Friday, September 15, 2023

A Welcome Port in a Storm

As we last left our intrepid sailors they had just arrived safely in Pago Pago, American Samoa. 12 hours of big seas and high winds and they were exhausted.  There is only one port/anchorage on the island and it has quite a reputation. It is a long thin bay that acts as a wind tunnel, accelerating the winds off the sea and adding the catabatic winds off the mountains. Other bonuses of this anchorage include very poor holding for the anchor and strong smells from the Starkist Tuna Cannery right next to the spot designated for small boat (as opposed to tankers) anchoring. Ahh, tropical paradise! 
In actuality once we got our anchor set it did hold quite well. We did put on our anchor alarm app as an added peace of mind. This app will track where the boat us and alert us if we drag further than a specified distance. 

The ideal anchorage will have a minimal amount of movement on the anchor. This movement was just in one day, a very active anchorage. Whitecaps in the bay meant that we had to put on rain gear to try to keep ourselves dry when we took the dinghy ashore. The silver lining to all the wind was that it drowned out the noise of the cannery and blew away the smells!

Once we did make it safely ashore we had a chance to explore American Samoa.  The people there were some of the friendliest that we have encountered in our time on the boat. We encountered ready smiles everywhere and offers to help with whatever we needed. I do have to mention, however, that across the board,  they were pretty poor at giving directions. They would always do it with a smile, confidently give the information (even when it was quite obviously wrong) and finish it up with the statement- "you should probably check with someone else when you get closer". Good advice.

American Samoa is one of the last chances we have to buy electronics that are 110v. Most of the rest of the world uses 220v and sell the appliances for that voltage. Our boat is set up to run things on 110v and so replacing things can become a problem. The biggest thing we were in search of was a small printer, but we were unsuccessful. 

Fun facts about American Samoa: 
American Samoans are considered "non-citizen nationals" which means they can reside in the US and hold US passports, but they do not have voting rights, cannot run for office, cannot serve as officers in the military (although they can enlist) and are excluded from holding certain jobs such as law enforcement. 

American Samoa has the only US National Park south of the equator. It is the only park that is on leased land that is still controlled by the local communities, which still use the lands for subsistence farming and fishing. 

Some beautiful big trees with size comparison to our lovely model

This is looking across the bay to the beach in the previous video. The video was taken on the left side of the strait between the islands.

I love the blues of the sunlight shining through the waves.

Our time in American Samoa was short but enjoyable (when the winds calmed down and we were off the boat!) The people were lovely and the hiking in the park was beautiful. After the somewhat pricey experiences in French Polynesia, American Samoa brought some financial relief; even simple tasks like doing laundry were refreshingly affordable, with a load costing just 75 cents instead of the $4 we'd grown accustomed to. prices were a welcome relief after French Polynesia (laundry was 75 cents per load vs $4). 

We spent a week in American Samoa, resting, provisioning and hiking. Sailors plans are very weather dependent. Sometimes we don't get to spend as much time in a place as we would like, and sometimes we are in a location just waiting for a good weather window. We got a break in the weather and even though it was sooner than we had planned, we decided to move on to Tonga while we had a chance of a calmer, safer passage. 

We love to hear your comments.

Barbara Namkoong Gooby said...

Amazing trees. What is the flower you're holding? Where are you off to next? Fair weather and following seas to you!
~Barbara Namkoong Gooby

Sarah said...

The trees were amazing and I don't know the flower. I did at one point but the name eludes me now. We have seen these flowers in many places, Panama, Tahiti, and now American Samoa. Off to Tonga next!