Thursday, August 7, 2008

Arrival at American Samoa

August 7, 2008--When I saw that my last blog had been sent, I was surprised because I hadn't finished it yet. Oh well. Here we are in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The last two days were as close to perfect as one can get out here. The winds were steady and the seas were moderate so we made good time with a comfortable ride.

We spotted the Manu'a Islands around 4 o'clock in the afternoon yesterday. This is the first set of islands in American Samoa. Anchorages are available, but you can not anchor if you haven't checked in. I imagine that not too many boats are willing to sail back after clearing in at Pago Pago.

As I discussed earlier, no matter how we plan, we usually arrive in the dark. Today was not much different. At one point during the night, we thought about reefing the sails in order to slow down but then decided against it. Of course, the wind picked up, and we started moving between 6 and 6.5 knots--too fast to get in after sunrise. We decided to continue on see what how it went.

As we approach Samoa, we had to sail between Aunu'u Island and the main island of Tutuila, which is the largest of the islands of American Samoa. The wind was strong as we approached the smaller island and the seas were on our beam. That made for a very rolly ride. At one point, a wave hit the side of the boat, and then the water came into the cockpit. It hit me, of course, but not Steve. Now I was all wet with salt water. I just decided to let my clothes dry out instead of changing into something else because I would have just gotten wet again anyway. As we moved between the islands, the wind and waves calmed down, and it became much more comfortable. We had been using radar to approach the islands; however, it finally got light enough to see just as we needed to turn and go between them.

We approached from the northeast and then turned west to enter Pago Pago Harbor. This harbor is large and easy to maneuver in so we took down the main sail as we motored in. We called the harbor master three times to ask about checking in but never got a response. Gordon on sv Vari called us on the radio and said that we could just anchor and then check in afterward. We saw the anchorage for yachts and found a nice spot between Vari and Wind Dancer. The wind funnels into this bay so in the anchorage itself, it is normal to have winds in the 20 to 30 knot range with higher winds at times. The good news is that it keeps our wind generator making electricity, and today has been great for the solar panels. The island has steep, rugged, and lush forested mountains that branch out from the central ridge. Pago Pago Harbor is all that remains of the volcanic crater. We think that it is really a lovely island, and we are anxious to do some touring around the island in the next day or two.

We unloaded the dinghy and Steve went to Customs and Immigration to get us checked in. We are surprised that we have to do that since this is a territory of the United States. He then went to pick up our new alternator at the Yacht Club and grab some lunch to bring back to the boat. When he returned, we unpacked the NEW alternator and discovered that it didn't work--perfect! We are frustrated because Dwight in Albuquerque worked very hard to get it to us. We will have to deal with it tomorrow.

For now we will try to catch up on some sleep and figure out what to take care of tomorrow.

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