03/30/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
We expect this to be our last weekend here in the Ala Wai because we'll be going over to Keehi Lagoon on Monday for our early morning haulout there on Tuesday.
When we get back in the water on Thursday, we plan to stay in the harbor up there on a mooring buoy as we wait for a good weather window to begin the 2000 mile (as the crow flies) passage to San Francisco.
So we've been sure to enjoy all this area has to offer -- getting out for daily swims, watching the Friday night sailboat races and also the spectacular Friday Night Fireworks put on by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We have had a wonderful time here and can't believe how quickly the past 5 months have gone.
We will miss this place but are looking forward to the adventures ahead.
03/26/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
We were so disappointed last June when our travels took us out of the coverage area for our SPOT transmitter... it is a wonderful way to keep everyone apprised of your position and knowing you're OK without having to send out emails -- which isn't always easy to do on our travels.
So with our up coming passage approaching I re-activated the good old SPOT and was happy to see that my test message went out -- even though, here in Hawaii, we're still in a gray area of not-so-good coverage.
Now I know we'll be able to use it for the passage! And another item checked off my to do list.
A big part of getting ready for a long passage is stocking the boat with all the food you'll need for a month or more. I started this process months ago with trips to Costco to restock the pantry with canned goods and other non-perishables and tomorrow we'll make one last Costco run.
This time I'll also get meats and prepared foods to pack the freezer. Fresh foods will wait until the day before we leave. One thing that is more difficult provisioning here as compared to Mexico or French Polynesia is eggs. In other countries the eggs aren't refrigerated so can be stored that way on the boat. But eggs that have been refrigerated have to continue to be kept that way, so it limits how many I can take with limited fridge space.
Milk and juice are also more difficult to stock up on here -- in the other countries non refrigerated boxes are readily available in every little store -- here it is a search to find those products which make long term provisioning so much easier.
So tomorrow will be a busy day -- first with shopping -- and then the hard part: finding a home for everything.
03/23/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
The clock is ticking down on our time here at the Ala Wai -- and we've been enjoying the past month with a mix of boat projects and exploring the island.
All the major projects have been checked off the pre-departure to do list (with the exception of the haul out scheduled for April 2nd). So now we are down to what I think is the fun stuff: Passage Planning.
We've gotten out the paper charts, the pilot charts, and the cruiser's bible -- Jimmy Cornell's "World Cruising Routes". Cornell gives routes and advice for the best times to make a passage and the pilot charts show the expected wind for a given area for a specific month of the year, so we've been studying these along with online weather sources to get ourselves acquainted with the upcoming voyage.
To sail from here to the mainland (San Francisco is our goal) you first have to head due north -- sometimes even a bit NW -- because the direct route would take you right through the middle of the North Pacific High that establishes itself at approximately 38 N and 150 W. The problem with going through the high is that that is an area of no wind -- something you really want with a sailboat. It is possible to load up lots of extra jugs of fuel and motor your way across, but days of motoring are very wearing -- much better to sail.
So after heading north until you reach the top of the high, you can make a right turn and head to where you want to go. The earlier in the season, the lower the high usually is, so we're hoping by getting going in April we won't have to go as far north as we would if we leave later in the year.
After our haul out is complete we will be in stand-by mode just waiting for the weather to shape up so we can set out. We will once again employ the services of Ken with Locus Weather to be our weather router -- and to help us find the best window to leave Hawaii.
It's getting exciting!
03/14/2013, Keehi Marina Boatyard, Oahu
We'd scheduled a haul out to install a new transducer (for you non boaters its the sensor that sends info to our instruments to tell us depth, speed and water temperature). Since it goes out thru a hole in the bottom of the boat, its not something we can do while in the water, and since we'll be out of the water we'll take advantage of it and do a couple coats of bottom paint while we're at it.
We'd had it planned for this weekend so we were busy this week getting every thing ready which involved trips to Home Depot and the local boat supply stores. We were eager to get going and would make the short trip up to Keehi Lagoon and the boatyard today for our haul out tomorrow at noon.
Then last night, the weather forecast took a nasty turn and heavy rains are predicted tomorrow -- not a good thing when trying to paint. Plus, the special transducer paint we ordered may not get here until late today preventing us from leaving at a good time..... so we rescheduled. Now we will do the haul out April 2nd - 4th.
A short reprieve from a couple days of life on the hard.
In the current issue of Cruising World magazine is a review of the Fantasia 35 sailboat designed by Bruce Bingham -- which is what trusty old Cetus is. The author, Michael Robertson contacted us several months ago when he was writing the article and the editors chose a picture of Cetus to accompany the article.
So if you'd like to find out all about the Fantasia 35 -- check out the March issue of Cruising World.
