Tuesday, December 21, 2010

5. Kauai Island.

Kauai Island.
This island is, by far, our most favourite. There are several reasons, one being it's accessibility. On Big Island, Maui, Moloka'i there isn't much of a bus system. Honakahau Marina on Big Island is much to far from town for a comfortable walk to do your grocery and other shopping, there is no bus system outside of town (Kona) and so you are reduced to renting a car or hitch-hiking. Now to rent a car if you are a foreigner costs almost double that it does for a local, due to the cost of insurance, so to rent one just to do your grocery shopping is ludicrous. We would walk onto the road and stick out our thumbs, after many cars passed us one would stop, inevitably a pick-up truck and we would be
invited to climb into the back...even if there were empty seats in the back of the double cab. Coming back to the yacht loaded with groceries was even more challenging. Never once were we offered a seat inside of the vehicle. We did hire a car for a day, did a circumnavigation of Big Island, saw some interesting things. As for the other islands I mentioned, we just never left the towns and walked as far as we could to see things.
Puddytat Anchored in Hanalei Bay, Kauai Island.
After a refreshing shower of rain, Hanalei Bay, Kauai.
On Kauai, there is a really great bus system and you can get everywhere quite easily in comfortable buses. The Island is really beautiful with lovely coastal vistas and beautiful forested walks leading to waterfalls, gorgeous flowers and birds. We absolutely loved it. There are different trails you can take into their large mountainous area that is lovely and wild. There are guided tours that include canoe rides, boat rides and bus rides, along with swimming in waterfalls..

One of the waterfalls on Kauai.
The people are much friendlier than on Big Island.... once when David and I had done a grocery run, we came out onto the road and split up. I walked further on down the road with my pile of food. We'd found that if we hiked separately when we were loaded with stuff, we got a lift easier because it's easier to squeeze one person into the vehicle than two... :-) yes into the vehicle...on Kauai we were always offered seats inside the vehicle. Anyway this one time I was further on down the road and this car came barreling along, stepped on the brakes and stopped by me...whoohoo I thought, I'm gonna get back before David :-) the door popped open and the lady said, call that guy back there with his groceries, we'll take the both of you down to the bay. I yelled for David and he hurried to us. After we'd loaded everything and were on the move, they introduced themselves, Deb and Will, they asked us who we were and slowly the light dawned on them that David and I were actually together. They almost collapsed with laughter. They were great, taking us all the way down to our dinghy chatting about how they'd just moved here from the mainland.

Will and Deb on Puddytat in Kauai.
We invited them to join us on the boat the next evening for sundowners and snacks. David would collect them from the beach in our dinghy. We had a great time the next evening and we ended up spending a fair amount of time with them. They have a home with a stunning view and we were often invited to braai (barbecue) and party with them. Will had a very interesting story to tell, I'll write to him and ask permission to tell you all about it. It's hair raising stuff, he's a very lucky man.

We spent a few months at Kauai, Elvin arrived on Omache and we made friends with another couple on a cat called Light Wave, Garret and Carllie. They have a Woods 28 and they are very happy with her. We also met Scott Fuller on his yacht, Scoot.

We spent many a lazy day snorkeling with turtles and friends, sitting in the sun soaking up the peacefulness of life as it should be...simple, quiet, soothing and restful.

The view on the way to our snorkel spot.
Looking down the coast a bit.
Once, we decided to go on an adventure sail, to see if there was a way we could get to see the uninhabited part of the island from the coast. We sailed down the west side of Kauai, along the Napali coast and only then realised just how huge those mountain ranges were. I took a photo of a 40ft Catamaran anchored at the shore of one of these ranges, it looked like a toy .....We passed the Honopu Arch, located on the Napali Coast. It connects two beaches otherwise separated by rugged sea cliffs. The area is only accessible to hikers and by Zodiac inflatable raft. We sailed on down the side of the island till we found a little bay with a lovely stretch of beach. Dropped our anchor and spent a pleasant night there.
The Napali Coastline....

