Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 3 - Western Samoa to Fiji

LATITUDE: 16-15.10S; LONGITUDE: 178-28.65W
Miles traveled in 24 hours: 133
Miles to Savu Savu, Fiji: 152 (we will be there tomorrow afternoon - yeah!)

Well, things are always changing out here!

Yesterday, we went from having a good sail to losing our wind completely. I big storm passed in front of us dropping lots of rain. We stayed dry, but the storm took our wind. So, we ended up motoring all night. Not what we planned, but you do what you have to do...

Today, we have lots of wind (a little too much in my opinion), plus lots of clouds. So far, we are still dry except for the water splashing us along the port side.

We just took our first turn into the Nanuku Passage, which is the northeast passage into Fiji. Thanks to Carol (s/v Evergreen) for the waypoints! We haven't seen any land yet, but hope to before the end of the day.

It will be good to have this last passage over. We have beers chilling in the fridge for the celebration tomorrow. Wish you were here to celebrate with us!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Day 2 - Western Samoa to Fiji

LATITUDE: 15-18.14S; LONGITUDE: 176-26.61W
Miles traveled in 24 hours: 135
Miles to Savu Savu, Fiji: 285 (almost half way!)

First, I want to wish my wonderful sister, Becky, Happy Birthday. Thanks for always making me laugh. I love you, Bexs!

Now, back to sailing. We had a great sailing day - 24 hours of good wind, blue skies, and fairly calm seas. It was amazing. A few clouds gathered around us last night, so we prepped for a squall, but nothing. The clouds just sailed on by us. Yeah - 2 dry days in a row!

Today, is a little bumpier and a little cloudier, but so far - another good day of sailing. Hope it continues through the night.

It is definitely getting cooler the farther we head South. We both had jackets on last night and I am going to be wearing my socks tonight. We are a couple of whimps for sure!

And a sailing funny: Last night, while Doug was sleeping, a Boobie bird tried to land on our wind generator - unsuccessfully because it was spinning fast. I yelled at him and tried to chase him away from the boat. Then, the Boobie tried to land on our lower spreaders. I grabbed the flashlight and was shining it at him and yelling some more. I think I blinded the poor Boobie. Next thing I know, he is sliding down the shrouds and hit the deck - ouch. All this excitement woke Doug. He grabs my leg to get my attention, I scream some more and lose track of the Boobie. So, I have know idea if he fell in the water or flew off, but hope he is all right.

Poor Boobie - he won't ever try to land on Moondance again. It is a scary place!

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 1 - Western Samoa to Fiji

LATITUDE: 14-13.22S; LONGITUDE: 174-22.12W
Miles traveled in 24 hours: 131
Miles to Savu Savu, Fiji: 399

Well, the forecast for the first day was perfect - except for the wind. It didn't show up until 9pm last night, so we did 11 hours of motoring. Oh well. But, it was a beautifully calm day and no rain, plus we got to see a turtle and some dolphins along the way. All in all, a pretty good day.

Today, the winds are much better - averaging about 15 knots - so we are moving right along. Plus, the sun is shining and the waves are behaving (for the most part). Hope the good weather continues all the way to Fiji...

We have a busy day planned on Moondance - eating, napping, reading, and sailing of course. Wish you were here to hang out with us!

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Off to Fiji in the morning!

We have really enjoyed our stay on the island of Savaii, Western Samoa, but it is time to get moving again.

Fiji is our final destination and only 4 nights away. Hope Neptune is good to us! So far, the winds, waves, and current are predicted to be light and going in the right direction. Of course, we are probably going to run into some rain showers/squalls, but no avoiding them. I have already got our rain gear ready to go!

Our first stop in Fiji will be the Copra Shed Marina, Savu Savu Bay, on the island of Vanua Levu. We hear it is Cruisers Heaven. Looking forward to checking it out for ourselves.

It looks like we will be arriving in Fiji just in time to celebrate Doug's 60th birthday - yeah! Can't believe he will be 60 - he still looks like the sweet young guy I fell in love with over 34 years ago. Pretty amazing...

