Living Aboard in Waikiki
28 January 2017
We've been living aboard Huzzah in the Ali Wai Marina for a month now, and have thoroughly enjoyed our Hawaiian experience! The weather has been fantastic, sans a few days of rain. Our location provides us easy access to all the services and amenities we need with a huge shopping mall, grocery stores, big-name hotels, a copious number of restaurants, marine chandleries, and the ubiquitous Costco, Home Depot and Walmart stores. In contrast to our stays in Mexico and French Polynesia, this is almost too easy! To date, we have hiked up Diamond Head, visited most of the island's major beaches, walked the fashionable shops on the strip (apparently, people do buy designer shoes and handbags when on vacation), ridden the city busses, watched surfers carve big waves, and patronized many of the local restaurants. The good news is that our outings have contributed to us walking about 4 miles a day. And a special treat for us has been spending time with Jody's parents Stan & Jerry! Their condo is less than a mile away, so getting together for meals, a football playoff game or a walk has been fun and easy.
The never-ending boat projects have received some attention as well. After 19 years', the main cabin windows were beginning to leak (especially after the last passage), and needed to be replaced. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but totally underestimated how difficult cleaning the old adhesive off the aluminum frames would be! After 4 days of effort, the new windows were finished just in time for our first big Hawaiian winter rain.
The cruiser community here is small, but the people are awesome! We've made friends with sailors that have (or plan to) sail the South Pacific, so we have a lot of common interests. Most are younger than us, working to fill their cruising coffers before moving on, but cruising sailors don't seem to have generational differences. Our new friends have gone way beyond normal levels of kindness by loaning us their car, or taking us to/from the airport, and helping us with the marina bureaucracy. And all are game for a spontaneous cockpit party.
Our marina is not part of the upscale environment that surrounds tourists visiting Waikiki. In marked contrast to the gorgeous hotel lobbies, pools and well-kept shops, our marina is a dilapidated backwater armpit. The marina water is polluted with every type of floating garbage one could imagine. People have died (it's true) from flesh-eating bacteria contracted from falling in the water here. The cinderblock restrooms have been trashed, most toilet doors are missing, and few showers still function. Homeless people are everywhere digging thru the garbage and drug addicts sleep and shower in the marina's open restrooms. The land portion of this marina is a sketchy place. We pay a $150/month liveaboard fee to use locked restroom facilities, but most liveaboards apparently don't. They say it's not worth paying as they're just a bad as the unlocked ones, and the undesirables get in anyway. We agree. While many of the marina docks are fairly new (since the last tsunami), there's no sign of any maintenance since. The dock gates are broken and chained open, so people wander our docks unchecked. It only took a few encounters with druggies for Jody to opt out of the marina restrooms. While some liveaboards here are cruisers like us, the vast majority are here for the cheap accommodations. You'd be amazed how many 30-40' fiberglass sailboats built in California 40+ years ago have people living on them here. At $300/month, it's a bargain. These liveaboards have an entirely different mentality than most folks you meet on a dock. They seem to know very little about boating, and take almost no pride in their boat. There are numerous examples of hoarders piling junk on their decks so high you can't even recognize the boat.
I'm guessing these folks were raised in a bad trailer park somewhere. If there was a better choice for a marina, we wouldn't stay here. But private marinas and the yacht clubs have long waiting lists, and the sister government marina is the next harbor is reported to be even worse - which is hard to imagine. It would be hard to find a shoddier marina operation anywhere in the world. In short, a poorly managed facility, even by local government standards.
Outside the marina is another world entirely. The Hawaiian residents are super gracious, and couldn't be more friendly. The Aloha spirit is everywhere, and we love walking amongst the community. As someone said to me; "so much aloha, so little time". Once you traverse the marina parking lot to the beach or main streets, this place sparkles. Easy to see why so many come here.
Like is good aboard Huzzah in Hawaii!
12 November 2016
This was the view from my Alaska flight as I departed Honolulu a few days ago. Huzzah’s temporary slip is in the Ali Wai boat harbor, which is just west (left) of Waikiki Beach. Feel free to drop by if you’re in Waikiki. I’m now back in Gig Harbor working down my list of projects like cleaning gutters, setting mole traps, charging car batteries, fixing plumbing issues, etc. Amazing how stuff can break just sitting there unused. The best part of being home has been hanging out with Jody! We’re catching up with family (already been to a funeral) and visiting my grandsons’ is next on my agenda. I was enjoying the unseasonably warm 65F plus temperatures - until today, that is. If it’s not raining too hard, maybe I’ll get a few miles on the bike in the coming weeks. Cheers!