At the bottom of this mountain cliff is a cave,
in front of the cave is a white line...that's the 40ft cat.

A close-up of the Cat..it looks like a toy.
To stock up with food we needed to go to a supermarket, the closest one here was found at the top of a hill on the left side of Hanalei Bay, when you're looking at it from the boat.... you could shop for things in the little town along the beach but for a big shop we'd head to the cliff. Once the shopping was done we'd go to a restaurant / bar called "Tsunami Bar", Ron the barman has a phenominal memory, remembering us when we went back for another visit, even though it was a few weeks later. The drinks he could make! it was fun sitting there watching him. The bar food was always plentiful and tasty.....we tried the "Loaded Fries" Man oh Man what a perfectly 'fatteningly' scrumptious meal. It's a huge plate of fries loaded with melted cheese and topped with sour cream with the green part of green onion chopped into it. We had one each and I couldn't finish mine. David barely managed to finish his. The next time we were there Ron remembered us and asked if we wanted some more loaded fries....we told him "YES, but only one serving thanks :-)".

Eventually the new auto-pilot arrived and David fitted it. We test sailed it and were very chuffed. The time was approaching, July, as the best time to cross the Northern Pacific to Canada, and Scott was also taking off, (for Tonga I think he said) ...so we indulged in farewell dinners and such over a period of about a week, then disaster struck.

David and I were being taken to a very big supermarket to do our "crossing shop", by a very kind and generous Will, in his car. Earlier we'd had the propane cylinder refilled and a 5 gallon Jerry jug topped
up with Diesel. David had been doing a lot of those to get the tanks as full as possible before we took off. Anyway, we stopped at Will's home to drop the two things off and as David hefted them out of the car, one in each hand, he stepped into some water on the driveway, wearing worn out crocs, and his feet slipped out from under him...crash, down he went. He looked a bit stunned for a few seconds and then staggered to his feet. First thing out of Will's mouth was..."heck man are you OK?" and then ......"damn good show you're a Brit, you won't sue me....will you?" We just had to laugh, even David, who was in a lot of pain because he'd broken the forefinger knuckle on his right hand. There was no way we'd be leaving any time soon....

Garret and Carllie leaving on Light wave.
A few days later Elvin on Omache left, it was the 1st July....On the 5th July Garret and Carllie left...we waved them both good bye feeling that we should be out there too. They looked so excited, it was such a let down realising that our departure wouldn't be for at least two weeks, maybe longer....  All we could do was wait. Of course David's knuckle wasn't going to heal in two weeks but when that time had passed he said " I think if you help me and I'm careful we can leave now." Whoohoo a ripple of excitement ran through me, my hairs on my arms stood up, "Really? you're not just teasing me are you?"..he laughed, "No I'm not. Lets go ashore and stock up on fresh stuff and leave tomorrow morning".

Whoohoo!!!! The next day was the 10th July and we were finally off! Scott raced around Puddytat  on his dinghy, taking photo's as we sailed out of Hanalei Bay, promising to send them to us via email. Soon the island was a smudge on the horizon... We were on our way!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

4. O'ahu Island.

O'ahu Island.
The sail over to O'ahu from Molokai'i was similar to the others. Having to hand steer over heavy swells and in winds up to 45 knots. This was becoming rather the norm. I was looking forward to the day when we collected our new auto pilot on Kauai Island, but that was still a sail away.
Heading towards the point.

We neared the island and realised that around the point was a HUGE city. I don't know why but I had just not thought about it. Maybe because the last island was so undeveloped. Of course we'd all watched movies such as Hawaii 5 O but in reality I hadn't really expected the city to be the way it was. The huge multi-story buildings soared up right up from the waters edge of the Marina. To say it was quite a sight is an understatement of note. I expected there to be a lot of noise at night from such a large mass of humanity but we were pleasantly surprised to be able to sleep undisturbed and deeply every night we were there.
Sky Scrapers right at he waters edge.

