Sunday, August 29, 2010

August 8-23, 2010, 13:20 HST

N 45°21.702’, W 136°27.261’
Heading Home...Part II

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog entry but believe me, there’s not a whole lot to report at this point. Here’s a day by day rundown of the mostly boring events that have transpired since the last time I posted (pictures are pretty much random):

August 8th: I thought my iPod succumbed to the harsh salt water environment as it wasn’t functioning properly. At that time, night watches officially began to suck for me.

August 9th: Today I lost two lures while fishing, both of them lost with fish on. One of the fish actually jumped out of the water once it was hooked and it looked like a wahoo (ono) from my vantage point on the stern of the boat.
August 10th: The weather faxes are starting to look grim which means that our return passage may take much more time than we initially anticipated. Richard is now checking for updates twice a day with the hopes that maybe, hopefully, things will change quickly. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out the best plan for rationing our food and getting anxious that I haven’t hooked into a fish yet.

August 11th: In Lahaina, I picked up a book titled Fornander’s Ancient History of the Hawaiian People to the Times of Kamehameha I. The book is basically a genealogical history of the chiefs and chiefesses of the Hawaiian Islands beginning after the initial migratory period of Polynesians up to about the mid-nineteenth century. The author, who lived during the latter part of this epic and was married to a Hawaiian chiefess himself, laid out all the important battles in that period that shaped the political boundaries of the individual island kingdoms which eventually were united under Kamehameha I in the mid-nineteenth century. It took me a long time to read this book; I actually started reading it on July 16th but each character’s name became a stumbling block not being fluent in Hawaiian. Given the tone of the book, if Kamehameha had not been successful in uniting all of the Hawaiian islands into one kingdom, it sounds like the chiefs might still be feuding to this day.

A Very Short, One Act Play…
Richard: You stink.
Brian: I’ll bathe at 2:30.
The End.

I had to put long pants on today for the first time since before arriving in Hilo weeks ago.

I started reading Eclipse, by Stephanie Meyer; my friend Carol is moaning in disgust because she and I both adamantly believe that friends don’t let friends read Twilight sequels.

August 12th: Richard is now saying that it will definitely take longer to get home than initially planned. The days and nights are getting somewhat cooler, necessitating pants (is this a turning point?).

I have been “going to the gym” every day since we left Hanalei. My routine includes the following exercises (25 repetitions x 2 sets: dips, sit ups, push ups, bicycle sit ups, bicep curls (with resistance band), seated row (with resistance band), and standing pec fly (with resistance band). I am determined to lose all the weight I gained by eating out for the past month while in the islands!

It’s been getting light out at about 04:20 each day.

August 13th: Finished Eclipse (CY, only one more to go! HA!). Began reading An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke.

August 14th: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 15th: Finished An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England; began reading All Fishermen Are Liars by Linda Greenlaw.

August 16th: Finished All Fishermen Are Liars; began reading The Big Burn by Timothy Eagan.

We have not had any usable wind in the past few days and this has become quite disconcerting. Richard and I have been discussing ways to make food, water and fuel last. I still have yet to hook into a fish on this return passage and that is getting kind of frustrating. Richard fixed (again?) the water pressure issue. I have a persistent low-grade, background headache every day and I think it’s related to the swells and all the rocking the boat is doing…kind of annoying. The days are still warm but by suppertime the temperature is quite chilly and nights are downright cold.

August 18th: Today I had to don my snorkel mask and swim under the boat on the suspicion that there might be something stuck on the propeller (like discarded line or something equally evil). There wasn’t but I did get to see these neat little black and beige fish that have been swimming with the boat for a while now. I think they use the boat as some sort of protection or cover from the larger predatory fish in the area. Not sure if they understand that if they hitchhike all the way with us that they will end up in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest…their decision.

A cotter pin holding a shackle on the main sheet at the traveler track broke loose today. Took us a while to get that fixed but luckily we had a spare shackle on board.

August 19th: Fish on! I was down below sleeping and Richard got to yell my favorite fishing phrase. This tuna was a bit smaller than the one I caught on the way to Hawai’i but will be enjoyed just the same.

August 20th: Today I discovered that my iPod is not toast; it’s just that my earbuds have loose wires…night watches no longer officially suck.

August 21st: Finished The Big Burn. I have completely run out of books to read on board; good thing my iPod is working again!

August 22nd-23rd: We finally got some decent wind and have been able to sail and make head way towards Anacortes…Finally! It is a bumpy ride which makes everything we try to do on board difficult.

There you have it, all the boring details of life aboard Osprey on the homeward passage. I’m hoping that we are only about one more week until pulling into our slip in Anacortes. It will be good to get back on terra firma, see friends and family and sit back and reflect on this amazing journey.

