. That being said, my cruising guides for the area do not rate this place very well.
First of all the water is very muddy and the bottom is littered with junk so anchoring can be interesting at times. They offer basically no yacht facilities and the Tuna canneries smell of fish and blow into the anchorage with the prevailing winds almost 24/7. Okay, that's all the bad things which for me were not all that bad. Alaska has canneries by the harbor but the people and the scenery make up for it and the same goes for Pago Pago. The Island itself is breath taking with its razor sharp mountains that drop right into the bay. They get a lot of rain so the greenery is very lush and thick with trees. It is one of the most green Islands I have visited.
The public transport is the best around the Islands and was very cheap. Stocking up the boat is easy to do there with good grocery stores and good prices.
Okay, now the people, there is basically no tourism there so the people you meet don't want anything from you, they just want to know where you are from and what brought you to the Island and they always ask if we like the Island and if we are having fun. Jon and I hitch hiked some while we were there and were invited to peoples homes for dinner, we only took one up on the offer but it was very kind to ask. The Samoans there have American Passports and some have served in the armed forces. They are very proud of their culture and enjoy the benefits of being part of America. The Island does lack the south Pacific feel, they are a cash economy so grass huts are replaced by houses and motor boats replace outrigger canoes.
All in all I enjoyed my month there and met some good cruising folks also.

Samoa (Formerly known as Western Samoa)

The main Islands of Samoa are Upolu and Savaii. Apia is the largest city of Upolu and is the center of government for the Islands. Apia is the only port of entry and it has one of the finest marinas I have visited. It was built just a few years ago so is very modern and provides water and electricity. It is located a short walk from downtown. The city is very clean and offers a little more than Pago Pago for traditional looks. It is a tourist town to say the least and is littered with taxi cab drivers begging you to take a ride with them and street vendors begging you to buy something. Once you get past all of that the Island is beautiful and not as mountainous as Tutuila but breath taking in its own right. Massive waterfalls can be found here and several nature preserves.
The draw back to visiting these places is, they cost money, sometimes excessive amounts and your not paying like a park ranger your paying some guy standing in the trail so you wonder how much is legitimate. It really wore on us after days and days of handing out all of this money. The transportation system isn't as good as Pago Pago as far as the frequency and bus stops but the rates are a little better with the exchange. Samoa has its own currency and resembles the New Zealand Dollar. It is called "Tala", which is dollar in Samoan.
Outside of town the villages are very clean and this is where you find traditional Samoa. The locals are much like in Tutuila, very friendly and always say hello as you pass. Savaii is an Island unspoiled by visitors. There is a daily ferry that go back and forth from Upolu but most of the visitors that come have booked with one of the few resorts located here and have rental cars. So walking around like we have or hitching rides is not common so the locals you run into are curious of your travels and are always amazed we came here by boat. Both Islands get a lot of tourism from Australia and New Zealand to escape there colder winters like Alaskans use Hawaii as a retreat .
I have enjoyed both Samoa's and will not choose between the two. All I will say is I like both equally. They both have flaws like anything in this world and I would visit both again when I get a chance.


Aborted Crossing

Hello All,
I have decided to wait here another day or so. The weather south of us looks really unsettled so I will keep a close eye on it and let you know when we head out. For now I am just doing a few things to clean the boat up and some light maintenance. We are in, hurry up and wait mode now.
If we have to wait another day or 2 I will take the time to write a blog comparing the 2 Samoa's Keep a look out and I will talk to you soon.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Exploring

Hello All,
Yesterday Jon and I set off early to take a hike up to a Crater on Mt. Matavapu. It was about 30 miles from here so we wanted to get an early start. We were to late for the bus ride so we started hitch hiking. We didn't walk for 5 minutes before two younger gals from the states picked us up. One girl has been on the Island for 2 years doing peace corp work and the other, her sister, was here for a holiday. They were just out sight seeing and offered to take us all the way to the mountain. They themselves were wanting to see the crater also. That was very convenient for us because it would have been a long walk. We got within a mile of the summit and that is where we met "Crater Man" he is the grounds keeper for the park and to see it required 20 dollars a piece. I only had 20 in my pocket and and Jon had none. Jon had given me his money because he didn't think he needed it anymore. I guess I bought to many beers the night before lol. So Jon had to stay behind and the 3 of us took the mile hike to the crater. Jon walked to the bottom of the road and we picked him up on our way back down. They dropped us on the main road and we hitched a ride back to the boat.
We had dinner again at the Vai Moana Resort and had a very nice visit with a Finnish cruising couple that arrived a few days ago. We also talked to a couple that is on holiday from New Zealand and asked them about their country and we exchanged e-mails so we may get to see them again when we get down there.
This has been a delightful stay and the folks that run the Resort have been so kind.
We will be leaving this afternoon for Tonga so we will be busy getting the boat all ready for the 2 day crossing.
That's all for now and I will write while underway.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Walking Tour

