Monday, February 28, 2011

Waimano Falls Hike

We had a nice time hiking with our dock neighbor's son, Mike, and his family and friends up to Waimano Falls a couple of weeks ago. They live here in Hawaii, and have a group of friends with kids who go out and do things together. So when they planned a Sunday hike, they invited us along.

We met in a parking lot down by Kamehameha Highway, and caravaned up to the start of the hike. Like many in Hawaii, the hike starts off a residential area, so we just parked on the side of the street.

It was a great hike--starting out along a ridge with some nice vistas, and then down into a valley to the waterfall. Getting back out of the valley was a little tough--nearly straight up for about 20 minutes, but the waterfall was worth it.

Starting Out on a Nice Path

It was a hoot hiking with the kids--about 10 of them running everywhere. They loved jumping off the rocks at the falls, and did it tirelessly the whole time we were there.

Hiking with a Gaggle of Kids

Dave and I started back a few minutes earlier than the rest--I wanted plenty of time to do that hill at my own pace. So we were resting at the top of the grueling climb when the kids came up. They scrambled up the hill, hardly out of breath, and then started running down the trail. And still had enough energy at the end to to be climbing trees while we waited for the rest of the group to catch up. Oh, if you could just bottle that energy!!

More photos in our Photo Album

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Solar Panel Upgrade is a Complete Success

We have had the new upgraded solar panel array up and running for about a week now, and the results are good. We are now seeing 40+ amps in the middle of the day.

The New Solar Array

We increased our solar capability from 440 watts to 630 watts.

In addition, the following other upgrades were accomplished during this project:

- Mounting new solar powered, auto-on 'anchor lights' on the arch ($3 each, in plastic, at Home Depot. We bought a box of 6, and have spares if we need them)

Alarm Siren

- Mounting a new 'Burglar Alarm' on the arch. This is a light and siren that we can manually turn on... if we hear the pitter-patter of uninvited guests on the deck at night... if we have an at-anchor emergency and need to be quickly identified in an anchorage... to clear the cockpit of hangers-on if happy hour runs too late. It is wired to a switch in our bunk. The siren is loud and the light is a yellow flashing light. We are hoping that any intruders we might hear will immediately depart rather than having to confront them.

- New stronger mounts for the solar panels

- A better way to fix the rotatable panels firmly on the level in case of high winds.

- Renewed electrical wiring and waterproof junction boxes

- Extra cross bracing for the arch, which we can install easily before we go to sea

- Preventative maintenance on the radar

More pictures on our Photo Album

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thoughts and Notes about the s/v Quest Hijacking Off Oman

This incident has no doubt been in the news and in everybody's minds over the last few days. We, like hundreds of other boats in various stages of circumnavigation, are monitoring the situation between India and the Red Sea pretty closely. And of course we are really bummed about the fact of the piracy continuing... and getting worse. And we are horrified how this incident turned out.

People keep worrying about us, but we are far far from that area (which is between India and Africa), and will make an informed decision... probably not for 5 years... about exactly what we will do, when we get there. For now, the Pacific is a pretty safe place to be cruising, and we won't be out of here for a few years at least.

Meanwhile, here are a few comments from boats in the area. This was originally posted on the Pacific Puddle Jump Yahoo Group, in a discussion about just how risky it is to try to make the run from India to the Red Sea. Normally I would just include a link to the discussion, but you have to be a member of the group to read the messages. So here are a few key excerpts that give a clearer picture, from a yacht standpoint, of the situation.

From s/v Bebe, who's blog we've been following for a couple of years:

The week before Quest was captured we decided to ship our boat to the Med -- as did 9 other boats. We made this decision based on the extreme increase of pirate activity this season over previous years AND the turmoil in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Algiers -- and now Iran sending warships up the Suez Canal to provoke Israel. The entire area seems to be sitting on a powder keg and the last thing we wanted to happen was to get caught in the Red Sea and have to turn around and come back through the pirate areas, especially during the stronger SW monsoon.

