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FIRE on the beach – Christmas Tree Burning

**UPDATE: I have received a message from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources explaining that fires of any type on the sandbar are illegal. In addition, the message states that most of the trees are shipped in from the mainland and they have pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Please look at the full response from DLNR in the comments on this blog to understand the extent of law concerning this event.**

Once a year, in January, on an evening when the tide gets particularly low, an unofficial event takes place at The Sandbar in Kaneoha Bay. Quite by accident we were able to witness this event because we had decided to anchor at the sandbar and enjoy a quiet evening or two on the hook.

Saturdays are often crowded at this local hangout, but this time there were quite a few boats and people making the trek to the edges of the shallows.

Walking to the burn site as the tide continues to fall.

Well, it turns out that every year, after Christmas, an underground communication takes place and discarded Christmas trees are gathered for a huge bonfire. I don’t know how many years this has taken place, but the news travels quickly and quietly. Friends, families neighbors and pets gather early in the day and play in the water until dusk begins to settle and the tide has rolled most of the water off of the sand.

Tommy and Frank stake claim to their “islands.” Apparently Frank needs more land than Tommy.

It is in the twilight, just before dusk truly begins that one or two pontoon boats, piled high with discarded Christmas trees, arrives at the sandbar. With jovial hellos, folks grab the trees and one by one carry them to a dry spot on the sandbar. Volunteers toss the trees haphazardly in a pile, as others form a loose circle around the trees.

Circling the trees before the lighting.

As we approached the the pile and saw groups of people were gathering in the circle, Dr. Seuss’ song, “Welcome Christmas” which the Who people sing on Christmas morning, was playing in my head as I watched the smiling people. (The lyrics are quite nice if you take a listen.)

Can you see TTR way in the background far from any possible ashes?

One minute before the lighting of the tree, a single Roman Candle firecracker was shot into the air.

Sending up the one minute warning firecracker.

One quick flame to the tree pile sparked a huge bonfire. It literally took only moments for the trees to become a heatwave of fire. The speed of the combustion made me realize how Christmas tree fires cause such destruction in homes!

The trees have been lit!
Just minutes after the trees were set on fire.

In this contained and safe environment, the fire was beautiful and enchanting as it danced and devoured the branches. Though we were standing in only ankle deep water, the night air was chilly and the blaze dispersed warmth and light that were welcome.

The fire was itself was pretty and created beautiful reflections on the water.

I was truly amazed by how quickly the fire burned through the trees! I would estimate that an hour after the fire started, the majority of the trees were gone. The remaining debris was washed away as the tide rose and today there is no evidence that the secret burning ever occurred.

Flames created controversy.

In the days after the tree burning, there were complaints on-line about the event as some believe the fire creates mess and debris in the water. For myself, I thought the event was very safe and I saw no mess created. We walked the sandbar the next day and found no trace of the trees. Plus, if any branches do drift off, they are natural and can decompose in the water.

What does surprise me is that people were complaining about the mess of the Christmas Tree burning while not complaining about the mess created by the fireworks set off on New Year’s Eve. I posted a video of midnight fireworks in Kaneohe Bay which were beautiful and more abundant than I have ever seen! I absolutely cannot imagine all the bits of trash left on the streets from that event!

But everyone has his own “hot” button. (See what I did there? hehe) I’m a visitor in Hawaii and we are simply fortunate to see both the New Year’s celebratory fireworks and the Christmas Tree burn.

FYI, those of us on TTR tried to keep a 6′ distance from the others on the sandbar. Even though we were outside and standing upwind most of the time, we did our best to keep distances. We also had our face masks with us if needed.

Thank you for visiting our blog. We hope 2021 has begun in a positive way for all of you. If you have comments or questions, we would love to hear from you. Be sure to visit us on Instagram or Facebook if you want to hear from us more often.

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou ~ Happy New Year!

Well things on Ticket to Ride are unusually quiet and we don’t see that changing even after we ring in the New Year.

Thanks to COVID, this is the first time in 29 years that we have not spent Christmas with our kids. Well, there was one year when Hunter was in Spain, but Clayton was with us on Let It Be in Florida…. that’s a pretty amazing record that I was sorry to see broken. But, as stated earlier, we think staying home was the wiser decision.

TTR resting comfortably at the beautiful Kaneohe Yacht Club.

