Bon Au Revoir French Polynesia and Hello American Samoa
Checking out of French Polynesia I went to the immigration office. I said to the immigration officer “Bonjour” and explained politely that my French is limited and asked if he spoke English?
His response (in perfect English) was “you have to speak French here because in your country we have to speak English”
Fair enough, I held up my phone and told him I have Google translate if he has the time.
We proceeded to complete the check out process in English.
1079 miles/ 8-day passage from Maupiti French Polynesia to American Samoa
Strong winds and big seas for 4 of the 8 day passage
Halyard uphaul line broke from the spinnaker pole so “someone” had to go up the mast underway and retrieve it. I volunteered only because it had to happen fast and I wasn’t sure how quickly I could winch Martin up the mast. Scary 15 minutes up and down to get the line followed by a few days for the bruising to go away
Tsunami in 2009 killed 29 people in American Samoa and decimated the lower portion of Pago Pago Harbor
We arrived in the morning following instructions from the Harbor Master to come along the dock for immigration/ customs check in. While we were there, we hailed our buddy’s S/V Polar Wind to find out more about the anchorage. What we heard back about the anchorage wasn’t good. Since the Tsunami of 2009 the harbor is still a “Debris Field”. The bottom of the harbor is littered with cars, matrasses, toilets etc., S/V Polar Wind blew out their anchor windless dragging up a net that eventually got caught in their prop. Another boat in the anchorage at the same time hooked a car and couldn’t get their anchor free without hiring a local diver to dive on the anchor. In addition, the tuna fish processing plant releases tuna bi products into the harbor thus attracting Bull sharks so, diving on your anchor here isn’t really an option. A kitty pool, tractor tire and mattress were some of the other items fouled in anchors.
Hipping up with our friends on the dock seemed like a logical solution to the terrible anchoring situation. Strategically tapering the three masts so when the wind blew (and it did) our rigging wouldn’t get fouled into each other
Pago Pago Harbor
Gritty as it comes; two tuna canneries with all their smells when the wind blows just right and a huge working seaport. Yet, this harbor still has magnificent peaks of the protected national parks all around and the people are the friendliest we have met in the Pacific.
We were able to overlook a lot when the conveniences of American grocery stores/ restaurants were finally within our budget and our engine parts were ready at the post office.
National Park of American Samoa
The territory’s sole national park protects swaths of pristine landscapes, volcanic geology, rainforests and coral reefs
From Fagasa Pass we hiked 7 miles of the park’s lowland “up hill hike” and mountain rainforests
Bats are the only native mammals found in American Samoa. These bats were all over the place day and night, some with impressive wingspans
Local aiga or “family buses” are frequent but with no schedule so you just hail a bus and jump on board. For $1 per ride we were able to get all the places we needed to go…groceries, hardware supplies and touristy places
Day trip with John, Joe, Martin and Adrien to the secluded waterfall with deliciously cool swimming hole at its base
I don’t know how else to say this…American Samoans are physically huge. They apparently have the highest representation in the NFL relative to their population of only 46,773 and you can see why. They have huge hearts too and I would have to say they were the friendliest we have met in the South Pacific. We had people give us rides, help us out with directions and I was even invited into a families home for dinner after we had a conversation on the bus about our mutual appreciation for a good curry cooking. Genuinely friendly nation of people.