We have been tracking pirate activity since we were in New Zealand. Pirate attacks within the Northern Indian Ocean were increased 13 times this season over last season (Oct thru 10 Feb). Last year there were 6 in the IO and this year there were 78. In the Gulf of Aden there were 7 last year and 10 this year. And now the pirates are going as far north as Massawa, Eritrea. Here is my analysis on the risk level at this time..

We had hoped to be loaded in Cochin; but since 7 of the boats were already in the Maldives and only 3 here in Cochin, the transport company opted to load in Male. They will only stop in 1 port in this area for this unscheduled transport. The 3 of us here in Cochin must sail down to Male to be loaded onto the transport ship. BTW, clearing into the Maldives will cost $680 USD for 30 days, $20 more per person if you discharge crew or take on more crew.

Shipping will be on SevenStar Yacht Transport. Cost $650 per foot, including any overhangs like dinghy davits and bowsprits. That includes insurance and Suez Canal fees, cradling, loading, everything. Shipment from Male, Maldives to Marmaris, Turkey. Insurance is through Pantaenius and does cover wars and civil unrest, both of which are normally excluded from most insurance policies. Also, this shipment of 10 boats was arranged through the efforts of a shipping agent. The price is the same whether you deal with an agent or directly with the company. The company was treating each of us as a separate entity and we were all getting nowhere getting a ship diverted for this unscheduled stop. The agent grouped us all together and when SevenStar realized they were dealing with 10 boats in one location, they agreed to divert a ship to load us.

A number of other boats have turned around and will either spend another year (or more) in SE Asia area or will proceed via Capetown when the weather season is appropriate.

For those of you just starting across and those who are well behind us, start thinking of all your options now. These situations (both piracy and political turmoil in the Middle East and Africa) are not likely to be solved soon.

All that said, we have close friends on 5 boats out there now and are acquaintances with about 2 dozen more boats currently sailing through these dangerous areas. So not everyone has changed plans. In fact, one boat departed Cochin about 2 hours after learning about the capture of S/V Quest. Prefer not to name the guy, but he is determined to circumnavigate on his own boat bottom and not transport. It is a pride thing of being able to claim that he has circumnavigated, which would not technically be true if he ships the yacht up the Red Sea.

and another later post by s/v Bebe:

BTW, another Blue Water Rally (BWR) yacht made an emergency call about 2 weeks ago between Cochin and Mumbai when 2 skiffs loaded with 20 men jumped off a 16-meter fishing vessel and came at him at high speed. We know this yacht well. He changed course and evaded at his maximum speed of 10 kts. After several minutes the pursuers returned to the fishing vessel. Was this another attempted pirate attack? Or were these simply fishermen? Who knows. In an email earlier today our friend in the BWR Rally said the passage conditions are "horrible" and the stress almost unbearable.

On the issue of American yachts being targeted less... one of the Somali pirate spokesmen stated in 2009 that they are particularly interested in capturing both American and French hostages and killing them as retaliation for the French rescue of the yacht off northern Somalia and for the American rescue of the captain of the Maersk Alabama. To think that American yachts are any safer than any other flagged yacht is foolish.

And finally:

The NATO Shipping Centre has this latest advice for yachts:

'The danger of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin is high and continues to increase. Naval forces strongly recommend that yachts do not transit this area. Merchant ships use Best Management Practices (BMP) to win time for the naval forces to assist them. With a low freeboard and slow speed, yachts are particularly vulnerable to pirate attack. Any direct response from naval assets will depend on the proximity to the incident and may not occur.'

'BMP3 and the self protection measures described in them were not designed for cruising yachts nor will they be sufficient to prevent boardings by Somali pirates.'

This statement was issued 2 Feb 2011. As one can see, the experts also do not believe that yachts are less likely to be targeted by these pirates. It is just chance on a big ocean. Run into the pirates and they will try to capture any vessel.

Unfortunately... as I listen to the world news this morning, I feel like the pirate issue is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things--especially when it involves yachts. There are VERY FEW U.S.-flagged merchant vessels these days (thanks to union laws in the U.S.). We can only hope things will have gotten better by the time we get to India and have to make a decision.

