02/06/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
The very best part of staying in the Ala Wai Boat Harbor is the Fuel Dock -- aka the Poor Boyz Yacht Club. It is a charming little convenience store/deli designed with the cruiser/liveaboard in mind and in addition to the fuel and essential items for sale they have a great laundry facility, WiFi, fax service, book exchange, delicious food and wonderful staff -- every thing you could want in a boaters gathering place and more.
But the sad, sad news is in a month they will be gone. A Japanese conglomerate has purchased the property from the state and they have big plans for the property (as well as the old boatyard property elsewhere in the harbor) and I understand that they will be demolishing the fuel dock starting as early as next month. It is a true loss to the community -- not to mention the great staff that works there or the half dozen or so boats that are moored there.
I don't know what the new company will bring in the future -- there is talk of wedding chapels of all things! But I do know, as far as the boating community goes, the Ala Wai will never be the same with the loss of Magic Island Petrolium, "The Fuel Dock"
01/16/2013, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Just before setting sail from Apataki for Hawaii we got a call from Terry's old boss asking if he'd do a job for him while in Hawaii. Terry said yes, because we knew we'd be spending many months in Hawaii and he could certainly spare some time to earn some extra cash. Well, as it turns out it was a great deal for us -- not just for all the new boat parts its helped us buy -- but for the great opportunity to explore the Big Island: Hawaii.
We are based on Oahu but the job is near Hilo on the Big Island. We had no desire to keep our boat over in that rainy area so Rosie and I hold down the fort while Terry goes off to work in Hilo. Since the company provides him with a truck and a hotel it has been a great opportunity for me to fly over there when he has a weekend off and do some sightseeing.
My first trip over we traveled to the Kona side and visited with our friend Vicky on Inspiration at Sea who was staying in the Waimea area with friends. But this last weekend we finally got up to Volcanoes National Park (we'd hoped to on my first visit but were met with heavy rain those days) and it was an unexpected treat.
Having hiked over lots of lava fields and and viewing the huge caldara on Isla Isabella in the Galapagos, I expected more of the same. Even though I knew Kilauea is an active volcano I didn't expect to really see the activity, so it was an exciting day traveling around to the different viewing sights and seeing (and hearing the rumbling) in the crater and driving down the Chain of Craters Road to the Pacific Ocean where the lava has been flowing into the ocean since 1986. It was eerie to see the the asphalt of the road abruptly covered by thick lava when it flowed over it in 2003. There is still a Road Closed sign sticking out of the lava several feet from the end of the road,
We also traveled outside of the park to the Hawaii County Kalapana Lava Viewing Site, traveling down Highway 130 until it comes to an abrupt end. This, at the moment, is the best place to get close to the lava flows. It is also one of the strangest areas because of all the homesteaders "lava dwellers" who have built "off the grid" homes right on the lava fields.
It was an amazing day -- and we made a return trip up to view the crater that night, but with the rain we only saw a white glow and heard the other worldly rumblings, and not the orange glow that it often displays.
I've added an album to the right of our trip to Volcanoes National Park. Enjoy!
12/30/2012, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
On our first visit to the Ala Wai aboard Cassiopeia we enjoyed several months on the 800 dock aka the transient dock. It's a long dock where temporary visitors could med tie and enjoy the comforts of a protected mooring for a small fee. It was a cross roads for cruisers from all over -- many preparing to head to the South Pacific and others just returning and there was a lot of sharing of information and a lot of fun hanging out with like minded people.
Since then the Ala Wai has gone through a lot of changes and until recently not for the better. Docks fell to disrepair and the good old 800 dock became home to transients of a different kind with homeless people setting up camp on anything that would float.
It's a government owned marina and for the past several years they have been working to restore everything and it seems to be coming along well. Many docks had to be replaced due to tsunami damage and they now require inspections before you can bring a boat into the Ala Wai. We had to pass the inspection before we brought Cetus in -- including a short sea trial -- even though we'd just sailed 2300 miles to get here. We didn't mind -- it's a good step they are taking to clean the place up.
There are two types of moorage here -- permanent or temporary. To get permanent status you have to fill out an application to get on the waiting list which takes 4-5 years to get a slip. But once you get the slip it appears you can do anything you want with the surrounding dock area and people have put in decks with BBQ's and fences making it their own little back yard.
We've taken a couple dinghy trips around the harbor of more than 700 slips and I've taken pictures of some of the more interesting sights I'll put in an album in our gallery to the right titled The Ala Wai.