Hello All,
Jon and I had a great tour of the northwest end of the Island yesterday. We hitched a ride to the Falealupo Rain Forest Preserve. We took a trail that led to a rope bridge and to a massive tree fort overlooking the whole jungle. After that we walked down the road and ran into a local that invited us to his home for lunch. We had a traditional Samoan meal, which was fish and taro plant cooked on an open fire. It was very filling and we had a nice visit with him and his wife. We hitched another ride with a family to Falealupo Village. The whole road on the Northern most coast has a beautiful beach and lava reefs. After that we took a walk to the western most point of the Island where it is the last place on earth the sun sets before the next day because of the date line. We ended up walking 12 miles yesterday.
Last night when we returned we got cleaned up and went and had dinner at Vai Moana Hotel and bar. We anchored in front of there place and they have been very kind. They have been letting us use there dock to park the dingy so we thought we would patronize them. They had a buffet that was wonderful. They had a live acoustic Samoan band playing for all of the guests.
We talked to a few people at the resort last night that told us about a boat that was lost coming into the pass in May. The resort owner rescued them and there is a few pieces of the boat on the property. We were told the boat was over at the wharf so this morning we went to take a look. It was about a 50 foot boat and the owner was following his gps and for this Island it is off so he hit the reef and sunk. What a shame and a big loss. After that we just came back to the boat and hung out. We went to the resort for a beer tonight and tomorrow, we will see.
That's all for now. I will talk to you soon.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Asau Bay, Savaii

Hello All,
We made it over to Asau Bay in northwest Savaii. We spent all night getting here under engine, the wind was very light. We got here at first light and my plotter for navigation had the Island off by a little bit so the bay was not where it was suppose to be according to my chart so I had to do eyeball navigation. I had Jon on the bow looking for the channel to enter and we came in to what I thought was the right way. After getting past the first set of breakers I figured we were home free but it never got deeper in fact it got worse. Before I went any father I put Jon in the dingy to look for the channel to enter. He looked around for an hour and never found anything that was deep enough to get us in. I was about to give up when some locals came out in a boat told us to follow them. They took us through the channel that was right by the breakers, I would have never guessed it was there looking at the big waves rolling in but it was plenty of water and once we got in the bay it was deep and sandy bottom. We anchored in 25 feet of water right by the village. We took a walk around this afternoon, it is a very small place but everyone is friendly. We will go see a few places tomorrow and check the place out.
On a side note, some places in the world have not been surveyed in resent years and this is one of them so my gps navigation is pretty worthless. I am anchored on land right now according to my plotter so you hope there is some kind of markers or friendly locals to get you there. This happened in Salelologa also but it is well marked. This is the first place my navigation let me down and I hope its the last.
All is well here and I hope everyone is good at home. I will talk to you later.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Exploring Savaii

Hello All,
I'm sorry I haven't followed up from the other day. We have been very busy trying to see the south side of the Island. We went to see several waterfalls the last few days. We took a hike up to see an ancient pyramid, it is supposed to be one of the largest polynesian structures. Today we also took a trip to see some blow holes and they were awesome. We have been getting around by bus, hitching rides and a lot of walking.
We are currently underway, going to the northwest side of the Island to Asau Bay. It is suppose to be a very nice anchorage with good swimming and snorkeling. We will spend 5 days there and explore the north side of the Island. I hope they have internet over there so I can get you guys some pictures. I have been taking lots of them.
We are under engine at the moment but as soon as we can get around the eastern point we will get the sails up.We will be underway all night to get there in the morning.
That is all I have for now and I will be in touch.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Hello All,
We made it over to Savaii this afternoon at 1430.All went well and we are anchored in the bay.We came to town to look around and thats where I am at now.We are heading back to the boat now so I will keep it short.
I will write a detailed version here tomorrow or the next day.
I will talk to you soon.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Leaving Apia

