hawaii to victoria
09 August 2009 | b.c.
Nawiliwili is a few miles from the nearest town so without a bus service we knew it was going to be tough to do what we always need to do in every port. Internet, laundry, provision etc etc. we hitched a ride to town, which was easy. Getting a ride back to the marina was going to be tricky and we decided to do a provisioning shop at Costco and hire a cab to take us back to the boat. The next day we walked along to the yacht club to see whether we could use the facilities as we had done in Vallarta. As it happened, the club is only open once a week for sailing races with very basic amenities. It does, however, have two members that would make a huge difference to our stay on Kauai. Mavis and Victoria, a mother and daughter, were intrigued with our adventure and offered to take us to Hanalei bay so we could get a feel for the place and decide if we wanted to leave from there as everyone we talked to was saying we must do. Mavis picked us up early on Sunday morning and we had a grand tour of the north side of the island, including a beautiful lighthouse and the one remaining, flight challenged, baby albatross from a huge number who are born and raised on the lawns of a subdivision every year. Mavis dropped us in Hanalei and went off to work. We wandered around for a few hours, realized that it was silly to come here with the boat as it was expensive, had no dock and no water. Much better to leave from Nawiliwili with all tanks full and fresh ice in the fridge. We stood by the bus stop for a while patiently waiting. I phoned the number on the sign to see when the next one was due. Apparently the bus company takes Sundays off so we were forced to put out our thumbs. It took 5 rides and 2 hours to make it back to the marina and I dare say, it was much more interesting than riding on the bus.
Mavis offered us her spare pickup to use for the rest of our stay. Took us on a tour of the south side of the island which included a visit to a canyon which resembles the grand canyon only on a smaller scale. We did laundry and internet at her house and on our last night, were treated to a wonderful dinner. Mavis and Victoria were people who went completely over the top and made our stay in Kauai very special. The last time we saw them they were taking photos of us going past the lighthouse outside Nawiliwili. The other person who was very kind and helpful was an ex ship captain named Scott. Scott helped with our route planning, shipping lane info and long range weather forecasts, printing out many pages of info that would prove invaluable for our trip home to Victoria. He also picked up diesel for us in his tidy tank which we were able to jerry can down the dock to the boat. A week after arriving on Kauai, the trades hade settled down to a more pleasant, 10 to 15 knots and it was time to leave these beautiful islands with their friendly people. We were underway at noon, beating into a light breeze with very little swell or chop which is always a nice way to start a passage. We headed straight north to 30 degrees with nice conditions and making reasonable time. As agreed with Scott, at 30 N, we headed N.E. on a rumb line to Victoria. A day later, we ran out of wind and I was worried that we may have turned the 'corner' too early. We charged the batteries for about 12 hours, recovered a glass ball which floated by, amongst all the other countless bits of plastic debris that seems to be trapped in this area of the ocean. Eventually, the breeze filled in again and we were able to sail once again. After having depleted our fresh meat, we started fishing and were rewarded with a couple of nice tuna which had a lovely light meat rather that the darker, stronger variety which only I can eat. We saw 5 ships in roughly the area that Scott had predicted, spoke to one who was out of Korea, bound for panama. The chap on the radio was kind enough to give us some weather info and informed us that a low pressure just east of Japan heading our way. This, we took to be good news as we were looking for slightly more wind to push us along. Two days later, while surfing at 11 ½ knots in 40 knots of wind I wasn't so sure! The wild conditions lasted all through the night and after much debate about what to do with the sails we stuck with the double reefed main and went the whole time without a drop of water in the cockpit. Once again I was obliged to steer due to my paranoid fear of the autopilot not being able to ride the waves while surfing, the boat being forced sideways and being rolled by the next breaking wave. The wind abated quite quickly the following morning and again we were motoring in a big swell with not enough breeze to keep the flopping sails full. I was aware that my big toes had been rubbing into the ends of my deck shoes while I was steering, but, at the time, paid no attention to them. When I took the shoes off, both nails were blue and as I write this, over a month later, I am about to loose both of them. The last week of the passage was pretty routine. Once I looked up from my book to see a cruise ship crossing our bow about a mile away. Oops! Where did that come from? Neptune, once again, was smiling on us ( or is it the mistletoe) and we entered the Juan de Fuca straights with no fog and barely any traffic. We don't carry radar and this was a place that would have been very scary in the fog with lots of big ships zooming around. We picked up our friends from NOAA with their familiar voices who had guided us up and down the east coast and through the Hawaiian Islands and who were now tirelessly repeating a forecast calling for 25 to 30 knots of following wind all the way to Victoria. As promised we spent our last day of the voyage screaming along in flat seas at 7 knots watching the beautiful scenery of Vancouver Island flash by. Victoria is arguably one of the most delightful cities in the world. After an 18 day passage, we entered with a setting sun behind us lighting up the inner harbour with the Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel glowing brilliantly with orange light. What a stunning way to end an amazing journey. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Cheers from the crew of mistletoe, Chris and Jen Clarke.
lahaina to kauai
09 August 2009 | hawaii
Marty was such a big part of our successful stay in lahaina that we wanted to do something nice for him. He accepted our invitation to sail with us to lanai. The wind finally started blowing in its normal pattern and we had a great sail with Marty steering all the way. We were worried it might be like a busman's holiday for him but he loved not having to answer dumb questions and to be able to drink a beer while sailing his dream boat. Mistletoe didn't disappoint, was in her element and touched 8 knots, relishing the conditions. We pulled into the lovely harbour at menele after about 3 hours, found an empty slip and had lunch. We grabbed our masks and fins and walked over to a nice beach were we were treated to a lovely coral reef, some beautiful fish we had never seen before and the most amazingly clear water we had been in for months. We sauntered back to the boat, had a few cold ones and watched as Marty departed on the last ferry back to lahaina. I was watching a sport fishing boat unloading buckets full of mahi mahi across to harbour and decided that they may wish to sell one of the smaller ones. 'have you got any babies for sale?' I asked one of the guys. He told me to take whichever one I wanted. I rummaged through the bucket, finding the smallest one. He wouldn't accept any money and I walked back to the boat with a handsome prize. Jen worked her usual magic and we ate like royalty yet again. Early start next morning as we followed the first ferry out of the harbour. Ben, from Trilogy charters told us to stop at sharkfin rock were they had several submerged moorings we could hang on. We couldn't find any and were about to leave when a rib full of snorkelers arrived and picked up what we were searching for. We pottered while they had their fun and having departed we were able to locate and attach ourselves to the ball which was about 15 ft under the surface. Somehow, we managed to drop a bright orange clothes peg into the drink and it became the target of scores of black fish that were attacking it. Never seen a fish go for a clothes peg before. Maybe there is a market there! It was pretty roly and we soon realized that we could not overnight here. After an hour we set sail and beat towards the north end of the island in a lovely 8 to 10 knot breeze. The only option for a smooth anchorage was at Lono harbour on Molokai which was reachable before dark. As we approached the channel between the two islands we could see a strong wind line defined by big waves topped with white foam. Our wind having died, we lowered the genoa and motored towards the fury. The main was all we needed and we took off surfing down the waves towards Lono harbour at the western end of Molokai. The range markers led us into a beautiful harbour created by two massive breakwaters. This harbour was created many years ago to ship sand to Waikiki beach and once they had enough sand to pitch some umbrellas and roll out a few lounge chairs, they abandoned the place. We just couldn't fathom that this place wasn't used as a marina or some sort of organized small boat harbour. Such a waste. We stayed two nights and picked up the plotting chart we had been looking for from Chuck, who is the lone, full time occupant of this amazing place. We motored out into a big swell ready to do battle with mother nature once again. Another clear wind line became visible once we cleared the end of the island and as soon as we crossed it, we were once again surfing westward at 6 to 7 knots. Uncle Sam had some toys out that morning as well and we were blessed with a carrier and a destroyer crossing close in front of us. I was hoping we would not enter the 500 yard security zone which surrounds these vessels, or they would have had to sink us as a possible terrorist threat. We bypassed Honolulu and ended the day in a very surgy marina on the west side of Oahu called Pokeye bay. As with all the marinas in Hawaii, these docks were pretty beaten up. We spent an uncomfortable night with mistletoe snapping violently at the mooring lines, parting one with a loud bang. We left at first light for the 70 odd mile crossing to nawiliwili on kauai. Another downwind romp at 6 to 7, surfing down some pretty large waves. Phoned the dock master about a mile out who arranged a berth and by 5 p.m. we were safely tied to the docks in the pretty harbour.
maui to kauai
08 June 2009 | kauai
Maui has proved to be one of our best stops of the trip. We were planning to skip all the islands and go directly to Kauai. Due to lack of wind we pulled into lahaina to have a break from two days of solid motoring. We got in after hours so were not able to talk with the harbour master. Some locals were very helpful and directed us to tie alongside a visiting cat at the only transient slip in the harbour. Having done that, I walked around to the office to try and find a number for customs. No luck on that score so decided it could wait until morning. Mardy, the skipper of the daysail 12 metre, America II, fell in love with Mistletoe and came over with his crew Rob. A few hours and beers later, we called it a night, feeling pretty good about being in such a lovely port, already having made friends with some of the locals. Next morning the harbour master came over and called customs for us. They would be here in 2 hours, we were not to leave the boat etc. etc. As soon as they came into the office, he was all over us. Threatening fines of $10,000.00 for failing to report immediately, bla, bla. After doing all the paperwork, he decided he was not going to fine us but we were to go across the island to their office at the airport, after the weekend to collect our cruising permit. I think the $ 100.00 round trip taxi fare was to be our punishment but we took the bus which cost $ 4.00 return for both of us!
When I went into the office, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was the same two guys, but clearly, they had had a good 3 days off and were as nice as you like. Everything was ready for me to sign and I was out of there in less than 5 minutes. What a difference and a relief to have that behind us. That is the only slightly negative thing that has happened since we got here so we won't dwell on that. Everyone who we have met here, have been so friendly and interested in our story that we spend hours chatting to various people all around town and especially at the dock. The Lahaina Yacht Club issued us with cards so we can use the facilities for the duration of our stay. We were invited on a snorkelling trip to one of the nearby islands by Ben who runs a big cat for Trilogy Charters. Offers of cars, washing machines, etc etc have come from all over the place and a big bag of leftover ice is delivered to us every evening by the crew of America II. It has been quite amazing. The fees here are an outrageous $ 5.00 per day so we decided to extend our stay. We rented a car for 24 hrs, borrowed a tent and cooler from Mardy, left Mistletoe in the care of our neighbours and headed for the hills. On our approach to the volcano we went through a massive rain storm and were wondering if we had mad the right call about the trip and especially about camping! We pushed on and were rewarded with gradual clearing and eventually climbed into bright blue sky. The summit is at 10,000 ft and even the fleece jackets we were wearing were unable to keep out the chilly 50 degree wind. The sunset above the clouds was amazing. After dark we descended 4,000 ft to a beautiful campground, pitched our tent, sipped wine in front of a fire and after our clothes had become totally impregnated with wood smoke, turned in. This was the first night away from our home since leaving N.Y. Early next morning, we continued our descent on the way to Hana. This is a legendary place with a very narrow, winding, twisting, bridge strewn road that everyone recommended we don't miss. It was, indeed, worth the drive and we swam in an amazing, fresh, clear stream on the way back. We managed to deliver the car, undamaged and on time and returned to normal. The wind still has not filled in to become a steady N.E. trade which is common for this time of year. We will leave on Monday for lanai, then to Molokai, Oahu and finally Kauai. Hopefully the wind will return by then.
mx to hawaii
08 June 2009 | kauai
We cast off our lines from Nuevo Vallarta marina at around 5.00 p.m. We were planning on a gentle motor over to the marina in la cruz, about 5 miles north. The wind decided to pipe up as soon as we left the harbour and within a few minutes, we were covered in salt again! We snuck into the fuel dock as quietly as possible hoping to avoid an overnight mooring fee but the security guys were onto us right away so the gig was up. The place was so nice, with a festival in full swing, so we ended up staying two nights and left for Hawaii with full tanks and a freshly cleaned bottom for maximum speed. Saw some amazing manta rays as we exited the bay. They were at least 12 ft across and swimming slowly along the surface, presumably gathering plankton or whatever they feed on. The first few days of the journey was a mixture of motoring with no wind and sailing into a moderate breeze and plenty of ship traffic along the coast bound to and from the panama canal. When the steady wind filled in it was from the N.W. so we had to drop south a bit to make use of it. Gradually the wind veered and became N.N.E. so we were able to point in the right direction. West.
