Day 341, Year 1: Rainy Day in Apia

Day 341, Year 1: Rainy Day in Apia
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2006
Weather: Rainy and Cloudy All Day and Evening
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

It was an early rise this morning. We had to return the rental car by 10 am, and we had a few explorations to do before returning the car. We first went to the Fed Ex Office to see if the part for our boom had come in. It was not supposed to be here until Monday, but we were delighted that it was here today and that it was the right part. Hurray! After picking up the part, Mark and I drove around to check out a few places that I would still like to visit. We went to see just how accessible these sites will be without the rental car.
After we figured this out, we returned the rental car and met Justin as he was walking from one internet café to another. We all got online for a few minutes at the Green Turtle Traveler’s Lounge to check various things, and then we went to breakfast. Lynn had gone her own way early in the morning and we had made arrangements to meet her either at the vegetable market at 11 am, and if not there, back at the dock by 12 noon. Mark, Justin, and I took a cab to the Maketi Fou, the vegetable market, and observed the Saturday frenzy, but we didn’t find Lynn. It seemed like everyone in Apia was at the market. We did a bit of shopping and soon it was time to head back to the dock.

As the morning progressed into afternoon, the cloudy weather turned into constant rain. The rain continued way into the evening, but as I sit here writing this log, the rain has abated. Earlier in the afternoon, Justin invited Tom and Evi, Samoan fire knife dancers that he has met, to come aboard for a visit. Justin bought a fire knife from Tom and has really enjoyed meeting these guys. Tonight, Kathleen from Quantum Leap joined us for dinner and for music making. She and Justin have been sitting here for the past couple of hours playing their ukuleles. We really enjoy the company and music. After dinner, Justin took Kathleen back to Quantum Leap and he went into town to meet Tom and Evi at a local nightclub. Mark has actually head to bed, so just Lynn and I are still up.

We learned today that Justin and Lynn will be leaving late on Monday night, not on Tuesday, so they have only tomorrow and Monday with us. We’re not sure yet how we will spend the next couple of days, but we will begin by trying to attend a Samaon church service tomorrow morning. The singing is fantastic and we want to hear that if we can. Quantum Leap is probably leaving tomorrow for Tonga, so we might try to get together with Windcastle and Long Tall Sally tomorrow evening after a hike up to Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave site tomorrow afternoon. We read Stevenson’s Treasure Island aloud to Heather and Justin when they were only five and three, and Justin has always credited the reading of that book with his love of words. He loved Long John Silver and his “shiver me timbers”. Heather’s favorite poem when she was little was Stevenson’s “Up in the Swing”. So I think visiting his grave is a most appropriate way to thank him for his wonderful writing.

Days 339 and 340, Year 1: Beautiful Savai’i

Days 339 and 340, Year 1: Beautiful Savai’i
Date: Friday, September 22, 2006
Weather: Mostly Sunny Days with Intermittent Downpours
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

We’ve just returned to Windbird (10 pm on Friday evening) after two wonderful days on the island of Savai’i. This is the largest island in Polynesia other than New Zealand and Hawai’i, but much of it remains uninhabited. There is a road that goes all around the island dotted with pristine villages where people still live Fa’a Samoa-the traditional Samoan Way. Savai’i is also known as the “cradle of Polynesia”. The prevalent theory is that all Polynesians came from Southeast Asia to Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga. Sometime around 300 AD, Samoans from Savai’i sailed to what is now known as Raiatea in French Polynesia. It was named Havai’i by people from Savai’i. These same people went on to settle what we know as today as Hawai’i, and in the Southern Cook Islands, Avaiki, now known as Aitutaki. Over hundreds of years, these settlers of Polynesia carried with them their homeland name of Savai’i which was changed slightly by different dialects.

Our two days in Savai’i were just fantastic. We arrived and drove uphill through what was once the largest plantation on Savai’i. All of us (including me with my air splint, climbed to the top of a 12 meter star mound (volcanic rock structure) with a view from the top of the world. We then drove through a huge pasture to a waterfall. Only Mark and Justin attempted the climb straight down to the pool at the bottom of the falls, but just the view was great. Our next stop was at the blowholes on the southwest corner of the island. The whole coast is black lava rock and when the waves come in, they hit the lava rock with incredible force, and the water shoots straight up into the sky. It was very hard to pull ourselves away from here, but we knew we had to keep going in order to get to our beach fale in time for dinner. We drove up the west coast of Savai’i and then out a peninsula on the northwest corner to a rainforest. Here they have built a rainforest canopy walkway from one huge tree to another. The walkway is a swing-bridge that is nine meters high, and once you cross, you climb another five stories to see an incredible view of the ocean and surrounding rainforest. Again, I was able to do this thanks to the air splint I am wearing.

