Guam


We had good winds from Pohnpei to Guam and sailed the 900 NM in only six days. None of us knew anything about Guam so we looked forward to staying there for a few weeks and learn about the Island. We also took the opportunity to order a new macerator pump for one of our toilets. Guam belongs to USA so you can order anything on the Internet and get it shipped with USPS. Shipment takes about two weeks.

The Latte is the national symbol of Guam. A latte is a stone pilar with a second stone on top shaped like a bowl. Latte's were used by the Chamorros in the old days as foundations for buildings. This way the house was elevated a bit over ground level.

We stayed for three weeks at the Marianas Yacht Club where Bob took care of us. Bob told me that 20 years ago there were 30-40 yachts on moorings outside the club with many liveaboards, even with children. Now there were only three boats visiting. So what happened, I said. The IT-crasch around the turn of the century changed everything, he answered. It must have been a very active time with so many boats. The main activity now is dinghy sailing. This year MYC arranged for the 41:st time a contest with the national Japaneese Laser Team.

The day we left we exchanged club flags. Bob gave us a MYC-burgee and we gave him one of our last burgees from our old club in Örebro, Sweden. The Skebäcks Varfsförening, SVF.

On the mooring next to us was Manihiki, an Italian boat with Hadrien and Grzegorz on board. Two very nice guys that had many interesting stories to tell. We called them Hadrianus and Gregorius (old Roman names) and we still meet them once in a while but now on Face Book.

One day a new boat arrived. Pegasus, on their way to Japan. They stayed for a few days but then moved to the marina in Agat a couple of miles south of Apra harbour. A few days later we got the news that they had hit a reef outside the marina and been rescued by the Coast Guard. No fun. When we left Guam the boat had been on the reef for over a week.

We also met Tom and Jan who had been sailing around the world for many years in their ferro cement schooner S/Y Ambler that they built themselves. Tom also built his own sailing canoe in traditional style with outrigger.

We often see turtles around the boat when anchoring or on a mooring. This one is from the mooring at Marianas Yacht Club and the picture to the right shows what a turtle skeleton looks like. I found that one in a small museum in the Chamorro cultural village in Tumon.

A small but beautiful museum, privately owned and created by a recent chamorro language teacher, now retired. He showed us around and even gave us a few gifts from his collection.

The Chamorro cultural village in Tumon also has a small boatyard for traditional canoe building.

We found a note about a Zoo in the guidebook and went there. Not easy to find right in the middle of the most explored tourist area with big hotels around it but a wonderful little garden with lots of local plants and animals, even the rare big fruitbats called Flying foxes.

We had a nice talk with Jimmy Cushing, the owner. His parents came to Guam with a circus. He loved the circus animals and when he grew older he started collecting animals of his own and learned them tricks. He performed his skills in the streets and collected money to buy food for his animals. Then he married Barbara and the two of them started the Guam Zoo together. This has been their life since then and the garden is now old and a little worn but still functional and all animals seem to be in good shape. One might wonder what will happen when Jimmy and Barbara get older and dont manage to run the business any more. Will there be anyone out there ready to take over and live the same kind of life as they did ?

In Hagåtna, the capitol of Guam, we found the Fish Eye underwater Conservatory. A comfortable way to study a coral reef under water without getting wet.

Another option was to rent under water helmets and walk on the bottom of the sea bed.

Marianas Yacht Club lies in an isolated corner of the big Apra harbour and from our mooring we had a good view of the trafic in and out. We saw several container ships from Matson but none from Maersk which seems to be more common in the Atlantic. Maersk is a Danish company.

Matson is based on Hawaii but the roots are Swedish. From Wikipedia: William Matson (born Wilhelm Mattson) (October 18, 1849 in Lysekil – October 11, 1917) was a Swedish-born American shipping executive. He was the founder of Matson Navigation Company.

Apra harbour is also a US Navy base. We saw many interesting ships passing by. The big aircraft carriers are incredible. The one to the right is USS Carl Vinson with four nuclear reactors producing 260.000 horse powers and carrying almost 100 aircrafts.

