Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eddied out in Honokohau

Sorry for the blog silence, we’ve been quite busy for the past several weeks. It’s more difficult than you might imagine living with one foot aboard and one foot ashore. The days and weeks fly by when dockside. Sunrises and sunsets pass by barely noticed. Priorities shift. Tied up to land in a safe harbor, no longer constantly vigilant, we relax and recover. And we enjoy things that come along with being attached to land; markets with fresh food (with names like star fruit, lilikoi, and dragon fruit), restaurants, laundry facilities, trips to multiple surf spots, and most repeatedly, yoga. Shawn has been teaching once a week and we have been enjoying Bikram Yoga Kona immensely having felt fully welcomed by its community.

As you may have surmised, we're still on the Big Island. Family friend Kanoa lent us his well loved Toyota truck to kick around in for a week. It was great, we felt like a local driving around in it and he’s lucky we’re on an island or Chris might have just driven off into the sunset with it. We explored a circle on shore from Kona along the ocean to Waikaloa, Puako, Kawaihae and up to Waimea in the mountains then back down to Kona via the high road. We’ve gotten eddied out a little bit imagining possibilities of transitioning to land and spending several years here (opening a yoga studio, getting certified to teach high school, etc…). Although we are still here and have plans to stay for the next week (how long have we been saying that?), we continue to hold onto the plan of throwing off the mooring lines during the next reduced trade wind window to cross the Alenuihaha Channel to Maui.

Since we’re moving so slowly, we decided a trip to Honolulu was in order to see Chris’ grandmother who has anxiously awaited our arrival since we landed in Hawaii in June. So Chris caught a flight (inter-island flights are a pretty normal occurrence here) from Kona to Oahu. It was an emotional 3-day visit in which they were able to have great discussions and also went to pay respects to Chris’ grandfather who passed away just under a year ago. It was very special to Chris to get to spend some quality time there and we both hope to visit her again soon whenever we finally sail to Oahu.

While we’ve been here in Honokohau Harbor a couple things have died. Most sadly, a huge turtle marked #116 (from years of observation) drowned after getting hooked in some fishing line. If you look closely in this photo, you can see some filament coming out of its mouth. Once we realized this, pictures stopped and closer inspection showed a hook trailing behind. As it is a federal offense to be closer than 20-ft to one of these turtles (Shawn stopped Chris from jumping in and cutting away fishing line), we immediately reported it to nearby Aquatic Resources Services. Unfortunately, the hook snagged onto one of the mooring chains on the harbor bottom before they were able to catch up to it and get it unentangled…

Most difficult for our daily sailing life, our NorCold refrigerator died. Another example of you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. After doing several tests that pointed to complete cooling unit failure and then getting the run around for a part number price it became obvious that a whole new refrigerator was more cost effective (insert grumble about our wasteful society here). Replacing with a new NorCold unit (which we purchased in 2005 for $490) is now a ridiculous $750. We momentarily thought about going back to cruising without refrigeration, but realized that we’ve gotten used to having minimal refrigeration and it would really reduce our basic daily enjoyment of life (mostly having cold soy milk in the morning cup of tea for Shawn) so quickly scratched that idea. From there we narrowed it down the requirements being a DC compatible unit and a cool space (we’ve never had a freezer). Our options ranged from the basic easy to install and also inefficient “Koolatron,” barely more than an ice chest at $120, to our dream system of a super efficient “Engel” at $1000 plus a much larger installation project. Since we’re currently in this possible-transition-to-land frame of mind, we chose the inexpensive easy basic option to hold us over for at least the next few months. We’ll let you know how it goes…

And to top it off, Chris' first night away to Oahu, our main shipboard computer got drenched via a midnight downpour dripping in through the closed but untightened porthole over the navigation station. Amid the visit with his grandmother, he also fielded frantic calls from Shawn trying to resuscitate it. Chris was very calm (though he might not have been had he seen water rushing out of the keyboard when it was first moved). After finally finding the small screwdrivers, Shawn removed the battery, then removed the panels she could from the bottom of the computer and placed it outside in the sun in hour long increments of heating and then cooling all throughout the day. The next day was rainy so she had a fan blowing on it throughout. That night when Chris returned home we attempted to start it up together and amazingly it fired right up and since we've found no obvious issues. We count ourselves very lucky and also are reminded to back everything up more frequently!!

Having stayed here longer than expected does have its benefits- yesterday our Hilo friends Amanda and Jeremy and their two boys happened by the harbor and by chance spotted us. We spent the rest of the day with them. First showing Jayden (7) and Mykah (5) the boat, which they immediately turned into a jungle gym (it would have been impossible to clean enough for their visit had we known they were coming as the boys wanted to look in all the cupboards, the bilges and even the engine, lol!!). We took a walk to the nearby park in search of more turtles and caught a spectacular sunset then had another amazingly cultural experience when we accompanied them to the Micronesian 1-year birthday party they had come to town for, which happened to be given at a space right next to the harbor (Jeremy hails from a small Micronesian island called Fais near Yap). It was very festive with large amounts of extended family present, the younger generation performed dances and music, while everyone else talked and consumed amazing traditional food.

Whenever we actually get underway again, over the next few weeks we’ll be making some big decisions, so send some good energy our way and we’ll keep you all posted as soon as any actual decisions have been made.


  1. No wonder you've been quiet for a bit . . . you've been busy! Good energy heading your way from Ithaca . . . .


  2. love the pics-- thanks for taking one of grandpa's plaque. sounds just awesome, all around. love you guys.

  3. wait, i just reread the turtle part. SOOO SAD!! I can't stand it. I cannot stand it! For an uplift after that experience, check out this video about saving a humpback- it'll make you cry tears of joy: