Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mahalo Hilo and Majestic Mauna Kea

A comedy of errors regarding getting our new smart phone... All went well buying it off Ebay, but after 6 days (including 4th of July holiday) of attempting to implement patience and hoping for our phone, still "out for delivery" according to tracking, to be delivered to Amanda's house, Chris contacted the USPS. There it was at the Hilo post office (and had been for 7-days) awaiting a pick up. Apparently they had attempted delivery and because no one was home had left a note that it required pickup and the little note was lost. Thankfully, we did manage to call the day before it would have been shipped back to mainland. The mystery was solved, so we picked up the phone, though unfortunately the story does not end there. From the post office, Chris took the phone directly to Verizon to start our new data package plan, and that day (?!?!) they had changed their offered pricing structure. No more unlimited data packages, which confuses all of our careful planning regarding finances and having phone and internet access... Frustrating as it is, here we are, so we'll see how one month of it goes and make decisions from there.

We were waylaid once again from leaving Radio Bay by David and Elizabeth, on neighboring Canadian boat Demelza, who offered us to accompany them in their little Toyota rental car up to the summit of Mauna Kea. We have been wondering how to make this journey happen so jumped at the opportunity and enjoyed both their company and the adventure. After a quick stop at the visitor center at 9K feet, we started the slow drive up the $1million/paved mile road. We had only minor mishap when at 13K feet after losing all power, we had to pull over and wait for the car to recalibrate before the final climb. We're guessing the rapid altitude change was too drastic for the fuel injection system in this modern "smart" car to keep up the appropriate fuel to air ratio.

We made it up through the clouds to the summit in plenty of time to watch the entirety of the sun set. Mauna Kea is a massive shield volcano, taller than Everest when measured from the ocean floor to its 13, 796-ft above sea level peak. It is a sacred mountain in Hawaiian mythology and one of the best sights of astronomical observation in the world (due to height, dry and stable climate) with 13 enormous telescopes resting on its summit. Dressed in all of our layers in the just above freezing temperatures at the overlook, it felt like being in a plane above the clouds. We were able to see below us clouds all around, to the south the Mauna Loa peak (Kiluea which we visited is on its flank, but with a different source of magma, geologically considered a different volcano), and to the west all the way through the clouds to the ocean far below and even Maui Islands distant outline. After watching the epic sunset, we were ushered by park employees back down the mountain (and reminded that our 2WD breaks were likely to fail on the descent...). We had a fine slow journey back down through the clouds to the visitor center which had hot chocolate and telescopes focused on the moon and saturn awaiting for all interested, which we were.

We had set up a Saturday departure with the Radio Bay harbor master, but missed it to see Mauna Kea and were not legally able to leave Radio Bay on Sunday, so we did yoga and relaxed. Monday was spent scrubbing Tao down inside and out and cleaning Fatty's bottom in preparation for departure. But Iain and Alyson, a fun couple on their custom built aluminum boat Loon III, had landed and we decided to stick around yet one more evening for interesting happy hour conversation with them. Finally Tuesday morning we managed to break free our mooring lines. Once the USCG was notified that we were leaving past the cruise ship in port, we had an uneventful motor out of Radio Bay, past security for the last time into Hilo Bay and onto anchor (out of the shipping channel and clear of the rocky reefs) inside the breakwall.

It feels wonderful to be back at anchor. The motion of the boat reminds us that we are indeed cruising and not living ashore. Once satisfied with our anchor set and placement, we rowed Fatty ashore to the Hilo Bayfront beach and made haste to our favorite sushi spot before they closed for the afternoon. Then one more stop in the KTA for some final provisions and we wandered through the Farmer's Market before rowing back across the channel to Tao bobbing happily at anchor. We made it back just before the several passing clouds started to shed rain in the sunny afternoon and noting that the current was holding us side to the wind looked up the tides and realized that it is nearly a fully moon. We listened to the weather and downloaded a GRIB file in preparation of sailing out of the bay, watched the cruise ship navigate out of the harbor at sunset and a barge under tow be brought in under bright moonlight. It felt so good to be disconnected from shore and hence reconnected to offshore that we were loathe to leave that midnight so we decided to stay for one more relaxing day at anchor here in Hilo Bay. Our current plan is to leave tonight around midnight under the full moon for a 74-nm passage north around the Big Island to put the hook down on the sunny west side in Nishimura Bay (hopefully before the channel winds pick up too much tomorrow afternoon). We have much enjoyed our in depth adventures around the Big Island from Radio Bay, and now it feels great to be under way again...


  1. Great, great pics as always. I can only imagine that was some fresh sushi at your favorite restaurant. Color me jealous!

  2. Great to hear about your adventures and glad to know you're all OK. Do keep the wonderful pictures and stories coming . . .