"Arctracer" Letters

Samoa Arrival, Sept 2003

Our passage from Tonga to Western Samoa was pleasant and uneventful. We saw several Humpback whales and one smaller, slim whale we couldn't name. We caught a barracuda far from land, and two mahi-mahi as we neared Upolu Island. It was very different to have three-hour watches in the nights, instead of our usual six hours each. The wind was always behind us, and not too strong, so we just eased along at a comfortable 6-8 knots most of the time. We tried to slow down to avoid arriving at Apia in the dark, but the boat kept moving at about 4 knots with almost no sails.

We arrived in Apia, Samoa about 7 am yesterday, Monday September 1 here. (We crossed the dateline, so had two August 31 days en route.) By 10:30 we had cleared with the health, quarantine, customs, and immigration officials. There is a big festival here this week with lots of events. Yesterday there was a parade and traditional singing. Pete and Judi went to the singing, but we opted to get some sleep. Tonight we'll go to see some traditional dancing and eat some of the local food from the various booths at the venue. There will be a brass band competition and variety shows on following nights with the introduction of the Miss Samoa Contestants on Friday. On Saturday we'll go to the Teuila Festival Finale and the actual Miss Samoa Pageant.

The original objective of this Teuila Festival was to draw tourists here and provide a variety of cultural and sporting events. The locals have now really gone for it and it is a big event for them too. We were invited to go to a meeting at the port authority after checking in to find out about some of the events. We discovered that we'll have to be on the boat on Thursday at 11 am so that all boats can relocate for a few hours (who knows to where, but they said they would let us know) because of large canoe races and some other water races.

Once the festival is over we'll be doing some touring of the island - seeing Robert Louis Stevenson's former house and gardens, a rainforest or two, and perhaps some of the lava tubes and waterfalls. We aren't sure how long we'll be here, but hope to get permission from the immigration officials to check out and stop at the island of Savaii, just to the west of this island of Upolu. From there we aren't sure what we'll be doing. Possibilities are to go to the French island of Wallis before heading further west to maybe Tuvalu, Tikopia in the eastern Solomon Islands, and then Micronesia for the South Pacific cyclone season.

(view Teuila Festival photos)

(view Upolu photos)