It's an interesting marina right off of Waikiki Beach -- and though it's not the nicest place we've ever stayed we're definitely enjoying life here in the Ala Wai.
We sailed away from Gig Harbor in the summer of 2009 and spent the following 3 Christmases at Marina Palmira in La Paz with a great bunch of fellow cruisers and enjoyed festive, but low key celebrations. This year we didn't have as many cruisers with us, but the 3 cruising boats here on the 400 dock in the Ala Wai had a wonderful Christmas Day BBQ on the beach at Waikiki!
We started out with a bit of rain but were able to find a table with a BBQ under a bit of shelter and it wasn't long before the sun was out and Terry and I went for a nice swim after the great pot luck BBQ meal.
The other two couples had gone through the Galapagos and French Polynesia before settling here in Honolulu so we had plenty of sea stories to share, as well.
Another wonderful, low key, Cruiser's Christmas!
People often wonder when they see our Florida address if we're relocating -- well, we're not. That is our mail forwarding service address at St. Brendan's Isle.
It's a very popular service in the cruising community, because it makes it easy to get your mail anywhere in the world you might be. When mail arrives at St. Brenden's, they scan the envelope and I can go online and see what is in my mailbox. Then I can choose to hold it, scan it, send it or shred it. With the scan feature they open the envelope and scan the contents -- which is very handy if you're in a place that you can;t have your mail sent out right away.
On the send feature you can have a packet of mail sent to the address of your choosing. I used the hold mail while we were traveling through the South Pacific, then when we got to Hawaii I went online and sorted through it all and shredded some and had the rest sent on to us here.
We have maintained our PO Box in Gig Harbor, as well, and have mail forwarded from there to Florida, so we don't miss out on anything.
Well, I actually don't sand all day everyday, but I am still hard at work on the project of redoing all the exterior teak on Cetus.
To protect my sanity, I do sections of the boat at a time, so I may sand for a couple days and then I have a couple days where I apply Cetol to the freshly sanded surfaces, then on to a new area of the boat.
It can be a very tedious job, but at the end of the day it is always very rewarding as I see the teak looking good again. There's nothing like the honey blonde color of freshly sanded teak and I wish there was a way to keep it just like that, but there's not. Teak can be delt with in many ways : you can let it go gray, you can varnish, you can oil, or you can use something like Cetol, which is a bit of a compromise to varnishing. It gives a nice protective coating, and while it is not as beautiful as varnished teak, it is much simpler upkeep.
We first discovered Cetol over 20 years ago (after reading about it in Practical Sailor) and used it on the small amount of teak on our first cruising boat, Cassiopeia. Then it was sold in paint stores as a treatment for outdoor wood, but it's come a long way since then and now is marketed for marine use (at marine prices unfortunately) and comes in a few shades and now even a gloss finish you can apply to give it more of a varnished look.
The last time we redid the teak we went with several coats of the Natural Teak with a few coats of the gloss over that. We really liked the look, but we've found that the intermediate touch ups weren't as easy with the hard gloss layers on it, and that's why we're taking it all down to bare wood again. I'm not using the gloss this time, just the natural teak.
|Blog Posts: Boat & Equipment||
I finally filled the album in our Gallery with the pictures I took on the island of Mangarava in the Gambiers. It was a beautiful spot and it was fun seeing it all again. But sorry to say I haven't captioned any of the pics -- they're just randomly thrown in. Enjoy!
Most cruising boats use propane to fuel their stoves so if you want hot meals it's important to keep those tanks filled. We have two small tanks aboard Cetus and each tank will last anywhere from 1 to 2 months under normal use. In Mexico and the US it is pretty easy to get these refilled so we usually take the empty tank in as soon as we switch them so we always have a spare.
Things got a bit trickier to get them filled first in the Galapagos and then in French Polynesia. Both places you could get your propane filled -- but only on one island. So in the Galapagos when we were on Isla Isabela we had to take the 3 hour each way "fast ferry" to get our tank filled. In French Polynesia, we had to wait until we got to Tahiti.
We left Tahiti with 2 full tanks, but by the time we'd gone through the Tuamotus and baked a lot of bread one tank was empty. So we had to start the long passage to Hawaii knowing we didn't have a spare if our last tank ran out early. A bit of an uneasy feeling, but we didn't think it should be a problem. Plus, we'd be back in the good old USA where it is easy to get propane.
We made it in with propane to spare but loaded up our empty tank and took it to the fuel dock here in the Ala Wai to get it filled and ...... no can do. Seems that while we were gone the 12 year certification ran out on our propane tanks (not a problem in any of the other countries).
