Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I now have a feeling to associate with the word, "Godspeed". About two hours after we left Fiji on Sunday, the wind came up from the East and we have maintained speeds around 7 knots ever since. The seas are gentle and Nomad feels as if she is flying on her own with only a few minor adjustments occasionally to her direction. The skies are blue with fluff scattered across the horizon. It's addictive. I wish every passage was like this one.

We hadn't even planned to leave on Sunday. We departed Apia and arrived on Saturday evening to the south easterly port of Savaii (Second island of Samoa) with the intention of staying a few days and availing Brian of the nearby surf spot. As we entered the crooked pass with it's series of red beacons on the left and green ones on the right, I ran to the bow to look out for shallow spots. The Savaii harbor master hailed Brian on the VHF and insisted we come immediately to the commercial wharf to have our documents inspected. What we wanted to do was find an anchorage before the sun went down but we complied. The Assistant harbor master, Palu, and a few other fellows met us and tied up our lines. Palu came aboard to rifle through our paperwork. We were missing a form, he told us. "it is unfortunate that you are unwilling to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive official permission to visit our island. I cannot welcome you to come ashore." This wording has since become fodder for jokes between Brian and me but at time it was rather irritating. We'd heard only one mention of said form and it was from another cruising couple while we were standing outside of customs, completing our (we thought) final exit paperwork from Apia. Since it was late in the day, we had no opportunity to track down this office in town. Also, we've heard enough "you have to do this" type information from other cruisers to take most things we hear with a grain of salt. So, we agreed we'd done what we knew we needed to do and we left without much concern.

Palu, who based on his odor, had already started drinking for the evening attempted to call his boss and got no answer. He berated us for not hailing him when we arrived at the pass (not something we ever did in Mexico or South Pacific) and reiterated that he could not welcome us ashore until his boss arrived possibly on Sunday and more likely not until Monday. He granted us permission to spend the evening and stay on our boat until the situation could be sorted out. However, he wanted to know if we had any alcohol on board. We said we had a little bit. He insinuated quite boldly that he'd like us to offer him some and sat in our cockpit patiently. I pulled out two partially filled bottles for him to decide between knowing that this was a weird situation. Officials have never requested anything more than a drink of water, juice or coffee, who did this guy think he was? He sniffed my offerings and somehow thought better of his request, left our boat and shooed us off the dock. We pulled off the dock and found a decent anchorage near the inside of the pass. In the morning we began finishing our sail repairs (reinstalling grommets on the main sail for attaching the sail to the sail track and finalizing a rip repair). Around 11 am we finished our work and hadn't gotten a call from the harbor master so we weighed anchor and headed to Fiji. We'd been able to receive a weather file that morning and things looked fine for our trip. They've been more than fine. The first day out 3 more cars broke off the sail track so we had to fix them while under way. But the seas have been rhythmic, the wind steady, and we're happy to be flying to Fiji and excited to meet up with the folks from the Lautoka YWAM base where we will be volunteering for most of October.

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