Hello All,
We had a quiet Sunday here.It rained most of the day so we just hung around the boat.I went out on deck and scrubbed it from end to end,it was filthy.I havent really had the water to spare until now.That took me a few hours to do.My poor boat is showing some signs of wear but I guess thats what happens when you use it everyday.The rain let up about 1700 and it was a beautiful evening so Jon and I took a walk.We made some dinner when we returned and then watched a few movies.
As of this morning we are checked out of Apia.We will be heading for Savaii Island next door.We have picked out a few anchorages to stay at and we will be over there for a week.We had to get permission to anchor there from the Prime Minister, which was pretty easy to do.The hardest part was finding the right I dont know if there is internet over there.If not,I will be using the SSB radio again to keep in touch.
We have had a very good stay here and I cant say enough about the Samoan people.They are truly unique and very proud to be Samoan.We are told Savaii is beautiful and sparsely populated so we should get a real taste of authentic Samoan culture.Before I leave this paradise I will write a blog comparing American Samoa to the Western Independent Islands.I am still feeling this place out and after seeing Savaii I will have a conclusion to share with you.

P.S. Jon and I went to the Fresh Fruit Market this morning just to look around and we found a locally grown Pamplemousse.Jon spotted it and said,Rick,look a Pamplemousse.Both of us were drooling at the site of the 8 inch around green mellon.The gal selling them said,that is a grapefruit and I said no no, thats a Pamplemousse and ill take it.
We are in heaven once again.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Grand Samoan Island Tour

Hello All,
We have had a fun couple of days here.Yesterday Jon and I took a bus to the south of the Island.We went to take a look at theTogitogiga Water falls.They were not really big but they had awesome deep pools at the bottom of both of them.Jon got brave and jumped from both falls.It was about a 20 foot fall and I got some good pictures of him doing it.After spending an hour there looking around we walked down the road a mile to another trail that lead to a huge Ma Tree.They are not natural to the area,someone planted them here years ago.The root system is amazing.I took some pictures and will post.We hitched a ride back with a guy from Texas, his wife and kids.His wife was originally from here so they were on holiday visiting her family.
Last night Jon and I went out on the town with Ian,the british guy we met in Pago Pago.He came over here last week just to hang out.We went to a place called Crabbers,it is one of the most popular places here to dance and hang out.We met a few really nice locals and had a few beers before calling it a night about midnight.We got some take out and came back to the boat and visited for an hour.

Today I went to another waterfall with Ian.He.They call the waterfall Sliding Rocks because you can slide down smooth rocks with the water and fall into some awesome pools at the bottom.Ian did it a few times and i just took some pictures.I am nursing a boo boo on my foot and didnt want the days of good healing to be wasted,I am saving myself for some good snorkeling next week.Jon went snorkeling about 10 minutes from here to check out a reef.He was already back when I returned and said it was ok.After being in the Tuamotus its really hard to find good snorkeling any where else ,but, we are still looking.
Tonight I think we will just stay here on the boat and watch a movie.
Thats all for now but keep a look out for some new pics.

P.S. My Hinano Beer girl looks good huh?


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Arrived Apia,Samoa

Hello All,
Sorry for the delay on the update.We had an excellent 75 mile was completely flat so we had to burn some fuel. We arrived in Apia yesterday afternoon and got checked in with all of the officials.The last one left the boat about 1600,we were then allowed to go ashore.They have a very nice marina here where all of the visiting yachts come to stay.They dont allow anchoring in the bay anymore because the port needs the room for the ships.It is a very nice marina and is pretty reasonable.They built it like a year ago.It is the first marina I have tied up to since San Diego.We will stay here a week and then check out a few anchorages on this Island and then go over to Savii Island next door to the west.
Jon and I will take a tour of the Island tomorrow by bus.It is alot different than American Samoa.These guys are an Independent country and were formerly owned by Britain so it has a european feel to it.One of the officials told us that both American Samoa and these Islands speak the same Samoan language.She looked at me and said" they just want to be american"haha.
I am writing this in a little cafe next door to the marina.The signal in the marina is to weak.I am dependent on my battery because I cant plug in here so I better get going.
I will keep you updated on current events.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Goodbye Pago Pago

