S.O.S. or Smiles of Samoa
I highly recommend a journey to Samoa. We have never encountered people more willing to share their culture and being so organised to do so. Even a couple of near death experiences didn’t alter our perception of these friendly islands. The islands perse, are beautiful to behold. Lush green mountains with beach side villages adorned with carefully maintained gardens of colourful leafy plants create picturesque scenery. We were given two different reasons why the villages were so neat and tidy. The first explanation give to us by our Samoan guide was that there was a competition between the villages with substantial prize money on offer. The second sounds just as believable for receiving productive results. That is, every village has a women’s committee that inspects the yards and will fine the families if their yard is unkempt. The village and families play a powerful role in the politics here.
Now back to those near-death experiences. Thomas and I were invited to join a solo cruiser, Chris, on an island tour. We were both happy to revisit the parts of island that we had initially toured on the first day here. We especially wanted to swim in To Sua, the lava tube that opened into the ocean, again. We hadn’t taken our snorkel and mask on the previous visit and there was a cave leading to the ocean that Thomas was keen to explore. As we didn’t take our fins, I wasn’t so keen. Chris discussed the logistics of the cave with people returning from the other side. So off Thomas went closely followed by Chris. I dove down and saw that it was a fair distance before light appeared and was happy not to venture in. After a while, Chris returned without Thomas and explained how Thomas had missed the middle cave where you got a second breath of air before heading out to sea and had swam straight through. Upon surfacing outside, Thomas was gasping for air and was visibly shaken. Feeling his underwater cave exploration days were over, Thomas decided to climb the cliff to return to the trench. This resulted in a treacherous climb over steep and slippery rocks over a raging surf. Maybe the cave would have been the better option.
We continued to swim around the trench for a while and Chris continued to tell me how easy the swim was as long as you went up for the second breath. He ended up talking me into having a go and assured me that he would be close behind. So foolishly I headed off – but in the wrong direction. As I was clawing my way along the top wall, I began desperately looking for the surface. Finally, I saw a tiny glimmer of waves and swam quickly towards it. I found myself in a tiny air pocket and thought it was much smaller than I’d imaged. Next I thought I saw Thomas swimming past and was calling out to him. But it wasn’t Thomas, it was Chris and after a while he called out to me. I swam my way around a wall to join him and found him in an enormous cave. He explained how I’d gone in the wrong direction and was lucky to have found my air pocket. I agreed and Thomas and I have both decided that our cave free-diving days were over. We’d had our lucky escapes. Done is done. (Although there are some nice caves in Fiji we might have to explore).
Our social life was enjoyable on Samoa with most local people speaking English. Fiauu and Tavita came for visits and we had Chris over for lunch and dinner on our last night. Sue and Glen off the Australian yacht, Dione, joined us along with Tavita and Fiauu. We ended the night visiting the fire dancing once again. Very enjoyable. Fiauu brought the boys in the morning to say farewell to us. They were excited to visit the boat again and we promised them a sail the next time we visited. We checked out and headed off for the neighbouring island of Savai’i.
We ended up sailing through the night to reach the main bay, Asau in the far west of Savai’i and chose, wisely, to heave-to until daylight would help us with eyeball navigation through the reef. We had one exciting moment when the depth sounder screamed at us with an alarming depth of 1.6m. (our draft is 1.75m but this is set 60cm higher so we had a little bit more room). Rocks were just below the surface of the bow and we quickly pulled up and veered off close to a rock wall on the other side of us. Hearts thumping hard, we made our way across the deep water bay and anchored in front of a tropical resort with fales and palm frond thatched umbrellas lining the beach. Sue and Glen from Dione arrived and we booked a rental car to tour the island. We visited a canopy tree top walk, an ambiguous giant footprint in lava, some lava caves, a waterfall cascading over lava rocks onto the beach, but the attraction that was most enthralling were the blowholes. Outstanding and the best that we have ever seen.
A fellow dropped coconuts in them. A few seconds later they were propelled into the air with the massive rush of water. As the pressure built up is was as deafening as if you were standing next to a jet engine. Savai’i was a beautiful island. We soon all sets our sights on heading off to Wallis. Where’s Wallis you might ask? Heaps more pics below…