Schooner Seawanhaka

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Posting - American Samoa

Date and Time:

May 31 - July 3, 2004


Pago Pago, American Samoa

View Photos from American Samoa:


June 1st - Hooray! We made it to Pago Pago on the afternoon of May 31st. The harbor is absolutely gorgeous...unlike Fanning Island, which was only a few feet above sea level, the island of Tutuila is full of beautiful green mountains which plunge dramatically into a large harbor. We sailed in yesterday and anchored in the harbor but unfortunately we couldn't roust any customs or immigration officials on Memorial Day so we couldn't actually go to land until today. Pago Pago has a bad reputation among cruisers because of the two tuna canneries which make the harbor look industrial and produce an unpleasant smell, much like canned cat food. While it does smell when the wind blows a certain way, so far Pago Pago is fantastic. There's a lot to do here and we are all looking forward to spending a little time getting our land legs and exploring the island. - Elizabeth

June 8th - Darren and I set off to snorkel some reefs around the island. We took a bus to the far eastern part of Tutuila, and after a couple of abortive attempts being beaten up by the heavy surf, we found a great reef near the village of Alofau. It is a fishing reserve, and so has been somewhat protected for several years. We had to ask for permission to swim in the water from the matai, the local chief. The diversity of fish and coral was great, and depth quite shallow. We swam several hundred meters from shore, until the reef fell away into the blue depths. Battling the tide back to shore, we rewarded ourselves with a bit too much Vailima at Tisaís Barefoot Bar. They even had a Welsh flag amongst their collection of items sent by patrons! A fine establishment, indeed. Somewhere during the one Vailima too many, the last bus passed by quietly. We managed to flag down one off duty, and he kindly drove us miles out of his way for way too little money back to Pago Pago. Darren feels that now that he recognizes the stray dogs, it is time to go. Elizabeth cycled entirely too far today, and is now lounging on a sofa in the Seafarerís Center. Ps. With Bill out of town, we are planning a kegger on the boat. Shhh. - Mike

June 12th - Itís very rainy today in Pago Pago. I swear, you would think after living in Seattle that it would difficult to call anyplace rainy but it pours more in Pago Pago than anywhere Iíve ever been. Itís been a leisurely day around the boat after an activity-filled week. I spent one day biking around the western half of the island. Everyone warned me that itís tough to bike here because the cars zoom by but I think biking is a great way to see the island. Plus, the main road follows the shoreline so itís a pretty flat ride. On Wednesday night, Darren, Mike and I went to Tisaís Barefoot Bar to eat a traditional Samoan feast cooked by Tisaís sons in an umu, a open-air sort of oven where the food is cooked with hot rocks and wrapped in banana leaves. This food was amazing! We had roast pig, turkey, lamb, a fish casserole dish, breadfruit with spinach-coconut sauce, and papaya with cinnamon. The guys unwrapped the food and spread it out on a long table of palm leaves. There were about 10 of us at the feast so we all sat around the table together, eating with our hands. It was an awesome experience and fantastic food. On Thursday, Darren rented a car and had a ďguideĒ take him around the island. In the afternoon, he took Mike and I to a couple of very cool spots that would be hard to get to by bus or bike. My favorite place was a town up in the hills called Aoloau, which was nice and cool (the temperature was cooler I mean) and offered a gorgeous view of the villages and beaches below. We watched the sunset from the top of the mountain and then went to eat PIZZA!! I have been dreaming about pizza for 2 months so this was a very welcome meal, although it didnít compare to the Samoan Feast the night before. - Elizabeth

June 20th - It's been kind of a crazy week here in Pago Pago Harbor. Mike and Darren flew out to Raratonga in the Cook Islands for the week. Since the Cook Islands are east of us (upwind), the boys took the opportunity to explore a new island group. From their stories and photos, seems like they had a fantastic time experiencing Raratongan food & drinks, diving and meeting fellow travelers. Meanwhile, the stormy weather moved into to Pago Pago Harbor and the strong winds caused several boats to drag anchor. So, Bill and I spent most of the week on Seawanhaka doing anchor watch (i.e. making sure the boat didn't drag back), reading, and working on boat projects. I have been amazed at what a tight little community the cruising boats have...this was heightened even more by the stormy weather. The cruisers selflessly lend hands, advice, tools, gasoline, and anchors to each other in times of need. Even though we have only met briefly or known each other for a few weeks, there's a definite sense of community in this little harbor. After a few days, the winds calmed slightly and we went off anchor watch. - Elizabeth

