TOTAL MILES TRAVELED ON SAIL to SEE EXPEDITION: 11,069 NM
THE LAST PASSAGE
Total Miles traveled on last passage – 1,513 NM
Miles traveled using SAILS – WIND POWER ONLY: 917 NM
Miles traveled using both SAILS & ENGINES together: 585 NM
Miles traveled using ENGINES – FOSSIL FUELS ONLY: 11 NM
Ship Sightings: We passed one Chinese Fishing boat quite close just after sunset. We changed course to get further away from it because we were afraid we could get caught up in the fishing nets or lines.
Animal Sightings in Pacific Ocean: Dolphins
Animal Sightings at Suvarrow Atoll: Sea Turtle, Manta Ray, Hermit Crab, Coconut Crab, Black Tip Reef Shark, White Tip Reef Shark, Grey Shark, Fairy Terns, Magnificent Frigate Birds, Brown Boobies, Red-footed Boobies
VOS Reports Filed: -- 8 VOS weather reports were filed with NOAA on this passage through our satellite communications.
Average Air Temperature: 85.5 f/ 29.7 c
Average Sea Temperature: 84 f/ 28.9 c
Strongest Wind: 18 Knots (knots are a wind measurement of Nautical Miles per hour)
Plastics Collection: We took a break from our trawls on this passage and saved our energy for an informal plastics survey and beach clean up on an uninhabited island in Suvarrow Atoll, a group of islands in the South Pacific. Here is a video we made about it. Please share it with anyone you know who cares about the health of oceans and marine animals. There is more information below about plastics on the island.
We departed Christmas Island (Kiritimati), Kiribati with a crew of 5 - plus Moonlight the cat. We had quite a few miles to go to Samoa so planned to make a stop in Suvarrow Atoll in the Cook Islands to break up the trip. The sailing conditions were really good though the moon was quite small which means the nights were very dark. With just five of us, everyone on the boat had to stand a watch. Our watches last from 3-4 hours and require at least one person to be awake all the time - day and night. That person is responsible for the safety of everyone else on the vessel.
WHAT ARE WE WATCHING FOR?
Boat traffic, approaching weather, shallow water, floating objects, fish on the fishing line and land!
We spotted Anchorage Island at Suvarrow on our 6th day after leaving Christmas Island. Since it is an atoll we had to enter a pass to get inside. The pass is right at the middle of the north end. You can find it in the photo and map. We ended up being the only humans there as the rangers have not showed up for the season yet. There was so much wildlife on the islands and all around us.
On our first evening, we went ashore and Emma realized something was moving beneath a hammock she had climbed into. She thought it was a hermit crab but it was actually a very tiny sea turtle that looked as though it had just hatched and was trying to make its way to the ocean. We guarded it from the terns and frigate birds that were swooping around overhead. It would have made a tasty snack for one of them. It took nearly 20 minutes for it to reach the water’s edge. We didn’t touch it but cleared the path of palm fronds and coral chunks. Sea Turtles imprint the sand so that they will return to the same beach when it is time to make a nest. Once it reached the water, it swam off – looking ever so small in a big ocean.
There were lots and lots of hermit crabs and coconut crabs that startled you as you walked along the paths. In the air were tropic birds, terns, frigate birds and boobies. In the water, we saw black and white tip reef sharks – all quite small. There were some more territorial grey sharks around so we didn’t stay in the water when they showed up. One of the most exciting things we saw were three large manta rays – about 6-8 feet wide - swimming around large coral heads. They show up in the morning to have a cleaning – by rubbing against the coral and also by letting small cleaning gobies, a type of fish, eat the algae off of them.
We picked a spot with a wide beach to document the plastics that had washed ashore. It was pretty shocking – mostly plastic bottles and fishing gear but also straws, spoons, toothbrushes, bottle caps, flip flops. The large pieces break down into very tiny pieces that fish and birds can ingest. From afar, the islands look idyllic but up close you start to see the trash and debris. It’s a big problem. We carried away about 7 bags of trash that we collected.
Moonlight, the ship's cat is not always in a good mood. Having a thick furry coat in the tropics can make a critter grumpy!
After spending three nights at Suvarrow Atoll we departed for Samoa. It took us three more nights to get there.
TALOFA! This is how to say hello in Samoan. We arrived in Apia, Samoa on a rainy Monday morning. Our few days in Apia, were very busy with laundry, shopping and cleaning. It poured down with rain most of the time we were in Apia. People who live there said that it was unusual to have so much rain at this time of year.
We also took some time for exploring the island. Along the way we saw many waterfalls and passed through tidy villages. Some Samoans still live in traditional houses called “Fales” – pronounced Fah-Lays. The fales are rectangular or oval and have a high roof held up by many stiff posts and a concrete floor. There are no solid walls or windows. You can see straight into them which doesn’t allow for a lot of privacy. They lay mats on the floor to sleep at night and many had mosquito netting in an area for sleeping but no screens and definitely no air conditioning.
We went to a Cultural Center and learned about the art of Siapo Cloth making which is traditional Samoan Art. Bark from a mulberry bush is soaked and then pounded into sheets. The sheets are dyed and painted with designs using natural materials in red and black. We also learned about the art of Tattooing which many people believe started in Samoa.
On the south side of the island we visited the Tu Sua Ocean Trench. This was a deep hole above and next to the ocean. We climbed down a ladder and swam in it. The steep sides were covered with large ferns. The bottom was sand. There was an underwater tunnel that went out to the ocean. It was a very cool place.
Some of the crew went to visit Vailima, the home of the author Robert Louis Stevenson. You may have read his most famous book, Treasure Island. He sailed to Samoa in the late 1800s. The house is atop a hill with big views of the harbor from the wide verandas. It is furnished as it was at the time they lived there. We learned that he had fireplaces put in the house even though they were rarely used because it is warm year-round in Samoa. The local builders did not know how to build a proper fireplace so they smoked like crazy whenever they were used.
We are getting underway to Fiji next and plan to stop at a island on the way that is the top of an active volcano! Stay tuned!!
WHERE WE VISITED: SAMOA
Other Names: Independent State of Samoa, also formerly known as Western Samoa
Area: 1,093 Sq Miles / 2,831 Sq Km
Type of Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Currency: Samoan Tala
Language: Samoan, English
Highest Point: Mount Silisili on Savai'i 6,093 Feet / 1,857 Meters
Climate: Tropical with rainy/dry seasons
Economy: Agriculture, Tourism
Major Exports: Fish, coconut oil and cream, copra taro
Natural Hazards: Tsunamis, cyclones
The flag of Samoa was officially adopted on January 1, 1962. The symbolic flag display the white stars of the Southern Cross. The blue is said to represent freedom; red is representative of courage, as well as being a traditional Samoan color.
The word tattoo in the English language is believed to have originated from the Samoan word tatau. Traditional Samoan tattooing is a full body tattoo. It takes many weeks to complete and is very painful. The traditional female tattoo in Samoa is the malu. In Samoan society, tattooing is viewed with cultural pride and identity as well as a hallmark of manhood and womanhood.
Our friend, Chris, in the bottom right photo has the full body tattoo.