Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Apia, Western Samoa

We had a nice slow 5 day trip from Suwarrow to Apia.  Samoa, not to be confused with American Samoa, used to be called Western Samoa.  It was a German Colony until after WWII when it was put under the administration of New Zealand.

We must stay in the Apia Marina, which is actually pretty nice and at $20/day, is a pretty good deal.  The only problem for us is that our battery charger won't accept 50 cycle power.  We arrived with WENDY ELLEN and PLAYER.  MAZU, MOONDANCER, and MAHILI, all boats we had been with in Suwarrow, were already here.

This is a funny Time Zone.  We didn't change our clocks, we just changed the date.  So it is a day later here to correspond with the date of New Zealand but it is later here than anywhere else in the world.  They say "Time Begins Here".

 Clearing in went well.  All the officials came to the boat and were very friendly.  Actually, these
Samoans are incredibly friendly people.  We are also back to the land of reasonable prices.  $2
pints at Happy Hour and $9 Pizzas.

We went exploring town with Zach, Suzie, Anna, and Ronan, from WENDY ELLEN and ended up finding out about a free tour at the Cultural Center.  Usually these things are contrived tourist events.  What a surprise! We learned about Samoan traditional cooking, dance, woodwork, and artistry.  Booker bought a haandmade turtle print Tapa.  The Tapa is made from the Paper Mulberry tree and was used for everything from art to clothing.

We found a great Indian Curry House and the 'Market'.  We stocked up on supplies and I bought some
Kava powder.  Kava is a drink made from the crushed root of the Kava plant.  It is actually called
Ava here in Samoa but is used throughout the western South Pacific islands to drink at ritual get
togethers in the villages.  It has an analgesic and numbing effect but tastes like dirty dishwater.

The entire country shuts down on Sundays and is reserved for church and family time.  We had a
cruiser get together on TORTUGUITA for a Kava drinking ceremony.  Zach lived in Fiji on a small
island for 3 years and explained the whole Kava thing while we passed the coconut cup.  We had to
call it quits when the rain became torrential.

We rented a car with the WENDY ELLEN's and spent a day driving around the island.  It rained that
day too.  We saw waterfalls everywhere.  The island is about the size of Oahu but only about 2000
feet high.  We saw the normal tourist attractions.  It had to be done.
It's kind of funny but there is an ice cream shop by the marina that has a Fire Dance show and live
music every Tuesday night.  We filled a table for 20 with us marina dwellers.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Buggered up my hand

The weather has been holding up well and we made the 510 miles from Suwarrow to Apia, Samoa in 4 days.

We flew the spinnaker just after departing Suwarrow. When I went to tighten the halyard, I was holding on to it with my left hand and when I took the coil of line off the drum, it released from the hook of the self tailer and took my hand up and jammed it into where the line goes in to the mast. Booker was able to winch the line back down and release me. The skin is torn pretty well but will grow back. Just not alot of use of my left hand right now.
THEN, 10 minutes later, this same halyard broke up at the turning block. Everything went in the water on leeward side. I locked the props and the sail went entirely under the boat, undamaged, and became a sea anchor. We were able to pull it back onboard, albeit with some anti fouling on it. Good thing we will be going to the Marina in Apia. Sail washing and going up the mast will be on the list.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Suwarrow, Cook Islands - First In Last Out

We had a decent 5 day passage from Bora Bora to Suwarrow. We actually had to slow down to prevent a night time arrival.
There were 3 boats in the anchorage when we arrived. 2 had come from Hawaii so didn't have to deal with the weather we had from Bora.

SUWARROW, What an incredible place!

This is a real life Gilligan's Island. The 2 Park Rangers are dropped off in May with minimal supplies and are picked up sometime in November. Whenever the Navy gets time. They exist on what they can get from the islands and the cruisers. We donated lots of gasoline, booze, and food to them. They provided a welcome atmosphere with beach fires, island tours, and in general, a nice anchorage and a sandy piece of land to party on.

Harry, the Ranger, was like 'The Skipper'. His assistant, Charley, was 'Gilligan'. They were so welcoming and friendly to us all. Harry played guitar and sung at the many Pot Lucks and Happy Hours that we had ashore. I did a little Harmonica accompaniment one night. Charley took us on a day tour to a bird rookery on one island, and another island where we saw the most incredible thing, the Coconut Crab. I have seen them on TV but did not expect what I saw. The big ones are probably 4-5 pounds, look like a giant Hermit Crab with a tail like a Slipper Lobster. They have claws that will crush a finger. They climb, dig, live in the trees, or under the roots. They will shred the husk off a coconut to get to the coconut meat. Quite amazing animals.

Peter Rice called us 'The Professor, and Mary Ann" in an email which was very appropriate. I fixed the ranger's Boom Box that had water damage. Booker organized the beach events. Enoch, from GABBER, and I, worked 2 days and made a Suwarrow Wifi Intranet so all the boats could do file sharing. It worked alright but could have been better if we hadn't been in the middle of nowhere.

We snorkeled alot and were always visited by sharks. They didn't bother anyone unless there was a speared fish on a speargun spear. Then you had a competition to see whether you could get the fish to the boat before the sharks tore it to pieces.

Blacktip Sharks were always swimming on the surface around the boat and even in the shallows of the reefs.

We wish we could have stayed longer but it was so sad to leave as it was. We were addicted to Suwarrow. If we stayed another week, we would still be there at Christmas.

Harry and Charley, If somehow you get to read this blog after you return to reality, please email us. You guys are great people.

Cheers, Dave and Booker

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Finding a Replacement Weatherman

I need to start getting the blog up to date so here goes:

Quite a a few boats had been able to sail the short 25 to 100 mile legs needed to get here to Bora Bora in everything up to gale force winds but now there is a need for real decent weather to get through the Cook Islands.

The weather has been less than ideal for heading west for the past few weeks. Ian, on Chaotic Harmony, was a profesional meterologist when he had his day job and gave great weather insight on the morning radio "Net". He left Bora about 3 weeks ago and is now in Tonga and out of radio range.

We are all getting bored with Bora Bora and feeling like the extra time being spent in the Societies is going to cost us somewhere further down the road. Weather was always the topic of conversation at Happy Hour every day.

Tortuguita doesn't mind strong winds from behind but hates the cross swell hitting the sides so I saw a small window of opportunity to make the 700 miles to Suwarrow. We were the first ones to leave. Basically we were test case for my weather forecasting abilities. Or to put it another way, we were the only ones to put our lives on the line to test the BS and weather theories that were flying around the bar every day. Once outside, we radioed back that things weren't too ugly so most boats started leaving Bora the next day.

Well, since other boaters thought I knew what I was doing with the weather, I was volunteered to be the group's weatherman.
My job was not to forecast but to consolidate weather from the many different sources and relay it over the radio net in the morning. In Bora, with internet, there was alot more and better presented data. At sea, I download what I could from different sources using Sailmail and spend close to an hour analyzing the noise to come up with a reasonable forecast. I have had some help occasionally from my friend, Peter Rice, who has been our personal weather router for this trip.

Anyway, we were the first ones in to Suwarrow. There were 3 other boats there. 2 had come from Hawaii.

More on Suwarrow later.

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