Friday, February 18, 2011

34 Days from Hawaii to Mexico!

I am happy to say that our friends on s/v Nakia finally made landfall in Mexico after 34 days at sea. Here is their report:

"We sailed 3445 nautical miles to make a rumbline distance of 2881 nautical miles. It took 34 days 9 hours for an average speed of 4.17 kts"

They sent in blog posts using Airmail, Sailmail, and Winlink every day, and also checked in on the Pacific Seafarer's Net.

We thought they were crazy heading for Mexico in the middle of winter. But John had studied it pretty well and knew what he was about. He took enough fuel along to motor through the windless high pressure area, and used the High as a 'shield' between them and the lows marching across further north. It worked for them.

Nakia Sitting Next to Us in Fakarava
(Photo by Bill Strassberg of Visions of Johanna)

We will miss them on the air and in the water in French Poly this year. But maybe we're hoping they'll get tired of Mexico and catch up with us next year.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's a Small World

In the 'It's a Small World Category'... We have enjoyed re-connecting with Rob and Claudia of s/v Sea Host, who are living aboard in Ke'ehi Lagoon. They've been living aboard and working here in Hawaii for 6 years.

Some other cruisers we know (Cahoots, whom we met in Tahanea during the eclipse last summer), were tied up in the Ke'ehi Lagoon area, and met Rob and Claudia on the docks somewhere. They somehow mentioned Soggy Paws in their conversation, and Claudia said "We know a Soggy Paws..."

Dave first met Rob and Claudia at the 1998 SSCA Gam, where they were both preparing for their first major cruise. They then island hopped together (along with a whole bunch of other boats) down the 'Thorny Path' all the way to Trinidad, and all were hauled out in Trinidad the winter of 1999/2000.

Coincidentally, the 2000 Carnival in Trinidad was also the year that ex-husband Lenny and I flew down to 'do Carnival' (for the 3rd time) with our friends Wayne and Pam on Gallivanter. Chances are that we socialized with Sea Host, and Dave and then-wife Stacey at some cruiser Carnival event during the two weeks we were in Trinidad. (But we don't know for sure).

We DID, however, meet Don and Gwen on Tackless II during that trip to Trinidad. They were also hauled out in Trinidad, next to Soggy Paws. They have the same CSY 44 Walkthrough model that Soggy Paws is.

Don and Gwen were with us and Gallivanter, and Ed and Alice on Lady Helen, for the Jouvert 'parade', where you slather yourself in mud and dance and drink til dawn through the streets of Port of Spain. It was Gwen, in 2006, that introduced me (by email) to Dave.

Once you've been cruising for awhile, you keep running into boats you've met before, or friends of friends that you've heard about. Even on the other side of the world, and 10 years later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sailing the Farm

One Creative Way to Grow Things On a Sailboat!

We went to Sunday breakfast at the Wright Brothers Cafe on the water with Mike and Mon from Windy City, and Rob and Claudia from Sea Host. We had a great time talking about a range of subjects from living in Hawaii to cruising in the Caribbean.

One of the topics of conversation was that Mon was unhappy about leaving Hawaii in April because she likes to grow things. Mon has set up a little garden inside the Rainbow Bay Marina... some in available planters, and some out in the 'back 40' beyond the parking lot. Fresh basil, tomatoes, peppers, mint, etc, plus her favorite purple flower with which she makes tea.

So Claudia suggested that Mon take her garden with her. And later sent this picture of one of her neighbors in Ke'ehi Lagoon.

She also reminded me of the book we have onboard called "Sailing the Farm". It's pretty old, but still a great reference for sailors. You can still find used copies on (see link)

Sailing the Farm: A Survival Guide to Homesteading on the Ocean

I also went back in my archives to find some old plans I had researched for a hydroponic garden you can make onboard. This probably isn't practical for voyaging, but would make a decent garden for sitting in a marina, where you have plenty of water and electricity available.

