Monday, July 25, 2016

Living on Aloha Time

One of the first things Shana said to Mark and me, before Adrenaline was even tied up at the dock, was something like, "Do you guys want to leave right away?" Do we want to get out of Hawaii ASAP? Like, before the confused ocean seas calm down, before the winds shift in our favor, before we've gone over the boat with a fine toothed comb?

No way,  Brah. We're on Aloha Time!

As Tropical Storm Darby came ashore on Oahu today, the Sunday morning weather people advised everyone to "stay home and watch television." Fortunately, we've moved out of the hotel, and we're now living like locals in a converted garage apartment in Kailua. I walked through the neighborhood to the store yesterday, stopping at a multi-family yard sale at the end of the street. Local color just doesn't get any better than that.

If I were a local, I would be out at all the cool lookouts, watching the waves. So that's what we did.

 We drove south on the Kalanianaole Hwy toward Koko Head, wondering if the road would wash out, and if we would be able to see anything at all.

Rain cells have been pulsing through all day but we were lucky, and after the initial deluge, we got a break that lasted awhile.

On Aloha Time, things happen when they're supposed to.

Makapu'u Tidepools. Rabbit Island on left and Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary on the right.

Memorial to a lost surfer. There were warnings against surfing today, but we saw a few die hard surfers out there anyway.

There were a couple guys out there behind me, but they were usually buried under a wave.

Despite Mark's warning to not get too close, I put my toes into a tidepool. The water felt warm and silky. I'm dying to swim in the ocean. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. On Aloha Time.

Red flag day on Sandy Beach

When we got home to our apartment, I went out in the back yard to look at the lush greenery. I decided to hang out there for awhile and enjoy a glass of wine. About two seconds after I got inside to fetch my glass, it started to HELLA rain. 

So it was not meant to be. No, I was meant to hang out inside, watching television.

On aloha time.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Another check-off on the bucket List

This is Darby. Darby is a tropical storm approaching the Big Island to make landfall on the Big Island today with 60 mph winds and heavy rain. It's on track to pass over us here on Oahu tomorrow, Sunday. My first almost hurricane. Check. Don't need to get closer than this.

For Darby to become a Category 1 hurricane, the wind gusts would have to increase another 10-15 mph. That doesn't sound like much, does it?

Yesterday we met the finishers as they were escorted into the Kaneohe Yacht Club. When we got there, a group of winners were already Med-tied - stern in, that is - at the dock. Even after such a long and grueling race, the skippers and crews were busy ho sing down the boats, folding the sails, hanging up gear to dry. Just like any other race.

Can you imagine sailing to Hawaii in this boat?

This year's race has created at least one legend. Two guys, Mark and Ian, on Mas! a Moore 24 - yes, that's 24 feet - finished the race in 10 days, 14 1/2 hours to take First in Division, First in Group (Doublehanded) and First Overall. This is an amazing feat, and even more so because, well, Moore 24. One of the first ultralight downwind sled designs, its popularity is undiminished since its breakout in the 1970's. To understand the boat and its history, read You'll learn that this is in fact the second time a Moore 24 has gotten triple bullets in the Pac Cup.

We talked with the skipper, Mark, and helped him fold his sails. The jibs are built so that the bottom portion can be rolled up, making the sail smaller and the clew, the corner that controls the trim, higher. That makes the sail easily adjustable for a huge variety of conditions. You wouldn't really want to use those sails for regular inshore racing - sail shape and performance is somewhat compromised - but what a great feature for the ocean.

We hung around the yacht club all day, drinking MaiTais and cheering boats as they came in. Just about every boat had at least somebody aboard that we know, but the biggest thrills of the day were seeing Redhead, the Cal 40 that lives in the slip next to us at Richmond Yacht Club, tied up at the dock having finished during the night and taken 1st place in their division ...

... And greeting Tiki Blue, our neighbor across the dock ...

Gary is this year's Pacific Cup Yacht Club commodore, and a tireless promoter of this race. He almost had us signed up the race Wildcard this year, but we just weren't ready.

He loves to tell the stories ...

Gary's wife, Kelly, is one of many spouses out there who support sailors. Kelly was enjoying her stay at the Moana Surfrider, and was a little dismayed that the race ended so fast and she had to move to the crew house! "I was having a great time," she said.  

Of course the biggest event of the day for us was the arrival of Adrenaline! By that time I was having so much fun that I'd lost track of my phone, which is my main camera this trip (it was sitting on a table next to a near-empty pitcher of MaiTais), and besides it was low on battery. It figures.

Fortunately, there were other "Adrenaline Junkies" around including Vivienne, who captured the traditional arrival photo, with the crew in their Aloha shirts.
According to today's standings report, there are still about 24 boats out there, and they have slowed down in order to let the storm pass through before they get here. Reading their blogs which are sent to the Pac Cup website, they are reporting beautiful conditions and great attitudes, if not exactly high spirits, as they creep toward the islands. They're enjoying beautiful sunsets and starry nights as the full moon wanes.  

