The dilemma leaving Samoa was not leaving on a Friday and not wasting a day but we did not manage to solve this one so wasted a day waiting in the harbour for Friday to pass. We had difficulty extricating Baringo from the marina because of an awkward cross wind and a large steel boat next to us, we had to do this at 5.00am when the wind was calm and then anchored in the harbour for until Saturday 16th July .We finally left at dawn and sailed north of Upolu and Savai’i slightly longer than going through the Apolima strait but it would be more sheltered and more scenic . We finally found a nice 15kt breeze so we had a pleasant sail in flat water until the eastern end of Savaii when it suddenly stopped ,we certainly had shelter now ! We continued under motor when the overheating alarm spoiled the tranquillity and found the fan belt broken . We were quite close to the shore drifting slowly towards it so there were a few anxious moments when we could not find the spare! Luckily this was short lived and John fitted the new fan belt easily and we were underway again . Once past the lee of Savai’i the usual 25 kts of wind and 2 meters of swell arrived so we sailed on into the sunset. The next day the rolling finally go the better of the oven which fell off its left had support and stopped gimballing. No more cooking now for the rest of the voyage but luckily it was not too many miles to Wallis but it was cold baked beans that night for supper. Our treat was a school of dolphins playing around the boat for a few hours the next morning but we were beginning to feel a little sceptical about the Friday rule!
We arrived at Wallis at 04.50 on Monday 18th July, rather too early to get through the Honikulu pass at the southern end. We needed low tide to do this safely so we dollied around outside the reef and much to our surprise another yacht appeared also wanting to get through the pass. We talked on the radio and reassuringly we both had the same information so we waited until 11.00, had a look at the pass and seeing flat water in we went. It is quite narrow and there are dramatic waves breaking on the reefs either side so as always it is nice to get through it safely. Once in the lagoon the sea was a beautiful iridescent turquoise blue and only small waves . The path through the lagoon to the capital Matu Utu on the NE side is well buoyed so we anchored off the deserted port and stayed on board for the rest of the day tidying up the boat and sleeping .
Windy Windy Wallis 18th July –
- Yes it really is windy here and Matu Atu takes the full brunt of the SE trades so we only stayed for two nights in order to check in and do the initial orientation . The first discovery is that everything is very spread out so offices, shops, cafes ( very few ) are far apart and there is no public transport except school buses . Car hire is impossible because the visiting French workers who service the island hire them all to do their work. We just managed to book one for the following weekend to drive around Uvea . We then moved to the very slightly more sheltered anchorage of Gahi behind a peninsula further south but still on the east side of Uvea . The wind blew continuously never less than 18 knots but the reefs protected us from the swell although it was certainly not flat as the lagoon is very large so there were usually a few ‘white horses’ . There is no dinghy landing here and the flat beach and reef dries significantly with the tide so we found the best solution was to tie the dinghy to the local pirogue support structure while we went ashore . Timing was critical to avoid arriving or leaving in low tide so it was always a wet landing at anything above low tide .
We had an interesting two days driving round Uvea finding many unusual distinctively Wallisean churches and two crater lakes. The challenge was navigating without a single signpost , road sign or village name ! The churches are all huge and there do not seem to be that many people to fill them and some are fairly remote although the island is small and the Walliseans drive around in Toyata hiluxes or similar which all look very new so everywhere is actually accessible . Without any public transport it seems everyone has a vehicle. We walked along deserted jungle paths to the shore but unless the tide is high the drying reef precludes swimming . There are no resorts, beach hotels or sea side cafes here , in fact no concessions for visitors at all as there are none apart from a few yachties. All the houses and gardens all well looked after and the vegetation is certainly lush .
We returned the car so it is now walking or hitch hiking to get around and into Matu Utu which is about 5 mils away from Gahi . We are waiting for a chance to get to Fiji but at the moment the weather does not look very promising .