Hydroponic Plant Garden for the Boat

Here's the link to the plans for this Hydroponic Garden

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Super Bowl in Honolulu

We had a great Super Bowl Sunday. Mike and Sue from s/v Infini have rented a condo for a month in the Ala Wai area of downtown Honolulu. It is within walking distance of the Hawaii Yacht Club where they are based, and perfect to host visiting friends for a couple of weeks, and provide a place for them to 'hang' while doing interior boat work.

Great View from the 16th Floor of the Ilikai

We all visited them one day (on our way to the top floor of the Ilikai for sunset Margaritas), and decided it would be a great place to watch the Super Bowl.

Mike and Sue were actually hauled out on Super Bowl Sunday, but they got through with their work in plenty of time to come enjoy the festivities, too. Their blog post.

I got some great already-cooked BBQ ribs from the Commissary, and made baked potatoes and salad, and fed everyone. Sue and Lee from s/v Before provided munchies. We all stuffed ourselves.

Dave Enjoying the Ribs

We enjoyed watching a pretty good game, and of course, the commercials.

Watching the Game

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Another Awesome Sunset on C Dock

The weather has been just spectacular for the last 2 weeks...brilliantly sunny with temps ranging from about 65 (at night) to 75 (mid-day). As we used to say on Island Time so many years ago, "It doesn't get any better than this!!"

Another Typical Winter Sunset over Pearl Harbor
(The Bridge to Ford Island in the Background)

Our dock neighbors, Dennis and Linda from Nebraska, sit out and watch the sunset every evening. Dennis sets up a chair on the dock and lights up his one cigar a day at about 5pm, and when the cigar aroma wafts down into Soggy Paws, we know that it is time for Happy Hour. They are both really interesting and personable people, and I'm amazed that they've slowly gotten Dave into the Happy Hour habit--at least half the time. We try to go work out in the Gym several days a week, so we skip Happy Hour on those days.

Last night we were supposed to go work out, but Dave and I had both been working hard all day, and it looked like it was going to be another awesome sunset, so we skipped the gym and had TGIF instead. We ended up with about 8 people hanging out swapping lies and enjoying the beautiful sunset.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why the CSY 44 Makes a Great Open Ocean Cruiser

As part of the hole-drilling process for our new Keel Cooler, we got to take core samples of our hull. The picture below shows why a CSY 44 is a great option for someone planning on open-ocean sailing. They are built like a tank! (but sail better than one).

'Core Samples' from Soggy Paws' Hull

The two 'core samples' were drilled in the hull about a foot outside the keel, and a foot up from the keel... one in the area where the depth sounder transducer is... just a bit forward of the keel, and one a couple of feet forward of the propeller.

The thick one (~1.25") is from the forward hole--showing that CSY beefed up the layup in an area where a collision with something semi-submerged might occur. I think even our 'thin' part of the hull is probably beefier than most current production boats' reinforced areas. Yes, it's a bit of overkill, but it sure makes us feel more secure in hairy situations (groundings, collisions, etc).

There are a lot of other reasons why the CSY 44 is a great cruiser--see this writeup on our website (taken from CSY ads and with a little inspiration from Ed Marill's CSY site and Ron Sheridan's CSY Site)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yard Work - Day 3

The main project yesterday was to get the 2 Frigoboat Keel Coolers installed. Dave had previously found the best location for each Keel Cooler--they have to be within 5 feet of the compressor, and well below the waterline.

Dave Feeds the New Keel Cooler Lines Up Through the Hole

This whole process, which we'll detail separately on our website, went well. Here's pics of one of them installed, from the outside and the inside.

Keel Cooler from Outside

Keel Cooler from Inside

I spent a good part of the day doing more touch-up on the bottom paint, and installing some of the underwater fittings we had taken off to clean and paint.

Our Greased Propeller

I was also assigned the task of greasing the prop. I tried to do it with gloves on, but the grease is so hard that I finally had to shed the gloves and dig in with bare hands. Then it took 4 washings of my hands with pure dish soap before I got the sticky feeling off my hands.

The final task was cleaning the yard dirt off our tools and stuff, and putting everything back aboard--getting ready for a 7am 'launch time' (~20 trips up and down the ladder).