So we set about getting the tanks re-certified. The first place that was recommended was a hardware store called City Mill. We'd seen it out by the Home Depot and West Marine and knew how to get there by bus, so I called them to ask if they re-certified tanks and the girl said yes. When we got out there the next day we found out that she was wrong, they just fill them.
There they told us we'd have to go to the gas company AirGas. It was a ways away so we caught a taxi to go out to drop off the tanks. When we got there they said they could do it but it would take 6 to 8 weeks! He did give us the address and phone number of their main office in another town that might be able to get it done quicker.
So back to the drawing board. We went back to the boat and did some calling around to see where else we might get it taken care of, and it turned out the Air Gas place that was way out of town seemed to be the only place -- and they said they could have them done in about a week.
So the next day we loaded up the tanks in our carry on duffle bags so we could take them on the long hour and a half bus ride. Luckily it was a short walk from the bus stop and we're happy to report that they took them and said they'd be ready in a week! Hurray!
They called early this week to say they were ready and I asked them if they could send them to the Honolulu store for easier pick up, and they did. So tomorrow I will take the bus to CostCo to do some shopping, then get a cab to take me home picking the tanks up along the way.
I've been able to cook in the meantime because Terry had an adapter to put on one of the little BBQ cylinders and it's been fueling my stove. But I'll be happy to have my big tanks back so we won't have to worry about running out while cooking Thanksgiving dinner!
I've always said that the best part of cruising is you get to travel to great places but at the end of the day you are at home and can sleep in your own bed, because you take your house with you. Well, unfortunately when you take your house with you it also brings along all the work of maintaining a house that you get to leave behind when you're on a true vacation.
So our life isn't the vacation that a lot of people imagine when they hear we're sailing to Tahiti or Hawaii or where ever. I'm not complaining -- just stating a fact. Our life is that of any homeowner -- always some maintenance or renovation project to be done interspersed with trips to Home Depot -- we just do them in different locations.
This weeks project has been to sand down all the exterior teak. The sun and salt of the south pacific has taken it's toll on everything on the boat and we're starting with the teak, then will go on and do some re-painting. I've done so much sanding this week I could rob a bank because I'm sure I don't have any fingerprints left!
Well, time to get back to work.....
Cruiser's usually have a few modes of transportation -- dinghy, feet or bicycles if you have them. But when you come into a city to stay for a while you get one more option: public transportation.
So we've purchased monthly bus passes as most of the places we need to go are many miles away: Cost Co, Home Depot, West Marine etc. and even the things that are fairly close, like the grocery store, are enough of a walk just to get out of the harbor and to the bus stop, so it's nice to be able to hop on a bus -- especially on the way home.
I've put some pictures in the Gallery in an album called " Honolulu our new neighborhood" so you can take a peek at where we're living now.
So nice to have great internet so I can finally start to upload pictures into the Gallery!
I've got a couple albums filled tonight -- beautiful Apataki and the passage from Apataki to Honolulu. I'll continue working on them this weekend so stop back by to see if you are interested. One of these days I'll really get organized and label the pictures, but for now they are just there.
That's the question we started getting -- actually even before we got here!
The quick answer is : nothing for a while. Just enjoy our new back yard.
Hawaii is a turning point -- just like the Galapagos -- a place where you have a couple alternatives on what to do. And with our attitude of "one port at a time" where we don't make those decisions until we get to the next port, we haven't decided for sure. Since weather keeps us here in Hawaii until next April at the earliest, we don't want to commit to a true plan, because you never know what might come up to change your mind.
From Hawaii our two choices are to sail back down to the South Pacific at the end of the South Pacific cyclone season (next April) or return to the Sea of Cortez via the West Coast of the US.
When we first set out the Galapagos was our big goal and Australia was another top spot on the list. Since then we've learned how difficult it would be to travel through Australia with Rosie (I thought once we cleared her through Hawaii the other Rabies Free islands would be easier -- but not so. We also so enjoyed our Galapagos visit that we would really like to do that again so began thinking we should go back to the Sea of Cortez for now and plan another Galapagos adventure. So that's the way we're leaning right now, but we have many months to firmly decide.
As for the Galapagos being a turning point -- we're really glad we chose the route we did this year, because the alternative would have been to go from the Galapagos through the Panama Canal, through the Caribbean then up the Inter-coastal waterway on the east coast of the US. With the arrival of Super Storm Sandy this year, that would have been a bad place to be.
So for now we will just enjoy living in Hawaii for a while till it's time to move on.