June 23rd - After a delightful stay in Pago Pago, we are planning to sail out of the harbor on Friday, bound for Apia, Samoa. In celebration of Captain Bill's birthday on Saturday, we are going to sail around this island (Tutuila) to the north side and anchor out for a couple of days before sailing on to Apia. The north part of the island has no roads, very few houses, lots of pristine beaches and clear waters for snorkeling. It will be a welcome sight to be able to dive off the boat and swim & snorkel in the coral reefs after nearly a month here in Pago Pago Harbor. Tonight we are going to our favorite local restaurant, Tisa's Barefoot Bar, for a traditional Samoan dinner cooked in an umu (see June 12th was so good, we are going back again). We are taking Diane, our wonderful host from the Seafarer's Center here in Pago Pago, who has generously shuttled us to the airport and grocery store multiple times, fed us dinner and cookies, hosted a BBQ and generally been a wonderful friend during our stay. When we leave on Friday morning, we will say goodbye to our fellow cruisers (many whom we will run into again in Samoa or Tonga or Fiji) and the other friends we have enjoyed meeting in Pago Pago (Goodbye Judy, Don, Clara, Tisa, Jason, Candyman, Hymie, Simon, Hector and the rest). - Elizabeth

June 25 - We are still here in Pago Pago Harbor for a few more days. We got all ready to go, said our goodbyes and then the wind blew up from the southeast and changed our plans. It has been blowing a steady 25 knots, with gusts up to 40 knots so everyone is hunkered down in the harbor today waiting for the winds to subside. A couple of other boats are also planning to leave Pago Pago for Apia so once the winds calm a bit, we may have a caravan over to Samoa. Until then, we are writing a few emails, working on boat projects and catching up on some reading. When the wind calms, we will sail out for Apia.

June 27 - I'm going to sound a bit like a broken record but we are still here in Pago Pago Harbor, waiting for the wind to die down a bit. It's been very stormy for the last week without respite. On the other hand, we had a very fun birthday party for the Captain on Saturday night. We hosted a big shindig here on Seawanhaka with several of the cruisers from the other boats in the harbor, including Ken-B, Nai'a, Sloepmouche, and Heidi. It was a great party, complete with Samoan food, a carrot cake, some rum from Ken-B and a lot of tasty Vailima beers. A good time was had by all present, especially Captain Bill. We may never get out of Pago Pago but at least we'll keep having good times while we are here. - Elizabeth

July 2 - I've heard the saying "Any port in a storm." Now I think I know what that means. We left lovely Pago Pago Harbor on Wednesday, after nearly a week of waiting for the stormy weather to change. We sailed out around the west side of the island and anchored for the night in a quiet, uninhabited little bay called Aoloau Bay. It was a beautiful little spot...we dropped the hook, the Captain made a nice Mahi Mahi dinner and we spent the next day swimming and snorkeling around an awesome coral reef. Unfortunately, as we played around, the storms were developing northwest of us, which is just the direction we were planning to sail to Apia, Samoa. The winds, storms and lightening continued to build so our only choices were to beat upwind against the swells and into the storm to our destination, or to sail mostly upwind into the storm to Tonga, or to sail a few hours back to Pago Pago Harbor. We chose the safe haven of our familiar harbor so we are in well-known surroundings on this sunny, nearly windless morning. In a few hours we will sail back out through the harbor and head to wherever the wind blows us...most likely Samoa or Tonga. We'll keep you posted! - Elizabeth

View Previous Postings:

May 22 - 30, 2004 - Pacific Ocean Crossing
May 17 - 21, 2004 - Fanning Island, Kiribati
April 24 - May 16, 2004 - Pacific Ocean Crossing
April 19, 2004 - San Diego Bay, California
April 4, 2004 - San Diego Bay, California

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