Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 0- Savoring sailing in Samoan waters

Time: 2300 Zulu Sun 8/12 (noon Samoa time Mon 8/13)
Position: 13-deg 42-min S 171-deg 54-min W
Wind: ESE 14 Seas: ESE 4-5-ft
Rig: 80% jib alone
Distance from slip B16 in Apia: 11.4-nm
Approx. distance traveled: 25-nm

We were ready (almost) to leave the slip at 0600 local, but there was heavy traffic in the Apia Harbor on this Monday/Labor-Day-turned-Father's-Day Samoan holiday. At that moment, a very large ketch named Christopher had just entered the harbor looking for anchorage and a 515-ft cargo ship was just outside the harbor entrance awaiting tug assistance. So we chose to wait for the traffic to pass- which took over 2-hrs. Though it did delay us (an acceptable amount) from our plans (set to allow us enough day light time to make passage between the two main Samoan islands), it gave the sun time to come up and allowed us to download and check weather one more time.

Once underway, the harbor is so small that we were quickly past all of the secured traffic and outside the breakwall into the swell once again. We raised our 80%, turned off the engine, and hoisted our triple reefed mains'l as we exited the reef-flanked pass. With seas on our beam, it was immediately uncomfortable conditions and wind piped up enough for us to drop the main so Chris could go on deck to disconnect our anchor and plug our haus pipe for passage. Quite soon we were able to fall off to head around the west end of Upolu Island. An hour after, we jibed to port tack to head toward the straight between Upolu and Savaii and put up the awning to protect us from the pounding sun. This tack brought us more into the lee of Upolu and surprisingly comfortable sailing conditions. Fluffy white clouds floating over the sun-dappled volcanic island, small swell, and noticeably lighter winds were slightly reminiscent of the Kona coast of Hawaii. After the first few moments of feeling green, these conditions have kept the seasickness at bay for Chris' first time ever to enjoy the beginning moments of a passage. We will keep our fingers crossed that this continues. At the noon point, we were 35-nm from our waypoint on the other side of the straight which we hope to reach before the sun completely sets. Until then, we'll keep a sharp watch for the ferry traffic connecting the two islands. Onward toward Tonga!

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