03/08/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
We took a whirlwind trip back to the Seattle area to see our kids (can't believe it had been a whole year!) and help them move into their new home. We also included our yearly Dr. visits -- so it was a busy week and went way to quickly without time to see many friends or family.
But now we're back and tackling "the list" of things to prepare for our planned voyage to the mainland -- hopefully departing mid April.
One of the things that shot to the top of that to do list was to get the old Wabasto heater in working condition. It hasn't been used much in the last 4 years but we know it will a necessity on the upcoming passage since we will be sailing from warm to cold. We think that will be one of the biggest challenges of this trip.
Terry had run all new vent hose and tightened up connections, but when he attempted to start it (the day we were flying out to Seattle) it didn't come on. So while back there we went to Sure Marine in Seattle to get an idea of things he could check. We didn't know if it would be as simple as replacing the thermostat or if the whole unit would need to be sent in for repair -- or possibly replaced.
But, Terry dove into that problem first thing this morning and within 5 minutes he had it fired up and running! Hooray!
He still has to do a couple things to it -- replacing some breakers -- but we can now rest easy knowing we will be able to have a warm boat on the cold nights at sea.
Terry's had to make a couple trips up to the top of the mast in the past weeks to install a couple of improvements to old Cetus.
First was to install a new wind instrument. Our old Standard Horizon displays for wind and depth and speed were experiencing weird glitches and the night lights on them were so faint I had to get about 12 inches away from them to read them. We would have been happy to buy new displays, but of course they don't make them anymore. So Cetus got a brand new package of instruments! We went with Raymarine's TackTick series which is wireless, so installation of the new wind instrument just involved attaching it to the top of the mast and we didn't have to spend hours running wires down the mast and throughout the boat. Hurray!
The next project up top was to put a spinnaker bail off the front top of the mast. In the past we've hoisted the spinnaker with a halyard that runs internally through the mast, but we've had trouble with chaffing when it was up for long periods, so we made this change to hopefully eliminate that problem.
Both projects went smoothly and Terry was back down before he'd lost all sensation in his legs (a result of the climbing harness he wears when I hoist him up) and he also got down before that dark cloud in the picture opened up.
02/14/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
I added a new album to our Gallery, several shots of the marina. Enjoy!
02/14/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
Here's another big project that you landlubber's don't have to deal with in your home repairs -- running lines, hoses and wires through the tightest and most inaccessible spots you could imagine.
So when we tackled another preventative maintenance project and replaces the old hydrolic lines for our autopilot -- the biggest challenge was snaking the new line in and out of hidden places. And to make it all the better we have to completely disassemble our bed to access that space -- that's the problem with boat furniture -- it's all built in so no simple job of just moving it to another room.
But, with Terry's good pre-planning the job went smoothly and actually quicker than anticipated (that is a first for any boat project!) and we were done early afternoon and could celebrate with a nice swim to wash away all the grease and grime of the project.
When we sailed into Honolulu for the first time years ago aboard Cassiopeia, the Rainbow Tower was one of the landmarks they gave in our trusty Cruising Guide, Charlie's Charts.
So when we decided to take a two day mini vacation to celebrate the end of Terry's job in Hilo, my birthday and Valentines Day, the Rainbow Tower at Hilton's Hawaiian Village was our top choice for our little get away. The real beauty of it was it's right next to the marina, so we didn't even have to get a kitty sitter for Rosie, just stop by once a day to check on her, fill her food and water and of course, flush the toilet.
We had a luxurious stay with a great view of the marina, but as always, as nice as it was, it feels great to be home aboard Cetus.
02/09/2013, Ala Wai Boat Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
One of the projects on our list to get Cetus in tip top shape for the next long passage (from here to the mainland) was to rebuild the head (toilet) and install new hoses (sewer lines) as well as replace an element in our Lectrasan (sewage treatment unit).
This is a fun job that needs to be done every couple years or so. In marine heads there are a few parts, gaskets and valves that need to be routinely replaced and it's just a matter of removing the head and moving it to a good place to work on it and replacing the old parts with the new. It's a little more difficult than that sounds because you have to undo all the hoses and bolts and move that heavy porcelain bowl around in the small confines.
Some wait until a major clog developed to replace the hoses, but we didn't want to take a chance that that major blockage would occur out in the middle of a passage -- much easier to do it preemptively when we were secure at a dock. Plus, since we had to undo the Lectrasan and the head anyway, it was a perfect time to do the hoses, too. We purchased the new hose we'd heard about from Raritan that is more flexible than the old sanitation hose we've always used and Terry was thrilled with how much easier it was to work with making the bends in tight spaces.
While Terry worked on that, I took on the task of taking the top off the Lectrasan (there are approximately a million bolts around the top :) cleaning out the unit and replacing the element and then reassembling it. We completed the projects about the same time and then Terry reinstalled everything -- and we're happy to have that one checked off the todo list!
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!