In addition to clearing Rosie in as a Rabies Free animal, we had to clear in through customs, as well, since we'd come from outside the US.
That process, too, would have been simpler in Hilo than here in Honolulu, we found out after the fact. We cleared in here 10 years ago when we sailed up from Tahiti and it was a relatively simple process -- just filled out some paperwork and they took our garbage and we were done.
Well, times have changed. The customs part was still easy enough -- the agent came down to our boat, checked our paperwork and filled some out and he was done. But, for some reason we had to go to their office the next day to turn in the paperwork and buy a users fee decal -- that I guess is something you have to buy when you enter the country anywhere -- news to us. It was only $27.
The agriculture guy came the next day -- and we'd been told not to take any garbage off the boat until he came (just like last time). Now here's where it got more complicated -- they don't want any foreign meat (chicken, pork or beef) or fruits or vegetables brought in. The only vegetables I had left were two onions, so that was no big deal. I did, however, have some beef and a package of chicken franks. Our choice was to let him take it or we could keep it and eat it, but we would have to pay a service to come and collect all our garbage. We let him take it.
But further, to change our status from "foreign" to "domestic" (so we wouldn't have to have our garbage collected) we had to disinfect our freezer, refrigerator and work surfaces in the presence of the agent. So while he did his paperwork I defrosted and wiped down everything with a bleach/water solution he had me mix up in a spray bottle. About an hour after his arrival he left giving us his stamp of approval -- and a very clean and pretty empty freezer.
We were just lucky we didn't do any grocery shopping before his arrival, because he would have taken any fruits and veggies we would have bought since there would have been no way to know they weren't foreign -- except by the freshness, but I don't think they would have understood that anything we brought from Tahiti would have been pretty rotten by then.
The boats we talked to that arrived in Hilo didn't have anybody come to their boats.
So it all boils down to something we already knew -- that its always easier to clear in in a smaller city -- whether it be the US, French Polynesia or anywhere in the world. The big cities have more agents and agencies and really abide by the strict rules and regulations.
We were so happy to have a decent passage this time after our last couple bumpy rides -- not just for us, but for Rosie, too. After all, she didn't sign up for ocean crossings -- she just got thrown into them. I'm sure that as grateful as she is that we rescued her from the streets of Santa Rosalia, that on that Tuamotu Bash she was longing for her old spot under the taco stand on HiWay 1.
With the calmer seas she quickly adapted to life on the high seas and enjoyed sitting in the cockpit watching birds or scanning the deck for her favorite flying fish. Unfortunately she was only rewarded with fresh fish about 4 out of the20 days we were out to sea.
The big event came with our entry into Honolulu, because we not only had to clear customs, but Rosie had to complete the process of being allowed to stay on our boat in rabies free Hawaii. We began the long process back in La Paz last January because if you want to avoid a 30 day quarantine ashore, you have to do lots of paperwork and have a special blood test done -- a minimum of 4 months before your arrival.
Then you must keep them apprised of your arrival date so they can meet you at your boat when customs comes down and take the pet out to the airport for final clearance. We also needed to arrange for a vet to go to the airport to issue a health certificate. Normally if you were flying in that would just be done before you left, but they have to be made within 5 days of arrival, and we didn't encounter any vets on the way.
Well it all sounded very neat and simple -- and would have been had we not gotten in on a Sunday. But, we did, so we called customs and we called the rabies free clinic and they were all supposed to come down about noon. The big problem was finding a vet, but we had gotten an email from the rabies free clinic that said if we came in after hours Rosie could stay on the boat and they would come down the next day -- so that would have made it easy to get hold of one of their vets for Monday.
They decided since we got in early Sunday it wasn't after hours and she would take Rosie to the airport and she would just have to stay there over night if I couldn't get a vet that day. Well, that didn't sit very well with us and we went round and round with the agent who actually was trying to be very accommodating even though she was locked into government zombie worker mode where she couldn't do anything differently than what she was told. She did help us find a vet that could get out there that day after the first one I found wouldn't be able to get there in time (whole nother story -- she was really flakey..)
So she got Rosie to the airport and the vet did the health certificate and we were to go out and pick Rosie up as soon as customs came by -- she'd left a paper for him to sign. When it got to be 1:00 and they hadn't shown up I called again and they wouldn't be coming till morning -- but we were free to leave the boat. So yes, the next problem with the rabies free agent was that the paper hadn't been signed. She really couldn't release Rosie without the paperwork.
Now that really didn't make any since because the customs guy wouldn't have even seen the cat -- it was purely paperwork for the file. She decided we could take Rosie as long as we promised to bring the paper back out to the airport the next day. We promised and home we went with Rosie.
