06 Mar Guam
The final 1000 miles to Guam were easy, comfortable, and quick. We enjoyed cruising downwind and got a nice push from the current. As we approached Guam in very settled conditions, we rinsed the salt off the outside of Starr. After more than two weeks of ocean travel, everything was salty.
Guam comes into view after 18 days and 3300+nm
Our destination was Apra Harbor, a huge, breakwater-protected harbor that caters primarily to commercial and military ships. As we approached, we radioed Guam Harbor Control for permission to enter. We arrived just ahead of a large US Navy vessel, a common sight in Guam.
Entering Apra Harbor with USS Nimitz to starboard
Short of throttling back to near idle or carrying deck fuel, we need one fuel stop between Honolulu and Okinawa. We settled on Guam, thinking that it would be easy—at least easier than Majuro, Marshall Islands. Guam is a US territory, we’re an American boat, we departed from the USA, and everyone onboard holds a US passport.
It wasn’t easy, cheap, or quick. We arrived on a Sunday, and before going ashore, were instructed to clear into Guam with customs. We were unsure if this meant US Customs and Border Patrol, Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, or both. After leaving messages at every number we could find, an agent from Guam Customs and Quarantine called us back and informed us that yes, we did need to clear in, and since it was a Sunday, they’d need to find an available agent and we’d need to have cash to pay an overtime fee. A few hours later, an agent showed up on shore, we dinghied in, paid the fee, and answered a few questions. We were free to explore Guam. US CBP never returned our calls.
Starr at anchor in Guam
The trouble was, we were far from everything. Nothing was walkable, rental cars were unavailable, and cabs were scarce and expensive—$75 each way to any shopping or dining. We spent the afternoon swimming (delightfully warm water), checking the bottom of the boat, and cleaning things up aboard. We’d heard the nearby Marianas Yacht Club has a Sunday evening happy hour so we took the dinghy over.
The club was empty, but we stayed and enjoyed a few well-earned BYO drinks and walking around the grounds before returning to Starr.
On Monday, we hoped to fill the diesel tanks, but the port had other ideas. We’d asked where we could have a fuel truck meet us, which triggered a flurry of discussion. To get fuel, they explained, we needed to hire an agent, hire line handlers to assist us to the pier, and wait our turn for one specific pier to be available. So we hired the agent, who arranged for fueling Tuesday afternoon. In the interim, we changed oil in the main engine and gensets, reprovisioned with just enough produce to get us to Japan, snorkeled, and relaxed onboard.
Clay returned to Honolulu from Guam. Once again, we enjoyed having him onboard!
Tuesday was disappointing. Clay departed Starr in the afternoon to catch his flight back to Honolulu (he was GREAT crew and we miss him!) and we prepared to move over to a commercial pier to get diesel. As we were readying to go, the agent called and told us to stand down. Another boat had jumped in front of us. We’d have to wait until Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, we got the fuel that we needed to continue to Japan. The port sent two managers and four line handlers to catch our lines, a show of force that was neither necessary nor desired and also painfully expensive (over $1000).
Fueling by truck in Guam…finally! With cam lock fuel fill fittings, Starr can take fuel at about 100 gallons a minute, so fueling is surprisingly quick.
Line handlers returning to cast us off. At least they didn’t make us hire a tug boat!
We opted not to fill the bow tank since it was nearly-full of known-good fuel from Hawaii, which would give us plenty of time to sort out any fuel contamination issues with the Guam supply. After fueling, we departed Apra Harbor for Okinawa at 1100 local time. This is a 1200nm passage, much shorter than our last leg, but with more challenging weather.