Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting Settled in Honolulu

We arrived in Pearl Harbor on October 19.

The Pearl Harbor Shipyard Area

We (snif) had to split up with our cruising mates on s/v Infini... we went into the Rainbow Bay Marina, in Pearl Harbor, and Infini went into the Hawaii Yacht Club in the Ala Wai Yacht Basin. Only military (retired or otherwise) can get into Pearl Harbor.

Rainbow Bay Marina in Pearl Harbor

We spent the next several days running around with our new friends on s/v Windy City, who have been here at Rainbow Bay for about the last year. They have a car, and graciously offered to chauffeur us around to help us get settled. Our primary job was to find a car for ourselves. We started at the "Lemon Lot" at Hickham Air Force Base and worked our way through a few used car dealers nearby and some possibilities we found on

Our New Car

After 2 days of looking, we had a pretty good idea of current values in the "under $3000" range. We settled on a nice looking but fairly old/high mileage Toyota SUV Rav/4 L, for $2800, no sales tax, and $25 registration/inspection fees. Not too bad. It has 4 doors, 2WD, a roof rack, and cold air. We think we can easily resell it for about what we paid for it when we leave in 5 months.

The marina here has recently had a drastic personnel turnover, and the new manager, who didn't get any coaching from the old one, is struggling with simple issues. It took us 3 days to get a mailbox, and we're still not in a permanent parking space. But it's otherwise a really nice place, with decent showers, laundry, book swap, and a hanging out place for residents. And very secure. But not so secure that friends can't visit--it is Navy property but not within the gates of the base, so anyone can come visit without any hassle.

Today is College Football Day on Soggy Paws. One of the few things we miss about being in the U.S. is watching college football on TV. We are using our spiffy HVR-950Q WinTV receiver on our laptop to watch TV. With the tiny supplied antenna we are getting about 6 channels, and contemplating a better antenna that can be mounted higher.
At 10/20/2010 7:32 PM (utc) our position was 21°22.26'N 157°56.27'W

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Three Days in Maui

Three days in Maui is certainly NOT enough!!

First, arrival... We got across the Alenuihaha Channel by 11am--before the wind in the channel got too bad. We decided that since we were making good time and it was a nice day, that we'd stop at the small island of Molokini for lunch. This is a popular snorkeler's day trip from Maui and we could see the tourist boats coming and going as we approached. Fortunately, we got there at about 11:30am, just when the morning trip boats were leaving. By 11:45am, ALL of the tourist boats had left, and it was just us and another outboard boat with a family aboard. We grabbed a vacant mooring over near the tip of the western arm of the "U" that is Molokini. The moorings here are not on the surface--the mooring ball is about 8' below the surface of the water, easily visible when you get close, in the clear water. The mooring has a tag line that hangs down. The tag line is long enough to hook into with the typical mooring line from your bow. But someone has to jump in the water and get the tag line. Dave assigned the "ship's diver" (me) to this job.

We just stopped for lunch and a quick snorkel. This is one of the 'premier' snorkeling destinations for Maui, but it was a real yawner for us, after French Polynesia. Very nice clear water, and surprisingly warm, but not a lot of coral and not much fish life. (The water in Hilo Harbor, when I jumped in to clean the prop was, by contrast, 'freezing'). We located a dive buoy further out near the west arm of Molokini--it looked like a great place to stage for a dive on the wall that faces west (outside of the "U") there. But there was a pretty strong current running out over the reef towards the wall, so I didn't want to go too far to check out the wall.

By 12:30, we were underway again, motorsailing in light air, toward Lahaina. We arrived in Lahaina about mid-afternoon, and easily picked up a Lahaina Yacht Club mooring, located west of the channel, toward the end of the row of (mostly commercial) boats. There is a completely protected harbor here, but there is NO CHANCE to get a slip. Someone at Lahaina Yacht Club said that they had just gotten a slip there, after being on a waiting list for 15 years (!!!). But the moorings suited us better anyway.

The LYC moorings are well-maintained (I dove down and checked ours out--strong and in good shape), and cheap. Can't beat 'no cost'! There doesn't seem to be a time limit for staying there--as long as there were moorings available they said we could stay, and seemed disappointed that we were just passing through. We had a beer at the bar and talked to some members and they were wow-ed when we told them we'd come all the way from Florida.