When we made our plans they told us Honolulu was the only place to clear in, but we learned on the way up to Hawaii that if you clear into Hilo they have a vet that just comes down to the boat and takes care of the whole process. So during this whole ordeal we asked questions -- why can they do it that way in Hilo -- "because we don't have an office there", could we have had the vet come to the boat to do the health certificate? "no, they have to come to our office" but no reason given. What do you do with the animal at the office? "We scan the chip to make sure its the right animal" Couldn't your agent bring a scanner to the boat and eliminate the transporting to and from the airport? "hadn't ever thought of that, but they don't always have enough working scanners to take them out of the office." Government zombie answers every time.
So we got through the process on Sunday, with an additional bus trip back to the airport on Monday to take them the precious paper (that the customs guy had no idea what it was for and called them to find out what he was supposed to do with it). Total cost for the vet, taxi and bus $300. So if you ever sail to Hawaii with a pet on board -- clear in in Hilo!
Next I'll tell you about customs and agriculture -- another reason to clear in in Hilo.......
|Blog Posts: Street Cat Rosie||
we've been here for 4 very busy days now -- clearing in and finding moorage plus cleaning up the boat etc etc and finally feel like we've got the big work behind us and plan to take a day off tomorrow and enjoy our surroundings.
We both have shin splints from all the walking we've done as we've bussed all over going to the airport twice (for Rosie's clearance) and to Home Depot and West Marine for cleaning supplies, Radio Shack to replace Terry's water soaked cell phone and finally today to Best Buy for a WiFi Hotspot so we can have Internet on the boat. So now I'll be able to add pictures to the blog when I do posts.
So tomorrow will be a bit of a day of rest and hopefully a chance to do some stuff on the Internet.
So we didn't fall off the end of the earth since I last posted -- I just haven't been able to connect to the SSB to post what I've written.
I have lots to write about our last night at sea with the big tsunami scare and all the crazy gyrations getting Rosie and the boat cleared in plus lots of pictures to post -- but that will have to wait a couple days till we get all settled in.
Just wanted you all to know we're here in Honolulu after a great 20 day passage from French Polynesia.
35 miles to go!
We started the day with some great sailing, but the winds died down so we are back to motoring over the beautiful blue seas.
Passing 25 - 30 south of the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai we've been able to pick up intermittent cell phone service -- one of the things I've been looking forward to for many months now. It wasn't a problem in Mexico, because ATT had a great plan in conjuntion with Mexico's TelCel, so we were always able to keep in touch, but since leaving those shores 7 months ago we haven't enjoyed such luxuries. And what's even better now that we're in the States again, is I can use the data on my cell phone to check email and everything just through the phone line -- no need to find Wifi anymore.
We will spend the night just putting slowly to Honolulu with plans to go in at first light.
Today has been a real nice end to a real nice passage.
When our winds died down yesterday afternoon we thought we'd be motoring the rest of the way, but the trade winds picked back up in the early hours today (4 am) and we've been sailing along comfortably ever since. The only problem is our speed is up so we'll reach Honolulu in the night and have to hang out for several hours till daylight. Not really such a terrible problem :)
Today we'll be busy getting Cetus ship shape so we won't have a lot of work to do when we get in tomorrow morning and can just enjoy being at a dock for the first time in 7 months (and it's 7 months to the day as we left Huatulco March 28th) No worrying about water or power consumption -- it will be pure luxury
70 miles to go!!
153 miles to go!
10 years ago we motored over smooth seas on the final stretch to Honolulu, and it looks like this will be a repeat of that. Winds gradually began dying this afternoon and at the moment are non existent, but with the calm seas it is a comfortable ride and we're able to get things done in preparation for our landfall. Winds could pick up tomorrow so we have one last nice day of sailing, but if they don't we have plenty of fuel to slowly motor for a Sunday arrival. We could actually get there on Saturday, but it would be after dark and we don't want to go in and try and find our way through the harbor at night with all the city lights confusing things.
We have reservations at the Waikiki Yacht Club (also just like last time) for a week or so till we get cleared in and settled in and find somewhere else to stay. It's always nice making landfall in a place you've been before -- takes a lot of nerves out of the whole process,
So we're down to less than two days!
Just as the sky lightened this morning the GPS clicked our mileage down to 199 miles to go! And we could see the Big Island of Hawaii on the horizon 38 miles away. We also were then able to pick up NOAA weather on the VHF radio and Rosie found a fish on deck. It was quite a morning! Aloha