We took two road trips while we were visiting Savaii - it is a very beautiful island and the Samoan's so warm and friendly. It has been nice to be able to stay places long enough to really get to know the cruisers and the locals. We definitely like the slow pace. I promise to post lots of pictures once we get to Fiji and have cheap internet. Ah, the luxuries.

Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying a beautiful Fall!

PS: We are eating gourmet on this crossing. I made a batch of cinnamon rolls, a loaf of poppy seed bread, and Doug is baking up some pizzas - comfort food. Good thing we found that 5 pound bag of shredded Mozzarella - only $30US. Score!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Teuila Festival

What a great time we had at the 2013 Teuila (Ginger) Festival. So glad we stayed!
Taunting the Matai/Chief

It was a full week of singing, dancing, competitions, games, sharing their culture, and so much more. The Samoans really know how to have a good time so we fit right in.

Doug even made it on stage one night and was dubbed a Matai/Chief "Chief La Oso - Chief of the Rising Sun", along with 4 other gentlemen from the audience - all different Matai's of course.
Chief La Oso - Rising Sun

After that, locals would come up and ask Doug which Matai he was. We didn't realize he was going to be on Samoan TV and famous. Too funny!

Ali'i/High Chief Tauasa Sieula Avea had so much fun making them do crazy things - he had everyone in the audience laughing. Including the Deputy Prime Minister, which I just had to introduce myself to. Why not?

Maybe you will get to see the video of Chief La Oso one of these days...
Tug-of-War - what a battle

The Samoan competitions were not as intense as the Tahitians we saw at Heiva in 2011, but there was still lots of spirited games and so much heckling and laughter.

Our favorites were the Sack Races, Wheelbarrow Races, and the finale - the Tug of War.
Dancing a jig

One of the local ladies had a great time entertaining the audience and getting Doug up to dance a jig with her - hah!

The evenings were full of dancing and singing competitions, plus the Siva Afi/Fire Dance competitions. We loved watching all of it - so colorful and entertaining.
Love the Siva Afi/Fire Dancing
The yearly Teuila Festival is to promote tourism in Samoa, so spread the word.

We would definitely come back again. Enjoy the pictures!
Last year's Miss Samoa's

PS: We actually got to see Ali'i/High Chief Tauasa Sieula Avea when we were in Hawaii.

He would perform every Tuesday at the Marriott in Ko Olina, plus performances at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Small world!

Opening Ceremony - dancing for the Dignitaries

Beautiful choirs on opening night


More dancing

Dancing combined with a comedy act

Doug enjoying the festivities

Basket weaving contest

Coconut husking competition

Winners of the fire starting contest

Sack races - so funny

Lady Tug-of-War winners - they were tough!

More sack racing

Wheelbarrow races

More of the Opening Ceremony

Paddling contests

More paddling contests

Police Marching Band

Traditional tattoo - just finished - ouch

Tattoo artists tools

Beautiful ladies

And Vailima beer - of course!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beautiful Matautu Bay!

We have been here in Matautu Bay, on the island of Savaii, a week already - how does that happen?
Matautu Bay

It is a big bay with lots of reef and coral, plus great sand beaches.  Unfortunately, we haven't been able to explore more than the bay and the local villages due to our dinghy engine issues - rats.

We were lucky and our boat neighbors on Mazu and Mystic Rhythm were here with us for awhile and would take us into the Savaii Lagoon Resort.  A very nice place right on the beach with good food, cold beer, and internet.  The necessities!

Enjoying Savaii Resort and internet!
Since they left, we have been rowing our kayak into shore, which is not that easy and a little stressful - at least for me. 

We have to wait for high tide so that we can pass over the reef, plus fighting the current and the wind.  It only takes us about 20 minutes, but it sure seems longer.  Good thing Doug is a strong paddler cause I keep picturing us floating out to the open ocean - yikes!

Pretty villages - lots of pigs
Wayne and Sarah, who manage the Savaii Lagoon Resort, have been very helpful (and nice) and connected us to a engine mechanic, plus let us use their phone.  The mechanic has given Doug some good tips, which Doug immediately implemented.  The engine is definitely working better, but not quite 100%, but it will get us back and forth to shore.  Yeah - no more rowing!