The same buildings...at night.
We stayed in Waikiki Marina, due to our membership with Parkstone yacht club in the UK, we got reciprocle membership at other yacht clubs around the world, this being one of them. We'd found from previous experience on these islands that often the best food was to be found in the club, so we didn't hesitate to make use of that particular amenity. We also had full run of the place, allowing us the use of the pool, showers and laundry.
Some exotic trees...
On the left, a Baobab and on the right A Young Banyan.

Behind the yacht club stands a large park scattered with exotic trees from all over the world, one of which was the Baobab. It took me a while to recognise it. First the trunk looked familiar and then I recognised the fruit, but I was still sceptical because of all the leaves. In Africa a baobab tree has hardly any and I have never seen one with this many even after good rains, but eventually I had to succumb to logic and admit that these were in fact Baobabs. A thrill went through me, I wanted to hug them. A small piece of home, a lump rose in my throat and I felt teary eyed....damn I miss Africa a lot.
So lovely, calm and serene.

Along the waters edge of the park is a long beach, littered with palms, just like in the movies. Very romantic especially at sunset. We would sit in the yacht watching the sun go down and if we looked to our starboard side we'd see skyscrapers starting to light up, and to our port side we'd see palms and beach and people sculling back to the marina from practice. Either view was totally alien from the other and yet they were next door neighbours. We chose to sit facing the Port side of the boat so as to get what we considered the best view. :-)

Just ahead of us on the dock was a large Fountaine Pajot Catamaran. It intrigued both David and I as we'd not seen that make before..a Salina, I think it was..it's 48 ft but it looked bigger...so, being who we are, we knocked on the hull, introduced ourselves and were soon aboard being shown around. The owners name, Mr Pajot himself, an interesting man. The yacht was even bigger inside than it looked, loads of space and as usual, nicely finished off. I wasn't sure if I liked it for me, but as a charter cat is was just perfect.

The next day we took off, after raiding the local nearby supermarket, to a bay called Poka'i Bay where we were looking forward to a quiet lonely anchorage with good snorkeling. I nearly forgot, we reefed our sails and still managed to travel at a good speed.
Reefed Sails.
Judging by this roosters tail we're doing about 10 knots.
Trying to figure out just where the anchorage is..

Poka'i Bay somewhere in the distance..reefed sails..
Almost there...
Arriving at Poka'i bay we found ourselves to be the only boat there...wonderful. After anchoring a sundowner was all we felt like doing, so we sat on the boat and enjoyed a G 'n T and a great sunset. While we were watching it another little boat dropped it's anchor out in the bay...we wondered who they were...
Another great sunset.

The next morning we woke up and went for a snorkel. It was the usual stuff..not many fish, but we did see turtles.

Can you see the turtle?
Weird Coral...
When we came back another boat was anchored near us...whooo hooo it was Elvin on Omache, whom we'd last seen motoring out of Honakahau Harbour on Big Island, leaving us attached to a dock for goodness how much longer.
Omache...whoohoo..and water on my lens.. :-(
He was the one who had arrived last evening but anchored too far away for us to work out if we knew him. We spent some time together, chatting and catching up. Fun! Later that afternoon we all went for a walk on the shore. There wasn't much to see but we had a great walk.
Beautiful Bird.
A Play ground near the beach.
Omache and Puddytat in a safe little anchorage.

Next day we weighed anchor and set of for Kauai Island...This was the place we were to do our "jump off" the start of our North Pacific Crossing to The Juan De Fuca Straight, Seattle and Canada. Also where we were going to be getting our new auto pilot YAY! I don't know which is more exciting. :-D

Thursday, December 16, 2010

3. Molokai'i Island

Molokai'i Island.
Leaving Maui we could see, in the distance, Molokai'i. The seas don't look at all rough but we now knew from experience that we would be experiencing at least 40 knots of wind out there. We put two reefs in the sail. The short crossing went easily enough and, we had to motor down the lee side of the island, because there was now no wind at all. David started to let the main down and got a slight shock when he realised that somehow we had done it again. Yes there it was, a huge tear in the sail. Drat more tedious sewing to be done.What had happened was the reefing line had got loose and so the pressure was on the ties and it was too much for them and one gave away, tearing huge hole.
Kommakaka'i Harbour.

