Monday, June 25, 2012

Maui pictures

While my mother was here, we went for a car ride around the island, and saw many things.  This is a close relation to the Afghanistanian Death Pepper.  I believe the species is Afghani-Uzbekistaninian Death Pepper.  It should be noted that the ADP, while not actually native to Afghanistan is highly poisonous, even fatal, as the name suggests.  It grows wild in the high mountain slopes in the pacific northwest, and is known by sight to only me and my mother.  My brother thinks he knows it but does not.  Nuh-uhh!

We also saw some waterfalls, but only a little  bit of them...
 This next shot is looking down from up on Maui, looking at Molokini.  it is a little crater that sunk into the ocean, and has fantastic visibility.
 There are a few species of Cardinal, and here is a picture of one of them.  Pretty, right?  Alien as well...

 Someone said this was a California Pepper.  And this next thing is a Jackson.  Three little horns for fighting off the T-rex, and eyes that can go every direction at once. 
 There are nice sunsets in Lahaina.  Looking west (up) and east (down)
 And sometimes the big waves come in at sunset...
 This is the waterfall at the top of the seven sacred pools.  It is really cool up there.
 So With Dad we went along the east side of Lanai, where there are some nice high cliffs, and the flowers are from somewhere else.  Its dry on Lanai, so not much for flowers.  But Lanai has beautiful beach, (since there is only one.)  I surfed a really steep hollow scary left on that beach.  It breaks over coral and you can see the gnashing jaws of the reef coming to get you when the waves suck out and it gets shallow.  I had a lot of trouble with the hollow parts, since my board is wide and I am a chicken.  There was some large swell, so eventually I could catch the outside waves that were about head high or a little overhead.  It was fast and fun, but you have to get out before the beach or else you drop on the sand and it gets way overhead and then slams down.  I saw a broken board coming out of there and heard some ambulances later on. 
Before that, Dad and I were going to go to Molokini, but the winds came up and it was blowing over 50 knots at times, with a waterspout!  Dad was feeling sick from the plane ride, so I had the boat to myself, but Altair was performing wonderfully.  I put a reef in the main, ran the small jib up the front and was trucking along when the wind came up some more... Then I was heeling over like a sidehill gouger on the wrong slope, when the wind came up some more!  The angle of heel was so much that I couldn't really make headway, I could see my slick coming off the back of the boat at about 45 degrees, so I was pointed upwind but going sideways...  So I did something I have never done before.  I pulled down the jib, and ran up the storm jib.   When I pulled down the jib the boat behaved very nicely, that is the "heave-to" position, where you sit if you want to weather a storm without trying to go anywhere.   Except I wanted to go somewhere.  So with the storm jib up everything was hunky-dory, and I made good headway to where we anchored.  Except the wind soon died off and then came again in heaving gusts and it was frustrating to the point that my mainsail tore in half. 
I need to get a new one now.  I repaired it, but the shape is just so sad.  The winds came down a little a few days later and we headed over to Lanai, went to that beach, surfed a little, then went to a little place around the corner and dove for a few days and now have come back to Lahaina.  Tomorrow my brother arrives and we will drive around Maui some more, then we will sail some more after that. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Maui stage one

I've been on Maui for about a week now, and it is nice.  I'm staying in Lahaina, near the Mala Wharf.  You can find it online.  There are quite a few other boats here, but sadly, few of them are in sailing condition.  The tourism industry here is very permeating, and everyone seems to drive a rental car.  I tried to hitch hike to get mom at the airport a week ago and was not picked up for nearly an hour.  It was a little irksome, but not too much, since there is a bus and I could have taken it.  The water is super clear.  Dad has now arrived, he will stay for 12 days and then Abe and Katrina are coming.  So I have a full docket here in Maui.  I've taken some pictures from some places, but they will have to wait for a better connection, I think.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Midnight in the Channel of Doom

The channel between the Big Island and Maui now lies behind me. I had heard monster stories about it from before I got here and all through the week while I was in Hilo. Captain James Cook had lost his masts here, after 4 circumnavigations and many more Cape Horn roundings. The Hawaiians then promptly ate him for the mistake. Because the islands sit in the middle of the trade winds, the wind blows around them more fiercely than out in normal seas. They block the wind in one part and then it is amplified as it goes around the corners. This channel is about 40 miles wide and the current can go any which way it likes, often strongly, and the wind is always up. So I was apprehensive about taking on the job, but I had to get to Maui, so I did it.
I left in the late afternoon in order to make the distance to the channel in the night and then at daybreak cross, but the first thing I noticed as I got out of the breakwater was that the waves were just about the worst I have ever seen. It wasn't as big as when I was coming in to Hilo, but this time I was trying to go against the waves and their rebound counterparts from the cliff shore, and the wind had also died down to nothing. I cranked on the “deathtrap” engine, but the waves kept my speed at very slow. Finally after a long time the wind gave me a boost to make the corner of Hilo Bay, and then I was in the trades again.
Everything was going well in the evening, except that as I approached midnight, the winds grew stronger, so I decided to roll in the Genoa and put up the little jib. Then I noticed that the Genoa was not about to be furled, as the furling line was caught around the bottom of the contraption, and I would have to go out to the end of the bowsprit to fix it. Now I had been feeling a bit old all day, since that morning I went surfing with a friend from here and landed on the reef. I had a big wound on my back and right next to my tailbone, making sitting up or working leaning over quite painful. In fact, everything was hurting. So I tied myself into a line and got my vise-grip pliers to hold up the sail while I worked under it, and swore quite a few times to the unsympathetic winds. The boat, of course was bucking around like an angry bear and I was getting thrown with it. Then the vise grips came off and when “plunk”, whereupon I learned some new words to yell.
When I was finally hoarse and the sail all tucked away, I took off the line and went to take a nap.
Its hard to sleep when the boat is underway and close to land, so I didn't get more than 10 winks in before the channel came alive with other boats all on collision course with me. That lasted until dawn and the winds were not awe inspiring, and the waves even were small. It was much worse just outside of Hilo. I was able to make good speed through the choke point of the channel. On approach to the corner of Maui the winds came up. The waves stayed nice and small, but the wind came up to 30, then 35 knots and might have hit 45 knots at the end. I had the nose of the boat nearly underwater with the force and I was flying along! Now I am in the “bay” of Maui and it is flat calm and nice. I'll go to Lahaina tomorrow.

So I wrote that  yesterday, and now I am in Lahaina.  It is very nice here, with calm seas and nice views of the hills and islands around.  This morning I went over to Molokini, a tiny island shaped like a crescent.  In that little bay is the clearest water I have ever seen.  I saw the bottom at 72 ft while on board, and I think the vis is something like 100 or more.  Super clear.  So I drove on in and looked for a place to anchor, but then looking at the other boats, I saw they were tieing to moorings that were under water.  So anchoring was probably "verboten".  I found a mooring, stopped the boat (mostly) and dove in to get down to it and attach a line, but a tourist boat came over and told me that someone was coming to take this one, I should leave.  I tried another, and then another boat came to shoo me away, and finally I got one over in the corner.  It is packed in there, with 20 tourism boats all over shouting at me.  I found out later that the custom is for private boats to go after 11am, and it was not that time.
Still, the water was beautiful, and I will have to go back.  In fact, I think I'll spend a night there. 
Because of the coral, there are a lot of off limits places here, I am trying to find out the rules, but it might take a little time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mauna Kea

I went up to the top of Mauna Kea yesterday. The air was very thin, since I was at 13,700 ft (about), and because my lungs have been adapted to not moving much at sea level, I could really feel it. Something was different, however, from the last time I was at that kind of height. Climbing Mt Shasta was more rewarding to feel the breath snatched from my nostrils, and the headache and pains were more earned, I felt. There is a road to Mauna Kea, so I caught a ride up to the top and it was quite easy, just step from the car and into the void. I did, of course, try to run about a bit, and noticed that the punishment ran faster than me. I felt loopy and dizzy and then headachy and tired. 
It is beautiful up there, but not quite as beautiful as Mt Shasta, since I worked for the view in California. The Telescopes are neat, and quite unguarded. We drove right up to them and parked alongside these very expensive machines. There wasn't anybody around, but I suppose they were all inside the domes sipping oxygen and snacking on light and numbers. We watched the sun set, dipping into the clouds like it dips into the sea, and then the full moon rose behind us. There is a weird squashing effect on the moon from high altitude. It was full but the bottom parts of it were squashed to make it look like it was a waning gibbous, the shape where it is more than half.
Back down at the 9,000 ft visitors center, they had telescopes set out to look at various stars and things, and I got a good look at Saturn. I had never seen Saturn's rings before, but there they are! Like two little ears listening in to the sun. We could also see the Southern Cross quite clearly as well as Polaris. Funny that you can see both at the same time, but the Southern Cross is not on the South Pole.
The climate changes on the way up were interesting to see. In Hilo it was raining and there is the typical wet lush palm trees and tropical things. A little higher the air was cooler and still very wet, like a cloud forest. There were these trees that I imagine as african savannah trees, where they spread out at the top and are flat. Soon those died away to the lava fields and scruby trees, short and twisted by the hellfire. Then as we moved up beyond the saddle and away from Mauna Loa, there wasn't any more lava flows but instead the cinder cones of Mauna Kea, and we were immersed in wide grasslands and some small copses of evergreens. I thought some were Douglas Fir because of the way the branches curved up, but I didn't get a close enough look to be sure.

 Above the grasslands there was less grass and more rock until it became all rock and pumice. Mauna Loa, I am sure, is not the same shifts because it is a shield volcano all the way up, so lava flows should cover all the slopes.

So now I am going to leave today and sail over to Maui.  I hope to arrive in two days or less, it is about 160 miles, but there is also a lot of wind shadows so I might not have a lot of speed.  This channel is also a challenging channel to navigate, so I am going to try to be as careful as I can. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

To Hawaii video

I made a video of the trip over.  its very long, I am sorry for that, but I couldn't help it.  

Big Island times

After nearly a week in Hilo, I have accomplished many things.  Firstly I patched the leak in the transom, so I hope to take on much less water on future passages, I also got the engine sealed up nice and tight, and the mainsheet is more strongly attached.  I broke it on the trip...
But most important, I went and walked around with my camera.  On June 1 I took the day to recreate and here are some pictures...
There are really nice people on the boats here, two of which are here:
 Then I walked around in this garden park, and the soft rain pattered overhead, with sunbreaks shining through here and there...

 I think the garden has a japanese theme to it.  It was very green, and there were lots of birds.  I don't know the species of Dove or finch, but they look nice.  I hear they aren't native...
There were ducks.  Where do ducks come from?  They can't fly here on their own, so the must have been brought.

 Here is a mongoose.  Maybe a relative of Rikki Tikki Tavi!

I went up to Volcano, hitching a ride with a man with a parrot on his shoulder...  Up at altitude the plants are different, and I saw this nice white flower and some different ferns...
 This looks like Kinninnik a little bit, but I don't know.  It can grow in the high sulfur areas near the volcano.

 There were steam vents, and the steam blowing in the wind was really pretty.  This path goes along the crater rim and in the far distance is the lava lake...

 When the lava comes down to the water it makes a beautiful coastline.