One day we took our car to se the southern part of the island. On the east coast we found the old Chamorro village of Gef Pa'go. In an out door museum you could learn more about the old habits. How to make salt from sea water. How to open a coconut and how to get the meat out.

Tove also got the opportunity to practise rope making from Pandanus fibres.

I love this bird made from a single coconut that we found in the museum at Jeffs Pirate Cove, also on the east coast.

It was here that Sergeant Yokoi from the Japaneese army escaped into the djungle and survived for 28 years after the war without getting captured. He was found 1972 and immediately recognized by media all over the world.

It's quite clear that the people of Guam are proud of their traditions and work hard to keep them alive in the very American style comunity. There are three different Chamorro cultural villages on the island and a new multi million dollar very beautiful museum in Hagåtna. In 2016 Guam hosted the The Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture a 45 year long tradition with 2700 participants from over two dozen Pacific islands. The newly opened museum has a fine exhibition from the festival 2016.

Many artifacts that were brought to Guam during the festival were on display in the museum. Some very artistic and some less but maybe more useful.

Some of the participants of the festival arrived from their home islands in canoes. Paddeling or sailing over large distances of ocean water. Some of the canoes were built in traditional style but there are also new canoes built in glass fibre for racing.

I don't know if these are common elsewhere but I saw two of them on Guam and I have never seen anything like them before. Nice idea to make a sofa supported by two old wooden wheels.


If you're interested in sailing to Guam

- We visited Guam in February 2018 and stayed there for three weeks.

- We approached the pass in to the harbour in Apra Bay from the south and called Port Control on VHF who gave us instructions on where to go. Our Navionics charts seemed to be accurate.

- Port Control instructed us to go to directly the Marianas Yacht Club and take a mooring there. They would give people at the club a phone call to make them aware that we were coming. As we approached the Club anchorage a small boat with an outboard came out to meet us and helped us with the mooring. We appreciated that, specially since the sun was coming down and it was almost dark. There are coral shoals to avoid.

Port Control also contacted Customs and Immigration and arranged so that they would come to the Club house to meet us. Customs came the same evening and I met them in the Club house. Since it was a Sunday I had to pay overtime duty, 158$. Immigration came the next day.

- EU-citizens need a valid Visa before entering the US on a private sailing boat. The normal Visa Wavier program that applies if you come with a Cruising ship or by Air does not include sailing yachts. We had ESTA clearance and believed that we would be able to apply for visa on entry which was partly right except that the cost for visa if you apply at the border is 585$/person! This we did not know. To our great relief however it was possible to make an exception and after phone calls to superiors and a short visit to the office they returned with our visa papers and we did not have to pay anything at all!

- The first day on the mooring is free of charge and after that you pay 7$/day. You can then use the toilets, showers and WiFi in the club house, dispose you garbage and take drinking water from their tap. Fridays and Sundays the bar and kitchen is open. Bob who is in charge, is around most of the time and very helpful.

- There is not much to do within walking distance and bus service is sparse. Closest bus stop is about 1 mile. You definitely need a car. We rented a Toyota Corolla one week for 260$ from Andy's car rental and then they delivered the car and picked it up at the club house. We used the parking inside the club area which has a gate with a code lock.

- The closest city is Hagåtna and there we purchased a SIM-card from DOCOMO with a data plan which gave us 14 Gb of 4G speed for 14 days to the price of 40$. This worked fine and after twoo weeks we extended it with another week with a 20$ top up.

- In Tumon, north of Hagåtna, we found the Tourist office and they gave us a good road map and a Guidebook that proved to be very useful.

- Diesel and gasoline is said to be available at the dock in Agat marina south of Apra Bay.

- There are two yacht chandlers in Guam but none of them is tailored at larger yachts. They mostly have parts suited for outboard fishing boats. Since Guam is US territory however, it is easy to order spare parts from the mainland with USPS-shipment. We did that and ordered a package from the webshop of Defender to be sent to C/o Marianas Yacht Club. 15 days later we picked it up at the Post Office in Hagåtna.

- The day before we left we went to the Customs office in Port Apra to get our Departure clearence.

The End