Last year cruising across the Pacific, I kept hearing stories about American Samoa. The basic gist was: the anchorage sucks, it smells, and the provisioning is really good. Well, coming here off season the anchorage is great, but the provisioning wasn’t quite as good as we’d expected. So there’s a big diesel power plant and the Starkist Tuna cannery right off the anchorage which certainly detract from the ambiance. On the other hand it gives the place a tropical Dutch Harbor kind of feel. Also the anchorage is strewn with wrecks sitting on the bottom just waiting to gobble up your anchor if you’re lucky enough to snag one, if not the holding is very poor and your boat is probably going to drag the first time one of the frequent squalls comes through the bay. Luckily for us, there are only 5 other boats in the anchorage and there are 6 moorings. The other boats had been here for all of cyclone season, so we got stuck with the mooring right next to the power plant, but still no anchoring hassles and no charge for the mooring. It’s also a great place to watch the races in the big 50 person rowing shells. Apparently the big race is on Flag Day in a week or so, but they’ve been out practicing every evening.
There’s a big Cost U Less store out by the airport which is a $15 cab ride away, so yesterday we decided to rent a car and tour the island while making our provisioning run. Even after all the islands we’ve been to across the Pacific, all three of us were enchanted. American Samoa is absolutely stunning. It’s probably a lot like Hawaii was back in the 40s. There are two hotels in town and one more by the airport, but other than that there are no tourist facilities anywhere. As you drive around it’s just one quaint little beachside village after another with meticulously kept gardens and smiling friendly people. The harbor itself is made up of the caldera of an ancient volcano with an opening on one side. The other sides rise dramatically out of the bay into lush steep cliffs making it easily one of the most dramatic harbors I’ve been in. The rest of the island continues the theme with steep, verdant hillsides and beautiful reef strewn or volcanic beaches with massive surf breaks that you leave you in awe wishing they broke over sand so that you could go out and play without getting killed.
The provisioning was certainly the best since Tahiti. Cost U Less is similar to Costco back home, but about 1/3 the size. The selection left us all wanting more, but prices were good and Bonnie Greg filled a shopping cart to the bursting point. Fortunately the nearby KS Market was similar to a grocery store back home and though a bit more expensive, nicely filled in the gaps with the rest of the products that we were craving. Unfortunately while loading up Willow from the skiff I tweaked my back something awful when Jake (the skiff) started pulling away while I was hefting a box up on Willow’s deck leaving me in quite an awkward position. So now I’m little better than an invalid, which would be quite a problem for Bonnie and Greg if I were continuing on with voyage. Fortunately for everyone I’m not. My Dad has made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse and so I’m flying out on Thursday to go back and work with him for a few months before hopefully getting on with Western Towboat come Summer. So for now my sailing adventures are on hold once again. I’m nearly scared to death of going back to Bellingham while temperatures are still only getting up to the 50s during the day, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do and it beats the hell out of going another 2400 miles to windward with a bad back. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see everyone back home in a week or so.