Departing Apia, Samoa at 11am, I rounded the island of Upolu and sailed through the Apolima strait as the sun set, slowly drifting south until the water glassed over, and an enormous harvest moon rose over Western Samoa, the smell of woodsmoke curling across the deck. I lit up my strobe and tri-light, and went to sleep, waiting for wind. An hour later the British ensign started flapping, a perfect easterly breeze arrived, and Constellation took off towards Niuatoputapu. After a textbook sail, for once we arrived at a reasonable hour, early in the morning, and navigated the channel into harbour. The charts were slightly off, and radioing for navigation assistance, I lined up the range markers, motored through the reef, and set the anchor. The scene onshore was devastating. It took sometime before I could hitch a lift in, as my dinghy is on it's last legs. Eventually on land, I walked to 'the capital', along a road of destruction... With army tents and families living under tarps, pigs ran around alongside undernourished dogs, open black water pits and small children. It's one of those times you can just stand there and watch, completely detached, unable to truly comprehend. Thoughts of sadness run through ones mind, coupled with deep feelings of utter selfishness, as if peering at a spectacle from the comfort of a lounge room sofa. The worst off somehow manage to consistently get the raw end of the stick... I also cannot help but remember all these islands of delight and sailing lore, are actually very small third world countries already on the edge. These people have been plundered by westerners since the days of ancient whalers and explorers, leaving behind diseases of the body, and those of the mind through missionary saturation - I was unable to understand my own presence, even though it was altruistic (to bring what supplies I could afford and store) and non-exploitative. I've never felt so out of place, and so aware of who and what I am, and where I come from.
I woke up to the haunting sounds of Christian song, bellowing from the nearby church, the pews mangled on the front lawn. On the one hand it's a beautiful sight and sound. On another my heart sinks. I spend the day helping boats ferry supplies onto shore. Brynne, a half Canadian, half Samoan woman I met at the Red Cross in Samoa heard of my sail down to Niuatoputapu, and helped donate supplies. All in all, I carried what I could, but it sat there in the cockpit and looked like a pittance in comparison to what was needed. I must say on a positive note, that the combined supplies brought in by many cruising yachts was a wonderful sight. Some boats were able to bring down huge quantities of provisions, most of which was privately funded. I handed out what I had to the Red Cross for distribution, and later helped distribute supplies from other boats via the town hall.
I still don't know how I feel about it all, I really don't, so I try to avoid thinking too much about it by worrying about my own petty problems, like the heavy amount of sailing that is still required to finish this voyage. Yes, I'm closer than England, but I still feel just as far away, now even more so. This goal of completion lessens in meaning every day.
I don't feel there is much more need to write... So below are some photos. I am now in Vava'u, Tonga after a wretched sail, in miserable conditions. Thank you so much to everyone who Paypal'd donations to help buy things for Niuatoputapu - Help was grossly hindered by the high cost of anything in Samoa, and the size of my boat, but I did what I could.
Boxes of nails, lavalava's, rice, noodles, tarps, crackers
A toppled truck, and cement water tank that drifted from the other side of the town hall