What mixed feelings I have about this place. Halfway between American Samoa and Hawaii, it’s the only island within 1200 miles that has airline service. I thought that I had a length of wire long enough to replace my headstay, but it turns out that my spare was 16” too short. If I had run to any other island, I wouldn’t have been able get wire flown in and would have certainly had to come up with a less satisfactory, jury rigged solution. That’s the good.
The bad is that the passage to the lagoon has shoaled and it’s no longer possible to get inside the lagoon. Instead, I’m in a roadstead anchorage rolling away in the swell that wraps around the north side of the island. The motion of the ocean makes it difficult to work aloft and made for a trying ordeal when I took the headstay and furler down.
Additionally the beach along here is all coral. It’s a bit sharp to comfortably drag an inflatable up from the surf line. Oh yeah, that swell comes through and makes landing a dinghy that much more unpleasant. Fully doable, but the better option is to make the mile long trip through the pass to the old wharf on the inside of the lagoon. The pass is shallow and gets pretty good sized waves, especially when the wind is blowing against the tide.
The bright side of the long dinghy ride into town is that the water is absolutely beautiful and the sea life abundant. Large schools of fish dart away from your skiff as you pass through and I’ve yet to make the trip without seeing a sea turtle or a manta. The other day there were four mantas at once feeding off the point a few hundred yards from where I’m anchored.
Speaking of sea life. I came back to the boat the other day and was treated to a show as 40+ spinner dolphins were jumping and playing a few hundred meters from the boat. I went over and was able to get my little skiff up on a plane. The dolphins loved it. I had as many as 7 at once swimming in front of me, jumping and dodging back and forth.
Town itself isn’t much to write home about. Besides the weekly plane service, they get a few ships a year from Honolulu and Fiji. Even “fresh” food can be months old and prices are astronomical. Prices are in Aussie $. 1 egg = $1. 1 apple = $2.20. 30 pack of Budweiser = $105. Needless to say, I won’t be stocking up too much here. I did fill up 20 gallons of diesel to replace most of the 30 gallons that I burned on the trip here from Samoa. At $1.60 per liter, it wasn’t too expensive.
When it’s working, there is internet available and the local telecom run internet cafe. It seems to be down half the time and is pretty slow, but at $1 per hour at least it’s reasonably priced.
I was joined in the anchorage a few days ago by a Islander Freeport 41 named Journey (sailingissexy.com). Eric and Elizabeth are a young couple from San Francisco, 6 months into a 3-5 year cruise. They were good fun to hang out with, but only stayed for a few days before taking off for French Polynesia. They’d just come from the tropical paradise of Fanning Island and weren’t inclined to spend too much time here at Christmas.
Yesterday I scrubbed Bodhran’s hull so that I’ll be all ready to leave once I get my headstay fixed. I’d cleaned it in Pago Pago before I left. That was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life. The harbor water there is so foul and an amazing amount of growth had built up in the 4 weeks that I was there. Even though I was moving for most of the last month, I’d had a nice colony of gooseneck barnacles attach themselves to the hull while I was underway. It’s amazing how these little fellas float around in the middle of nowhere and then glom onto whatever happens along.
This morning was a bit of a heartbreaker. Criag Short up in Honolulu had tried to ship me a new length of wire to replace the headstay, but it was bumped from the flight. There’s only one flight a week, so I’m stuck here for at least one more week……sigh!