Date: Friday 11th June
Time: 1600 hours Samoa Time (GMT – 11 hours)
Position: 14* 12.1’ South/ 171* 18.7’ West (28 n.m. from Sinalei)
Bula Viti, Rotuma kei Vuravura
We finally caught some fish. Just before dark last night the wonderful sound of the fishing rod buzzing caught my ear and I turned to see the rod on the Port stern bending like it was about to snap.
Johnathan yelled out “It’s a dolphin, no it’s a fish on the line” as he saw a large fish jump in the wake of the canoe.
I remembered I had set the drag fairly loose so I relaxed a little and moved to stern calling for the helmsman to turn into the wind.
Johnathan gathered the crew together and they dropped the Gennaker while releasing the sheets to slow the canoe down. Sonny and Kelekele pulled in the other two hand lines while I waited on the rod ready to start bringing the line in as soon as we had slowed down the canoe.
What ever had taken the line was big and I was ready for a long battle. Once we had slowed I started to reel in keep the rod tip up high and using the flex of the rod to slowly bring the fish closer to the boat.
Every now and then the fish would run and I had to remind myself to relax and let it run. There was lots of advice from around me but I was in another zone and their voices seemed muffled and did not make sense.
It was getting dark and I wondered how much longer it would take to get the fish close enough to gaff. As I got the fish closer to the canoe, I felt the handle on the winder of the reel snap off in my hands. I passed the handle to one of the crew and continued turning what was left of the winder in my hand, one turn at a time.
Once the fish saw the canoe the reel hummed again as it dived deep under the canoe and the line leapt across the stern. I called for the mainsheet to be pulled in so we would move forward away from the line.
Then the fish swam under the canoe towards the stainless steel centerboard. I yelled out “Pull the centerboard up quickly”. The centerboard was hurriedly pulled up and the fish started to swim in large circles under us.
Suddenly the line went slack and my heart missed a beat, we have lost it I thought. Then I looked aft to see Sonny hoisting the fish over the high stern using the gaff and Johnathan assisting to get the big fish over the rail.
Several torches lit up Sonny and the prize. It was a 40kg plus Walu (Spanish Makeral) almost as long as Sonny is tall. He and Johnathan hoisted the fish proudly for the waiting cameras.
“Lose” I shouted, “Lets celebrate with a Tanoa”. Everyone shouted in agreement. What a shame we had already had dinner. The fish would have to wait till breakfast.
Most of the discussion that evening was on how we would cook the fish. The wind stayed with us all night at 15 – 20 knots and we were averaging 7 – 8 knots through the night.
We could see four lights up ahead on our Port. They were Evohe, Hine Moana, Foftien and Te Matau a Maui in that order.
By early morning we had caught and passed Hine Moana and Evohe. At daylight we could see Tutuila (American Samoa) on our Starboard bow.
Everyone was up early ready for a fish breakfast. The request the night before was for Sashimi and rice. We were able to try Charley Maitere’s (Our Tahiti - Raiatea guest crew) home-made Tahitian Sashimi sauce. It was delicious! Vinaka Charley!
Right after breakfast the two hand-lines went crazy and we soon had two Yellow Fin on board, one 5kg and the other 8kg. No sooner had Sonny put the Starboard line back in the water, then it jerked tight against the bungee and another 10kg Yellow Fin was on the line.
We decided to throw the smallest of the three fish back into the ocean for “Tagaroa”.
We decided that the limit on Bananas on board would be two bunches before we would catch fish as we just had two small bunches uneaten. There were suggestions earlier that it was all the corned beef on board that was giving us the bad luck with our fishing.
What ever it is we are grateful to be eating fish again.
Later in the morning we dropped the two Yellow Fin off in a bag for the Ranui to collect as it headed for Apia. They would share the fish with the other two support boats, Evohe and Foftein.
At 9.30am Tevita sighted Upolu in the distance ahead of us.
We continued on our North Westerly course towards the South side of Upolu to Sinalei. We will arrive later tonight but will wait till morning for the other canoes to catch up so we can enter the Pass together at high tide.
The Welcome Ceremony will be held on Sunday (Monday Fiji Time).
Below is the story of the Samoan Tatau (Tattoo) which is said to have originated in Fiji.
Colin/Uto ni Yalo
Report by Satellite Phone courtesy of DIGICEL
Samoan Tattoo (Tatau)
Legend of Tattoo in Samoa
According to stories and songs recorded in the 19th century, tattooing in Samoa was first introduced by two sisters who were twins, namely Taema and Tilagaiga. They went to Fiji and acquired the tools and how to use them from the Fijian tattooists Filelei and Tufou.
On their return to Samoa from Fiji Taema and Tilagaiga were instructed to deliver the message “tattoo the women and not the men”‘. They sang this over and over again while they paddled their way back to Samoa. However, on their way there, they saw beautiful shells underwater. So they decided to swim down to get it. When they got back to their canoe, the instructions got mixed up and they sang “tattoo the men, not the women” instead. This was the message that reached Samoa and thus came to be part of Samoan tradition.
Women Tatau is called Malu. The Malu was traditionally worn by the Taupou.
The Taupou is the Matai's Daughter who was pure and was looked at as a Princess of the village.
See picture below of the Malu
The men’s tattoo is called Pe'a but once finished and is proudly worn it is called Soga'imiti.
The Pe'a was traditionally worn by the Matai (High Chief) and the Manaia (High Chiefs son who is like the Prince of the Village etc)
See picture below of a Pe’a
Traditional Samoan tattooing of the pe'a, body tattoo, is an ordeal that is not lightly undergone. It takes many weeks to complete, is very painful and used to be a necessary prerequisite to receiving a matai title; this however is no longer the case.
Tattooing was also a very costly procedure, the tattooer receiving in the region of 700 fine mats as payment. It was not uncommon for half a dozen boys to be tattooed at the same time, requiring the services of four or more tattooers. It was not just the men who received tattoos, but the women too, although their designs are of a much lighter nature, resembling filigree rather than having the large areas of solid dye which are frequently seen in men’s tattoos. Nor was the tattooing of women as ritualised as that of them men.
The whole process was highly ritualised with songs to be sung and tabu’s being placed on those that were undergoing the ordeal. Some of the first European visitors to Samoa commented upon the tattoos being of religious significance but this seems to have been disputed by anthropologists (both professional and amateur) who arrived later. It is interesting to note that most of the motifs of animal origin are animals which were considered to be sacred by different families