We ended our day on the northeastern side of the island at Jane’s Beach Fales. This was our stop for the night and we made it in time for dinner. It was quite a day, and it was amazing. Staying in a beach fale was also an amazing experience. Fale is the word for the traditional open-sided Samoan home. The beach fales are basically a wooden platform with a roof, traditional woven shades that can be lowered for privacy or to keep out the rain, and a mosquito net hung over a bed. The beds are a wooden base with a thin layer of foam. I must admit that the comfort level was not great, but the ocean waves lapping near your front doorstep makes up for the less than perfectly comfortable bed. We woke up to sunshine and headed to the beach to read before breakfast. After breakfast, Mark, Justin, and I snorkeled. Once we got out to coral, we saw many different types of little fish. Nothing fantastic, but always fascinating. We had a bit of time to lounge on the beach, but then it was time to move on. We all left reluctantly wishing we had more time to spend on this beautiful island, but we were booked on the 4pm ferry back to Upolu. We knew we had two more stops, so we moved on. We visited the lava fields and ended our day by climbing to the rim of a no longer active volcano.

We knew we had to make the 4pm ferry, so ready or not, we had leave Savai’i. When we got back to the dinghy dock here in Apia, we saw that there was a party at the dock. The local fisherman’s club was having a hot dog barbeque for the cruisers in port. Hot dogs are not are favorite food, but friends that we haven’t seen for many months had come into port while we were gone and we had a great reunion with Doug and Sylvie on Windcastle. Penny and Greg from Long Tall Sally that we met in American Samoa had also come in while we were gone, so we had a great time socializing.

Justin and Lynn have four more days with us. We hope to spend some time just relaxing, but there are still things we hope to do. We have had a great visit with them in a part of the South Pacific that we think is the best of what we have seen.

Tomorrow early we return the rental car and go to the Saturday market. So I’d better turn in so I’ll have the energy for new explorations tomorrow.

060921 Day 339 Samoa–Savai'i Tour Day One
060922 Day 340 Samoa–Savai'i Tour Day Two

Day 338, Year 1: Touring the West Side of Upolu

Day 338, Year 1: Touring the West Side of Upolu
Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day with a Few Sprinkles Here and There
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

Late last evening we decided that we would rent a car for today, Thursday, and Friday, and drive that car to Savai’i via the car ferry. Mark checked with Samoa Shipping to make sure we could book the car in tomorrow with a return on Friday. That was a thumbs up, so he then went to rent the car. As soon as he returned to the boat, we were off for a day tour of the west side of this island. We drove west along the north coast, south down the west coast, and then started working our way back east along the south coast. We forded a stream at one point and drove through some pristine villages where people still live very traditionally. Our first destination was the Return to Paradise Beach where the film by that name starring Gary Cooper was shot in 1951-52. It was a beautiful beach but the coral was very close to shore so swimming was not possible. But Justin found a perfect little pool in the lava rock where we could sit and swim. There were beautiful little blue fish, not many, but it was quite enjoyable. We had the whole beach to ourselves which was great. Our stomachs told us it was time to move on to find some lunch. I had read about a surfer’s resort not far away that served lunch. We found the resort and had our lunch on a delightful deck just off the beach. After lunch, we found a spot to swim and snorkel, but only Justin and I went in the water. We were nearing high tide and the waves were crashing through the reef and making the inner waters a little turbulent. On this beach there were natural black lava rock piers that jutted out into the water. Justin and I entered the water on the left side of one of these piers and then decided to go out and around the pier. Bad move. As soon as I was out of the protection of the natural pier, the current started sweeping me down the beach. Justin was able to help me reach the next black lava rock pier and hold on for dear life. Once I was on the inside of the pier, I was then able to swim to shore. It was a challenging swim/snorkel, but it was fun and the coral I did get to see was beautiful.

We headed for home by going across the Cross Island Road. Once we got back to Windbird we started making preparations for our trip to Savai’i tomorrow. Kathleen from Quantum Leap is going to look after Windbird while we are gone. We made our fale reservations for tomorrow night, and I have worked out a challenging two-day agenda. Savai’i is a big island and there is so much to see and do in just two days. We are booked on the 4 pm ferry back to Upolu on Friday, so we will just do as much as we can in the time we have. It costs $55 Samoan Tala per person to spend the night in a beach fale, but that includes dinner and breakfast. We decided that we could only afford one night, but I have a feeling that once we are there we are going to wish we could longer. We shall see.

There will be no long for Thursday, September 21, as we won’t have internet access, but I will let you know all about our trip when we return on Friday.

060920 Day 338 Samoa–Upolu West Tour

Day 337, Year 1: Web-site Back Up and Running

Day 337, Year 1: Web-site Back Up and Running
Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Weather: Improving—Sunshine with Short Periods of Rain
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

The Convergence Zone which was sitting on top of us yesterday has already moved south. This is a good thing. So now you see it, now you don’t. And I hope we don’t see it again for quite a while.

We started our day by going into The Green Turtle Traveler’s Lounge. First we did some work on the website, which should be back up and running again. Yeah! Mark went into town to get our permit to sail to Asau on the island of Savai’ once we leave here. While he was doing that we were talking to the people at the Green Turtle about traveling options on Savaii. But Mark came back without a cruising permit because the Prime Minister’s office (and in fact the entire six-story government building) was without electricity so they couldn’t photocopy our passports. So we will have to pursue this another day.