Once again we are enjoying the delightful hospitality of the Kaneohe Yacht Club. We have taken advantage of the dock time with spa days for Ticket to Ride, or as Frank calls it, “boat love” days. This includes cleaning up stainless steel, waxing the topsides, which is all of the outdoor white surfaces that are smooth and not non-skid. Well, I guess this is just our equivalent of spring cleaning. But TTR is looking quite sparkly and fresh.

Nighttime view while docked at KYC.

Soon after the new year, we will sail to Maui to see the whales that come each winter. We want to explore Maui and perhaps Lanai for a few weeks, assuming the weather cooperates. The sail to Maui is upwind, but at least we won’t be avoiding a hurricane like we were the last time we made that trip!

We are also thinking about sailing to the Big Island and taking a look at the recently active Kilauea Volcano in Volcanoes National Park.

Kilauea Volcano, image from volcanodiscovery.com site.

Halema’uma’u crater, part of Kilauea, erupted on December 21st. Apparently there was interaction between a pool of water inside the crater and a new lava flow which caused a huge steam cloud to shoot up 30,000 feet for about an hour. Later it was reported that lava was shooting up about 165 feet inside Halema’uma’u Crater and the water had been replaced by a lava pool. About an hour after the eruption, a 4.4 earthquake was felt by some people on the the Big Island, although no damage was reported.

So we hope to go visit Volcanoes National Park if the air quality is good enough. It should be interesting to see if we can get anywhere close to the site. My guess is that the web cams are better than trying to actually go to Kilauea, but we haven’t explored the Big Island, so it might be an adventure.

Wow, just when we think 2020 is heading into the rearview mirror, Halema’uma’u crater begins rumbling so we see yet another phenomenon occurring nearby. Everyone is saying we look forward to having 2020 in hindsight…. I hope we don’t look back at 2020 and think it was an easy year!! (Ohhh, no, get that pessimist off this blog post!!)

It is almost impossible to believe that in March we sailed to Hawaii instead of French Polynesia and that we were thinking we would be here for a couple of weeks until this “little issue” of COVID was contained!

TTR anchored off the Revillagigedo Islands, MX before sailing to Hawaii.

Looking back it is interesting to see how few nautical miles we have accumulated in 2020 compared to how many miles we traveled in 2019 even though we crossed the Pacific Ocean in 2020. I estimate that in 2019 we logged about 7,500 miles in California and Mexico. In 2020, our Pacific crossing was about 2,300 nm, yet we have only logged a total of about 4,000 miles this year in Mexico and Hawaii.

Ironically, we never even considered Hawaii as a cruising ground and now it is the longest we have stayed in any one place. Although technically it is a group of islands rather than just one place.

We certainly hope that 2021 will allow us to better accomplish our longer term travel goals!

Our current plan is to hang around Hawaii until we are able to have a COVID vaccine and we are free to travel internationally. We truly hope we will have the “all clear” by April. If we are really lucky we will even have the opportunity to apply for and receive another Long Stay Visa for French Polynesia before we leave Hawaii. That very desirable LSV is obtained from the French Embassies which are currently closed. But we remain hopeful!

Just another beautiful sight while driving in Hawaii

As we say goodbye to 2020, we remain thankful that we have the opportunity to enjoy Hawaii, see many pretty places, meet a myriad of wonderful people and remain healthy. We can hope that the worldwide forced isolation has created in us a little more appreciation for our fellow man. And maybe we have a glimpse into some changes we can make to help restore our planet.

As we welcome 2021, we are hopeful that the we really are overcoming COVID-19 and that healing from this pandemic has begun all around the world.

From Ticket to Ride, we wish each of you a healthy, healing and happy 2021.

Finally! Lē’ahí State Park is Open ~ Diamond Head Here We Come.

In response to COVID, Hawaii shut down or restricted access to many State Parks. The iconic Diamond Head State Park has been closed since late March – the whole time we have been in Hawaii.

The Hawaiian name for the crater is Lē’ahí but the common moniker of Diamond Head dates back to the late 1700’s when Western explorers mistook the calcite crystals in the rocky slopes for diamonds.

This panoramic sort of captures the circumference of Diamond Head .

On Thursday, December 17th, I saw that the park was reopened and the very next day Frank and I went to hike this famous landmark…. no moss growing under these feet! Plus we wanted to go immediately just in case Diamond Head is closed again.

Geologists believe Lē’ahi was created in a brief, single eruption about 300,000 years ago. The crater is wider than it is tall and includes about 350 acres. 

This view shows the large area the crater encompasses.

