The crew of Egret is closing in on Niuatoputapu Island in the Kingdom of Tonga

Position: S15 45.52 W173 35.82, about 10nm from Niuatoputapu Island (New Potatoes), Kingdom of Tonga

Well, mis amigos, I am afraid we have had some technical difficulties with our blog but we are now up and running.

We were inspired to write these blogs due to the overall lack of information available to us when we decided to go long distance cruising. We read countless US magazines but none provided us with what we needed. We were dry sponges trying to put together a cruising lifestyle puzzle with most of the pieces missing. Most maddening were the words “routine passage” which left us feeling clueless. The relatively few authors who taught and inspired Mary and I gave us a priceless gift we have enjoyed over the past seven years.

By piggybacking the popularity of the Nordhavn website we have been able to reach out to people and inspire and educate those who wish to join us on the water. Our focus is long distance cruising and we know, for different reasons, only a relative few will join us in crossing oceans. The majority will be content coastal cruising, power or sail. Coastal cruising can be rewarding as well and it is much easier and cheaper. This said, I will give you fair warning – coastal cruising may make you look ‘out there’ and wonder ‘Can we do this?’

Long distance cruising isn’t rocket science. It’s actually quite easy if you are an experienced coastal cruiser, familiar with your boat, the weather and so on. Except for a few long stretches most ocean crossings is simply a case of connecting the dots. Sea miles bring knowledge and with knowledge comes comfort.

We are just one boat out there and our opinions and perspectives are our own. We believe it’s healthy to follow the experiences of as many boats as you can. There are a lot of boaters with more experience than theEgretcrew. It doesn’t matter where your information or inspiration comes from. What does matter is that if you think it’s a lifestyle you’d like to give a go you must. Time will march on, water is your friend, and time is not.

Monday 25 August
Back to American Samoa. The week missing in cyber space was spent in a social whirl. N55Myahhas decided to add New Zealand to its itinerary, so the crew left and headed for Tonga at the first sign of good weather, while the rest of us are anchored, waiting for mail and parts.

We haven’t received mail since leaving Puerto Montt in Chile in April. In the mail was a cheque from the US Government. Imagine that? Apparently we made such little taxable income last year that they felt sorry for us.

There is a secret to our mail that we’ll pass along. We use St Brendan’s Isle mail service . For a nominal charge they sort out your mail and get rid of all but first class mail, along with any magazines you don’t want sent overseas. They offer a number of other services as well. We have used St Brendan’s since we left the dock and they have never let us down.

Social butterflies
We spent the week going back and forth to boats for dinner. One evening we sponsored a fish fry for 16, which of course, means I get to fish again. We also spent a lot of time ashore together, the girls doing girl things and the boys perusing the hardware store and fishing shop on the island.

We also hired cars and spent a couple of days touring the island. American Samoa is a great place to visit. We’ve met a number of locals over the past week and have learned more about their life and culture. One thing different here from the rest of Polynesia we have visited so far is the ‘guest houses’ littered all along the road. The guesthouses are large open areas on a raised platform with a roof and they are gathering places for families to get together. The more prosperous the family, the larger the guesthouse. Also, a number of homes have a family cemetery in the front yard with two to four graves.

The other afternoon while we were treating ourselves to a chocolate milkshake with a number of yachties at the local gathering place, an Aussie couple about our age walked in. the husband had on a Harley shirt that jumped started the conversation (I asked if they had a BMW). For the past 12 years these two have driven their Harley in every country in the world, (over 300,000 miles on the clock) with the only exception of Tonga and New Zealand. Amazing. They must know more about customs and immigration than any boater alive. We talked to them for quite a while but we would love to have had them over for dinner to hear the stories in more depth. They hope to return to the US after New Zealand, buy a boat of some type and do the Great Circle Route, using the Harley to explore further on day trips. We suggested they invest in a small trawler. Hopefully we’ll run into them again before we leave. You can keep up with their adventure at www.horizonsunlimited.com/forwood/ 

We checked out of American Samoa on Friday. We had to visit a maze of offices, seeing this person and that, but in the end it was painless. Everyone was great, particularly after telling them we were leaving on Saturday or Sunday depending on the weather. In most places you only get 24 hours to leave after you check out. Afterwards we went to the local hospital to get our malaria pills. American Samoa has some type of medical system for the locals. We paid a small fee to get into the system, and then both us and our Canadian buddies onNew Paige, were able to buy malaria pills for a nominal amount. Malaria in Tonga is near non-existent but you never know – the pills are cheap insurance. The only downside to the pills is that they make you much more susceptible to sunburn so we’ll have to be super careful.

As we left American Samoa waves were stacking up against the coast after their long trek from the SE. It was a little sloppy until we turned the corner at the south end of the island and got away from land-influencing waves and tide. New Potatoes is a 34-hour trek to the SW and it was a wonderful, gentle downhill ride all the way.

Early this morning we had to turn around and slowly jog back up sea to delay our arrival. Currently we are turned around and approaching the outlying island of Tafahi. Tafahi is a perfect cone, which rises out of the sea with a white cloud covering its summit in the very early daylight. There is a warning in the cruising guide, ‘Ken’s Comprehensive Cruising guide for the Kingdom of Tonga’ about whales at this time of year, which hang out between Tafahi and New Potatoes. We haven’t seen any whales since before Easter Island so we are looking forward to seeing more of the giants.

So there you have it – another island in the wake and another on radar. What will this new island bring?

Note: A new batch of pictures from Tahiti through to arriving in American Samoa will be posted soon on the website.

Caption 1: American Samoa harbour with the yacht harbour in the background
Caption 2: Coastal scene SE coast American Samoa