We then headed back to Windbird for a little lunch and went to the Palolo Reserve which is right around the corner to swim and snorkel. Once we did this, it was time to head back to the dock. Justin and Lynn went into town to participate in fire dancing lessons (Justin to participate and Lynn to video tape the presentations) and Mark and I headed back to the Green Turtle to make final reservations for our two day trip to Savai’i.. We kept hitting a brick wall in terms of making our reservations for Savai’i, and because of the delays we have decided not to go to Savai’i until early Thursday morning.

So we came back to the boat and cooked up a great curry while Justin went back to town to watch a show by the fire dancers he had met earlier. Tomorrow we have to get serious about getting reservations in order for our trip to Savai’i.


Day 336, Year 1: It’s Back (the CZ) . . . Ugh

Day 336, Year 1: It’s Back (the CZ) . . . Ugh
Date: Monday, September 18, 2006
Weather: Yucky Rain with Periods of Relief
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

Here we are again with the Convergence Zone sitting on top of us. We can hope it moves either north or south soon, but until it does, we have to put up with the rainy, rainy weather. We chose to do in-town activities today. We visited local art museums, went back to the Maketi Fou vegetable market, and then on to the local arts and crafts flea market. We made it back to the harbor area in time to drop off our purchases on Windbird and get back to shore for a dinner with Quantum Leap and Aqua Magic. Both of them are heading to Tonga in the next couple of days, so we needed to say a proper farewell.

Even with the bad weather, we had a great day. We hope that the CZ will move either north or south, and that tomorrow we will have sunny weather.

060918 Day 336 Samoa–Dinner at Our Favorite Restaurant

Day 335, Year 1: Care Package Arrived Today

Day 335, Year 1: Care Package Arrived Today
Date: Sunday, September 17, 2006
Weather: Beautiful Day with One Rain Shower
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

What we had anticipated would be a quiet Sunday just didn’t turn out that way. Late yesterday evening Justin was going to go into town to hear a local music group but the dinghy motor wouldn’t start. So Mark and Justin started their day today working on the dinghy motor. While they were working on this problem, we heard on the radio that a boat named Fluid Motion and our friends aboard Jade had their dinghies stolen during the night. To a cruiser, your dinghy is like your car or truck. It is your only method of traveling from boat to shore and having one stolen out here is a huge problem. There is no place to go to buy a new one. Both Fluid Motion and Jade started advertising a $250 reward for anyone helping them recover their dinghy. So far, they have heard nothing. All of us in the anchorage can only hope that tomorrow will bring better news.

Sometime mid-morning, I saw the catamaran Bamboo coming into the anchorage. I had heard from Penny on Long Tall Sally just last night that Herbert on Bamboo would be bringing me the “care package” I had been waiting for in American Samoa. Shortly after Bamboo anchored, Aqua Magic stopped by to pick up the package and bring it to us. They had been into shore for a church service and had heard on their mobile VHF that we were looking from someone to pick up the package and bring it to us. Channel 16 on our VHF radio is a cruiser’s news station and it works really well. Just like the old party-line telephone system, everyone knows what everyone else is doing and needing. It’s great. And opening the package was even greater. It had the aircast and splint I had been waiting for but finally received when Justin arrived. It had lost of special food treats from the Stuarts who had send the package, and a few special surprises from people I had worked with at the Concord School District. It was great fun unpacking it. Thank you to the Stuarts for sending this to me.

It took about three hours, but Mark and Justin finally got our dinghy motor going. At that point, Mark went to Splashes to help them install the boom attachment to their mainmast. Splashes is the boat that has the same broken boom attachment as us, so it was good practice for Mark to help them with their installation. Hopefully our part will be in mid-week. Splashes will be gone by then, but we will have had the experience of helping them. That should make our installment easier. Justin and Lynn dropped Mark off at Splashes and then headed into the internet café at the Green Turtle. Most things are closed on Sunday, but the Green Turtle is a traveler friendly place that stays open. I stayed on the boat to finish the laundry that Lynn and I had been working on during the morning. Laundry for four takes a little longer than laundry for two!

I had just finished getting all of the laundry hung when I saw Lynn , Justin, and Kathleen from Quantum Leap being towed home. They couldn’t get the dinghy motor started and with headwinds were having a tough row home, so another cruiser gave them a lift. We had lunch, and then Kathleen and Justin played their ukulele’s most of the afternoon. Lynn joined in for a bit, and when Mark returned home, he played harmonica. I worked on the computer transferring pictures from one computer to another and really enjoyed the music. Mark had to make one more “house call”. Margaret on Aqua Magic called for some computer help in the late afternoon and Mark went over to help.

We had dinner aboard Windbird tonight, listened to music, and just enjoyed the evening. We have no set plans for tomorrow, so we will just see how the day evolves.

060917 Day 335 Samoa–To Market, To Market in Apia