August 8, 2010, 12:44 HST

N 29°12.530’, W 158°00.480’
Heading Home...Part I

The past five days have been filled with blue skies, a very blue ocean, periodic squalls, high temperatures, and a missed mahimahi. We are back on a three hours on/three hours off watch schedule and for the most part, both Richard and I have settled into this routine. What is surprising, at least to me, is that we are both still taking scopace despite being at sea for over five days. I would have thought that the initial effects of the rolling ocean swells would have been absorbed by now but that hasn’t been the case. Good thing we have a robust supply of scopace for this trip.

Each day is pretty much the same as the last one…blue skies, puffy white clouds, occasional afternoon rain storms (or, as I like to refer to them, bath time!), and a very blue ocean. At night, there tend to be more squalls (which I don’t refer to as bath time) and higher winds. In addition to having started this passage on a waning moon, the moon has been rising late in the evening (it’s actually been rising around 03:00 in the morning) which makes the night watches quite dark; the bonus to this dark night time sky is that the stars, constellations, the edge of the Milky Way, planets, shooting stars and comets are easily visible. During one of my three hour watches, I counted 11 shooting stars and 2 comets. The usual suspects of constellations, like the Big Dipper, Orion, the Pleides, Scorpio, and Sirius, are plainly visible and welcomed company during the night. We do have star gazing equipment on board and maybe one of these nights I’ll take that out to see if I can identify what the other constellations and planets are that fill the night sky.

The temperature has been very tropical, with daytime highs reaching well into the high 80s and mid 90s. Since we are sailing, we can’t have any of the screens in the portholes or the hatches open for ventilation, so the cabin is also quite warm and humid. This makes sleeping, at least for me, rather difficult.

Yesterday I hooked a mahimahi but as we got him to the boat, the line snapped and off he went with my lure stuck in his mouth. We are on a different tack on this return passage and so netting a fish on the side of the boat is a little more tricky than when we were heading to Hawai’i on a downwind tack. For the most part we are on a starboard tack which means that the port side of the boat is slightly lower than the starboard side due to the heel of the boat while sailing. As this is the more convenient side of the boat to fish from, Richard and I will have to devise a plan on how we will bring the fish to the boat so that one of us can net it successfully. I will make sure to let you all know how that works out once we have our next opportunity.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 4, 2010, 08:00 HST

N 22°12.658’, W 159°30.097’
Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i…Heading North…

Woke up this morning and realized that it’s our last day in Hawai’i. I know that I’m not going to get any sympathy from anyone when I say that I’m sad to leave (given that we’ve been here just about a month). This morning will be spent making final preparations before we raise the anchor and head North into the Pacific Ocean for the passage home. We will not have cell phone or email as soon as we get offshore so this will be the last blog entry for this site. The regular blog, however, will continue to have updates as we travel to the Pacific Northwest, and pictures will be uploaded once we make landfall in Anacortes. I will update this blog as well once we are back in our slip in Washington.

Aloha and Mahalo for keeping up with us via out blogs!

August 2, 2010, 20:00 HST

N 22°12.658’, W 159°30.097’
Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i…Nearing the end…

It’s the night before our last night in Hanalei Bay and I am definitely sad to have to be leaving. Granted, Hanalei Bay isn’t perfect; just near perfect. The natural beauty is spectacular with the near two mile long crescent of golden sand beach fringed by palm trees, backed by lush green mountains. And remember all the rain I blogged about? Well, all that rain fed a number of waterfalls that cascaded down the faces of the ridge that reached out towards the ocean. And the rain always came with the sun so you had rainbows nearly every day. The bay itself was also amazing. The colors of the water, from deep true blue to aqua to turquoise to cerulean, it never ceased to amaze me that the water could take on so many different hues. The sunrises and sunsets against the mountains and over the ocean, dolphins swimming in and out of the bay, and the sea life teaming below the surface, all added to the experience.

The Hanalei River is also beautiful and Richard and I got to experience that firsthand when we kayaked as far up the river as we could before running out of depth to proceed further. Lined with coconut palms and banana trees, narrowing to just a few meters wide at spots, the Hanalei River was both peaceful and full of wild life. We saw numerous species of birds, fish and a few painted box turtles along the way. Where the river meets the bay, a spit of sand juts out protecting the peaceful little cove at the river’s end from the surf created by the endless ocean swells.

The town of Hanalei is both sleepy and vibrant. It’s simple in its presentation and doesn’t offer too many choices as to be seen as overwhelming while at the same time providing just the right amount of diversity to please a variety of palates. The laid back shop keepers and restaurant workers extend “aloha” genuinely and really seem happy to meet you, even if your time in Hanalei is brief. I could really see myself settling down here for a while and liking it. I mean how could you not like it? You could surf, hike, paddle, snorkel, swim, sail, pedal, eat, drink and be merry in the most perfect surroundings; you might have to work a bit here and there but let’s be realistic, even perfection has its logical limits.