P.V. and Hawaii are on the same latitude so we just kept to sun rising on our transom and setting on the bow. Didn't see a ship or any lights for two weeks. We managed to keep moving pretty well the whole time although we did have to motor a bit when the wind went light. It was all over the compass and we were kept busy with many sail changes. We had every combination of sail set, from staysail and double reefed main to spinnaker (which we flew overnight for the very first time!). Caught some nice Mahi Mahi to supplement our diet of canned and dry food which was a delicious treat, as always. This was the first of the green beauties since Charlestown, when we were heading north in the gulf stream last spring.
300 miles from the islands, we went into a long black cloud which was full of rain but no wind. It was very welcome as we needed a wash down. Collected some in the tanks once we were well rinsed. The down side was that the wind went very light and was coming straight from Hawaii! After about a day of motoring, we decided to head for the nearest island and so, after two very long days where we were only able to do 4 knots, we pulled into Lahaina on Maui. Three weeks, to the day, after leaving Bandaras Bay and the swine flue behind, we had crossed another mighty ocean. 3000 miles in 3 weeks. I think we can be pretty happy with that. When we were able to check the condition of the hull, we discovered a veggie garden growing on the back of the boat and the bottom of the keel. it's a wonder we were able to move at all! An hour with mask, fins and a piece of soft wood, Mistletoe's bum was like a babies, once again. We will do another cleaning just before the leg from here to B.C. All for now, cheers from the crew of mistletoe.
28 April 2009 | mx
Finally getting to P.V. after such a slog up from Panama was a huge relief and we both felt like we had come to another one of those milestones along our journey. One thing this leg has taught us. Going up the west coast of the U.S. is definitely not an option for us. Reality has hit me in the face. We have the equivalent of two more Atlantic crossings to do before we sail into Victoria's inner harbour. Looking at a map, it makes no sense to go all the way out to Hawaii. However, if you draw 20 to 30 kt wind arrows and 1 to 2 kts of current coming down from the north, it is a simple choice.
But I digress.
Pulled into Marina Nuevo Vallarta unannounced on a Saturday afternoon. "Sorry, we have no space'' Shocked looks on our part. We didn't see that coming. The tears running down my face and the whining obviously had an effect on the poor lad. "O.K. I phone my boss. Uno momento." Lot's of Spanish chat resulted in a slip at the end of D dock becoming available. Something about saying that we were having engine trouble. Oh, yes! " Mucho problemo mechanico!" We were in.
Usually when one comes into a marina slip, one jumps onto the float with many lines in hand. Not here! The docks were a sad sight. Crumbling concrete, sagging decking. Step lightly, don't jump! The good news? 35 cents/ft/day. We'll stay for a week!
We discovered to Vallarta Yacht Club on the second day. Accepted us as reciprocal members. Cold beers, great food, internet and a view of Mistletoe across the bay. What more could you want? Robbie, who you may remember, was part of the great Nicaraguan Mohito party, arrived to take us away for the day. We accompanied him while he ran a few errands around Marina Vallarta, then hit Wal Mart hard. It has been a while since we have done a big shop with wheels so we made the most of it. Two bulging buggies. Lots of heavy stuff that we had been avoiding. It's so nice to have a friend with a vehicle! It has been a full on, hot, sunny year since we did the teak. It was definitely overdue. After a bit of sanding and 3 - 2 ½ hr sessions, we are looking pretty snappy again. Oil and filters are changed once again. Lot's of reorganizing of lockers etc for the next two passages. Rig check and clean tomorrow, paperwork/international zarpe on Monday and we are on our way. Stay tuned and wish us luck. Cheers, Chris and Jen.
z-what to p.v.
