Western Samoa

The trip south to Samoa from Palmyra Atoll afforded steady trades, and good sailing, with only a few days of wind that might have tended on the 'too strong stop spilling my coffee!' side. Constellation averaged 110nm days, and I know she could do another 20nm a day, however as I always have, the sailing was more about conservation of the boat, and comfort for her crew than speed. During nights, I reef the main, roll in a bit of jib, and soldier on through the dark nights. Signs of life all the way from Hawaii were scarce: One tuna clipper, and one airplane. It felt lonely out there. Nearing Samoa, the wind died, and as I normally do, I became antsy and irritated. Thankfully after a bout of heavy squall activity, the wind re-appeared, and destroyed my entrance schedule into Apia, Samoa (perfectly timed until the wind stopped...)- We entered at 02:30am. Nervously listening to the waves crash upon the reef to starboard, the port authority directed us to anchor, and after 32 days, we'd officially made it to a south pacific island. Unable to clear customs and forced into the marina (cheekily, anchoring and staying at the marina costs the same...), the quarantine flag flew, yet security didn't mind me going into town without clearance - I would have died, sitting on the dock watching people eating real food, and drinking cold beer after so long at sea, bound by the gates of the marina. As Monday rolled around, we were visited by five state departments: Immigration, health, customs, agriculture and the port authority. All those names might seem intimidating, but really, you just write your name, address, and boat name on five different pieces of paper, holding different titles...

Arrival, Apia, Samoa

For the first time in awhile, Constellation was not the smallest boat in the harbour. There lay, a boat registered in Copenhagen, a 25ft yacht. I was livid! Yet after that particular boat left, life went back to normal, where Constellation was dwarfed by what seems to be a dominance of 40ft+ boats - Many registered in Australia, and New Zealand - Home seems just around the corner.... The shops are full of Maggi Two Minute noodles, Milo, Vegemite, Tim Tams... (Apologies to non-Australians, none of that will make any sense). It's beautiful here, and the people are extraordinarily friendly - The Samoans appear to have held onto their culture more than any other place I've visited, and it's refreshing to be on an island that hasn't been completely overrun by colonialists. It isn't devoid of missionary success though, however I guess that's another discussion best saved for my non-existent blog covering geopolitical musings and island theology... !

I've experienced much of the island with the friendly help of local Samoan, 'Time' (pronounced ti-may), having the opportunity of seeing a Samoa not everyone gets the opportunity to experience - This weekend I have been invited to a local wedding, and even a spot of night bat hunting! Yet as with every landfall, it isn't long before ones mind starts wondering to the next port of call. I feel a tinge of melancholy and excitement about seeing the east coast of Australia on my Pacific charts. The official two year anniversary of this voyage passed on the 17th of this month, but really, this is all I've done for three years (the first spent paying for the boat, among other things). While I'm sure it will wear off very quickly, I often yearn for a dose of my former reality: The ability to lay in a bed and bend my legs completely, to buy a coffee on a whim, or see long lost friends. I know some of you are sitting there, scoffing at that idea, but what can I say - I do know wanderlust will hit me again like a freight train soon after this is all done, but I have to be somewhat honest - I am getting tired. Not tired in a bored sense, but tired in an emotional sense. Thankfully the very thought of these beautiful islands and my distance from home, keeps my motivation strong, even on the worst of days. Anyway, I think you came here to hear about paradise in the south Pacific, not the idle whimpering of a palagi... Here are some more photos.

So, the next stop is Fiji. I will leave next week, and after that... Who knows. Maybe a straight hop to mainland Australia. Or maybe I'll scrap all that and visit Tonga en route... Or Wallis Island, or Norfolk Island, or maybe even Lord Howe. There is a lot to see, but limited time as another hurricane season follows me around the globe. Every boat I seem to meet is high-tailing it to New Zealand - I would love to touch the north island of NZ, yet it would mean waiting another several months before I could make my passage across the Tasman Sea...