06 November 2016
Huzzah's is now secure in her temporary home until June '17 - at the Ali Wai Harbor on the West side of Waikiki Beach. We're right in the middle of the action, so a perfect location for the periodic visits Jody & I will do over the coming months.
Over the last week, my crew Scott & I have have been fairly busy cleaning the boat, re-bedding & repairing some stantions, addressing some minor leaks, drying and stowing sails, etc. We've cleaned below decks as well, and even found a home for our excess food! Bottom line, we ready to come to the cold PNW.
We made it!
29 October 2016
After 18 days, 3 hours and 28 minutes of passage-making, we landed at the Hawaii Yacht Club's Aloha dock about 5:30p (local) Friday afternoon! Located just West of the Waikiki strip in the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, this place is in the heart of the action. Unfortunately, Customs officials won't be available to clear us in until Monday morning, so we can't even leave the boat (we did get permission to use the club's facilities, however). That's a bummer for Dave, who flies out Monday afternoon. Things are well otherwise. A kind Harbormaster named Robert really took care of us. The Aloha dock is right in from the yacht club's restaurant & bar, and when we pulled up, more than one person asked if we had permission to be there. Thanks to Robert, we did! It was a blessing to have a hassle free place to land after 2,424 miles at sea!
I would be remiss if I didn't share than the last 4 days of our passage was fairly difficult, the last 30 hours more difficult and taxing than I had ever experienced before. Big waves and 30 knots of wind for days' drain one's energy and sleep reserves. And I worried constantly that we would break the boat. It's impossible to describe the feeling when a boat launches off a big wave, then crashes back into the water 2- 4 feet below. Doors blow open in the galley, and things fly everywhere and the sound is deafening. But my sailing mates were undeterred by the conditions and remained steadfastly positive, hour after hour. For that, my sincere thanks to Dave and Scott. I would gladly go to sea with you both again.
What's next? Scott & Gerry have scheduled a week to wash the salt off everything, dry the boat out, make repairs to broken gear and find a long-term transient slip to keep Huzzah safe until June 2107. I will post some GoPro videos in the near future when I return to civilization and get my broadband/internet access back! Life is good aboard Huzzah again!
Last Day at Sea
28 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
The past couple days we've been sailing through intense winds and waves. At this moment (6 am), It's blowing 30 knots on the beam, with 2 meter swells and a lot of wind waves. We are sailing Huzzah as fast as we dare, always mindful to make sure we “don't crash the ambulance” as we say. We are continually taking water into the cockpit, and we're all soaked. Not cold, but soaked. We've been sailing over 8 knots for some time, so our ETA into Hawaii YC is 7 pm this evening. A welcome respite it will be.
Pounding out the final miles
26 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
For the last day and a half, we've been beating into 20-25 knots of wind and large seas. We are 330 miles South of Hawaii now. More than two-thousand miles have passed under the keel since we departed Bora Bora 16 days ago. Our mainsail is double-reefed and our genoa is triple-reefed to keep Huzzah's speed in check. Blasting over 6 to 8 foot waves is really hard on Huzzah, so we try to limit our speed to 6.5 knots. We routinely crash into North Pacific waves that likely originated in some nameless storm hundreds of miles to the East of us, sending seawater across her decks, and too often into the cockpit. Life below is difficult. The boat lurches every which direction, making even the simplest move difficult. The hatches are sealed, so the 85 degree temperatures is extra humid. It's a difficult and uncomfortable situation, but my sailing mates Dave and Scott are awesome - and we will get 'er done! Cheers!
Shades of Gray (October 24th)
26 October 2016
The last few days have been difficult, as we've been sailing in the ITCZ. And the fact that it's moving north with us and preventing our escape is starting to make me crazy. Everything here is gray. The clouds have different shades thereof, but from horizon to horizon the scene is gray. The sea is ink gray as well, and it all looks as if we're watching an old black & white movie. And worse, the rain & wind squalls pound us night and day. Combined with the 6 to 8 foot swells tossing the boat about, we want out. Now! Please.