Hello All,
We are leaving here within the hour to head for Apia,Western Samoa.We have been getting the boat ready most of the day.It has been a month since we have been out to sea so I am sure we will have to get used to it all over again.It is a 16 hour crossing over to the other Samoa and the weather looks good for the next few days.I plan to spend a few days in Apia then we will find some nice anchorages to camp out in.Pago Pago has been very good to us and we have really enjoyed our stay here.I must be part Gypsy or something because I am ready to move on and find new places to see and visit.
Well that is all for now,I will fill you in on the new place when we get settled in.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Last days here

Hello All,
Jon and I moved the boat to a mooring anchor out here in the bay yesterday.We were told by the manager of the wharf that there was a big boat coming in by this weekend and we had to move for a few days.So we took a vacant mooring left by a couple from Argentina that we became pretty good friends with and moved out of the way.After moving we went and got all stocked up with groceries and have been preparing the boat to get underway.We still have to check out,clean up the boat and I discovered a few small issues I still have to deal with yet.I got my parts in the mail today so that kept me busy for a few hours this afternoon.
The weather has picked up here the last few days and so has the seas but it is suppose to subside by Tuesday after noon so thats when I plan to leave here to Western Samoa.
Today I went to town and got some oil for the engine and got a few things we needed.We are ready to get underway and keep exploring these wonderful South Pacific Islands and meet more cruisers and locals that we have enjoyed so much on this trip.
I will keep in touch and let you know what is happening here in paradise.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Shopping Day

hello all,
I have just been working on the boat,getting stuff put away and fixing little things.I made a trip to Ace Hardware on the bus yesterday.That place has everything you can imagine.Jon took a bus ride to the east side of the Island and checked out a few villages.It has been beautiful the last few days with very little rain so we have been out and about.
Tomorrow we get to go to the grocery store and stock up on a few things.They have a store here like Costco and the prices are very reasonable for being out here in the middle of the Pacific.I am still waiting on one package and I hope to see it tomorrow or Saturday then I think we will head over to Western Samoa early Tuesday morning.
We have had a great time here and the people are so aweome.Today I got my hair cut and the women that owns the salon used to live in Anchorage and Valdez,small world.I here the story all the time though,everybody here knows about Alaska or has been there before.
Well I am having dinner now so I will talk to you soon.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beautiful days in Pago Pago

Hello All,
We had the most beautiful 2 days here since we arrived.I got up yesterday morning and didnt see a cloud in the sky.I told Jon we should climb back up to the top of Alava Moutain so we could have a good view.We invited Ian,he is from Britain and has been here a few months waiting for a boat that would be interested in taking him from here to the States.We had a great hike to the top and when we got up there we were amazed by the view.There wasent a cloud for a hundred miles .We even got to see Western Samoa which is about 60 miles from here, from what I am told that is a rare day here.I retook most of my pictures that I got a few weeks ago and alot more.i will post them here shortly.
I got the radar rewired and everything hooked back up when we returned yesterday so that is another project that is behind me now.I just have a few little things to deal with now so the boat should be ready in a few days.We hope to get out of here the first part of next week then off to Western Samoa.
We saw off Delphine this morning,she is fling from here to Australia to visit some friends so its just Jon and I on the boat now.She was good crew and a friend and I wish her all the best.
Thats all I have for now.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Radar pole repair

Hello All,
I finally got all of my parts to fix the radar pole and started taking it apart yesterday.After I got it apart it started pouring down rain so I was forced to stop.My crew is off exploring today so I took the time to upload the rest of my pics to the albums so take a look.I added some to existing albums and created a few more.I am finally up to date with all of the places I have been so take a few minutes sometime and take a gander.I have some video that I need to upload and I will let you know when I get it on the site.
Jon is still waiting for a new camera to come in the mail and I have one more small package I am waiting for so we will be here another week it looks like.
Enjoy your Sunday and I will talk to you soon