28 April 2009 | mx
A few days in z-what and we were ready to roll again. We weighed anchor early and motored a couple of hours around to Ixtapa marina to fuel and top of water tanks, wash salt off etc. Once done, out into a windless ocean and the grim prospect of many more hours of motoring. The wind gods were kind to us and the breeze filled to the point where we could sail without the help of 'suzie' and we sailed all that day until sunset, when the breeze died. There was an unusually large swell running accompanied by a nasty chop. We suffered all night trying to make progress. At dawn we were not far from maruata, a large bay with a little village at one end which looked as though it would offer some shelter while we waited for conditions to improve. When we arrived it was apparent that it was not such a good choice. Big swells rolling into the bay where we were going to anchor. The 20 odd surfers, who were enjoying the conditions, waived us away. We would be disturbing the natural flow of the perfect wave they were all waiting for. We dropped back 50 meters and dropped the hook. It wasn't so much that the boat was rolling, but going up and over the monster swells which were crashing one the beach just behind us. After an hour or so, we began to relax and enjoyed watching all the activity around us. It was Easter Sunday and the beach was packed with people enjoying the holidays. I took advantage of the clean water to do a bit of bottom scrubbing. The water is colder and not as clear as the Caribbean side so the hull hasn't been kept in as good a condition over here and I was surprised to find quite a few barnacles attached to the boat. It wasn't a very easy job while Mistletoe was being bullied about and I had to give up after about half an hour. I got the prop, rudder and hull done, left the keel for another day. Next morning, we decided to give it another try and pocked our nose out. Our stop turned out to be a good move. Conditions had improved and the wind had swung around to an angle we put to good use. Had one of our best sails all that day until as usual the wind died as the sun went away. We motored slowly through the night, like a cruise ship, wanting to be just outside the entrance to the lagoon at Barra de Navidad at first light. We timed it well, and the anchor splashed into a perfectly still pond just as the sun broke over the hills. What a treat to be in a calm anchorage again.
Three days later we were ready to move again. We watched in horror, on our way to the fuel dock, as a huge, mega yacht, pulled in ahead of us. We only need 20 gals! I cut the corner a bit tight and felt the familiar Chichester harbour sensation of running onto a mud bank! We were going slowly and managed to ease off quickly and picked our way around to the dock in deeper water! Turned out there was plenty of space for us and the big power boat was still busy with anchors and lines when we were done. Luckily we had been warned about the water at this place and didn't put any in the tanks. We washed the decks with it and put some into a container. It was chocolate brown!
Another pretty good day of sailing, but as always, the wind veers during the day and forces one into shore. We decided to stop for the night as we had a pretty good anchorage nearby. We stormed into Bahia Chamela with a reefed main and full genoa, at 7 kts! Too much sail. We only had a mile to go so I didn't want to reef the jenny, which is a bit painful. Got behind Isla Colarado, dumped all sail and motored into a lovely little bay on the south side of Isla Pasavera which we would be sharing with hundreds of pelicans, boobies, gulls and terns of all descriptions. We were planning to stay here a full day but, the following morning, when a fresh, southerly wind piped up, it was too good to miss and we blasted out of there the same way we came in. flying along at 6 to 7! Sadly it didn't last. The veering started almost as soon as we got out from behind the island. Damn! Oh well. Keep going now. Were going to go all night but, once again, the chop was killing us so we made for the only option. The guide book describes Ipala as an easy bay to get into. No hidden rocks, a nice flashing light on the point sheltering the bay. We had it in sight when darkness fell and were comfortable about going in after dark. We knew the charts were off by about a mile along this coast so were prepared for that but, to my dismay, the very islands where we had spent the previous night, Colarado and Pasavera blocking the entrance to the bay! I can forgive Navionics for some slight errors but this was unbelievable! This was not the first time they had placed phantom islands in our path. We crept slowly forward, ignoring g.p.s. and charts and just went on eyes, ears and depth sounder. There were 4 other boats anchored in the prime spots so we were forced to stay out a bit further than I would have preferred. Dropped in 40 ft. 45 lbs of anchor and a 120 ft of chain should see us through the night. When I woke early next morning, all but one, dismasted boat, had vanished. They must know something we don't! we decided to up stumps as well. We should have stayed put. We motored all the way to Puerto Vallarta with not a breath of wind all day!
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