27 Aug Tutuila Island in American Samoa
We slept well our first night in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Overnight we had some rain, but little wind, it was nice and calm, which was awesome after a passage. In the morning we were sitting in the cockpit relaxing and were welcomed by a local boater, who promptly let us know that we were anchored in “Slide Alley”. Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango) anchorage is well known for its not so friendly bottom. Anchoring is a skill, that takes a lot of time to master. (If anyone ever does?) Once you set your anchor, there can be a feelings of relief, joy, gratification, as now you hope to be safe and secure in your home on the water!
After hearing that we were in Slide Alley, we discussed our options. With the weather predicted to be calm for a few days, and the anchorage super busy, we decided to stay put until the wind decided to pick up again. Our friends, sv Summer, were in a good spot and they would be leaving in the next day or so, and we could take over “the” preferred spot. (We have heard that the best holding location is west of the Marina concrete wharf, near 14 16.440S 170 41. 667 W).
We arrived in Pago Pago on a weekend night. As we entered the harbor we called the Port Authority, but received no reply, so we continued into the anchorage. We were unsure if we would need to take Maia to the wharf for checkin on Monday. However, we walked to the harbor masters office and personally checked in with them, customs, health and agriculture. They are all located in the same building on the wharf. By the time we finished with these check-ins, (we spend some extra time at the harbor masters office enjoying a conversation with Frances) we needed to wait until the next day for Immigration (as they close at noon.) The immigration office is located up the road and has a big whale on the side of the building. The front guards were very helpful in pointing us to the correct office for our checkin. All checkins went well, though we had to come back to health and agriculture and knock hard on the doors, before we were helped. We also heard that if you checkin after 4:00 pm or on weekends there is a $150 charge.
Our first afternoon we made “dates” with friends to do laundry. This probably sounds a little strange, but they have real laundromats in American Samoa! The price was only $3 to wash AND dry, a large load of laundry. This is a big deal, since leaving the US, if we did not hand wash our laundry, we used laundry services or used marina’s washers and dryers. Those prices were expensive, we were paying from $10 to $30 for a load of laundry!
American Samoa is US territory, so the US dollar is the currency. It was refreshing not having to go to an ATM and get foreign dollars. We spent a little over a week in Pago Pago, it was great for stocking up on foods as we are still a couple months away from arriving in New Zealand. It was especially good for me with gluten free and dairy free products :). We had heard that Cost-U-Less was a warehouse type store (apparently a Costco affiliate). Much to my surprise and glee, they had some of my favorite products; including Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes, Garden of Eatin blue corn chips, multigrain chips, large amounts of raw nuts and gf flour. I even found Chocolate Coconut Bliss ice cream, (my favorite non-dairy ice cream) at the Forsglen market. We also located additionally “needed” products at the KS Mart. We found good produce in all stores, as well as local produce at a outdoor market near the dock.
The Internet worked fine for us; checking email, doing a little web surfing and catching up on friends and family on Facebook and Instagram. We purchased sim cards from the local internet provider, Bluesky, and were able to use our smartphone as a hotspot for other devices. Overall, prices seemed to be a little above US prices, which was to be expected as we are on a small Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
Our friend Conner, from sv Sea Casa, had friends of a friend, Ian and Nerelle, who lived and worked on the Island. They live on Coconut Point. A real treat was spending an afternoon snorkeling with them (and taking real showers with hot water in their home.) After snorkeling they graciously drove us around to several grocery stores. We had 3 boats provisioning and we filled up the back of their Toyota Tacoma with all of our foodstuffs!
We did not do any real sightseeing, but did enjoy seeing the area mostly by bus, as we traveled around to the different stores to get supplies for Maia. Generally it seemed to be about a 20-30 minute ride. Every bus you get on seems to have a different “theme”. Our first ride was on a bus with a big screen showing WWE wrestling with the volume up! (Not what was expected in American Samoa!) Other days the bus ride was more enjoyable as music was playing and you could take in the scenery and observe the locals. As with most of the South Pacific we found a language barrier, as Samoan being the first language and English second.
Dick had an interesting experience trying to fill up the propane cylinder. He went to the bus depot and asked to go to butane refill terminal. His first bus ride took him to a store where they thought he wanted to exchange the bottle (this does not work as our fittings are different). Next, they took him back the other way to another store. Finally, he got on the correct bus and made it to the Origin Company in the village of Aua, where the bottle was filled with butane. After Dick finished he walked out front and a women stopped and asked if he wanted a ride. He graciously accepted and as they drove back to Pago Pago, she apologized as she stopped several times to deliver meals to seniors. It turned out she was the Chief of Aua, they had a lively conversation on local politics!
As we have been traveling thru the South Pacific we have continued to cross paths with the boats we met in La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta, Mx). It was fun to arrive in Pago Pago and meet up with some of our buddies, Summer, Sea Casa, Nightide. Once they all departed, Dazzler arrived and next, to our surprise Harlequin! Besides our laundry dates, we had fun eating a few meals out with friends at the Goat Island Cafe, (they had a $10 breakfast special that we really enjoyed).