|Grandma Sara and Hunter enjoy a warm shower|
|Alenuihaha channel-on a good day!|
|Glass of done after a long day's sail|
|Storymatic games at sea|
|SHAVE ICE SNOWMAN!|
|The Pioneer inn|
Sometimes it turns out to be something better than you could have imagined and you can take some credit for the planning, diligent forethought and keeping a tight ship…
but other times, things just get funky and you gotta accept it and take a look at what you can do differently next time.
The fact that there's coast guard on the VHF doesn't actually change your reality all that much.
Sailing is always a "game on" kind of thing…
and the Hawaiian islands are intense.
The winds howl and funnel through the channels between the islands, the seas build quickly,
reminding you that despite the daily flights from every stateside city in the US..
You ain't home yet, Bra.
This is sacred ground,
you feel it in all things and it's wise to be respectful of this place.
The winds are hefty, that volcano towering over you ( mauna Kea) is the highest mountain in the WORLD, when measured from its base, far below the sea. Pele wraps her fiery arms around all things here and where she touches the ground it is sharp as razors beneath your feet, the sharks are plentiful and apparently hungry these days ( Yikes! ), the waves pounding the Northern coastlines are some of the biggest in the world and the Banyan trees are ancient and so massive that an entire town can congregate under a single tree for the annual Lahaina pre-Christmas festivities.
Hawaii throbs with it.
While we waited for our wind, we absorbed the tranquil, healthiness of Hilo.
What's not to love about armloads of inexpensive orchids, incredible organic produce available everyday from the farmers market and a town choc-fulll of killer massage therapists?
(I think you totally have a free pass to indulge in some much needed bodywork after major ocean crossings :))
We did finally get served an eviction notice by the Hilo police - but they were way cool about it.
Honestly, we had tried to check in and be straight up about it but the guy who ran the Parks office had hurt his back and there wasn't anyone to replace him, so everyone just shrugged and told us not to worry.
When the cops finally did come out to the boat, they were super-nice and happy to hear we had had such a great time in Hilo.
We told them we were leaving the next day anyway and that was the end of that.
Lots of smiles and Alohas-no bad vibes at all.
We got a perfect weather window to shoot up the windward side of the Big Island and dropped our anchor in Nimishura cove for sunset and caught a few hours sleep before getting up in the dark to head across the dreaded Alenuihaha channel ( one of the roughest channels in the world).
The day we went, it was like crossing a mill pond.
We had a lovely sail, watched the Humpbacks breaching in the distance while Maui rose up to greet us from a gorgeous blue sea.
Ten hours later, we picked up a mooring from the Lahaina Yacht club in the open roadstead of the famous old seaport on Maui.
Like all historic towns in beautiful locations, its been been totally overrun with touristy-kitch but we were lucky to arrive at the very moment of the local pre-Christmas celebrations, where they light the giant banyan tree in the center of town and the local kids have their pictures taken in front of a "real" snowman made out of shaved ice and the King Kamehameha schoolchildren preform Hula dances and gourd dances and the high school band plays christmas songs.
It was beautiful and fun and there were tons of amazing artists and street performers doing their thing and for at least this one night, Lahaina was mostly for the locals and it was great to see it this way.
A million years ago, in some other life of mine, I had come to Lahiana and stayed at the historic Pioneer Inn with some movie producers and the author, Tom Robbins, who used the inn as the inspiration for one of his books, 'Still LIfe with Woodpecker"...at the time, I thought that was just the most magical thing ever, to be sitting with one of my favorite authors, and talking about maybe doing a movie, in the actual setting where this book that I had always adored actually took place...
Well, they never did make that movie, and I never got to be in it...but to be arriving here now, on this festive night, twenty five years later, with my wonderful family in tow and having just sailed here from French Polynesia- well, it all seemed pretty darn magical once again.
Over the past few years we've heard lot about how much Hawaii sucks for cruisers but i kind of think its like anything... its all what you put out there.
Everyone we've met has been great..
One of the things we learned on our adventures was to just put yourself out there.
Smile, let people know you love their country/home/island, ask permission, be cool about things;
Like see if its okay to dump your trash in the can where all the fisherman are hanging out, before you just do it. Ask them what they're catching, whats the tastiest fish out here,
if they don't seem warm right away-it might be because they're a little shy and sometimes shy comes off as tough, but in our experience, if you ask where to get a good loco-moco, make fun of yourself whenever possible and smile a lot… you're in.
It also helps to have cute kids.
The Harbormaster in Lahaina was super nice and offered to do our boat inspection before we get to Honolulu, so it would be easier for us once we got there.
He called ahead and checked things out at the Ala Wai marina and let them know we would be coming in the next week...