Once you've hooked up to a mooring marked LYC, make a note of the mooring number and take your dinghy into the dinghy dock in the harbor. It's a little hard to find the Lahaina Yacht Club in this Key West-like tourist town, but it's about 3 blocks west of the harbor along the waterfront--keep your eyes open, it's easy to walk past the alley-like door on the water side of the street, just past 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' bar. Tell them what mooring you are on, fill out a 'we won't sue' set of paperwork, and they will issue you a temporary membership card. After that you are free to use their facilities, beer is about $3.25 on special, and lunches run $6-10 and dinners $9-25. Showers are upstairs over the bar.

For the next 2 days, we rented a car with our friends on Infini, and toured the two major tourist destinations. (Note: Book your rental car ahead... they have just added 3 new flights into Maui and all the rental car companies were out of cars when we rented ours--we booked ahead and got a comfortable van for $75/day). There is a bus that goes around, but I don't think you can get to the 2 places we went (below) by bus.

The first was the Haleakala National Park--on the (non-active) Haleakela volcano. On the way there, we covered a lot of what else there is to see in Maui. One notable place was the windsurfer beach at Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului Bay. There were literally over a hundred windsurfers and kiteboarders out there having a blast in the good winds and surf conditions. Almost every place we stopped, one could easily spend a day just hanging out. But we were on a mission to see everything we could in 2 days, so only stayed for 15 minutes. :(

On the second day, we did what is known as 'the Hana road'. It is a narrow, winding road along Maui's north coast, with lots of stops for beautiful breathtaking scenery and waterfalls, and lush tropical foliage. At the very 'end' of the road is the lower end of the Haleakela National Park, a place called 'The Seven Pools' where there is a 2 mile hike through an amazing bamboo forest to a 200' waterfall, which feeds a chain of waterfalls and pools. We had time to stand in the waterfall for pics for a few minutes, and then head back down. Again, we could have spent a whole day just at that one location!! If we did it again, we'd stay overnight someplace between Hana and the park, and devote a whole day to that area. We saw tents in the Waianapanapa State Park just before, so I know camping is possible there, for people on a budget. I'm not sure about lower Haleakela National Park.

On the last day, we turned the car in and hitched a ride on the Budget shuttle to the Whaler's Mall. This is a very upscale mall near all the resorts on the west coast of Maui. Fun window-shopping, but out of our price range. Lots of $20-40% off signs in the windows, but 20% off a $150 outfit is still well above Walmart prices. We mainly went there for the Whaling Museum. This is a small, but nicely done free musuem. From there we caught the $1 bus back to Lahaina where we 'power shopped' at Ace Hardware and a big grocery store across the street, within easy walking distance of the harbor. We bought sandwiches in the grocery store and took them to the park by the harbor to eat and people-watch.

In the afternoon, we visited with our friends from (formerly) Peace and Aloha, who live on Maui. They are in the 3rd year of building a gorgeous home overlooking the south coast of Maui (David and son Eric are doing ALL the work themselves). We had a nice evening socializing in their rental condo in the Napili point area. (See their rental condos on Listing #305703).

Again, we should have spent AT LEAST a week in Maui, and more would have been better. Allocating two weeks would not have been too much.
At 10/18/2010 6:16 PM (utc) our position was 20°56.52'N 156°46.41'W

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Underway for Molokai

Too busy having fun to write up our Maui experiences, but it was fun and we could easily have stayed 2-3 weeks and not gotten bored. 3 days was way too short to do it justice. We're coming back in the Spring! I promise to write it up and post some pictures as soon as we slow down!!! (not sure when that will be as long as I stay married to Dave :)

We are currently motorsailing in very light winds for a harbor on the south side of Molokai called Lono Harbor. It is a disused commercial harbor where we can supposedly anchor over night in sheltered water before moving on to Honolulu tomorrow.
At 10/18/2010 6:09 PM (utc) our position was 20°56.04'N 156°45.85'W

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crossing the Alenuihaha Channel

We motorsailed all day yesterday, reaching Upolo Point on the NW tip of the Big Island around 4:30pm. Then we turned left down into the Alenuihaha Channel to Nishimura Bay, where we anchored for the night just as the sun went down. On the last leg, we were in the lee of the island, and in the stronger winds, sailing along at 8 knots. It was fun.

Our friends on Infini opted to sail the whole way, planned to cross the channel during the night, and carry on to Lahaina, on Maui.