The anchorage was shallow and the water very dirty brown. At low tide we barely had any water under us. The view from the boat of the island wasn't very welcoming...dry and dusty. Anchoring in this harbour cost US$4 a day. Anchoring should be free, use of the dinghy dock and refuse dump can be charged for, which is what happens in most places around the world. The cost is usually about US$1 a day for this.  It has been said that anchoring can be charged for if there are amenities such as docks, showers, refuse bins and then they should be free of charge.

Low tide, the water is really shallow.
We went ashore and experienced the few shops that were there, and did our interneting at the public library. In Hawai'i if you join a library on one island you are atomatically a member on all the others which, we thought, was pretty cool. Molokai is the last all Hawaian island. They have not allowed any 'American' development there, so it's farmed and is largly open tracts of land. A local to the island told us that the East side was beautiful and green.
Wonderful Sunset! Lots of VOG in the atmosphere, from Big Island.
We had lunch at an open air resturant where chickens pecked at the dust around our feet and the dog and cats were lying in the sun having a great day. The food was good, plentiful and reasonably priced. Then we came back to Puddytat and set about repairing the main. We decided to use sail tape. It's a very strong tape and it's extremely sticky. So after all the repair didn't take as long as our previous one.

Huge hole in the main....
After a good nights sleep we decided to get going. Weighed our anchor and sailed for Ohau Island.

See you there :-D

Monday, December 13, 2010

2. Maui....


Mmmmmm Maui! Well there we were anchored in Makena, a quiet little bay on Maui, with the small deserted island Molokini a few hours sail away. I had read up about that sunken crater and badly wanted to go snorkeling there. David said we would go the day after tomorrow after a good nights rest and a snorkel Makena bay. It was somewhat disappoining the next day. Not much to see at all, other than an eagle ray and a turtle and so now I was even more keen to do Molokini. Another boat had arrived and so we swam over to him and invited him over for sundowners, he was Larry and his boat was called Skimmer.

The clouds had been building since about midday and it started to rain at about 4.30 and the wind had got up to 15 knots..ish and then just after 5pm the charter cat, that was anchored nearby, left. The wind was building rather rapidly. Realising that that charter cat was a locally run boat and so the skipper probably knew something we didn't, we radioed Larry on Skimmer and called off the sundowners, having decided to leave. He told us he had too. Skimmer was really being thrown about we wondered if he was going to be OK. The wind was between 15 and 22 knots and gusting, Puddytat was on a lea shore and was dragging. To get to safety we had one of our 30hp engines on at 2500rpm and the genoa out, but partially reefed, and Puddytat pounded her way almost directly into wind, waves, (that were building up fast,) rain and a lot of spray. We occasionally took green water over the bows too. It creamed and frothed its way over the coach roof into the cockpit and over me as I was helming. The wind got upto 33knots at one time but Puddytat ( still with her old name of Malachi ) handled it all with aplomb. Keeping Puddytat at a steady speed of 5kts the whole way, eventually at about 10.30pm the anchor was dropped in Wainanukole Anchorage and we collapsed into bed. It had been a hard 5 hours for me behind the wheel. Molokini was way back behind us and it was very unlikely that we would go back there, so I was rather sad.

The next morning we woke up to sunny, almost windless, conditions. The area that Puddytat was anchored in was a shred of beach and not much else. It was lovely and peaceful. Every now and then we would hear voices and there would be a few surfers standing on their boards paddling casually and chatting away. They wove gently around us and off to their chosen surfing spot.

A few days later, deciding that we should go into town, the anchor was lifted and Puddytat sailed over to Lahaina, about half an hour away, where we picked up a mooring ball in front of the Yacht Club. Soon, under our feet was that hard stuff called terrafirma, and our eyes were feasting on wonderful sights like, ''The Largest Banyan Tree in the World!'' I kid you not! It takes up a whole block. After checking in at the Lahaina Yacht Club about the mooring ball and to get temporary membership, we sheltered under the Banyan Tree's cool shade while doing our own surfing. Yes, as usual, stacks of emails to answer. By the way the mooring ball was free of charge, what a lovely surprise!

