Samoa 2014

See our Samoa Movie in Movies 2014!

We are at anchor in Samoa harbour. There are 50 men on board this canoe including a drummer and the guy steering. When I pulled out the camera to get a photo, everyone laughed as the guy steering yelled out "Hello Baby!" Not what I was expecting but pretty funny.

There are plenty of churches and government buildings. They seem to contrast with the rest of the buildings around town.

29th July…..A visit to the Cultural Village was a highlight of the day. We learnt about the Samoan culture and way of life. It all revolves around family and extended family and their land is owned by the whole family. We, ours, us. When a girl is born into the family she is born "to be served" and when a boy is born into the family he is born "to serve". There is much to like about the Samoan way of life. Samoans have retained their ancient customs as nowhere else in Polynesia. fa'a Samoa is the Samoan way.

We saw how Tapa is made from the bark of a tree, learnt about the traditions, courage and committment of tattoos to the Samoans, how to build an Umu oven from hot coals and banana leaves; ate the cooked food of fish, breadfruit, taro leaves soaked in coconut milk & wrapped in breadfruit leaves; tried our hand at weaving palm fronds, watched the wood carvers and enjoyed performances of songs and music.

Building an umu oven. Hot coals and banana leaves layered with food. The men do the cooking. Sounds good to me.

The naval to knees tatoos are a visual badge of courage as it takes many highly painful sessions to complete the tattoo. Once the tattooing begins, it cannot end until completed or the subject will be permanently marked with dishonour.

An overnight trip to nearby Savaii Island begins with a ferry trip…..

Craig and I joined up with newly engaged Dell & Yee from S/V Chiara Stella. The plan was to share taxi & hire car expenses for an overnight trip to nearby Savaii Island. Accommodation was booked and we stayed in a Samoan style fale which included dinner and breakfast.

An open air fale with mosquito netting around the bed. Its right on the beach.

The view from our bed. We slept well with only the sounds of lapping water on the beach.

Sightseeing during the day took us through traditional villages, to waterfalls, blowholes, lava fields & swimming with turtles.

The locals entertain the tourists by throwing coconuts in the blowhole. The coconut blows high into the air. Of course, the higher the coconut goes the more entertaining it is.

Turtle time....I went for a swim with the turtles. It was fun. They get up close and a little too personal when they nip your toe or your bottom. It seems like they have a bit of fun of their own.

We were not planning on coming to Samoa but we are very pleased that we did. We have learnt alot about their culture and found the Samoan people to be very genuine, warm and friendly. We didn't get to see and do everything we wanted to but did more than what we originally thought we would. We could easily come back here.


Suwarrow Atoll, Cook Is. 2014

IMovies…..was jammed with problem files which we could not find. I finally found them and Craig helped me delete them so the problem is solved and IMovies is now as good as new. I am so excited to be able to make movies again as we have some great footage to share with you.

It's a Movie Feast…...Be sure to check out our latest new movies especially my favourites "Manta Rays" and "Stingrays & Black Tips" as in Black Tip Reef Sharks! I don't think I realised just how many sharks were in the water that day. Also "Tahiti Dancing" is just a small sample of what I saw. "Pearl Farm" shows our visit to Raroria Pearl Farm. And the very latest is "French Polynesia" which is a summary of our time in Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands.

20th July…...Tonight will be our last night passage before arriving in Apia, Samoa. We have about 80miles still to go. The passage has gone well with downwind sailing averaging 15-20knots and a following sea. The highlight of the passage was catching a big Mahi Mahi and having fresh fish along the way. During the day we read books, watched movies and ate popcorn. We are looking forward to arriving in Samoa.

17th July……Departing for Samoa. We have decided to go to Samoa as we have heard good things about it and it is probably the only chance we will get to go there. We are out of alcohol so Craig is especially looking forward to a cold beer and we have heard we can get Australian style meat pies from the bakeries. Our passage will be 510miles in a WSW direction and we hope to arrive after a 4 night passage. We have enjoyed our visit at Suwarrow Atoll, but when the wind blows its time to go.

Ocean side at Suwarrow Atoll

I was surprised to find a Book Exchange and a Yacht Club at Suwarrow Atoll.

There are hammocks stategically placed where you can lie back and enjoy the view or read a book. I wish I found this hammock 3 days ago. It is much cooler here than on the boat.

A snorkel with the Manta Rays…..At around 0800 hours the Manta rays come in to a nearby reef to allow the fish to clean them. We went out for a snorkel in the morning and saw 1 large ray which was about 3-4 metres wide. He glided around under the dinghy in about 20 feet of water and was not worried about having company. Harry said there are about 9 rays that come in but some of them are quite shy around people.

