Friday, June 1, 2007

Hanalei - 2 weeks till departure

Hello from our little floating home in Paradise - for about 2 more weeks anyway. Yep, in just about 2 weeks we'll probably be taking off - maybe less. We decided to use a weather routing service (Commander's Weather) since they help with a departure window and will track us the whole way and let us know if severe weather is coming our way, all for a reasonable price. Since we haven't become weather experts in the 9 months since we've left, we thought it a good idea. Also if we aren't sure about where to make that big right turn, we can contact them later in the passage about it. For those that don't know, the way home isn't just to point the bow to SF and go. We will need to basically head North for maybe a weekish and at some point turn East over to head to the mainland. All of this is depending on where the darn Pacific High is and it seems to be in a wacky wili-nili mood these days. I'm kinda looking forward to the variety of this passage: one week starboard tack, then one week port tack, then a little reaching then we're home.

Cecil (the staysail) should get a lot of face time for the passage home. We had a chance to test him out a bit yesterday. We had gone up the Na Pali coast for an overnight and something about our forecast was off and we found ourselves having to beat back to Hanalei with steady 25, gusting to 30 Noserlies with some steepish chop thrown in. UUUGGGGHHHH!!!!! We knew it was coming though because the day before had us running with the same. So Cecil was ready and we were ready to give him a good test - we haven't had to use him this entire trip so we were glad to give him a go. And I have to say, even though I'm a girl who Greg can't get to cast off our lines in that kind of forecast, I was very comfortable. Absolutely nothing on Pacifica felt stressed and we were able to average 6 kts for the couple of hours back to the Bay. Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't baking up cookies down below or anything, but I also didn't have the wide eyed death grip praying for it to end either.

Hopefully our wind and seas won't be as high on the trip home, but if they are, it's nice to know Pacifica will do well. And in addition, if we do encounter similar conditions, we'll also be sailing on a lower course of sail. For those that don't know, the higher you sail (closer to where the wind is coming from - basically San Francisco for most of our trip) the more uncomfortable (usually) and more stress on the boat. Because this passage is such a long one, most people sail a little off the wind to make things aboard more comfortable. And that's what our plan is.

Anyway, enough on the passage - yep I'm nervous and going through the ups and downs of looking forward to it and not. But regardless, we need to get home so as last time we are doing everything we can to make sure we have a comfortable safe passage.

On the Na Pali trip, since I already touched on it - we decided to head up and anchor for an overnight to really experience the coast. We took off for a beautiful sail and really had a wonderful trip down (or up, or over - whatever). We headed for Polihale anchorage, or otherwise (named by s/v Anna) known as Rolly Poli. When we got there it wasn't that rolly and we were anchored in 13 feet of very clear warm water. We took a snorkel along the rocks and as I always do - I kept an eye out for sharks. Imagine my surprise when just below us I see one swimming around. I quickly got Greg's attention in my shark stealth way of frantically splashing about and yelling "SHARK!!!!" It was all very uncool. We quickly swam back to Pacifica - oh did I mention it was 'that' time of the month for me. Peter and Ginger, we sure hope you can forgive our wimpiness and stop yourselves from laughing at us enough to still be our friends (they have just been telling us of all the black tip sharks they now regularly snorkel with in the South Pacific).

Greg excited about taking off for the trip to Na Pali.

Windy Coast

Picture of Greg at Polihale lying on the bottom in 13 feet of water.

Anchorage at Treasure Cove a little up from Polihale. The bottom was quite rocky, so we didn't stay here long.

Beautiful Na Pali Coast

So we had a nice evening after we decided to put out the stern anchor to keep us pointed into the little swell that was coming in and settled down for the evening as waves gently lapped along the beach behind us. We woke early to rollers coming though our little cove!!!! After quickly readying the boat and retrieving our stern anchor, we decided to head back to peaceful Hanalei Bay. It was all worth it though - the Na Pali coast was gorgeous and Rolly Poli was amazing. We anchored close to shore which was mostly huge cliffs that seems to come straight out of the ocean. It was really beautiful.

Since you've read that I mentioned s/v Anna, I guess I should let you know that we finally met them - "them" being Rich and Cat. We spent a very pleasant evening with the Annans on their boat, enjoying dinner, drinks and stories. They are one of the other boats who crossed over from Mexico at the same time as us, so we 'met' them via radio and email but not until Hanalei did we meet them in person. We will both be leaving Hanalei about the same time for the mainland. They will be going to Seattle and we will be going back to Berkeley.

We had a nice surprise last week when we came back to our dinghy and found a card from Jeannette and Henry (of BYC fame). They just happened to be here on vacation and watching the sunset along the beach and Henry looked out and thought he saw Pacifica (their boat is 2 down from our slip in Berkeley). So as any good traveler does, he swam out to check us out. Since we weren't aboard, they scoured the area till they found where we had left our dinghy. So, a couple of days later we had a pleasant BBQ at their beautiful hotel and spent a great evening chatting with them.

