Monday, December 13, 2010

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 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.

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