Harry invited all of the cruisers to a Pot Luck on the beach. There are now 8 boats in the anchorage.

Harry prepared 2 large Coconut Crabs for us to try and his wife made coconut pancakes. It was delicious. Thank you!

"An Island to Oneself"……This is the title of the book New Zealander Tom Neale wrote after living here as a hermit from 1952 until his death from cancer in 1977. He describes his experiences of living on a remote atoll, isolated apart from the cruisers who visited.

Sharks……There are alot of sharks around Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands. We are now in the Cook Islands and there are still alot of sharks. We know several cruisers/friends who have had close encounters with them. All of their stories have involved spear fishing. 2 days ago we met S/V Iguana here at Suwarrow. They are on their way to American Samoa to pick up their new dinghy after a shark bit into their last one and destroyed it at Mopelia. After shooting a tuna whilst spear fishing they were followed back to their dinghy by the unhappy and still hungry grey shark who wasn't taking no for an answer. Today we received an email from Deanne and Tim on Exodus who are currently at Mopelia. I thought you might enjoy their story…..

"Good Times! Here's Tim's account of spearfishing outside the pass yesterday…..they were doing this even AFTER the guy's dinghy got chomped!

Alex and I went with a local guy here outside the pass to snorkel on a WW1 Navy shipwreck. Most of the ship is gone but you can still see some cannons, the anchor and many big gun shells embedded in the coral. Heo, the local guy, said we shouldn't spearfish near the pass since there are so many sharks there. I said "well, we can just take our spears along anyway, even if we don't use them." (yeah, sure…) We were only in the water 3-4 seconds before Heo says "Give me my gun!" I look over and see a huge school of yellowtail-like fish. Heo shoots into the school, but misses. Within seconds, several sharks appear out of nowhere and start looking around….good thing he missed. Later, he shot a small Jack and carried it back to the dinghy holding it above water so the sharks could not "hear" it struggling (vibrations more than anything of a struggling fish attract the sharks in a hurry). One fish in the dinghy, Heo saw a huge school of parrot fish, swam over and after looking around and seeing no sharks nearby, shot one. Hit in the belly, the parrot fish went nuts, swimming in circles on the spear. Within 2 seconds, three sharks appeared from behing the ridge of the reef and attacked the parrotfish. The first shark took half the fish, the second took the rest - no prize for third place. Within 5 seconds, 10 more sharks appeared in a frenzy. Heo had already let go of his spear gun and was swimming backwards but with no fish left to eat, the new sharks looked eagerly at anything moving in the water. I forced myself to relax and slowly removed my dive knife (I had just put my gun back in the dinghy, thinking we were done). As he kicked at a couple of small curious sharks I couldn't help but smile in my snorkel, thinking that he should have listened to his own advice. Once back in the dinghy, his big smile made me laugh and he suggested that we go inside the reef to fish some more".

The Black Tip Reef Shark. Craig calls them "the men in grey suits".

Those "men in grey suits" are doing laps around the boat. They are quite harmless and only about 3 feet long. We have been instructed not to feed them or put any food in the water. Other cruisers have done this in the past and attracted larger Tiger Sharks (which can be quite aggressive) into the lagoon. Harry says it is best to keep the bigger sharks outside the pass on the ocean side. He has requested that cruisers only clean fish on shore in his designated spot. When he has a good supply of fish scraps he will announce a "feed the sharks" time on the ocean side and we can all go and watch him feed the big sharks.

Suwarrow Atoll is a National Park in the Northern Cooks. We were glad to arrive after our 5 day passage. We had good wind for 4 days of the passage but we ran out of wind and motored the last day. A Resident Park Administrator named Harry resides here between April and November and cruising vessels are granted a maximum 14 day visit.

Harry is Customs/Immigration/Pest Control/Park Ranger/Tour & Fishing Guide and also a keen rugby league follower. Despite his colours, he is a fan of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. He used to play Rugby for the Cook Islands. All the paperwork is done on-board just like you would expect at a remote atoll in the Cook Islands.

Harry mentioned that ever since he arrived last month he had been unable to transmit on his Single Side Band radio. One afternoon, Craig and Steve from Lady Carolina went in to check it out and found that his Tuner had been wired incorrectly. Together they got it sorted and we were able to do a radio test to our boat. Later that day, Harry was very happy as he was able to talk to Telecom and his boss via SSB. Well done guys!

This atoll feels like it is in the middle of nowhere.

Wing on wing sailing. The headsail is poled out port side and the main is starboard side with the wind coming from behind the boat. It can be a bit rolly at times but it is a good downwind strategy and we used it for our 680mile passage.

True Blue V 2016