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Savaii Island Anchorages, Samoa

A source for harbour and anchorage details is the Admiralty Sailing Directions, Pacific Islands Pilot, Volume II.

Before sailing to any harbours other than Apia, it is necessary to get written permission from the Ministry of the Prime Minister & Cabinet; fifth floor in the large government building on the Apia waterfront. Claire, the woman who manages Apia Marina in Samoa Ports Authority can give directions. Bring passports and ship’s papers when requesting this letter.

Samoa Ports Authority has an employee who lives near the Asau Wharf named Sanele Tufuga. His job is to visit all yachts anchoring in Asau Bay to ask to see their letter of permission. It would be a good idea to have an extra copy available to give to Sanele. Sanele paddles a blue outrigger canoe and has a SPA badge.

Matautu Bay
This is the northernmost bay on Savaii, 45 miles sail from Apia and provides good protection from all but N through WNW directions. Chart NZ 865 provides a reasonably accurate harbour plan. Upon entering the east reef to port extends nearly half way across the entrance, forming a natural breakwater. Just inside the shoreward eastern end of the reef is Dive Savaii who monitors VHF Ch 16 & 17. They contacted us as we were anchoring off the resort and suggested we follow their dive boat to a more protected, sandy-bottomed anchorage further in the bay. We anchored at 13 26.825 S, 172 21.875 W and found nothing but sand in 7 meter depths noting the shallow reef extending from shore drops off to 7-10 meters. This was a comfortable anchorage even in fresh trades, but shore access through the reef was only visible at LeLagoto Beach Resort nearby or further away at Dive Savaii.

Asau Harbour
This large bay had a dredged entrance channel providing access to a commercial wharf built to service the timber mill which has since closed. The channel has claimed at least two vessels recently; one 20 m steel fishing boat visible on the west reef of the channel and a 15 meter fiberglass yacht, the remains of which are ashore next to the commercial wharf. There is a NZ harbour, copies of which were unavailable in Apia. The channel entrance is at a fairly sharp SE angle to the outer reef and when lined up on the range one passes very close to or through large surf breakers to port or eastern side of the channel entrance. There are no marks or buoys at the entrance, only one white post on either side marking the channel edge half way through the channel. The Admiralty Sailing Directions state, “The best conditions for entering the channel are at first light and at LW”.

There is a range (139 degrees true) of which the furthest of the two range markers is a large steel white downward-pointing triangle, located at coconut tree height, on a steel tower at. The inner range mark is a much smaller faded orange steel triangle pointing up located on steel post upon a coral head 0.3 nm into the bay, towards the pass.

Note: On our first time through we had a momentary depth reading of 3 meters along with another yacht following behind. By dinghy we four times transited the pass and twice swam it with a depth sounder to check for a shoal but found none. We found minimum depths of 7.5 meters, as long as we stayed on the range and had no shallow depth recording on exiting.

Entrance instructions:
Print off Google Earth image of Asau Harbour
Email ( or call (685-581-40, Mob: 685-772-2703) Sale, (pronounced Sally) is the owner of Va-I-Moana Seaside Resort. Sale may also monitor VHF ch 16. He doesn’t mind running out to the channel entrance to guide yachts in with his 7 meter aluminum skiff.

First waypoint: 13 29.983S, 172 39.361 located outside the pass
This will put a vessel on the range in 11 meters of water, well clear of the breakers. The range will be visible from this position, but the lower (smaller) up-pointing triangle will look quite small.
The range will take you close to the breakers on your port side, but DO NOT steer to starboard to give the breakers a wider berth. Watch the wave sets to try and avoid “sneaker waves” that have set yachts to starboard onto the reef. The wreck of a steel fishing boat is on a second reef to starboard while the reef to port has a drying sandbank with black lava rocks. We kept our mainsail up with a third reef and kept a steady powering speed of 6 knots to avoid current and eddies in the channel. Have someone continually calling depth. It was a terrific help to follow Sale in as at 8:30am the light was bad for spotting the reef.

A second useful waypoint 13 30.285 S, 172 39.094 W places you on the range and abeam of a port white post be a white post to starboard
The LW depth at this point should be 9.5 meters.

From the second waypoint continue on the range until clear into the bay and the Va-I-Moana Resort is visible. You may then steer to the anchorage position.

Anchorage Position 13 30.967 S, 172 38.726 W
Anchorage off the swim platform/dinghy dock:

Va-I Moana Resort generously welcomes yachts. Dinners and drinks are very reasonably priced and the boys play and sing in a Samoan string band tradition after dinner. Saturday night is their Samoan Night and for ST$30 they put on an incredible spread of traditional umu-cooked foods. Many cruising kids enjoy playing on the white sand beach and swimming rafts. There are shops, a post office, a local water washing/swimming rock pool and a petrol station nearby along with very friendly people. Sale arranged a half day circle-island tour for the crews of three yachts with a total of 12 adults and three kids for ST$450 which worked out very well. Lonely Planet Samoa and Tonga is an excellent land guide the explains the sights and custom entrance fees for the various sights.


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