The extraordinary view from Diamond Head’s summit makes it the perfect place for coastal defense of Oahu. The Federal government bought Diamond Head in 1904 for this purpose. In 1908 construction was begun for the Kapahulu Tunnel through the north wall of the crater as was construction of gun emplacements.  Four artillery batteries were built at Diamond Head between 1910 and 1916 and a fifth was built in 1943. Long range guns were installed along the outer walls of the crater, but no guns have ever been fired from Diamond Head during a war.

From the summit, one could see enemy planes and ships a long way off!

The hike to the summit was shorter than I thought it would be; less than one mile from the start to the top of the crater, and it took us to an elevation of 761 feet. That certainly isn’t like hiking a fourteener mountain, but the the top was high enough to allow us to see much of Oahu and the Pacific Ocean.

That first Bay of Waikiki is where we anchored TTR for a few days.

Looking toward “town” we could see boats anchored off Waikiki Beach where we had been anchored just a couple of weeks ago. When anchored off Waikiki Beach we had a unique view of looking at the skyline from the water. Now we could see that gorgeous blue water from Diamond Head.

The park had strict rules about wearing a mask even though we were outside hiking. The trail was more crowded than I expected it to be, but compared to pictures of the trail in non-covid times, there was no one there. I thought the sheer number of visitors was the reason for the mask mandate until we arrived at the tunnel.

Image credit Wikimedia and linuxhacker.ru

As you can see from the picture above, the tunnel is quite narrow . The tunnel is so narrow that it is necessary to turn sideways to pass anyone. The passage is less well lit than this picture portrays or perhaps it just feels darker when entering from bright daylight. Regardless of the lighting, this narrow throughway is probably why everyone was required to wear a mask!

The hiking surface to the summit of Diamond Head is combination of old lava flow, concrete paths, concrete steps and a tunnel. This isn’t a difficult walk, but it is an interesting one and the views are worth the time and effort.

My pictures failed to convey the perfect circle of the Diamond Head crater, but Tim (#kitesurfingspud) posted an amazing picture he took of the crater the same day we were there hiking it. When I reached out to Tim, he very graciously allowed me to use his picture so you can see what a truly spectacular formation Diamond Head is. Thank you, Tim!!!

Tim’s image allows you to see the complete circle of the Diamond Head Crater.

If the Instagram name #kitesurfingspud seems familiar, it might be because Tim is the person who captured the awesome footage of TTR sailing in Kaneohe Bay! Check out his Instagram as Tim has an excellent eye and his photos are stunning!

Diamond Head Lighthouse – favored sight of TransPac Racers a.k.a. the finish line.

From the summit we were able to see the Diamond Head Lighthouse. It is so hard to believe that we toured that lighthouse back in June! When we set sail for Hawaii from Mexico in March 2020, we never expected we would be in Hawaii 9 months later. But we are very lucky to be where we are and we know there is much more of Hawaii for us to explore. We are surprised, but we have not complaints and we are very grateful for the new friends here who have made us feel so welcome.

As always, thanks for stopping by to read our blog! Your comments are always welcome. We wish you a Mele Kelikimaka (Merry Christmas) and we pray you have a happy and healthy 2021!

Kauai By Sea, By Land and By Air ~ Part III

***Warning: This blog has a lot of pictures!

This final post about our sea, land and air travel in Kauai is about our helicopter tour. I had never been in a helicopter and I was a little nervous at first, but our pilot, Russel, was excellent. When I told Russel I was nervous, he assured me we were out for a tour and not an amusement park ride, which allayed my fears completely. True to his word, the flight was smooth and I could relax and enjoy the bird’s eye views.

Frank kind of looks like a pilot, don’t you think?

This was Frank’s third time in a helicopter, including when he was able to fly with our son Hunter as the pilot, so he is an old pro! Frank also gets credit for many of the photos from our tour as I was fighting my hair for much of the trip. Although I had my hair in a ponytail, the elastic band kept slipping out and I spent my time holding my hair and replacing the pony. Tip to others – wear TWO elastics in your hair as it is windy!!

Hair aside, we had a great flight! We chose the no doors option so our views were completely uninhibited by glass or door frames. Russell told us that in non-COVID times, Mauna Lau Helicopters fly 7 or 8 tours per day and that there are usually 15 to 20 helicopter tours flying at all times. Russell said some days there were so many copters up that it was like a dogfight! The day we flew, we were Russell’s only flight that day and one of only two that week! Quite the opposite of a dogfight and we were very fortunate to have the skies to ourselves.

We took off around 11 am from the southeastern part of Kauai near the airport and during our one hour flight we saw many of our land and sea spots from the air. In addition to seeing places from a different perspective, we flew over land that is inaccessible any other way.