Glass Bottom Boat
Today, has been very stormy with lots of rain and some big gusts of wind, plus throw in some thunder and lightening (yikes).  So we are having a boat day.  Working on projects, reading, movies, etc..  Nothing too exciting - except that it is pizza night - we like pizza night.

Next, we hope to take an all day tour of Savaii (if the weather improves).  Plus, we need to do a little provisioning before we start sailing to Fiji - our final destination. 

Hard to believe it has been over 3 months since we left Hawaii - our journey is almost over!

Mystery plant?
PS:  If you ever come to Samoa, be sure to check out the Savaii Lagoon Resort.  I think you would really enjoy the experience.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Made it to Savaii!

And it is beautiful!

We are anchored in Matautu Bay, off the island of Savaii, which is the "big" island of Samoa. Lush and green, with the highest peak around 6100 feet. Savaii is sparsely populated, but famous for it's rainforest, secluded beaches, waterfalls, and mountainous interior.

Our crossing was only 50 miles from Apia, Upolu. We had good winds (sometimes too good), but confused seas - as always. So ol' Moondance was rocking and rolling on all sides. We were very happy to drop our anchor. There are two other boats here - Mazu, our buddies from Mexico, and Mystic Rhythm. It is small anchorage, but plenty of room for us.

The wind is projected to be "kicked up" for the next couple of days, so we will hang around the boat for a couple of days and work on boat projects. Then, we want to spend some time exploring the island.

We will probably be here a week and then start looking for a weather window to our final destination - Fiji.

I have a bunch of pictures to share of the Teuila Festival - it was a great time. Hopefully, I will get them posted this week.

Hope everyone is doing well - we miss you!

PS: I gave myself a mullet haircut today - very stylish - not!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

A Very Special Day

We have met some wonderful people since we arrived in Western Samoa - cruisers and the Samoans.  Everyone has been warm and friendly and very interested in our lives.

Paulo and Family
But our best experience so far, was being befriended by Paulo - one of the security guards at the Samoan Port Authority which manages the Apia Marina. 

Paulo volunteered to take us around the island, plus to his village to meet his family.  No way we are going to miss that opportunity!

Falefa Waterfalls
So, we loaded up in Paulo's car and drove to the village of Falefa, which is located on the beautiful coast of Upolu about an hours drive from Apia. 

Paulo's father, Salesa, is one of the head Matais (Chiefs) of the village; Paulo is one of the Chief Orators (Talking Chiefs). 

Paulo and Doug having fun
We were greeted very warmly by Salesa (Father), Sita (Mom), Sefo (Brother) and PJ (Nephew) that share their home.  Salesa speaks very good English and we were able to sit in their Fale (open thatched roof house) and tell him about ourselves and learn about his family and village.

After a short visit, Paulo took us touring around the island, but promised that we would come back and have lunch with his family.  So, off we went.

What a beautiful coast
It is a beautiful drive across the island - so green and lush and so nice and cool! 

We visited the Sopoago Waterfalls visitor center, which is run by Tia, her family, and all of her chickens.  Just put some Tala in the Honesty Box. 

Sopoago Falls
The falls are beautiful, plus the grounds around the falls have been landscaped with all of the native plants and trees, plus signs written in Samoan and English with the names of each.  Very nice.

Paulo and Tia showed us how to husk, open, and shred the coconuts and extract the tasty coconut milk.  Tia's chickens sure love coconut - you had to fight them off!

Tia and her chickens
Next we drove to To-Sua, a giant swimming hole which is 100 feet deep and only accessible by going down a long ladder. 

To-Sua swimming hole
Doug was brave enough to climb the ladder and go for a swim.  The water is brackish - part fresh; part salt water and very clear, plus you can swim back into the cave. 

He said it was very refreshing and worth the climb.  I should have gone in.

Climbing back up
Then, a little more touristing and back to the Paulo's village for lunch.  What an experience!

Large handmade mats were brought out and placed in a cool spot for us to sit.  Well, we aren't very flexible, so the family thought it very interesting/entertaining that we couldn't sit cross legged like they do, but we managed.

