Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Western Samoa - The land of the Large People
Apia - 12 to 21 September 2010 - 13.50.00S-171.46.00W
We are desperate for fresh vegetables and fruits after having spent time in sweet isolated Suwarrow so we head to the markets. We find some provisions in dusty supermarkets and not a lot of variety but prices are much better than in French Polyneisa.
The marina is full and many of the cruisers we've met along our passage are here. A group of us decide to go to one of the traditional hotels for a buffet dinner with typical dishes and a dance show. The buffet is good, there is fish, pork, chicken and beef. There is a good variety of typical side dishes, there is one specially good, coconut cooked in a leaf of the bread fruit tree, another interesting dish is paw paw cooked with a coconut sauce.
The dance show is colorful, a style different than the one we saw in Tahiti, although the musical rhythm is very similar. The women movements explore hands rather than hips and the men dance have vigorous movements that resemble fighting.
We were surprised one morning in the marina by a customs official who came to do a survey on the boat.
He had visited Tutatis first, and Sandra came to warn us that their boat was inspected by a dog that had climbed all over the beds, kitchen counter tops and table. Yes, a dog wearing a police vest and little white boots sniffing everything looking for drugs.
We had dogs before on board in Cuba, but the dog was in a leash and it wouldn't go on top of beds and tables!
When the guy came to our boat Oscar was ready. No way a dog will climb on my bed and table where I eat, he said to the customs officer, you can go ahead with him but he stays on the floor!
Luckily Oscar got away with it and we weren't declared personna non grata. The dog stayed out.
What annoyed us most was that the only two boats visited were Tutatis, Brazilian flag and us, an Australian flag boat with a captain that has a funny Argentinian accent.
The customs officer explained there had been warnings, apparently from Australia, that drugs were trafficked in sailboats crossing the Pacific, usually the pattern were boats with delivery crews. After speaking with us I guess he realized we didn't fit the pattern and left us alone.
It's been raining a lot so we haven't had much chance to explore the island and after 5 days we decide it is time to keep going.
We leave in the afternoon with the plan to stop in Futuna in the way to Fiji. There was a good 15 knots wind and we sailed well alongside the coast of Upolu Island, we've done about 20 miles before it was time to turn around the west tip and go thru the Apolima Strait.
As we turned around the island corner the angle of the wind changed and we decided to turn the engines on to change the sails, and at that moment we find there is no traction, the engines are running but we don't have any control on the boat, the boat is going with the sails and the current and we start to get worried because we are close to the coast and there is dangerous reef close to shore.
Finally, after the little time needed for panic control, we find starboard engine is ok, there is traction, port engine is useless, no traction. In the meantime the night is here and we decide we better go back to Apia, as it is either 20 miles back against the wind or about 600 miles to Fiji. Decision is easy.
It was a painful way back against the wind that by now was over 15 knots, Zenitude slowly pounding against the seas at about 3.00 miles per hour.
Momo gives Zenitude his old cable
We decided to postpone our departure for another day and since the weather was good we rented a car to visit some of the beautiful water falls that are part of this island. There is a place where the water falls forming several swimming pools and it is popular for people (young) to jump from different heights. Young Oscar loves this type of adventure games and happily jumped from several places, me, eventhough very young as well, stayed happy just enjoying the scenery.
We had delayed our departure for one day to visit inland Upolu island. I like starting the trip just when the window opens but sometimes we need to compromise to be able to see places. We left with calm weather but I was concerned we might have missed the window. We decided we would stop in Futuna which was just 380 miles from Apia.
We are happily docked in a marina, at least for a while. It's been a long time since we don't have some of the comfort of a marina, long showers, lots of energy, no wet dinghy ride under the rain, etc.
The marina facilities are a bit run down but Apia has it's charm.
We are amazed at the size of the samoan people, they are large and strong, men wear skirts and have many tatoos, women are also strong and very, very large.
Samoans are friendly and hospitable, with the exception of the guy at the marina gate that wouldn't let us go out for dinner because we didn't have a marina pass, we decided to storm out anyway because we were hungry and outnumbered him, even if he was definitely a large guy!
The marina in Samoa
We got in touch with Apia Port Control and let them know we were heading back. We were not sure what exactly was wrong and were afraid of loosing the other engine. Oscar managed to manually engage the gear on the Port engine, so we thought that the problem was probably the gear cable.
Apia Port Control was fantastic, contacting us every hour to make sure we were progressing well. It took us about 7 hours to make it back. We entered in the dark, but we already knew our charts are right and the entrance is easy. Port Control allowed us to anchor as we didn't want to try docking in the marina with just one engine in the dark. They sent a boat that took us to the anchor point. So, here we were at around 2.00 in the morning, back in Apia.
The next morning we went back to the marina and Oscar started working on the problem. Surely enough, the gear cable was broken. Then is when you realize that no matter how many spare parts you have, you rarely have the one you need.
We could not get this cable in Apia. We would need to order one and wait for it to come.
And then, one of those things often happening in the cruising community actually happened, somebody says, I got spare cables. It was our friend Uwe from Momo. We've met Bridgite and Uwe in San Blass and now here they were next to us in the marina. Uwe had changed Momo's cables in Panama, before starting the trip and he had saved the used ones that were still in good condition. One of his cables was a good fit for us, a little bit short but still a good fit. We were really thankful to him, as we were able to quickly fix the problem and get ready to go on our way again.