I suppose we'll have some spectacularly starry nights when we get out there.

Meanwhile, I've heard today from our Adrenaline skipper Shana (yes, a woman, she owns the boat) that at least some of the boats may need to anchor out to ride out the storm. Normally the boats could all be tied up together in a big raft-up inside the harbor, three rows deep, but not with sustained winds of 60 mph on the way.

As I finish writing this, the system has moved closer to us and we are getting intermittent heavy rains. Apparently the Pacific High, the high pressure system that usually lurks in the Pacific, has moved onto the mainland and you, all our friends back there, are roasting.

Mark and I just returned from a walk to the local market here in Kailua (we've moved into a garage apartment here) to get some ahi poke salad for dinner. Mark picked up a bug on the plane, so he is laying low trying to fight it off, and I am considering renting a bicycle.

I want to go to the famous Kailua Beach, which seems to always have blue sky above it, no matter what.

Thanks for reading, and remember: Aloha. It's a lifestyle.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

40 Years on the Bucket List

It's official. We have Pac Cup Fever.

We're signed on to deliver the Santa Cruz 50 Adrenalin home from Hawaii after the Pacific Cup race, which started in San Francisco and finishes in Kanehoe, on the island of Oahu. Doing a long passage in the Pacific has been a dream for 40 years.

The smaller, slower boats started first. On Thursday, July 13, we watched the start of Division D and cheered Adrenalin and the others as they sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and disappeared into the mist.

Since then, three named tropical depressions have developed out there, and the boats have seen really big winds and seas. The first boats are projected to finish today, possibly breaking a speed record set 12 years ago. (After I wrote that, the 100-foot super maxi yacht Rio finished, breaking the previous record by sailing 2400 miles to arrive here in an amazing 5 days and 2 hours!) Adrenalin is still a couple of days out.

Mark and I arrived on the island Tuesday. Even though Mark was born in California, he's never been to Hawaii. His only excuse was that he didn't want to go unless he sailed here. So, a couple of months after I signed onto Adrenaline's delivery crew, he decided to go too and here we are.

We spent our first night at the Marriott Courtyard in Waikiki which was full of really muscular, tattooed military guys. I must be growing up, or maybe going into my second childhood because I found this guy just as fascinating to look at ...

Mark tries to give him a piece of wing but it was too spicy.
This morning we walked around Waikiki, had a great breakfast at Lulu's overlooking the beach (fresh  papaya with lime!) and explored the two oldest and most historic hotels in town,  the Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian. Too bad they're surrounded by endless shopping. How many UGGS stores can they possibly need there, anyway?

If you ever get there, go and see the historic banyan tree in the courtyard at the Moana Surfrider. According to Wikipedia: "The Indian banyan tree was planted in 1904 by Jared Smith, Director of the Department of Agriculture Experiment Station. When planted, the tree was nearly seven feet tall and about seven years old. It now stands 75 feet high and spans 150 feet across the courtyard."

 Then there is also the mysterious murder of Jane Stanford, wife of California Governor Leland Stanford and co-founder with him of Stanford University. She died of strychnine poisoning at the hotel in 1905; the crime was never solved. Her room was demolished to enlarge the lobby, but perhaps she still visits, and occupies one of the rocking chairs ...

Yesterday afternoon we rented a car and made our escape to the quieter, windier North Shore. Our duffel bags (you just don't bring hard luggage on a boat!) are so heavy, full of sailing gear for the return, that we can barely lug them more than a few yards so it's a huge relief to have a car to leave them in.

We drove up through the middle of the island and reached the historic little town of Haleiwa via Hwy 99, where we stopped at one of the many food cart areas, mostly featuring shrimp. It was crowded with people, and most of the conversations I heard included not one single word of English. In all of our travels before, I've always noticed a sprinkling of English, especially among the children - not here.

Now we are checked into our Marriott Courtyard North Shore, drinking rum drinks with fresh pineapple that we bought at a roadside stand. Mark's Marriott points will be used up after this trip so we'll get to be more creative booking hotels from now on which I will enjoy. We're right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which I vaguely remember from the one other time I was here, in 1981. Not sure if we're going to make it inside, as it looks like a full day commitment and we want to greet some of the boats as they arrive. But maybe.

We'll be here for two nights, and then moving on to Kailua where we have rented a studio apartment for 4 nights. After that, we'll join the other members of the delivery crew, when they arrive next week, in a house in Kanehoe. So we have lots of time for adventures, but we also have lots of work ahead of us - provisioning the boat,  helping clean it up, and maintaining and fixing things. The race crew will need to catch up on sleep, and then of course there are parties!

But first, the boats have to get here, and tropical storm Darby is closing in on the Big Island, then moving north - into the path of the fleet. Things could get interesting.

More soon. Stay tuned. Till then, aloha.