05 August 2014

Apia

4 days of glorious (mostly!) downwind sailing got us from Suwarrow to Apia, the capital city of Samoa.  We had the option to detour via American Samoa (Pago Pago) but decided not to, and took the direct route to Samoa.

Most of the sailing was done wing on wing, with both headsails poled out, and for some of that I kept the mainsail up with 3 reefs, sheeted in to reduce the roll a little bit.  Overall there wasn't much swell or rolling, however so it was OK with or without the main.

Early on the second morning we got hit by a series of strong squalls, each only lasting a few minutes but the strongest gust in the last one reached 44 knots!  I had the small autopilot running at the time and it refused to hold a course in those gusts so I was reduced to hand steering.  After that the wind reduced nicely, however, and gave us a good run for that day and the next day.

Early in the morning on the 4th day we were up taking in the poles as the wind had swung around to the north, and by the mid morning we had the wind on the beam.  It was still fast sailing and we managed to make Apia before sunset with a little bit of motor assistance.

Apia is quite pretty.  To say there are lots of churches is an understatement -- there are dozens of them and some are quite massive, such as this Catholic church on the waterfront in town.
As we had arrived in Apia too late in the day to clear customs, we spent a night at anchorage before moving into the marina (which was nearly full but one space was made available).  There was an endless procession of visitors to Chiara Stella -- health, quarantine, customs, port authority, immigration and then finally a tender to lead us in to the marina.

We spent a bit of time watching the outrigger races on the harbour.
Stopping at the marina allowed us to take on water (which we were short of, as we weren't able to use the watermaker in the harbour), and top up the batteries with shore power, which I'm now making use of by running my main laptop.

There are a few bars nearby the marina which can get noisy at night, but we've been taking advantage of those to have a few drinks, watch the rugby (go Waratahs!) and generally chill out.  It's also useful to be able to ride the bike to the nearby supermarkets -- of course we have been unable to restock provisions since Rarotonga.