Yup, this is one tree and it's over 120 years old!!

I just had to add this picture of one of the sunsets...just so beautiful.

Then a few days later the VOG arrived from Big Island...that's the sun you're looking at..time to leave I think. It must be awful on Big Island. VOG? what's VOG? didn't I tell you, sorry, it's 'Volcanic Fog'. It's thick and it makes you feel very lethargic and headachy.

A little later, feeling hungry, we wandered off to the Yacht Club to have some lunch. It's a known thing that Yacht Club food is always better than any resturant in town and cheaper too! Later, fully stuffed to the gills we decided to return to Puddytat. The town is quaint and full of tourists. We had had enough of the crowds and were tired, hot and ready for a nap. On reaching the dinghy we realised that we were not going home anytime soon. The whole thing had deflated because one of its seams had burst. Like I said earlier, the town is quaint, it's not set up with a place that sells inflatable dinghy repair kits. How was this to be solved?

David being the type of fellow who thinks laterally, went off to a hardware store and managed to find some regular contact adhesive. He slapped that on hoped for the best. We walked around asking everyone we saw if they had a pump. Eventually we borrowed two ( to have more fitting options), as it turned out they both worked. The dinghy was pumped up and motored to Puddytat, after going back to the Yacht Club and asking them to keep our computers overnight, not wanting them to go for a swim if the seam popped again on the way back to the boat. Amazingly, the seam stayed shut and we made it back to Puddytat dry. Mike our new friend told us about JB Weld, he uses it on his dinghy. He swore by it, so the next day David bought some which was just as well because when we got back to the dinghy it was flat again. The same seam had gone. So David used the new stuff and it really is excellent. The dinghy was pumped up and we were on our way in about 15mins. This time our own pump was with us. The problem is, it is so hot at midday that unless the dinghy is deflated a little in the morning, the air pressure in the tanks increases so much that the old seams can't cope.

We needed to go inland to collect a Pelican two seater Kayak that had been bought with the boat, but you can't hire a truck. We were asking around and chatting to other cruisers when our new friend Mike said that he had a truck and if it was topped up with fuel by us, we could take it to collect the kayak. YAY! We made plans and a few days later we were on our way, armed with maps and directions to the previous owner's daughter's home. It wasn't difficult to find.

On the way there we took the opportunity to do some sight seeing, and took a different route on the way back to catch some more sights. The road climbed 'til we were driving on a plateau where a lot of farming was going on. It was cooler up here and the soil was 'rich looking' and dark. The farming must be good. We also took the car part way down a coast road to no-where ...the Hana Highway!! through the Koolua Forest Reserve ... It had amazing views over the rugged coastline.

After thanking the people who had helped us and saying goodbye to all at the yacht club we set sail for Molokai'i. The locals had told us that the winds between these islands was a little stiff, that we should expect 30 to 40 knots.....so duly warned, off we went. The idea was to sail up the island to the Northern most tip and stop in a bay there called Honolua Bay for the night and then do the ''crossing'' the next day. HAH!
The best laid plans do tend to go awry! We decided to test out just how strong the winds were, We could see the line on the water where the wind started and bracing ourselves, sailed into it. The wind crashed into us and if she could have heeled, Puddytat would have been on her side! But instead what happened was, our mainsail got torn. A strip, at least a meter long, right along the edge, (the leach,) about three quarters the way up. The wind was blowing at least 35knots. It was an amazing experience to go from wind of 10 to 35kts in so quick a time, and to realise that the locals were not kidding saying that this wind is always like that. Tacking about and heading for the shoreline towards where a few boats were at anchor, we escaped and soon got into protected waters where the wind dropped to about 10 knots again. The anchor was dropped just North of Black Rock shortly after lunch time, so I prepared some food and whilst eating we discussed our sail repair plan.