One tricky part of the evening activities here is what to do with the dinghy. It's funny, throughout all of Mexico although we've had to take serious precautions about the dinghy we never felt that we couldn't leave it somewhere as long as it was locked up. But here, in Hanalei - I guess there is a real problem with dinghy theft and it doesn't matter if you lock your dinghy or not - they will cut the lock and throw your boat in the back of a truck if it's left after dark. We've been told this by many people - locals and cruisers, so many that we don't want to risk our dinghy as being the real time example that we see. To solve this, we either row ashore if we are going to be out after dark, or Greg will drop me off, then swim to shore from the boat. So that's what we did that night with Jeannette and Henry - Greg swam from and to the boat. Though he did say the au natural midnight swim to the boat was eerie and he was happy to be aboard.

We rented a car for a couple of days, which for cruisers means: Laundry, propane fills, heavy shopping and Costco if there's one available. We did manage to throw in some sightseeing to some of the places you can't get to via bus.

While out sightseeing we came upon the 'wet cave' I think I can see where they came up with that name...

A little further down the road we came upon the 'dry cave'

Me enjoying a shave Ice: Raspberry and Lychee over Macadamia Nut Ice Cream

Our shave Ice and the Shave Ice truck

Hanalei Valley

Greg and I at the Lighthouse

And of course, waterfalls

A river boat careening down the river

Sights Around Hanalei Bay

This is the newest rage...Not sure what it's called, but people paddle around the flat water on a surfboard, or they even use the paddle to pick up speed to catch a wave. So you can see some surfers that don't get wet...

Mornings and evenings are great times to sit out on your boat and people watch as boaters in all forms pass you by.

Surfers paddling to the surf

A couple of cruisers kayaking to their boat

Canoe racers out for a practice

And then there is the rainbow.

Matey does have a complaint about Hawaii. We had thought that since we have to go through so many requirements to bring a dog here that it would be like doggie paradise as far as safety. But she has had more ticks here than anywhere in Mexico - I guess, at least they don't carry rabies. And the romping in the water everyday caused various rashes on her oh so sensitive skin in the humid air. So now we let her play right when we get ashore, rinse her with fresh water at the beach, then walk her around town till she dries and try our hardest to keep here dry as we launch the dinghy. But she still has a great time romping with the fish in the river.

I believe those have been the highlights. Other than this we've been swimming most every day around the Bay and off the boat. We've broken down and paid for internet at the local coffee shop so we enjoy hanging out there. We'll be spending a little more time on little jobs that need to be completed: like the bracket for our GPS that sheared away in the beat back to Hanalei yesterday, and the installation of another fan, hanging the radar deflector, and a few other odds and ends before the passage.

That's about it from Paradise...

Melissa, Greg and Matey


This must be the most taken photo in Hanalei. I grabbed my camera just after this squall came through thinking I had a great rainbow shot - then as Greg and I were looking through his old photos from Hanalei we noticed he seems to have the exact same photo...

One thing we've been neglectful about telling you about is Shave Ice. Unfortunately we haven't taken pictures of the contenders, but we've been on the quest for the perfect Shave Ice since we've arrived in Hawaii. I guess I should start by giving the background on when Greg did his trip here and discovered shave ice. Now add that to my experience with snowballs in South Louisiana which is the same shaved ice (not those hard little kernels - actually shaved off of a big block) served over soft serve ice cream. He LOVED them here and had one most every day, I LOVED them growing up - so naturally we would look forward to them - I know hard for you to imagine since most of you know us as hard bodies who live at the gym (NOT!!!!).

So, we've had mostly good shave ice with a really bad one thrown in and a really fabulous one (called Hawaiian Ice). I'll start with the bad. In Nawiliwili we noticed a place with a shave ice stand and a sign for internet wifi. We thought what could be better than sitting in an outdoor place eating shave ice surfing the net with our doggie by our side. Well, it wasn't to be and our dreams were dashed when the internet costs $4/15 minutes (wwwwwwhat????? we're definitely used to scooping up free wifi). So, no internet, but we could always have shave ice - but that turned out to be another , ahhh shall I say, disappointment.... $5 gets you one very small little paper cone shaped cup with about 2 spoonfuls of ice-cream along with very slow service. The slow part starts after you get the cone so you have to stand there and hold this cold bit of ice while you wait. Yes I could eat it, but since Greg and I were splitting the very expensive small cone, I didn't think it was quite right of me to scarf it down while waiting for the girl to figure out the money. Somehow we got through that - and I do know that y'all who were working at the time aren't going to feel real pity for me as I stood around holding a small cold shave ice in Hawaii -- but it's all perspective...

Fortunately that was the lowest point, our best experience so far was at the botanical gardens where a man set up shop selling Hawaiian Ice - now this is a great idea - he takes real shredded fruit mixes it with flavored water, then freezes it all - then shaves it. This is a very light and fluffy frozen treat.