Just after take off – you can see the fertile land.

As we flew, we saw dramatic landscapes that were sometimes sheer faced and variegated with plants and rocks then altered to hillsides with plants and flowers. Some areas were dry and desert-like while others overflowed with waterfalls, but each offered a unique beauty of its own.

A lovely look along the coastline of Kauai.

Our day began with a few clouds but for the most part visibility was very good and we could see a long way as is evidenced by this shot looking down the Nā Pali Coast. We did encounter some clouds and rain over the peaks but the change in weather made me feel like we had a chance to see yet another aspect of Kauai’s many faces.

One really cool thing we saw was Open Ceiling Cave from above! You may remember from this post that we explored the Open Ceiling Cave in our dinghy, so we saw it looking up into the opening. Our helicopter tour allowed us to see that cave from the air through the hole in the ceiling and into the water!

Open Ceiling Cave from above!

When we made our hike to the Alakai Swamp Trail, the rain prevented us from seeing Hanalei Bay but on our helicopter tour, the rain cleared and we were able to get the view from above that we missed when on foot. While anchored in Hanalei Bay, we appreciated the beauty of the bay, but seeing Hanalei from the air showed how absolutely stunning it is as a whole!!!

Can you see TTR floating in gorgeous Hanalei Bay?

Remember in Part I of this series when we hiked along the Kalalau Trail and ended up at that fresh water river that exited onto a white sand beach and into the Pacific Ocean? Well here is an aerial photo of that lovely beach!

The left side of that beach is where the river escapes across sand to the ocean.

Lastly I want to share this picture taken on our helicopter tour because I think the face of the coast on Kauai is so compelling. In this last photo you see a richly green hillside over a tall cave that opens directly into the Pacific Ocean. If you look closely, the water is clear enough for you to see rocks in the sand floor of the ocean. Doesn’t this make you want to grab your mask and fins and explore?

I so want to snorkel near this cave!

The sixty minute flight went by in a daze of extraordinary views. Initially nervous about the flight, I was really sad to see it end! We thoroughly enjoyed the helicopter tour and highly recommend it if you have the time and inclination. Seeing Kauai from the sky was a very interesting way to cover a lot of land in one hour and this was definitely icing on the cake for getting a complete view of this island.

The helicopter tour was a great way to see Kauai from a distance and quickly, but she is a stunning place and if you have the opportunity, be sure to explore on foot and by boat. Kauai is definitely worth the effort!

There isn’t a lot of unique information in this post, but Kauai is very special to us after spending so much time there and meeting so many wonderful, welcoming people. We wanted to make sure we have a good journal of our time in Kauai and we hope you enjoyed the photos.

As always, thank you for reading our blog. If you want to hear from us more often, please visit on Instagram or on our FB page. We hope you are staying well and sane during these interesting COVID times. All the best from TTR.

Kauai By Sea, By Land and By Air ~ Part II

The drive from Hanalei Bay to Waimea State Park was about 2.5 hours but we had heard so much about the Waimea Canyon that we really wanted to make the trip.

Fortunately our friends, Katie and Kevin, invited us to have dinner and stay the night with them at their beautiful home on the west side of Kauai. Not only did we get to spend time with these fun people and enjoy Katie’s fabulous cooking, we were able to hike the Waimea Canyon two days in a row!

As you know from Kauai By Sea, By Land and By Air ~ Part I, our hike along the Kalalau Trail was stunningly beautiful. Our next adventure was on the western side of Kauai in the Waimea State Park.

Looking down Waimea Canyon.

Waimea State Park includes the Waimea Canyon which is sometimes referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Although this quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, others say the moniker became popularized by John Wesley Powell, an American explorer, who visited Kauai in 1869.

I don’t know who dubbed Waimea the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, but the name is certainly apropos.

The shadow of the clouds and the various color were pretty dramatic.

Waimea Canyon State Park encompasses 1866 acres of land and the canyon itself is 1 mile wide, 10 miles long and is 3000-3500 feet deep. I have seen a list of over 25 hiking trails within Waimea State Park and the adjacent Kokee State Park, so we had quite a selection for our two days.

For our first hike, we chose the Kukui Trail, a trail that traverses the side of the canyon and descends about 2000 feet. The drive time to the Canyon caused us to begin a bit late in the morning on this trail that is listed as “difficult.”

This drone photo gives you a sense of the walk.