Today at 2:00 pm was our official 2 week of passage milestone. In that time, we've covered 1,791 miles (128 per day), and are anxious to knock off the 636 miles between here and Honolulu. When this damn ITCZ lets us free, we'll have big 20+ knot winds for the final 4 days or so. Wish us luck.
Shades of Gray
24 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
The last few days have been difficult, as we've been sailing in the ITCZ. And the fact that it's moving north with us and preventing our escape is starting to make me crazy. Everything here is gray. The clouds have different shades thereof, but from horizon to horizon the scene is gray. The sea is ink gray as well, and it all looks as if we're watching an old black & white movie. And worse, the rain & wind squalls pound us night and day. Combined with the 6 to 8 foot swells tossing the boat about, we want out. Now! Please. Today at 2:00 pm was our official 2 week of passage milestone. In that time, we've covered 1,791 miles (128 per day), and are anxious to knock off the 636 remaining miles between here and Honolulu. When this damn ITCZ lets us free, we'll have big 20+ knot winds for the final 4 days or so. Wish us luck.
ITCZ Means Crazy Winds and Seas
23 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
Not really. It's actually the acronym for the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. This is where the Northeast trade winds and the Southeast trades converge, and is marked by extensive clouds, squalls and intense showers with features similar to the doldrums. Basically, you know you're here when the wind goes light, then seems to come from every direction at once, then randomly throws a rain or wind squall at you. This causes the sea to become agitated as well, so it really though to live here as the boat thrashes around like a petulant child. So, while the North Pacific High and the South Pacific High fight it out, we are slowly motoring through the mess for Hawaii. We have a great wind forecast for the other side and good fuel reserves, so we're pressing on! Cheers from Huzzah.
Hawaii Passage - Day 12
23 October 2016
We began day twelve of our passage this afternoon with a new record! With a fresh breeze, Huzzah sailed 174 nm's for the day's run. This is one of her best days at sea for any passage, but it's the elapsed time and average miles per day on a passage that count most. Our average on this passage has been 137 miles per day. That's respectable given the light winds at the beginning of our passage when we only covered 63 miles one day. I can't tell you how many times I've thought how miserable I would be sailing this trip in a slow, heavy displacement boat (e.g., Island Packet, Valiant, etc.), so often considered to be the quintessential cruiser. So what's the big picture? We've sailed over 1,500 miles, and have about 900 to go, so we're roughly two-thirds of the way to Honolulu. We should arrive within the week, but you can never count on the wind and sea. That's all for now. Cheers from Huzzah
20 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
(Originally Posted Oct 20th.)
Last night the wind decreased precipitously from the 12+ knots we'd been enjoying to about 5. So the 3am watch rolled out the code screecher sail and we went into our "light mode", meaning we do a lot more hand trimming and hand steering to make best use of the limited wind. It makes the night watch pass more quickly for each of us, but it's a heck of a lot of work! Going half our normal speed sucks. Forget the 160-mile day we were counting on, and hope for a mere 100. Fortunately, the seas are very light now, so it's easy sailing (think sailing in Puget Sound). Now, it's twelve hours later and nothing has changed. We're still sailing in the same mode under clear blue skies and the occasional puffy white cloud. The crew is totally in the passage rhythm now, we stand watch, sleep, eat, read, do a boat chore and crap. Sorry to be blunt, but that's the daily routine. Hum, wonder who's cooking tonight and what's for dinner :.
Oh, we do spend considerable time gathering weather information from the Iridium and weather-routing software. We also chat on the SSB radio, call home on the Sat phone and count the miles' sailed versus the rhumb-line distance - looking for and any significant milestones to celebrate. This morning for example we crossed the half way point of our passage at 1,176.83 nm's. Hip hip Huzzah for that! Maybe the old man will grant us have a Captain's Hour this afternoon?
Cheers from Huzzah!
We're Coming Back!
19 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
With the theme from Chariots of Fire blazing in the background and twelve-year-old scotch in hand, the crew of Huzzah sailed back into the Northern Hemisphere today! What a beautiful sun-filled day for the occasion, with great wind beam reaching at 7.5 knots! Next stop is Hawaii. Life is great aboard Huzzah!