We've also had a number of good shave ice thrown in along the way - a few on Ohau, but we have been waiting for Hanalei to really begin our studies. There are 3 stores here - One is okay, another is kinda pricey, the third is the same place Greg found 9 years ago - the Wishing Well which is a truck on the main road as you come into Hanalei. You can either take a left as you walk to the main road from the beach or take your dinghy all the way up the river and tie off at the Dolphin restaurant and walk right along the main road till the next parking lot.

The Wishing Well has their act together - and they have to for all the choices they have. First off you need to understand the order in which you give you requests - first size, whether you want ice cream, then ice cream flavor, then syrup flavors then toppings you may want. There are choices at every turn. Our next recipe to try will be raspberry and lychee with mint chocolate chip ice cream....we'll have to let you know how it turns out. Oh, they also have this option here where you can have beans instead of ice cream, Greg might order that one day - I can't imagine ordering it for myself.
Greg and I with Hanalei Bay behind us...

We arrived in Hanalei on Saturday as part of a race along with about 15 other boats from the Nawiliwili YC. We had a good time sailing with them and it ended with a potluck and BBQ in the Hanalei Pavilion.

Earlier this week we took a hike to a place called 'Queen's Bath' which is a natural pool with colorful fish along the rocky shore. It was beautiful - and refreshing. Every once in a while waves would crash high enough for there to be little waterfalls running into the pool. We brought our masks and snorkels and had a nice swim.

One of the views on the way to 'Queen's Bath'.

Queen's Bath - the shallow end in closest was deep enough to snorkel - the deeper end farther away was over my head, maybe 12 feet deep.

Greg noticed these tadpoles waiting to be frogs. By the way there are tons of frogs here - Matey loves the little roadie snacks (though we always tell her to drop it)

And , of course, there are waterfalls here. But we've only seen one so far from the anchorage - maybe within the next month there will be more...

Since we got here with so many other boats, it was a little crowded so we were anchored a little far out in about 40 feet of water. A couple of days ago a little powerboat came to anchor a tad close as Greg watched him put out the anchor, drag....put out the anchor, drag....put out the anchor, and that's good enough (when you leave out that pesky backing down part of the anchoring process). At least they weren't downwind of us. So the next day when the wind came up, I looked around and started to feel better because that little powerboat wasn't so close anymore...whew...then I noticed they were a little bit farther away...hmmm....well, wait a minute - no one was aboard and they were slowly dragging down to the surf line!!!!! So Greg and I jumped in 'Matey's Ride' and headed off for a little powerboat rescue. After Greg let out more scope, the little boat was set, then we went back to Pacifica.

Of course the day they got back they upped anchor and came even closer to us....The next day - we thought what a great day to leave and go to Tunnels Beach and do some fishing. We didn't have luck with the fishing, but Tunnels Beach was marvelous. It's what we imagine a South pacific Atoll would look like (as long as we don't look at the beach. Three sides are breaking waves on the reef and one side is the beach. On one of the breaking waves side there is a small pass about 40 feet wide that you can get through to a space for about maybe 3 boats to anchor in. It was a little rough when we went so we didn't spend the night, just a little swimming, lunch and internet surfing (that would be another difference between Tunnels and an atoll - I don't think an atoll would have wifi).

When we returned to Hanalei Bay, we decided to check out closer in and see if we can find space for us. We managed to squeeze ourselves in up closer to shore in about 12 feet of water. I love it when we can see the bottom!!!!

Other than that we've been spending our days walking around town, doing a few boat projects, swimming - that sort of thing. Matey loves playing in the river - there's lot of fish here that she can chase. 

Roadside - Hanalei

Hanalei Church

Evening time usually brings a squall or two which then brings rainbows. Late afternoon sometimes we can see spinner dolphins doing their thing in the anchorage. It's really amazing to see them leap and spin while doing flips. While sailing out of the Bay I thought I would get some great pictures of them while we sailed through them, but as we approached they became regular dolphins and enjoyed playing in our bow wake. We can also see lots of surfers - it's great to look over at the surf break and watch when they get a good ride.

Finally I got the ever elusive turtle photo. These guys are so cute - it feels like such a special gift when they come visit. And if you see them out swimming, at least for me, my whole world stops and I have to watch them gracefully swim away. They are truly beautiful.

A spinner dolphin playing in our bow wake as we were heading to tunnels beach.
Rainy Hanalei as we head to Tunnels

It's really great here and it's going to be very hard to get back to work life. But we'll have a tough 3 weeks to transition and I'm guessing there will be many times during that crossing back to SF that I'll be wishing to already be back at work.

So what do Hanaleians do at 9:30 am on Sat mornings? Rush the farmers market as soon as the bell rings - of course. I took this picture just after 9:30 - you can see the far side of the market is empty, people rush to their favorite vendor and vendors sell out quickly. It was quite the madhouse but very Hawaiian. The government puts on farmers' markets - I'm not sure if this is government or private but we hear they work the same. It's a great way to buy local produce. But they also have a grocery here that is pretty well stocked.

Tomorrow we plan to be doing boat work all day - it's time to varnish (cetol) and we have a few projects to get done before the crossing.