But like I said, Hanalei is not perfect. Hanalei Bay’s northern exposure to the ocean allows swells to enter the bay and while the day time winds help keep the boat fairly steady, from sunset to sunrise you are a rockin’ and a rollin’! Believe me, after a while, even in paradise, this tends to get on your nerves. Breakfast is a comedy of watching your juice glass and tea cup slide back and forth on the table while you try to keep the butter, sugar, maple syrup, cereal bowls, plates, etc. from sliding off as well.

But from a cruiser’s perspective, the holding is firm in sand, there’s plenty of room for lots of boats (currently 20+ sailing vessels with just as many motor boats of various sizes), not to mention the oodles of kayakers, paddlers, and surfers you have to dodge when taking your dinghy to shore; and the shore is easily accessible by dinghy where there’s fresh water and outdoor showers. In addition, you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and surf boards right on shore, and bikes and mopeds in town which is just a 15-20 minute walk from shore. The grocery store is actually more provisioned that most of the guide books give it credit (the one we used said that it stocked “basics”, but we found it to have just about everything a cruising boat could want, including ice!). Propane is a bit of an adventure to procure as you have to go to the nearest gas station which is in Princeville and without a car, a taxi is the only way to get this done as you cannot take flammable liquids on the buses. Speaking of the buses, while we didn’t take the buses anywhere, the system runs clockwise from the North Shore to the West side of the island and allows you to access most of what the island has to offer. If Kaua’i were a clock, basically between 8:00 and 11:00 is not accessible or served by any roads. This is the Na Pali coast and the lack of easy access is probably the only thing that has saved this incredible natural area from over exposure.

So yea, let’s just say that I really liked Hanalei Bay, even if it wasn’t perfect. I can’t wait to come back.

And here comes the rain again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

August 1, 2010, 22:14 HST

N 22°12.658’, W 159°30.097’
Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i…Paradise, revisited…

Today was another day where we did virtually nothing…and it was great! I woke up without the searing pain from the stinging hydroids so that was a bonus. It rained off and on all day long which made sitting in the cockpit and watching the dolphins, paddle boarders, kayakers and surfers all the more appropriate. I honestly remember sitting in the cockpit after breakfast, taking in the sights, and all of a sudden realizing it was lunchtime and shortly after that, it was dinner time! These last few days seem to be flying by and that’s making me a bit sad.

We went into town and ate dinner at Hanalei Gourmet. Initially it looked like there might be a wait but Amy, the bartender from the night before, was sitting on this side of the bar and motioned over to us, pointing to two seats at the bar. We strolled over and took our places at the bar and thanked Amy. Amy’s husband, Pepe, showed up and Amy told him of our upcoming departure and how we planned to fish along the way. I asked Pepe about fishing opportunities in Hawaiian waters and told him of my skepticism surrounding the warm water temperatures. Pepe assured me that yellowtail tuna, wahoo, and mahi mahi love the warm waters surrounding Hawai’i and all I had to do was put out a line with a squid lure on and I would soon find myself with plenty of fish. I told him I would take his advice and hope for the best. Before he and Amy left, Pepe took out his cell phone to show me a picture of a 600+ pound marlin that a bud of his just caught earlier in the day outside of Anahola on the eastside of Kaua’i. It was a monster!

The Mango Brothers, a local guitar and ukelele band, were providing the musical backdrop at Hanalei Gourmet while we were having dinner. They played Hawaiian music as well as some Hawaiian versions of "somewhat" contemporary tunes. They even had some hula girls come out for a couple of songs. It was fun to listen to live, local music. The vibe was definitely North Shore!

Amy made sure to let us know that she would be DJing tomorrow on a local radio station between 15:00  and 17:00. She goes by the name of DJ Diamond and, according to Amy, plays “girlie music!” We told her we would tune in if we were on the boat.

On our way back to the boat we noticed that the mooring ball we had beached the other day was gone.