We had a nice dinner and got to bed early for our 4am reville. The Alenuihaha Channel can be extremely rough in prevailing winds--bounded by two high islands (Hawaii and Maui), the wind whistles down through the channel at 10-15 knots higher than prevailing winds. So the trick is to scuttle across as fast as possible in the wee hours of the morning, before the sea breeze picks up.

We were underway by 4:45am this morning, and are now enjoying a not-too-boisterous motorsail across the channel. Our ETA for the other side is about 10:45 am, and for Lahaina, about 2pm.

We plan to stay in Maui for a couple of days. We've reserved a car for 2 days, so we can see the island and also visit our friends formerly of s/v Peace and Aloha. Dave met P&A in the San Blas in 2000, and they have since completed a circumnavigation, sold their boat, and are now building a house on Maui.

After Maui, we plan to stop overnight on Monday night at Moloka'i and then go on into Pearl Harbor on Tuesday. We have already obtained a security permit to enter Pearl Harbor (by faxing our boat documents, including a completed Coast Guard Safety Inspection Report, to the appropriate authorities), and confirmed our reservations one more time at Rainbow Bay Marina--the Navy Marina in Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor will be our base of operations for the next 4-5 months.
At 10/14/2010 5:38 PM (utc) our position was 20°23.24'N 156°09.89'W

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Underway for Maui

Yes, I know, I haven't even finished posting our Big Island adventures, and here we go again. But, what the hey...

We left Radio Bay (Hilo) early this morning, bound for tiny Nishimura Bay on the NW corner of the Big Island. We'll anchor overnight there, and (assuming conditions are OK) will get up at 04:30am tomorrow to cross the trecherous Alenuihaha Channel between the Big Island and Maui, in the nighttime calm.
At 10/13/2010 5:41 PM (utc) our position was 19°48.05'N 155°04.29'W

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Is an e-Reader in our future?

We have been envious of a few cruisers who have had Kindles on board, and are seriously contemplating buying one or two e-readers while we're back in the Land of Stuff. Not just for the downloadable books, but also because we now have many manuals and cruising guides in PDF form.

I knew about the Kindle and the iPad, but didn't realize that there are now about 20 other brands of similar devices. Uh-oh, choices!! Now just trying to sort out price vs. functionality, etc.

Someone told us 'definitely the iPad is the best', but then I looked at the iPad starting price and had a heart attack. Another friend highly recommended the Kindle 3 over the iPad--better daylight readable, better battery, and a significantly better price. At $139 for a new Kindle 3, we could actually afford to buy 2.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On the Air on the Big Island

Our final stop on our first day of touring Hawaii was the Leilani Bed and Breakfast. This is the home of Lynn and Randy VanLeeuwen, in the South Point area of Hawaii.

Randy and Sherry in Randy's Radio Shack

Randy is KH6RC, one of of the main Pacific Seafarer's Net net controllers. We have been talking with Randy for the past year on the radio, and really wanted to meet him face to face.

We had a delightful evening getting to know Lynn and Randy better. And their B&B was a delightful experience.

But the highlight of the evening, for me, was being guest 'Net Control' of the Pacific Seafarer's Net. I got to use Randy's radio and fancy beam antenna to run the Pacific Seafarer's Net. I talked to Net Relay stations scattered from Florida to Pitcairn Island to New Zealand and Australia, and took position reports on 9 boats that were underway to various locations in the Pacific Ocean. It was fun.

Randy's Big Beam Antenna

And all the Radio Equipment!

Sherry On the Air as Pacsea Net Control


Touring the Big Island - Day 1

We finally took a break from shopping to make plans for a quickie tour of The Big Island.

Touring the Wet Side of the Big Island

Our next door neighbors in Radio Bay had rented a car for about $40/day, and that seemed pretty reasonable, especially when split between two boats. But when we went in to their rental company to book a car for a few days, they told us that all the prices were higher now. Apparently there's an Ironman Triathlon going on this weekend in Kona (on the west coast of Hawaii), and all the cars were booked.

So I went online to try to book a car with our USAA discount. The first 2 big companies I tried--Avis and Budget--were all sold out. So when Hertz came up with a car for 'only' $49, we grabbed it. And for only $7 more, Dave upgraded us to a nice mini-van, when he picked up the car.

