Friday, June 24, 2011

Hilo; first 2 weeks on the Big Island

Our first 2 weeks in Hilo have been quite busy. We made landfall on a Saturday, and after we checked in with Customs, we re-activated our cell phones (which were at the end of their possible 6 month/yr hold anyway) so that we could make a required call to set up an appointment with the state veterinarian. As previously arranged, Dr. Pease from All Pets Mobile came down to do a “boat-call” early Monday morning and fill out a current certificate of good health (required by Hawaii State Department of Agriculture). While awaiting the state veterinarian for their examination of Griz, Chris dove to check Tao’s bottom for log damage. Amazingly he found none! A call from the state vet the next morning woke us up and we met her 20 minutes later at a nearby picnic table to check Griz’s microchip number, that she wasn’t carrying any critters, and to fill out a mountain of paperwork. All of a sudden we were free, all three of us checked in to the islands.

We hopped on of one of the Tuesday cruise ships shuttles (a cruise ship seems to dock at the pier every Tuesday) to a nearby mall and were overwhelmed by all of the big stores you see in every American city. With no internet available via our Bad Boy wifi device at the port, we started our research for how to get some internet. We chose to try out a USB mobile broadband modem from Mobi, a local Hawaiian Islands service, for their 14-day trial period. We spent the next few days aboard drying out the boat (between rain squalls), generally observing the daily changes here (which included the entry of 7 traditional Polynesian sailing canoes making landfall from New Zealand), making a dream list of all the activities we might like to do around the Big Island, and frequently sailing Fatty out to explore the bigger Hilo Bay.

Radio Bay is located within the working Port of Hilo and is therefore a high security site. It is very calm weather-wise (no roll!), but there is a near constant noise of large cranes and loaders and multiple axle trucks moving cargo through the port. There is a nice bathroom with hot shower (for a refundable $50 key deposit) and for us to get to town we are required to be escorted through the port (laden with semi-truck trailers) by very friendly and accessible (as long as you have a phone to call) 24-hr gate security. By Thursday, we finally motivated to do laundry. Carrying all of our clothes and bedding from the passage, we managed to miss the free hourly bus and instead had a rainy day adventure of hitchhiking (which we hear is legal in Hawaii) and walking some of the longest blocks ever (under our newly purchased umbrellas) to find a self-serve laundry several miles away in the town of Hilo. All fresh and clean, we celebrated our crossing with a dinner on Comocean, who had been just behind us throughout much of our crossing.

Saturday was as sunny as Friday had been rainy. All of the plants here appear to be on some kind of growth enhancing drug (lots of rainwater!) and fragrant flowering trees litter the sidewalks with their blossoms. We walked to Rainbow Falls just outside of Hilo, through jungle vegetation and banyan trees, to perch atop the waterfall on a rock basking in the sun. Then returned to town to purchase succulent vegetables at the twice weekly market and catch the last bus home where we met Amanda, a friend from graduate school. Since CSU, we had visited her once before when we were on the Big Island for Chris’ family reunion, though were surprised to realize that it had been 7-years! We quickly caught up over frozen Hawaiian style margaritas and then picked up dinner which we enjoyed outside (to the smell of night blooming jasmine) at Amanda’s beautifully grown up house with Jeremy and their two boys.

The next morning Amanda took us on an adventure to the South Point (Ka Lae) of the Big Island, claimed to be the most southern point in the United States, and showed us all the good spots along the way. Our tour included sandwich markets in Hilo, up to a pumpkin bread stop near the volcano, down to South Point and several beaches and view points along the way. We stopped at the Black Sand beach (Punalu'u) and hiked along the extremely windy SE tip of the island to a beautiful green sand beach. The black sand is made of basalt and the green sand, olivine (if you look closely, you can see flecks of the green sand in the handful of black sand here). On the way back to Hilo, we stopped into Volcanoes National Park to see bright yellow sulfur beds and then the overlook of the Kilauea Caldera to see rays of sunset wash over the volcanic gases exiting a newly formed vent.

On week 2 of our stay here, we got more serious about trying to plan out our adventures. We made our way to the bus station to gather information for different routes around the island. While downtown, we visited the Hilo Bay front museums including an aquarium and extreme lava art displays and finally filled our craving for sushi (thumbs up for Ocean Sushi). An enjoyably memorable day was spent learning about Hawaiian culture and Mauna Kea astronomy at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy center, 3D planetarium, and native gardens. And there is still a long list of exciting things to do and see while safely anchored here in Radio Bay...

A portion of each day has been spent trying to decide how to be affordably connected while we’re cruising in the States. After much debate, we have decided to drop Chris’ phone line and the Mobi service and share (yes, the dark ages) one smart phone for our time cruising the Hawaiian Islands. We’ll keep you posted on how that goes. Also, we’ve still got lots of pictures and processing of our crossing to catch up on and we’ve been trying to figure out how to continue updating the blog now that our lives aren’t exciting enough for a daily update... We're waiting for some fast internet to upload lots of pictures. Please keep in touch and keep checking back for updates.


  1. Such wonderful adventures you're having, and the pictures are terrific. Thanks for sharing. Take your time enjoying it all.

    Much love,
    Your Retired Mum

  2. hey- looks like you are having fun! we are so excited for you. have fun and enjoy!


  3. As always it's great to hear from you guys. Sounds like you're off to a great start. Angie H