We dropped the sail onto the deck, measured and cut new sail cloth, three layers of it. These I managed to sew together with the sewing machine. It needed to be over a meter long and about 8inches wide at it's widest point. Then it had to be folded over the edge (creating a new edge to that part of the sail), encasing the leach rope, and then to sew by hand, the two sides together through some original sail. It took us that afternoon and the whole of the next day to get the job done.

During our work in the morning, we noticed a few Catamarans actually beach the bows of their boats onto the local beach and people climbing on. Then in the late afternoon they came back and did the same so that the people could get off again.

Hmmmm wonder where they've been? The following morning we sailed, close to shore, up the coast to our proposed anchoring spot, Honolua Bay. In the distance a whale breached and splashed back into the water...it's always ''in the distance'' sigh...

What an idyllic spot! The wind was racing out there yet in the bay it was calm. The water was as usual, crystal clear and we just couldn't wait to go snorkeling. We snorkeled for about an hour and a half, seeing all kinds of fish and more than a few turtle. These chaps seemed to be snoozing in the sandy bottom, sweet. One thing we found amusing was the tourist boats...three of them arrived, which made the anchorage very tight as there wasn't much sand to drop your hook in. Anyway they must have had about 50 people on each of their boats, all jumping into the water to go for a snorkel. They pull in, drop anchor, people go swimming for a while, get out and eat a bun, drink a coke, go for another quick snorkel, if there's time and then off they go, back to land where the day before we had seen these same catamarans beaching their bows on the sand and
loads of people getting off. SO now... Hmmmm I knew where they had spent their day.

That evening we had the bay to ourselves, there were some campers on the beach in amongst the trees, but basically we were alone. It was heaven!

The next morning at dawn...so peaceful. The sun came up and revealed the surrounding country side...calm and green.

A little later, just after sunrise, up came the anchor and Puddytat headed for Molokai'i......

1. This is the beginning of our adventure on Puddytat...Feb. 2008

Hawai'i...Big Island.

We arrive in Big Island, Hawai'i in the early evening. We breath the balmy air and a possess a feeling of excitement.

Almost all the people getting off the plane were looking forward to a holiday. A few were returning home from the mainland, some were here on business, and then there was us. We hadn't come here on any of the above. David and I had flown to Hawai'i to take possession of our new 40 foot Catana Catamaran. Well, she was new to us, but actually she was an old hand at sailing.

We were informed by the staff in the airport that the carousel had broken down and that we would have to go to a section of the car park where the truck with the luggage would meet us. There was a huge extra light, run by a generator, set up to turn night into day. David went off to collect our pre-booked rental and I went off to make sure all 11 pieces of cargo luggage had arrived. I hoped the car would be large enough to carry all of it to our destination.

About half an hour later I was sitting on one of the cases and guarding the other 10, plus our carry-on luggage and our two briefcases, telling people ''no, none of this luggage is yours''. One chap asked me how I knew what his luggage looked like, seeing as I was telling him that his wasn't in this pile....I told him that I didn't know what his luggage looked like but that all this was mine so his just couldn't be amongst them, his jaw sagged a bit and then he wandered off.
David was having fun of his own. He had arrived with the car and had tried to drive into the car park so as to back-up to me and be able to pack the luggage into it. His problem was Homeland Security. You know those chaps, filled with self importance, able to throw their weight around for the first tme in their lives and taking full advantage of it. Well, he was told to find somewhere else to park.

David calmly drove off and found a place on the road adjacent to the car park, where a lot of other private cars were also parked. He climbed out of the car, locked it and started to walk towards the piles of luggage. He had already spotted me when a homeland security chap stopped him and told him he couldn't leave his car alone: he could park it there but someone needed to stay with it. David said...''I just need to go to my partner", pointing to me, to collect the luggage. "... she can come and sit with the car''. I hadn't seen him at this stage. The Homeland Security guy refused to let him leave the car saying that the rules were that he was not to leave the car unattended at ANY time. David suggested that he might like to look after the car for 30sec whilst he ran over to me and send me back. He stated that this was not in his job description, flatly refusing to budge. David then suggested that the officer might go over to me and tell me to come to the car. He said that this wasn't in his job description either, and that if David left the car at any time he would ticket it and have it towed. David then said ''well it's obvious that I cannot collect the luggage, so how do you suggest that we solve this problem in order that I could collect the luggage?''. The HS guy seemed a bit taken aback because David had asked him a question rather than getting annoyed. Now he was in a position to show his intellect as to how we were supposed to proceed to collect our luggage.