The Coconut...Part II

July 31, 2010, 20:16 HST

N 22°12.658’, W 159°30.097’
Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i…Paradise, with a few kinks…

Today Richard and I went to the Hanalei farmers’ market and for the most part had a good time. It was located in a field behind the Hanalei Poi Company, adjacent to the taro fields. There were booths with organic farmers there selling papayas, bananas, mangoes, various vegetables, honey and other great stuff. There were also booths present with artisans selling koa wood carved bowls, sea glass and shell jewelry, and local goat cheese. In addition to these booths, there were also booths selling tie-dyed shirts (made in Honduras), straw hats (made in China), and other things that were neither made in Hawai’i nor made by farmers. I mean, isn’t the operative word here farmers? While I don’t mind so much the vendors selling "made in Hawai’i" goods at a Hawaiian farmers market, I do mind vendors who are selling crap made outside of the United States. Now, I will be the first to admit that I’m not as vigilant as I should be about buying locally, and this is something that I have told myself that I need to be more aware of moving forward. But check this out…there you are in Hawai’i and you want to buy a souvenir. So you see that coconut shell with the painted sunset on it and you think, “Oh, that’ll look great on the mantle!” So you pick up the painted coconut, turn it over and find a “Made in China” sticker on it. How is that a souvenir from Hawai’i? Then we wonder why so many people are out of work; nothing is made in America any more! PS...nothing painted on a coconut shell would look good on your mantle.

But I think I’m getting a nose-bleed from standing up on my soap box so I’ll step down now.

We did buy some papayas and Richard bought a coconut from this guy standing at the back of an old truck wielding a machete. The deal is you buy the coconut, the guy hacks off one end of the shell exposing a small patch of the inner shell. He then takes a bore-like tool and makes a small hole in the shell so you can stick a straw in to drink the coconut water. You drink the water, bring the coconut back to the machete-wielding guy and he splits the coconut in half and uses a special tool to scoop the coconut meat loose. The coconut water and meat were a little too “green” for my tastes, but the whole “eating a coconut in paradise” experience worked for me nonetheless. Check out the video below of Richard getting us a coconut.

Behind the Hanalei Poi Company building we spotted a small flock of Nene's, the Hawaiian state bird.

We returned to the boat for an afternoon of sitting in the cockpit, watching dolphins swim by, and swimming around the boat. At one point I noticed a red ball floating by the boat. We decided that it was a mooring ball so I donned my mask, snorkel and fins and headed out to recover it; it was only about 100 or so feet from the boat. Once I reached the mooring ball, I looked down the line expecting to see it free floating but instead I saw a cinder block attached to the working end of the line suspended in about 50 feet of water. Despite the oddity of seeing the cinder block, I grabbed the line and started swimming back to the boat. Back at the boat, Richard and I decided to ask our neighbors if they had any ideas what we should do with the mooring ball (our neighbors are kind of “local”). Richard tried to lift the mooring ball and line into the dinghy, but the weight of the hanging cinder block made it kind of difficult so I dove down and tried lifting the cinder block up towards the dinghy. It was damn heavy! We finally got the mooring ball and cinder block into the dinghy and motored over to our neighbor’s boat. After talking to them, we decided to beach the mooring ball on a spit where the Hanalei River meets Hanalei Bay, figuring if someone came looking for his/her mooring ball in the bay and didn’t see it, maybe he/she would spot it on shore.

Having dropped off the mooring ball on the spit, we were heading back to our boat when I noticed that my neck was starting to burn. I immediately thought, “Great! I’ve got a sunburn on my neck and I’ll never hear the end of it for not putting on sunblock.” When we finally reached the boat, the burning in my neck had intensified. I went into the head (aka bathroom) to look in the mirror but couldn’t see anything on my neck. I asked Richard to look at my neck and he asked me why. “Because I have a searing hot pain on my neck and face,” I said. It felt like someone was grinding white-hot broken glass into my neck and face. We quickly looked up these symptoms in our medical reference and discovered the wonderfully horrible world of stinging hydroids.

Stinging hydroids are plant-like creatures, related to jellyfish, that are described as “beautiful, fan-like creatures that pack a painful sting." Great! What happens is that when the water is turbulent, pieces of the hydroids, that are usually attached to rocks, coral, mooring lines (hmmm?), etc., break off and become random, microscopic missiles of pain floating around in the water…the same water that we’ve been swimming in for the past few days.

We fired up the laptop and Googled “stinging hydroids + treatments” and found a plethora of articles. The treatment involves an acidic compress (vinegar on a face cloth) for about 30 minutes followed by application of hydrocortisone cream; special emphasis was placed on not applying fresh water as this might re-activate any remaining nematocysts on the skin resulting in more searing pain. Richard commented that I would smell like a pickle for the rest of the night and that was fine with me.

After this minor crisis was averted, we got ready and went to a luau. This luau was being put on by the Hanalei Canoe Club Youth Programs, so we imagined that it would be less cheesy than a luau put on by a chain hotel. In fact, it was better than one of those cheesy luaus. The food was good, though we both thought that they could have put a little more food on our plates. Richard and I both enjoyed the poi!

Having finished our plates, and still hungry, we decided to walk into town to get something else to eat. We ended up at Hanalei Gourmet and had a great plate of smoked local fish (marlin) and beers. We followed that up with some ice cream and walked back to the boat.

Just another day in paradise…with a few kinks thrown in for good measure.

The Coconut...Part I