Smooth Sailing Today
18 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
The winds are favorable, the seas calm (relatively speaking), and the sun is out. We are sailing North, in almost perfect conditions at 6+ knots in 14 knots of wind. Gone is the double-reefed main and genoa, the big ugly seas and gusty squalls of just a day or so ago. So we enjoy the now, never knowing what the next challenge will be. Another 150-mile day has us all in smiles today. The next milestone will be crossing the equator tomorrow afternoon. Dave is a Pollywog, so the Shellbacks (Gerry & Scott) will need to show him the ropes - so to speak! Neptune will not be happy if this is not done properly, so we need to be on our game. As they say on TV, “more news and film on that later in the program”.
Cheers from Huzzah.
18 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
With our first week of sailing behind us, we're looking ahead to approximately two more weeks of sailing to reach Hawaii - some 1,500 miles to our North. And while our first week stated out slow due to a lack of wind, we've been making good time over the last day or so. We covered over 800 miles our first week, but we're optimistic we'll be doing better in the future. Today, we sailed a respectable 154 in a steady 15 knot breeze. The only problem is that our wind is currently on the nose, so the seas are making the decks wet and keeping the hatches closed is mandatory. That means hot and humid below - yuk! Sailing into large waves is also a difficult motion to function in, as the boat is constantly moving in unpredictable ways. One example is the broken toilet set caused when the momentum of a wave knocks its occupant off! (BTW, guys sit on toilets while at sea for this very reason). So, one has to be very careful to not get banged up while moving about. Otherwise all is well. We have wind, food, lots of fuel, full batteries and about 1,500 miles of sailing ahead of us. Cheers from Huzzah's crew (aka Gerry, Dave & Scott)
16 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
We currently have a full moon which really makes night sailing easy. But mean old Aeolus completely ruined last night for us and turned things into a real shit-fest. Huge squalls of intense wind and rain were thrown at us from every direction. One was so severe, the unsuspecting helmsman on watch was overwhelmed with wind and did an un-commanded "auto tack". Nothing bad happened to Huzzah or her crew, but it takes a full crew's effort to get the boat reefed down and back on course. And so this passage goes, one moment we're light wind reaching in placid conditions, the next a big wind makes us struggle to maintain control. We're having fun in spite of all this however, sharing our favorite music and playing "name that tune". My sailing mates are quite music savvy indeed.
We press on (as if we have a choice) with optimism and good attitudes. We've sailed 600 miles since Bora Bora, and completed 126 miles over the last 24 hours. As my friend Frank used to say" If this were easy, everybody would be doing it". I can assure you, nothing easy about this!
Cheers from Huzzah!
15 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
It's Spring in the South Pacific! Yesterday it rained all day, enough that we filled our four solar showers and three large 3-5 gallon buckets from the bimini runoff. That's about 20 gallons, but not even a quarter of what could have been collected. Since we have a watermaker, we don't capture rainwater as a rule, but it's sure nice to have extra water for laundry and showers. BTW, since it's 87 degrees, we got our showers as well. The good news is that we've got a bit more breeze now. Not steady wind mind you, but improving. Last night for example, we began sailing a South wind with the genoa out on the pole (wing and wing) in 7 knots of wind. Then the wind backed (counter-clockwise) to the East, so off comes the pole, so I jibe the genoa. Then an hour later, the wind dies, so I furl the genoa and unfurl the screecher. Later, the wind increases to a passage record of 14 knots off the beam. Too much for the screecher, so in it comes and I deploy the genoa again. And so it went last night for all the watches! But the good news that we had some good runs and posted a 125-mile day for our latest log update. Overall, things are going great! We still have fresh veggies and fruit, so we're eating well! We use a galley rotation/preparation plan, so there's always good diversity at dinner time. Cheers from Huzzah!
Just a little
12 October 2016 | Passage to Hawaii
Just a little
Bit of wind - that is! I've changed the words to that famous song from the Sound of Music to meet my needs and sing it over and over in my mind over the last couple days. And finally, we've gotten a little blooming luck with a light breeze this afternoon to push us ever so slowly north. In the first day of our passage (after we shut down the engine), we averaged just 47 miles! But since then, we've made a whopping 75 miles. Never mind that we routinely sailed 150 - 170 mile days on the way to the Marquesas, that was then and this is now. So we fight for every tenth of a knot, fighting the swell that routinely knocks every breath of wind out of our sails. But we're happy and eating well. Right now the Code Zero (light-weight nylon "screecher" sail) is paying its dues, pulling us along nicely. Hopefully the GRIBS are correct this time and we'll have wind tonight.
