One of the worst things about American Samoa is the anchorage. It’s known for it’s nasty bottom full of stuff to get your anchor stuck on. We’ve heard of people pulling up tires, clothes, lawn chairs, cables, chain, you name it. Andy has dove on quite a few people’s anchors since we’ve been here, to help them pull it up, and the largest obstacle he’s found yet has been a 30’ sailboat where someone was wrapped around the mast. So to say that I was worried today when we finally decided to leave (yes, we did decide to leave), would be a gross understatement. Much to my surprise, without too much effort, we were able to pull both of our anchors up (we had a Danforth in tandom with our CQR, our customary way of anchoring here in the S. Pacific) in about 15 minutes. A huge relief as I wasn’t quite sure of the logistics of Andy diving on it and me doing both the driving and running the anchor windlass at the same time.
The wind is pretty light out here, anywhere from 8 to 14 knots so our speed is SLOW. I think we’re averaging 4 knots tonight, although we do have a double reef in. We always start our nights with a double reef in the main sail so as not to be surprised by any squalls that might pop up. I would rather go slow and make up the time later than get caught with our pants down, so to speak, and scrambling at midnight (which is inevitably when all the squalls will come). It’s an 86 mile trip to Apia, (Western) Samoa (they dropped the ‘Western’ so it’s just Samoa, but I feel the need to specify for some reason) so we decided to do an overnighter instead of trying to squeeze that all into one day and potentially coming in at night. We’re told there is a pretty nice marina there and you actually can’t anchor there anymore, so you have to go to the marina. We’re looking forward to that and I know Savannah can’t wait to have a bath! The bad part is, we’re running out of money this month. My trip home put a huge dent in things as did the diesel, groceries, propane, etc. So we have to stay in Apia at least until the first of the month so we can get paid (thus being able to pay our marina fees as well)! It’s been a long time since that happened! The good news is we’re stocked to the gills and won’t be missing any meals.
Lately we’ve been doing a lot of planning, thinking, speculating, trying to get a good handle on our plan. Our friends Sherry and Dave on s/v SoggyPaws have a pretty extensive hobby of researching places they’re going (I call it a hobby because I know they don’t get paid anything, but the amount of information they have is truly mindblowing. I can’t imagine how much time this takes, And to top it off, Sherry puts it all together for cruisers to share and add to), and they gave us quite a few documents/information they’ve dug up on the Gilbert Islands as well as the Marshalls, our ultimate destination for cyclone season. I’ve been reading all of that stuff tonight on my watch and unfortunately, it brings up more questions. As anyone who knows me or has read the blog for any length of time knows, I am a planner by nature (and profession, if I still had one) and I like to know what’s coming ahead. Since we’ve started cruising, I’ve laxed a bit in as much as I don’t mind just knowing what’s coming ahead in the next few islands, as opposed to our whole year. I always do research before we go, but never to the extent of the information I have now. I’m rambling, only to say that sometimes I think ignorance is bliss. Andy and I had our whole plan figured out and now I read about what other people have done and say, hmmm…. For example, the only official place to check into the Gilbert Islands on our route is Tarawa (there are other places but they’re way too out of the way for this particular trip, not news to us). You are not supposed to go anywhere before checking into Tarawa. Well, Tarawa is about 2/3 the way up the chain of islands. So you essentially miss quite a few places by being legal. Other points to note are that they are pretty strict on this rule. Apparently, in the past, there have been accounts of captains being kept in jail for disobeying. However, in one article I read, the captains of several boats got Visas ahead of time and when visiting the islands along the way, they just showed their visas to the local chiefs/police and that appeared to be fine. Tarawa still says it isn’t fine, but if they don’t ask… So that leaves one with a decision to make. We don’t set out to break the rules, that’s for sure - I get some serious heartburn over that kind of thing – but on the other hand, to pass all of those atolls makes you feel like you’re really missing something. Our original plan was to skip them going up, and get them in coming back down as Tarawa will be an easy first stop then. But alas, even this has it’s issues now. Apparently, they will only give you permission to visit one additional atoll after checking out. So we have to pick one. And technically, it’s only for three days, but I did read that most places welcome you for much longer as they don’t see many boats in these parts. Too much to think about...see what I mean about ignorance?
As always, when underway, what I lack in pictures, I make up for in quantity of words. I get bored and extremely chatty with my laptop at night. When I was home, my mom and I talked a lot about the planning we do (I think some folks think we just sort of show up with no idea of what to expect, usually not) so I thought this might be a good subject to expand on, and it’s what’s on my mind tonight. In the meantime, we’re going to check into Samoa and enjoy our stay here while sorting out the details.