Dave and Sue

Our first stop was the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was raining when we left Hilo, and still raining when we got to the Park. And still raining when we left the park. We saw a nice volcano video, and drove the crater rim road. There is no active lava there now, but lots of old lava, live steam vents, and lava tubes. We also stopped at the Jagger Museum in the park, with more displays, and some active Seismometers.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Steam Vents

Lava Tubes

The Kiluaea Crater

Monitoring Seismic Activity

The next stop was the Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. The big attraction here was... black sand. But also, something I've never seen before, green sea turtles sleeping on the beach in broad daylight. Apparently they come up onto the nice warm black sand to warm up. They were sleeping so soundly they looked dead, but we did see them blink once or twice.

The Black Sand Beach

Hawaiian Green Turtles on the Beach

Monday, October 4, 2010

Power-Shopping in Walmart

Well, we made up for yesterday's frugal day by blowing $350 in Walmart in about 1 hour.

Our friends on Infini came in this morning about 9am (trailed by a USCG launch--they got 'practiced on' by the local Coast Guard cutter as they were crossing the harbor). They stuck it out through the light winds and sailed right up until about 10 miles out when the wind dropped off to nothing. They were luck and got cleared through Customs in about an hour--having told Customs (via us) that they were coming today, there was a guy in waiting for them. No overtime fees either.

As soon as they got cleared, we arranged a taxi to the Mall and Walmart. The free bus doesn't run on Sundays, but 5 of us splitting the $11 taxi ride to the Mall wasn't too bad.

Dave and I were on a mission--to buy 2 bicycles. But we also hit the mall (where I bought a new pair of adventure shoes), and showed the Infini crew where everything was in the Mall/Walmart area. We had lunch at the Oriental Food Court next to Office Max, and then went back to Walmart.

Walmart had some nice 'priced right' mountain bikes for $92. Another cruiser who wrote a little 10-page cruising guide to Hawaii, really recommended you buy bikes when you hit Hilo. Great idea, and thanks a bunch for all the advice, Mita Kuulu!

We plan to use the bikes while in Hawaii over the next 6 months, and then sell them at a discount to someone else (we hope) when we leave. But if we use these bikes enough, we might spring for some good quality marine folding bikes before we leave Hawaii in the Spring. We bought a few accessories (locks, luggage rack for the back, cover for the bikes, etc) and spent an hour in Walmart trying to assemble this stuff, so we could ride our bikes and our other stuff back to the boat. It was a success. We had a nice ride back, and are looking forward to exploring some more of Hilo on the bikes later.

I also bought 2 bathing suits--mine from 3 years ago are in tatters. I hate to shop, in general, but I love 'power shopping' in Walmart.

We have arranged a 3-day car rental for Tuesday morning. It was a bit of a struggle--there is an Ironman Triathlon going on in Kona (also on the Big Island) starting in a few days, and all the rental cars are getting sold out. For the same car our friends rented for $40 a day this past week, Enterprise wanted $70/day for this week, but told us they didn't have any cars. I finally went online last night and found a Hertz car for 'only' $50 a day. This was after checking Budget and Avis and finding no cars available.

We are going to cram 5 of us in the rental and split it with Infini, so it will end up being pretty reasonable. We figured we can get the highlights of the Big Island in 2-3 days, leaving Hilo (where we are) for more leisurely exploration using the bikes and the free local bus transportation.

Tourist magazines are in racks on every corner, with maps and ads and recommendations for what to do. There are lots of guided tours available that all sound really interesting and fun, but they start at $100-$150 per person for a half day tour. Forget it! These range from horseback riding, ATV adventures, lava viewing trips, hiking, biking, etc. Cool stuff but pricey. (We got so spoiled by South America). With the rental car and a Lonely Planet, we'll do 'self tours'.
At 10/2/2010 4:00 AM (utc) our position was 19°43.88'N 155°03.16'W

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Safe and Sound in Hilo

We dropped anchor and pulled Med-moor style into the sea wall in Radio Bay. It wasn't what I expected. Instead of dancing girls in hula skirts, we got a container terminal. But the price is right, and there's a free bus route to the mall from the front gate of the terminal.

We got checked in through Customs by the friendliest US Customs agent I've EVER EVER encountered, this morning. And made it to the mall (and Walmart, Office Max) by 10am. Didn't buy much, but sure enjoyed sight-seeing.
At 10/2/2010 1:08 AM (utc) our position was 19°39.49'N 154°54.70'W

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Land Ho!

