We let the Alofi mooring lines go at 15.30 Monday 27th June and headed north west to Samoa about 400 nm . So we are off the milk run now ! We started on a nice reach with a 25kt wind from ESE and made good speed towards our target .The next day conditions became more difficult with an increased swell from the SE and a stronger wind so the third reef in the main was required . The wind was 30kts gusting higher and the 4m swell rolled Baringo mercilessly . At each violent lurch our major concern was that Poppy the auto helm would give up and the thought of hand helming in these conditions all the way to Samoa filled our hearts with doom . The only upside was we were making good speed and indeed Samoa was sighted at 13.05 on Wednesday 29thJune . We were approaching the SE corner of Upulo the main although not the largest island .
Apia the port and capital city is on the north coast of Upulo and as dusk was approaching when were closing the coast we thought we would anchor in the purportedly sheltered Fagiola bay on the NE corner .As we entered the long bay hoping for some shelter from wind and swell they both seemed to follow us in ! Surely this would improve as we got deeper into the bay so we continued but the next problem was the chart plotter putting us in 1.0 m depth when the depth meter read 50 m ! The charts appeared to be about 0.5 mile out from the reality.
In dusk it is impossible to see the reefs so it was back out to sea in the failing light . Neither of us favoured a night entry into Apia port with its reef strewn entry and uncertainty about the navigation lights so we opted for dollying up and down the leading line until dawn .At first this was rather daunting as the wind was still blowing 25kts and there was no moon and FADs ( fish aggregating devices ) were reported in the vicinity by the admiralty pilot book ! As the night progressed the wind settled and we saw no FADs and got used to the town lights and jibed up and down the line using only the little jib making a suitably slow 2-3kts .
Knowing dawn would come and we could enter the port made the strategy easier and indeed dawn arrived on cue and we easily entered Apia port thinking we might easily have done it in the dark! However we were safe even if a little tired . At 07.30 on Thursday 30th June we anchored near the commercial wharf and waited instructions for the port authority . As Samoa is on the other side of the dateline it was now Friday 1st July and judging by the time our instructions finally arrived from the port authority I think the weekend had already started ! We finally motored over to the marina and tied up around 14.00 . The quarantine and customs visited us and we just got to the immigration office in town before it closed. We were here!
Something about Samoa
We thoroughly enjoyed the flat still waters of the marina after being thrown around during the voyage and after a good nights sleep cleaned the boat from all the salt that had become encrusted everywhere . The marina is a little tired although the pontoons are in good condition .Indeed the second outer pontoon no longer exists after being blown away by a typhoon a few years ago but the back drop of the lush green mountains was scenic .
We walked to town about 20 minutes and found a well stocked supermarket “Lucky Foodtown “ and replenished our supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables as these had been scarce in Niue . We certainly appreciated the unlimited power and water of the marina as well as the lack of movement ! On Sunday morning we went to church primarily to hear the singing which was very harmonious but we paid for it listening to a 45minute evangelical sermon! Everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best with wonderful hats so it was a colourful and cheerful scene.
We had met “Junior” the self styled marina tour guide and had a very pleasant island tour with him on Monday .There is lots to see : Villa Vailima where Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last 4 years of his life , a wonderfully peaceful Bahai temple , a clear waterfall pool to swim in , To Sua trench a deep swimming pool in the larva and a delicious lunch in the Seabreeze resort. The south west end of Upolu has wonderful long stretches of coral sand beaches with several beach fales to stay in. These are slightly flimsy structures with a wooden floor and roof but no walls.
We then decided to hire our own car having got the measure of the island with Junior and went around the other but less attractive way around western side of the island . There is a lagoon in many parts but where there have been volcanic eruptions the larva flow has obliterated the lagoons and run out as far as the reef. The Samoan villages are all immaculately kept and a joy to drive through.
We booked a ferry to Savai’i the larger but less developed island and we left at 08.00 on Thursday for an overnight stay .It is a truly unspoilt paradise , so green and empty with many beautiful deserted beaches. The ferry journey was 1.15 hours to Saleologa across the Apolima strait Our first stop was another delightful waterfall pool under a 14m waterfall and quite enchanting . Next we saw the Alofa’aga blow holes which were pretty dramatic and very noisy .The power of the water forced through the holes in the larva was amply demonstrated by the warden throwing coconuts into the hole to be tossed several possibly about 100 feet into the air with the water. All quite exciting and the coast line of larva looked very hostile. The peace and tranquillity of the island was palpable; we had everywhere to ourselves and a great picnic overlooking a dramatically colourful wave beaten larva bay . We stayed the night in Stevensons Hotel on the north coast and slept in a beach fale whose sides are open to the sea breeze and the sound of lapping waves , we snorkelled in crystal clear water and although there were a few other guests we seemed to have the beach to ourselves . We had to go back to Upulo the next day but wishing we had decided to spend longer in Savai’i it has just the right amount of comfort but remains unspoilt …for how long?
We kept the car as we wanted to do the walking trail to RLS’s tomb, he is buried on the hill above his beautiful home with his wife who died some year after him. He died prematurely at 44 years in Vailima. The rest of our time in Samoa was spent doing a few boat jobs ,shopping ,swimming and snorkelling at the nearby marine park and preparing for the next sail to Wallis.