Pronounced as two words Sa-moa was a fascinating island to say the least. So much to offer we surfed down waterfalls on our backsides, swum in freshwater tunnels that no one had reached the end of, had lunch on the beach with a mountain of beers and jumped off ladders into the sea caves on the south coast.
We arrived on the Friday morning having just contended with 40 + knot winds, Nick C had called in the port captain who’s kind reply was “please call me later”, what had we got ourselves into.
As we sailed into the small harbour we were met by the port authority who guided us to our marina berth. The marina was still in the process of repair after a hurricane sometime earlier so we had the added benefit of free electricity and water (a nice change as most sailors will agree). We went through the general proceedings with quarantine who once complete told us we were allowed to go as far as the bar to get some beers and wait for customs to arrive.
Damien took off in great delight of this news and returned shortly after with a six pack of local Vailima beer and a few cans of coke. Customs showed up a few moments later and to our horror commenced by telling us we were not at all allowed on shore and that we had to give up the name of the quarantine officer who had informed us we could, so customs could write up an official warning. Like all good matters we played dumb, gave a rough description and hopefully saved the guy from a complaint. Only moments later Damien started to read the details of the can of coke he was drinking, “not for distribution outside of Vietnam, for sale in Vietnam only”. Oh shit, the customs officer once again is staring in his direction, asked “What does that say…” Great, in the space of 30 minutes we have got one quarantine officer fired and placed another bar under scrutiny for the illegal importation of coca-cola. What next!
All in all though the customs officer who goes by the name of Jet Lee was a great guy, full of stories and invited us to his teams union match the following day. We cleared through all the formalities and headed in the direction of town.
We walked along the waters edge and continued to notice the friendliness of the people and the surprisingly large number of Kiwi’s living in the community. We went straight to Cocktails on the Rocks, a bar recommended to us, only to find beers sold in three litre jugs and Kiwi’s all over the place. After settling in with a few beers, Tom noticed a guy approach him who turned out to be a friend from his schooling days. It was arranged that we would go around the island with Anthony the following day so he could show us all the sites.
The night progressed like so many other nights on this trip, drink after drink after drink. We ended up taking a ride home in the back of a ute with Dickie a local from NZ. We can’t really recall how but we ended up with a group of about 15 on the boat including ourselves. Most of whom are working for Aus Aid in Samoa. We partied well into the early morning sharing stories, laughing and typically carrying on.
The next morning sun rise saw us greeted by Michelle Beattie who had just got off a 9hr flight from Sydney. Michelle didn’t know what to suspect on arrival but im sure it wasn’t Nick C in underpants and a few visitors from the night before.
After a few explanations mainly by Nick C we were greeted by Anthony who was to be our tour guide for the day. We had hired a mini bus similar to what you would find in the ski fields of North America. We took off with Nick C behind the wheel in the direction of the fresh water caves. The caves were an absolute highlight, we swam into the first cave, the water clear, fresh and cold. Swimming deeper and deeper into the darkness. Once at the end we where told you could dive under and see light which was the opposing tunnel. After much discussion on which of the boys was game enough to go first a loud splash came from behind us. Michelle had disappeared and was headed straight for the light. First thought was that she was having a look. When she didnt come back up we realised she had gone through. We laughed and then took turns until all of us had gone through. What we thought would be a challenge was a small 3 meter passage that was a lot of fun to swim through. The second tunnel however was a little different in that even the locals didnt know how deep it was. Apparently the tribesman many years ago used the tunnel to keep meat fresh as the cool water acted like a refrigerator.
We swam as deep as we felt comfortable in the tunnel until we realised we couldn’t touch the bottom nor see it. A slight panic from Nick C saw us all swimming out at an alarming rate. The locals waiting on the shore were in a fit of hysterics listening to all the carry on.
A quick dry off and we were back on the road headed in the direction of the ocean sea caves. We arrived at the sea caves, this was basically a hole just back from the ocean cliffs that you could jump off landing in the water that snuck under the cliffs from the ocean. We did this for a few hours enjoying seeing who could jump from the highest point or do the coolest trick. Tom won this hands down with his 10 meter backflip off the ladder. An impressive sight that still has us cringe on recalling it.
Back in the car again we had a short drive along the coast to our beautiful beach side lunch spot. A burger each saw us full and ready for a few beers and a relaxing afternoon on the sand. We played touch footy with a few of the locals whose athletic abilities put us to shame. After loosing the game we shook hands and jumped back in the car.
We drove through the centre of the island to reach a different vantage point from which to view the island. Along the way Anthony decided we should check out a new Treehouse bungalow that was being built by an American couple. Well worth the stop. The Treehouse bungalow was amazing. Built entirely by hand by a father and son duo, the first completed bungalow was a two bedroom one bathroom treehouse that had us exploring every room like kids again. Ladders into bedrooms and tree roots right through the centre of the house we played for about an hour. The owners rent the bungalows like any typical hotel. Something for you to consider if you ever make it to Samoa.
We finished the tour in true charm offensive fashion with more beers followed by a night out on the town. Our hosts are owed a massive thank you for such a wonderful day and experience in Samoa, it has been one of the best islands we have visited and our time there will not be forgotten any time soon.
We once again set sail with our new crew member and made our way North in the direction of Savai’i, the sister island of Samoa. Savai’i has a very small population compared to the main island but offers more natural surroundings. Here we shot coconuts out of blow holes (which Nick C misunderstood and thought we would literally take firearms to coconuts launched out of blowholes, something he is still upset about), we saw amazing freshwater waterfalls that Tom once again backflipped off and swam with turtles (not in the wild).
We conquered the island in one quick day as the team on Charm Offensive are all very keen to make it to Fiji as this will be the second last stop of the trip and the great place to enjoy a good celebration and farewell Michelle.
Charm Offensive aims to be home on the 15th July with the intention of a return party on the 20th July at the CYCA Ruschutters bay. We welcome all friends, family and followers who would like to meet the crew and those crew before them. We hope to have the boat close by so people can get a feel for the luxurious conditions of the Hanse 445.
Nick C (First Mate)