Cheers from Huzzah!
11 October 2016 | Moorea, French Polynesia
After we departed Bora Bora yesterday, the modest winds we were sailing died just before sunset. So we motored through the night pursuing some light winds north of us to no avail. The weather forecast we've been relying on (Predict Wind) says we're currently in 7 knots of true wind, but the actual wind may be as little as one knot - not nearly enough to sail in. And since we don't have enough fuel to motor to the nearest Island with diesel fuel between here and Hawaii (Christmas Is.), we sit and wait. We've already used about a tenth of our diesel to get our 100 nm of progress. This waiting is not as easy as it sounds. Six foot swells roll the boat violently from side to side in an otherwise calm ocean. We dropped the sails to keep them from being destroyed by thrashing in the rigging. We have moved 2 miles in the last 3 hours, thanks to an ocean current. The sun is out and the temperature is 87 degrees, but the boat interior is 92 F. So we wait to see what will happen first - we go crazy and motor back to Bora Bora, or the wind comes in. I'll let you know! Huzzah clear.
10 October 2016
Today we're departing Bora Bora for Hawaii. We had a great time snorkeling the reefs here, but time marches on. We cleared out with the local Gendarmarie yesterday, and we're now departing. Unfortunately, the winds are uncharacteristically light right now, but the forecasts don't indicate that will improve over the next week, so were off!
I'll update our progress over the coming week. Cheers from the crew of Huzzah!
08 October 2016
After Jody departed for home, Huzzah began her passage to Hawaii via the Leeward Islands. Our first stop after Papeete was Moorea's Opunohu Bay. Arriving Wednesday afternoon, we opted for a long walk in rather than rush a quick snorkel trip. Later that evening after a quiet dinner aboard something weird happened. While we were below watching a movie, we heard some people were swimming in the water. Nothing terribly unusual about swimming after dark here, but twenty minutes later we hear this guy who sounded drunk calling out from the beach. Over and over he would call/shout out what sounded like a name. Then, half hour later or so, we see a search light flash into our boat and realize a police boat is bombing through the anchorage and rescue divers are in the water with spotlights acting very serious. After about 45 minutes of searching the water and checking boats, they packed up and left. We came up with our own theories' of what may have happened, but they didn't return the following morning, so we don't really know anything.
We had perfect weather the following morning for the long dinghy ride to the famous snorkeling spot called Sting Ray City by cruisers. We weren't disappointed as all the actors were there to give us an amazing show. That afternoon we packed the dinghy on deck and set off for our 110 mile passage overnight to Tahaa. Unfortunately, the wind wasn't respecting our schedule and we had to motor for almost 15 hours before arriving to enter our pass through the reef at daylight. We quickly motore a few miles and anchored off the infamous "Coral Gardens". Feeling lazy, we left the dinghy lashed on deck and swam into to the motu. This was a first time experience for crew Scott and Dave, and they were not disappointed, spending over an hour to float down the 200 yard of coral & fish that make up the gardens!
Back aboard Huzzah, we pulled anchor and set sail inside the reef heading for the Pass we would exit for our passage to Bora Bora, lying 29 nm's to the West. It was a brisk wind and as we were sailing close hauled the genoa suddenly "popped" and started to drop. I thought to myself, oh no, not again! Turns out, the nylon webbing sewn into the top of the sail had broken! Damn...better now than in the middle of the Pacific! So we changed course for the Raiatea Carenage to look for a sailmaker. As luck was on our side, we found resident sailmaker Pierre Artimon, who couldn't have been more accommodating (in spite of my inability to speak French). He said he could have it fixed in a couple hours, and delivered as promised the following morning. We felt truly blessed to find Pierre, just another example of the many kind, helpful people here that help us cruisers without reservation. And his repair cost $40 - which is unheard of in the US. After fitting the genoa back on, we set sail for Bora Bora under squally conditions that made for a quick passage. Arriving it time for happy hour at the MaiKai Marina YC., the picture above is our view from the deck, looking South.
Life is good aboard Huzzah!