In Lahaina we had picked up a mooring from the local yacht club- which was the recommendation in the cruising guide. They have several available for transient cruisers and they're also free, so what the heck.... it felt really weird to be on someone else's lines and normally we would check them first by diving them but when we were checking in a local told us to watch it, as he had dove another mooring out in the field the day before and was chased out of the water by a large and aggressive Galapagoes shark and just two days before that some spear fisherman had been chased out of the water by another large shark.
That solved the mystery of why NO ONE was surfing the nice little wave happening in front of the pier so we opted to just ask the Yacht club if mooring number three was in good shape and they assured us it had been checked within the past six months and everything was spanky, we pulled the mooring up and were happy to see it was on a massive braid of new looking rope, so we decided to leave it at that.
We took advantage of the hospitality of the yacht club to visiting cruisers ( we don't belong to any kind of reciprocal club ourselves) and had hot showers and at their super lovely clubhouse and ate amazing food for a great deal and drank one too many Mai Tais-in my case that is TWO...and had a great night, chatting with friendly locals and swapping fish tales, with the tour boat captains who inhabit the bar.
A few times during the evening I had told Jon I was weirded out about the mooring, and I kept looking out at Pura Vida, which I could see from the deck of the club but it was so calm and the secretary at the yacht club assured us, it was good, and we knew our lines were in great shape- so I let it go.
Remember that thing I wrote about intuition, before?
The one where it ALWAYS seems to tell me somethings gonna happen before it does?
Had we been in the middle of nowhere, I would have been on high alert and paid attention to my little alarm bell-especially as it had gone off more than once that day but hey, I was back in the safety net of civilization-ordering a second Mai Tai and congratulating ourselves on our amazingness.
The whole evening was a blast and we all piled into the dink, stuffed and a me little buzzed ( we were safely on a mooring after all and the winds were light, so why not relax and party a little?) and fell into our bunks, with smiles all around.
A few hours later (2am) Jon and I woke up at the same time but everything was calm and the stars were shining down on us through our hatch.
We lay there talking about the plans for the next day and wondering if we should try to fuel up at the dock early or wait until the ferry traffic had died down later on.
Suddenly, there was a weird scratching noise and a thump,
"the dink must've gotten snagged under the swim ladder..." Jon said.
Then there was another huge BANG! and Pura Vida shuddered.
We were both on deck in a flash.
Looking around, at the perfectly calm night, it took a second for us to realize what was going on.
There were waves lapping around us....
Pura Vida smashed again and tilted to her side...
We were on the ROCKS!'
and that was SURF breaking around us!
There was no time to figure out what had happened or why.
Jon jumped for the flashlight and quickly made his way around the deck, shining light in the water,
sussing out where we could go.
Kai kicked on the instruments while Jon fired up the engine and then tried to ease her forward… No dice. All she did was spin her bow toward the shore. We were high centered on the rocks! Another wave lifted us and dropped our keel on the bottom again.
Pura Vida shuddered and groaned, the depth meter said THREE FEET!
Kai ran forward to keep and eye out on the bow and thankfully grandma Sara and Hunter remained calm and quiet below.
Jon smartly waited for the next wave to lift us again and then gave us a burst of reverse that spun us the other way. As the wave dipped we heeled way over and jerked loose. Another burst of forward got us out and away from the rocks.
With Kai and I on the foredeck with the flashlight Jon carefully guided our beloved boat and her crew back out through the break and into deeper water.
"Honey, you drive while I check the bilges...." Jon said in an amazingly relaxed (sounding) voice.
He went below to check it out and we didn't seem to be taking on water but everyone held their breath for the next hour waiting to see if something would start flooding in.
Pura Vida is a heavy bottom girl with a rugged old-school fin-keel, so our hope was that the damage wasn't too bad as we headed out to deeper water to find another mooring.
I know that seems ridiculous but there isn't much holding here (thin layer of sand over coral) and the moorings are supposedly safer!
I noticed we were trailing part of the old mooring line and closer inspection revealed that the we not only had the entire hauser line and its float but the thicker line that attached it to the shackle beneath bouy looked like the thimble had rotted through and cut the line.
So much for recently inspected moorings.
Two years, 15,000 miles, anchor in all kinds of crazy situations in all kinds of weather and this is the first time our bottom has touched the ground.
Honestly, we should have checked the mooring line more closely than our basic inspection-no matter what the reported condition, and we know enough about sharks that it really wasn't a factor…
We just got a little off our guard,
and we paid the price!
We were lucky because it could have been way worse.
We were lucky because it could have been way worse.
It's not a mistake we will make twice.
We dove Pura Vida when the sun came up.
Our tough old girl suffered some deep scrapes and took a fist-size chunk out of one corner of her rudder.
It's not good…
but we're still floating,
and accepting the unexpected.