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Cruising Notes for US Samoa

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 01, 2008 12:33 PM

Published: 2008-09-01 12:33:06
Countries: American Samoa

Originally from a report sent in 2005 by Lilly Vedana & Thomas Müller of Yacht MIZ MAE
Updated by John and Marcia Spiess of Yacht Tracen J., August 2008

US Samoa has for many years been a favourite shopping place. Yachts arriving from French Polynesia and Suwarrow often run low on fuel, service items and groceries due to the high prices and the limited availability of supplies in above mentioned islands.

US Samoa and Pago Pago harbour is home to a seriously big fishing fleet with all the services surrounding them. You will find almost everything, but it can be hard to locate. The people are extremely friendly, but move at their own speed, and people in a hurry may get irritated by that.

Arrival & Clearance
Port Authorities will require incoming yachts to tie up at the tug dock at the container terminal during normal hours of 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, to do their check in. If you arrive at evenings or weekend yachts may anchor in the anchorage and fly the Q flag. They are then expected to dingy to shore and visit the authorities during normal business hours. The authorities here are NOT heavy handed. Check in involves the Port Captain, located in the container terminal, Customs, located in the container terminal, and immigration, located a short walk down the main road. Immigration can be busy dealing with incoming workers for the cannery, etc but let them know you are on a yacht and they will take you directly to the person responsible and handle the check in without waiting in any lines. No one here has paid additional fees for boat movement to the gas dock or haul out facilities.

The bottom is silt and light mud. DO NOT cheat on scope. The best holding is from the small boat wharf back to the end of the bay on the side opposite the cannery (south side) in depths from 80 to 35 feet. Many boats drag especially when squalls come through during the night. Set 2 anchors in a row and sleep better, say the locals.

Can be obtained at the fuel dock (VHF Ch.16) by pre-arrangement (water also) or in jerry cans at the Seaside market by the dingy dock at a cost of USD 5.20 (8/08).

General supplies
There are three most important shops right on the customs wharf. These hardware shops supply autoparts, engine service components, tools, hydraulic services and can help to source a lot of other equipment. Everybody was most helpful and friendly.
There are several half sized supermarkets in town and on the way to the airport. The biggest one is all the way by the airport, about 30 min drive by car. "Cost u less" is a bulk market, but sells en detail as well. Sometimes they have transport back for you, check with the manager prior to shopping. There is a fresh food market 2 minute walk east of customs dock. Go early!

LPG Cooking gas
Available at the eastern side of the harbour mouth. Passing all the way along the fish factories. Too far to walk, but very friendly. No problems with fittings, you can wait for your tank to be filled.

There is ANZ and Bank of Hawaii to choose from. Changing money is expensive at both of them with 15US/change at the ANZ and 10 US/change at the Bank of Hawaii. The ATM machines are a better price and so much quicker! VISA, Mastercard, Maestro and most others work very well and are widely accepted.

You just have to try the colourful buses going everywhere for between 50 cents and 1 dollar. SADIES is an excellent restaurant and guesthouse who will rent you a fair sized car for 65 US/day.

Parts shipped from the US are not taxed and no duty. Use US Priority Mail when possible. Shipping time is about 7 days and very inexpensive compared to other islands.

TELSTRA communication centre is a 5 minute walk from the customs dock in the very centre of town by the main post office. Wireless Internet with good coverage in the harbour is available for USD 15 per month unlimited usage form American Samoa Telecommunications Authority. They will need your MAC address to set you up.

Haul out facilities, bottom painting, metal fabrication and general repair are available, by the cannery, at MYD (monitor channel 16). A member of the local yacht club has a large sail makers sewing machine and does minor sail repair. Welding and bottom cleaning are also available. There are two small workshops on the waterfront of the customs dock for small repairs and electrical work, even rewinding of electrical motors.

No real chandlery in town, but check at the hardware shops or at SOS, Sepp´s or Casamar.

All services available at the LBJ Tropical Medicine Centre past the Yacht Club and up the hill.