We sighted the Big Island of Hawaii at about 7am, and have been motorsailing toward the port of Hilo, on the NE coast. We expect to be anchored in Radio Bay before (JUST before) sunset.
At 10/2/2010 12:52 AM (utc) our position was 19°38.38'N 154°53.33'W

Friday, October 1, 2010

Enroute to Hawaii - Final Day

Only 75 miles to go!!

The wind got really light about 6am yesterday--just as had been forecast for nearly a week. I'm not familiar enough with the North Pacific weather patterns to know exactly what caused this big 'hole' in the tradewinds, but it's here. I do know there's an early cold front stalled out just above Hawaii. In a few days it will be back to 15-20 knots where we are, but right now it's like a lake.

So we reluctantly started our engine and started motoring in. We have now been motorsailing for almost 24 hours, at moderate RPM. Other than the sound of the engine, it waw a pleasant day... very sunny skies and smooth seas. We have a big long slow swell that means the surfers are going to be happy this weekend, and as we go over each one, it feels like Soggy Paws is having to climb a hill.

We put the fishing lines out yesterday morning after breakfast, and 10 minute later got a hit. It was about a 5' Marlin. He was pulling the line out like crazy--Dave thought he'd lose it all before he got him stopped. So we were a little relieved that he got off. We saw him jump a couple of times, but he cut the line and was gone. Dave re-rigged the lines but we have yet to get another strike.

Of the other two boats we've been traveling with, Apple, the Jeanneau 44, arrived in Hilo yesterday sometime. Infini is about 160 miles behind us, and as of yesterday afternoon, was still trying to sail, and making about 3 knots. Infini has a leaky injection pump and wants to minimize use of their engine.

We could have sailed a few hours more, but Dave got severe 'horse headed for the barn' syndrome, and just wanted to get in. He got it in his head that we're going to watch the Gators beat Alabama on Saturday, and that was that.

Fortunately, we have made very good time since cranking up Mr. Perkins. Motoring at moderate RPM, with the sails still up, we've been able to average about 6.3 knots. Our ETA is now Friday afternoon about 5pm local time.

We understand the Agriculture people confiscate any fresh produce you have left, so we've been having a bonanza--trying to eat everything up. As we ate down our fridge, we discovered a few bags of tomatoes and green peppers that we didn't know were there, and we still have lots of onions, potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. We tossed the last of the bananas a few days ago, and ate our last Pamplemousse (French Polynesian grapefruit) yesterday. We have one apple left.

So we will anchor up in Radio Bay around sunset. Radio Bay is in the Hilo harbor, at the NE tip of "the Big Island" of Hawaii. We'll have a good dinner, get a full night's sleep, and check in with Customs tomorrow morning. Then we understand there's a bar nearby with good fast wifi, and hopefully a TV or two with college football on.
At 10/1/2010 2:22 PM (utc) our position was 18°59.84'N 154°07.14'W

Sunrise at Sea

I am a morning person, and I've always loved to go for an early morning walk on the beach and watch the sunrise.

For most of the last year, we've had a watch system of 3 hours on and 3 hours off, and the way it worked out best gave Dave the sunrise. But we've been fiddling with our watch system over the last couple of passages, and this time, I get the sunrise. I'd almost forgotten why I love that dawn watch so much. I love watching the light slowly creep into the sky. Starting about an hour before sunrise, there is a barely perceptible easing of the darkness in the East. Then gradually, the light gets brighter, and most days, I am rewarded with some beautiful colors just before the sun pops up over the horizon.

Today is another gorgeous morning. We are STILL sailing, though the wind is down to about 8 knots. I can't believe this fat tub (don't let Dave hear me say that), can still be moving along at 5 knots in only 8 knots of wind. But we have managed to keep eeking out 5 miles every hour through the night.

The forecast is for the wind to continue dropping. We have done so well over the last 36 hours that Dave has gotten it in his head that we can make Radio Bay (the anchorage in Hilo) by Friday night. We will likely get in after dark, and will soon have to crank up Mr. Perkins. But we're both so looking forward to a good night's sleep.

The approach and entry into the Hilo harbor area, and Radio Bay, is well charted and well bouyed with lighted bouys. So we will likely go in anyway, even if we arrive after dark.

209 Miles to anchor down in Radio Bay!!
At 9/30/2010 4:13 PM (utc) our position was 17°18.24'N 152°33.90'W