By this time I had noticed that David was chatting with one of the HS Chaps and I wondered what was going on. I had been chatting to another HS chap who seemed to be rather nice. I asked him if he knew what was going on. He said he would find out. He came back and told me that David couldn't leave the car; that someone had to look after it. He had offered to help move the luggage but that the other HS guy, (who was of a higher rank), had told him he wasn't allowed to. I was puzzled as to what to do and said ..''but I can't leave the luggage alone'', he quietly offered to look after the luggage whilst I went across to the car.

So finally David was able to lug the stuff across two by two, as there were no trolleys around either. The HS guy that had been strutting around like an important cockerel seemed rather deflated. We were disappointed with his attitude, it wasn't our fault that the carousel had broken down and that we couldn't use the car park as it had been cordoned off by the HS guys for the luggage truck... he had treated us like potential criminals, there was no room for objective thinking. It was obvious to us that the American government was employing brain dead neanderthals, who couldn't determine the difference between the nature of the law: in other words what the law was trying to do, and the written bureaucratic rules. It spoiled our arrival to the one place in the world I had always longed to visit.

We drove off to take a quick peak at our boat and then off to the hotel for the night. She was sitting quietly, Med-moored to the fuel dock at Honokohau Harbour.

The next morning after a good breakfast we collected the boat keys and drove to the dock. This was so very exciting. As the boat was docked stern-to we had to "walk-the-plank" from the dock to the aft section of the boat. The plank was a normal 2 by 8 inch length of wood. This sounds pretty safe until you take into account that the plank was only 10 ft long, the gap between the dock and the top step of the sugar-scoop transom was about 8 ft, and the boat surged about 1ft ....... progressively working one end or other of the plank into the water. It was amazing how quickly we got used to do doing the acrobatics ... and never a fall during our whole 3-months at the dock. Soon the cockpit was packed with all our stuff and the car was sighing with relief. It had been packed tight and had slightly over worked the suspension. We had a mammoth job now, to unpack everything, and to get the boat into a seaworthy state so that we could start our circumnavigation of the Pacific. There was much to do.

The water was so clear in the marina. We were regularily visited by green turtles. It was so great to be able to sit on the boat and watch them eat the leaves off a nearby plant.

One of the great things about being alongside the fuel dock in Honokohau Harbour at Kona on Big Island was that all the commercial fishermen came in there to weigh their catches for the day. We saw Yellow Fin Tuna, Spearfish, Marlin and such. On occasion a fisherman would throw us a gallon zip lock bag packed with freshly filleted fish..WHAT A TREAT!!!!

The biggest Marlin we saw was 1256lbs. We also saw one that had been attacked by a shark after it had been tied alongside the fishing boat. It had been too large to bring into the boat so they had had to tie it alongside. This .. of course .... attracted a pretty large shark. Another smaller sports boat tried to help by going for the shark with their boat in an effort to drive it away from it's perceived free dinner. But the shark still managed to get about 250lbs of meat off that Marlin.

The most amazing catch we saw was four 40 to 60lb Yellow Fin Tuna caught by two 12year old youngsters, amazing...these kids were skinny scrawny boys and let me tell you when I was 12 I went deep sea fishing with my Dad. I was about 5ft tall and weighed about 90lbs, I caught a Spannish Mackeral that day and nearly bust a gut getting it in..it only weighed about 20lbs, so I know how hard those boys worked. The local newspaper came down and took their photos.