I wasn’t feeling great that day so we only walked about 1.5 miles, then turned and hiked back up to the top of the trail. The Canyon trail felt completely different from our hike on the Kalalau Trail. The Canyon was much warmer and instead of lush greenery and water, the Waimea Canyon looks like parts of the southwest areas of the Mainland.

Although we only walked 1.5 miles out instead of the whole 5 miles round trip, we saw a good sampling of this trail and had some excellent views.

The Waimea River meandering through the bottom of the Canyon.

Once we reached the top of the trail again, Frank flew his drone and captured a few pictures from above so we could see what we had missed by not walking all the way to the bottom of the canyon.

As you drive up state road 550 to Waimea and Kokee State Parks, there are three official lookouts and a few others. These stops offer pretty views for those who don’t want to actually hike. Since I had called off our hike early, we drove the remainder of SH550 and stopped several times to look around.

Ok, there may be more water here than in the Southwest deserts.

Once again we found ourselves in a unique situation due to COVID 19.  We stopped at three overlook parking areas that had elevated viewing platforms and public restrooms.  We only saw one car at all of these stops! It was surreal and felt almost apocalyptic though it was also serendipitous to have these views to ourselves because the lack of noise added to the serenity.

Waimea means “red waters” in Hawaiian and is the name given to the River at the bottom of the canyon because the water has a red hue caused by the breakdown of the red soil through which the water passes.

The contrast between the red earth and the water was beautiful.

After spending an excellent evening with Katie and Kevin, we headed back toward the Canyon. This time we sought a different type of trail and chose the Alakai Swamp Trail in Kokee State Park. The Alakai Swamp trail is 7 miles round trip and, although listed as difficult, we didn’t think it was terribly hard. There are parts of the trail that require you to climb up/down a sort of sandstone type of rock hill but there are reasonable footholds and the trail is well delineated.

The view at the beginning of the Alakai Swamp Trail.

Luckily I felt well again and we had a great time on this hike. The terrain changed often and we walked on sloping rock, soft ground, raised walkways, dilapidated wood steps, across a stream and up and down sandstone rock hills!

Packed dirt and rocks.
A clear trail with trees for shade.
Climbing down sandstone like rocks.

The Alakai Swamp is fed by water from Mount Waialeale. Mount Waialeale is one of the wettest places on earth and averages 450 inches of rainfall per year. The rainwater drains off of Mount Waialeale into a plateau where the water collects and forms the Alakai Swamp. I read that the Alakai Swamp is the world’s highest rainforest and swampland, though I have been unable to verify that statement.

Kahili Ginger grows wild here.

The “swamp” was nothing like the swamps of Frank’s childhood in Louisiana! We didn’t see one alligator and we certainly couldn’t take a pirogue through it as there was comparatively little moisture in the mud and no river anywhere. Of course we knew this would not be the same kind of swamp.

The raised boardwalk through the “swamp.”

Prior to 1991 when Hawaii began the installation of a raised boardwalk, hikers sloshed through the muddy swamp to get to the Kilohana Lookout at the end of this trail. Realizing the negative impact of so much traffic on the plants and shrubs, the State added the boardwalk and significantly reduced the impact of hikers. The boardwalk is raised and 12 inches wide while the previous walking trail had become as wide as 30 feet in places.

According to the University of Hawaii, Alakai means “one-file trail” and adding the boardwalk makes it a single file track again.

You can see that this area was dry but other potions were quite boggy.

The Alakai Swamp Trail ends at an overlook where Hanalei Bay can be seen on a clear day. We were hoping to see Ticket to Ride floating in the bay from that vantage point but the clouds rolled in and a light mist began just before we reached the furthest point. We didn’t have enough visibility to see the Bay.

Remnants of plank steps along the Alakai Trail.

So we turned around and began the walk back toward the parking area. About half a mile into our return, we were far enough from the coast that the sky cleared and the mist disappeared.

We ate a snack sitting beside this pretty stream..

Of the two hikes, I preferred the Alakai Swamp Trail. I think there is greater variety on the Swamp Trail from what you walk on to what you see. I liked the variety of foliage, the movement from clear areas to shaded ones and the undulating trail. I think the Alakai was easier than the Kukui Trail where we were always walking down on the way out and always trekking up on the way back. Others will surely prefer the vastness and grandeur of the Kukui Trail.

Gratuitous picture of another part of the Alakai Trail.

Thank you for stopping to read our blog. I hope seeing these pictures of Kauai brings you joy and reminds you of the goodness and beauty of our world. If you want to hear from us more often, please see our Facebook page or follow us on Instagram.  Stay well and be kind.

