September 25, 2010

Free with a fill

Here we are at the world's smallest atoll, out in the middle of the ocean. We aren't suppose to be here. It is a deserted isle and a protected National Biological Reserve.....closed to the public but not to us. It is part of America Samoa so technically we are on American waters. I won't mention the name just in case they are searching the net to find any trespassers but I will say...the name is the name of a flower that people give as a sign of has thorns on it and the last time I got one from Graham it was free with a fill. LOL....seriously though.

Our sail here still wasn't that picture perfect sailing that we always imagined across the South Pacific....."The Milk Run" we heard it referred to......NOT. Still we should be grateful it was better than our last sail. The wind was behind us and blowing at about 25 knots with gusts and squalls pushing past 35 knots at times. Yucky but now strangely enough tolerable for the Perry clan. We averaged between 6.5 and 7 knots the whole way and we were severely reefed nice to be able to see the miles tick down quickly.

The pass into this atoll is INSANE!!! I guess since no one is suppose to stop here the charts are way OFF. Luckily we already had a few friends who had made it inside and they gave us a series of waypoints. Alex was begging us to let him fish through the pass since this is where the fish love to hang out. I am not sure why but we reluctantly agreed. He decided to shorten his line right up and try his cedar plug lure (Alex says...thank you High Five for the advice on the plug). Not moments after he gets it out and he is holding the line in his hand he feels the line cut at his skin. He quickly grabs the hand reel and yells at Graham. I slow the boat right down since we are almost on top of the first waypoint. They pull the fish in so quickly and Amelia passed Graham the rum in a flash. The beautiful yellow fin tuna laid beside me as I continue on into our trickiest pass yet.

Louis on Simpatica and Rolando on another boat came out to the pass in their dinghy to guide us in. When Artemo hit the first of the ebbing currents our bow began erratically moving from side to side. Louis was on the radio to get her under control and stay as close to the sharp jagged reef on my port side as I could since I would be pushed away from it. The pass was really narrow and in a zig zag. The current against us was about 6 knots. It was difficult to keep Artemo under control and still moving forward. I was in my "Power Zone" and even yelled out loud to Artemo, "Come on now! This is your f#$^&* time."

Alex was watching on our port side, Graham on our starboard and Amelia was reading out our speed and depth every few seconds. The reef was so close to our port side you could of touched it with a stick. Nearing the end the current was to much and our speed was dropping. Graham let out the head sail and .....whoosh....we had enough power to make it through. A huge sense of relief washed over me as we made the final turn and were in the safety of the open lagoon. As I reflect now on our pass I wish we could of video taped the four of us working so seamlessly together. We were a fine tuned machine working as a team. This moment was actually a culmination of these pass few months on board and all of us knowing our role and our value. Very cool.

Once we were safe and sound at anchor Alex went to work on the tuna. Once he was finished he took the carcass and attached a rope to the tail and hung it just above the water. There are a ton of very large black tip reef sharks here and we watched as they jumped out of the water and took chunks from the remains of this fish. It was actually quite frightening how easily they could snap through it.

Once we had cleaned ourselves and Artemo up from passage Graham announced on the vhf that it was time for a sushi party on Artemo and everyone was welcome. We had so much fun. Our new friend Ureko gave us a few new techniques for making the rolls. I was shocked as we all downed plate after plate of rolls and sashimi. The entire tuna is gone.

We plan on staying here until the winds die down. I am done with high wind sailing. I am staying until I see 15 knots!!! Mark my words :-). We will respect the fact that this is a wildlife sanctuary and we will try not to even leave any footprints of our stay here.


  1. OMG I remember getting a gas station rose from you! Remember that? We googled were you are, pretty tiny place. Amazing you found it in that big ocean.

  2. So was the barracuda gone already? You guys sure eat a lot of fish. Have fun and don't leave any footprints.

  3. This place looks SO cool from satellite photos! The reef is almost a perfect square, and the entrance very small. Perhaps protection from waves, but wind - not so much. You are so very lucky to be there. Enjoy!

  4. Having been introduced to your adventure by the Gromits I am sailing vicariously with you. I however am a bit drier.Keep being safe. Loved the Dr SUESS entry.
    Sue from Bobcayegon
    SV Lady Simcoe