Another thing we saw for the first time were the surfers. Now everyone has seen a surfer paddling out to the waves, but these guys take it one better. They stand on their long boards and paddle out with a long specially designed paddle. When they surf they use the paddle for balance and sometimes for steering. It looks like a lot of fun. We also noticed that surfing wasn't a sport only for the teenagers, it seemed that there were a few parents and grandparents that still surfed too. Sometimes the surfers had a small child on the front of the board and even on occasion a dog or two. These people sure know how to have fun!

We found it very difficult to get around on Big Island because their bus system is almost non-existent. To get into Kona from the airport or Honokohau Marina one has to have a car or a bicycle. We had neither. Sometimes we hitch-hiked, it seemed that people thought we were 'trailer trash' because if we were given a lift we were told to climb in the back of the truck even if there were empty seats in the cab. People in cars never stopped for us. When we returned our rental, a National, that we had hired on our arrival, back at the airport they did not have a driver to take us back to the marina, nor was there a bus of any sort that we could catch. This rental car company could care less about you after you had dropped their car off with them. The only option open to us was to hitch hike. We were not amused. We later found out from a manager of this rental company that the manager should have supplied a car ...... he probably just couldn't be bothered. The company did pay $100 compensation though ... :-)

Whilst we were working on the boat we took the occasional day off and rented a car, from Enterprise Car Rental, ( they care about their customers, picking us up and dropping us off), and drove around the island to 'see the sights'. We went to the Volcanoes. We climbed down into one crater, (about a thousand feet below), and stood on the hot steaming crust, took a photo of the steam and climbed back out of there. We also walked through a tunnel created by Lava. One could have driven a truck through it.

The smell of sulphur was quite strong in places. The route around the craters was often closed. We were able to drive through but were not allowed to stop. We were also told to keep our windows closed and the airconditioner on 'circulating'.

One of the volcano's was making rumbling noises. About a month later there was an eruption on Big Island. It happened just before we sailed off so we rented another car and went to have a look at it. When we finally got to the area, we were only allowed to get to within 600mts of the flow and even then you could feel the heat, it was quite an experience. The air, however, was becoming thick with VOG, all along the leeward side of the island. This is the Hawaiian word for 'Volcanic Smog'. The radio had started advising people with asthma and breathing difficulties to stay within their air conditioned areas as much as possible. We also found that we were feeling lethargic and headachey. Once we sailed away however we soon returned to our normal selves. We felt sorry for the people we left behind on the island.

Sailing between the islands is an experience we will be happy not to repeat. We had wondered why the locals went everywhere by canoe and didn't sail. Well we soon found out.
One of the things that we hadn't been able to get working was the auto-pilot, so we had ordered one that would arrive in Kauai Island in a few weeks time. In the meantime we had to hand-steer everywhere.

Sailing along the coast of Big Island was good fun that day. The winds were good and steady and the currents weren't bad at all. We took a couple of girls from Kona along for the trip. They used it as an excuse for some serious sunworshipping. There are few interesting places along the coast to drop your anchor. One place we did stop on our maiden voyage was Mahukona Harbour, a working harbour, however it tends to be noisy with ships and so we only stayed the night.
The next morning we left for Nishimura Bay that is situated on the northern tip of Big Island. We didn't have any wind so we were motoring when we saw a whale frolicking in the water. He leapt out, half his body hovering for a few seconds above the water before crashing back in.
Man that was awesome!!!! What an experience!!

That night we anchored in Nishimura Bay. We had a very pleasant evening and night. I could have stayed there longer it was so pretty and peaceful.

The next morning we left for Maui. Half-way across we were sailing straight into head winds, not a lot of fun, we had 30 nautical miles to go with the wind right on the nose. We had two options, 1; sail a zigzag course, which we tried but found that the current swept us so badly off course that we couldn't make proper headway and so would take an extremely long time to get to Maui, or 2; motor-sail. Yes you guessed it, we motored and dropped our anchor on Maui that afternoon in time for a 'sundowner' otherwise known as a cocktail in some places in the world. The beach was dark red in colour. We had seen black, grey and white beaches and now, a dark red one!

Next.......Maui Island.