Lunch with the Chief
Paulo's Father, Salesa, sat on his mat to the right of us (facing us).  Sefo, Paulo's Brother, prepared our food.  Apparently, men do most of the cooking in Samoa. 

The food was brought out on big platters covered with banana leaves and were filled with Samoan chicken and rice, taro covered with coconut milk, and corned beef.

A prayer was said by Salesa and then we ate - only the 3 of us.  The rest of the family had to wait until we had finished until they were allowed to eat.  Strange, but that is the custom.  Paulo did sit with us to fan us and make sure we were comfortable and enjoying our meal. 

After lunch, Salesa showed us all of the beautiful mats made by his wife, Sita, and insisted that we take one home with us, plus woven necklaces, papaya, and taro.  Paulo's family leads a very simple life, but were so very generous and we only brought brownies!

Enjoying the falls and cool air
Paulo, his wife, and children live in the town of Apia to be closer to work.  We hope to meet the rest of the family one of these days.  We have invited them to have ice cream with us, plus I want to send some gifts to their homes and give them a copy of the picture we took of our visit.  Something to remember us by.

Looking over the valley
It was really a wonderful experience and we promised to visit the family again if we ever return to Apia.  Next time, we will bring more than brownies!

Checking out the beautiful coast

PS:  You should have seen Doug trying to stand up after sitting crosslegged - what a hoot.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Having fun being tourists!

And we are.  Upolu is a big island and has so many wonderful things to see and do and we are trying to hit them all - why not?

Mel, Elaine, me and Doug - enjoying the waterfall
We joined in with Mel and Elaine (s/v Mazu) and hired a taxi to drive us around the island and show us the sites.  Here are some of the highlights:

The Baha'i House of Worship - Mother Temple of the Pacific Islands.  This temple is one of only 8 Baha'i temples in the world - all nine sided and each very different. 

Baha'i Temple
What a peaceful setting surrounded by beautiful landscaping - we enjoyed wandering through the gardens and the temple.  

Next stop, the Papapapai-Tai Falls - very dramatic - just don't get too close to the edge!

Papapapai-Tai Falls
Then we headed to the southern coast and checked out a couple of the fancy resorts.  Definitely out of our budget, but fun to visit.

Coconuts Resort
For lunch, we visited the Beach Fales at Cape Tapaga. 

One of the best beaches we have been to anywhere - so soft and with a great view of the islands. 

It would be a great place to spend the day relaxing in the Fales and snorkeling. 

Beautiful sandy beach
Lunch was a very slow process, plus not great, but we stilled enjoyed the stop. 

Next, our driver took us to the Piula Cave Pool - a beautiful fresh water pool where you can explore the cave.  Very refreshing!

Piula Cave Pool
As we passed through all of the villages along the way, we were amazed at how each village was beautifully landscaped and rocks and trash cans painted with the village colors. 

You could easily tell you were in a new village when the colors changed. 

Flowers - not sure what it is
They also share a community nursery where villagers can pick up plants and trees for their yards. 

The Samoan families live a very simple life, but are very proud of their homes and their villages. 

Wonderful to see and a very busy day - we were pooped!

We have also been touring around Apia.

Robert Louis Stevenson's home - Villa Vailima
The author, Robert Louis Stevenson, and his family lived on Upolu for 5 years before he died.

Posing in the Drawing Room
His home is now a museum and just beautiful. 

We enjoyed seeing how and where he and his family lived, plus our tour guide was quite a character!

The whole island is gearing up for the Tweila Festival that started Monday, so there is lots of activity. 

Fire Dancer - very fast!
We spent two nights at the Samoan Culture Village watching the Fire Dance (Siva Afi) Junior and Senior competitions. 

The competitors are judged by creativity, performance, speed, and other factors.  And, of course, how often they drop the battans.

The top 5 from each group will compete at the Tweila Festival Tuesday night.

We are looking forward to seeing them, plus all of the other events. 

It is going to be a very busy week.

Enjoy the rest of the pictures!

Enjoying the Yacht Club

Statue - End of Cannibalism in Samoa


More Fire Dancers

Beach Fales for rent

Garden at Baha'i Temple

Volleyball match- tough ladies in long dresses!