Kauai By Sea, By Land And By Air ~ Part 1

We have had the pleasure of staying in Kauai for several weeks during the end of summer when the weather is perfect for exploring. The days are warm with a mixture of sunny and rainy days which makes for a nice variety. The nights are cool enough to be comfortable while sleeping without even considering the need for an air conditioner.

Combine great weather with the beauty of this island and the almost non-existent COVID cases here and we have to admit that we fell into a very fortunate situation!

Those who know us will not be surprised to learn that we have managed to stay busy and we have explored a bit of the island. Although we have only anchored in Hanalei Bay, we have taken TTR down the Nā Pali Coast a couple of times to view her beauty from the water.  We have also taken several hikes in different areas of the island. And we took a helicopter tour of Kauai! So indeed, we have explored by land, by sea and by air!

Initially I was going to cover all of our hikes, sails and helicopter tour in one post, but there are so many great pictures that I am spreading the information over several posts.

Let me begin by sharing just two photos from our sailing trip down the Nā Pali Coast since I have already written about that.

Looking west along the Nā Pali Coast.

From a sailor’s perspective, Kauai looks magical and difficult. I could imagine how fertile the land is in places and how available fresh water is from all of the waterfalls. Yet the sheer wall faces and uneven terrain look like it would be difficult to walk or settle the area.

A small waterfall near the ocean.

However, one of the most beautiful hikes we have ever taken, the Kalalau Trail, traverses this Nā Pali coastline for 11 miles. The complete hike covers five valleys, takes a full day and requires a park pass. However, the first two miles of the trail end at the Hanakāpī’ai Stream and park signs estimate walking to the stream takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

The beginning of the Kalalau Trail.

We were definitely up for the hike to the stream and set off at a snails pace since the scenery and fauna were captivating… and I had to try to get some decent pictures.

Most of the trail was shaded and easy to walk.

The trail was originally built in the 1800s to connect Hawaiians living in remote regions of Kauai and the beginning portions of the trail were restructured in the 1930s to accommodate horses and cattle.

Looking east back toward Kē’ē Beach where we started the hike.

 Once the restructured portion of the trail ends, the remainder of the hike is a narrow, natural trail that weaves up, down and around. It can be very muddy and slippery, but fortunately we caught a dry day and the “conditions were perfect.”

Clearly these ferns thrive in the damp environment.

The views changed constantly as the plant species include indigenous and imported varieties. Combine the varied plants with a trail that weaves toward and away from the cliffs along the ocean and we were rewarded with visions that changed from land to ocean.

Looking west along the Nā Pali shoreline.

My Eagle Scout is always well prepared so we had plenty of water but we forgot to bring any food. However, Mother Nature provided an abundance of ripe guava along the trail and we ate a few of these to satisfy our hunger.

Frank breaks open a guava…doesn’t get much fresher!

These roots reminded me of hula skirts.

A perfect day for hiking and photographs.

Even though the trail was mostly shaded, after walking a couple of hours, we were a bit hot. Luckily for us, the end of this portion of the trail stops at the fresh water Hanakāpī’ai Stream. The stream tumbles around time worn boulders and ends right on the white sand beach where it meanders into the Pacific Ocean.

The fresh water stream winds downward to the beach.

Of course we took a dip in the pools formed at the end of the stream and watched the ocean waves crash against the cliffs and sand while we sat in the quiet water of the river.

Sitting in the rock edged pool at the mouth of the Hanakāpī’ai Stream.

If we had any doubt that the water was fresh water, the numerous tadpoles put our minds at rest.

No signs of transformation on this tadpole.

The last river pool and the path the escaping fresh water takes to the right.

The stream made a very definite path through the sand beach, flowing to the right, heading slightly downhill, then turning left until the tide crossed the sand and the two bodies of water met in the middle of the beach.

You can see the stream flow to the right and in the distance cross left to join the ocean.

We must have spent about an hour exploring the beach and wading in the stream. There were even a couple of caves along the beach that we looked into.  It was a very refreshing change to be in fresh water and not feel sticky from salt as our skin and clothing dried on the walk back.

In non-COVID times, this walk is extremely crowded and is one of the most popular hikes in Hawaii. How popular is the hike? Well the Hā’ena State Park limits their day use permits to 900 per day!!!  Furthermore, the site says the passes sell out quickly.

A helicopter view of Hanakāpī’ai Beach with an arrow pointing to the river on the beach.

I counted the number of people we encountered during our day. All told we saw fewer than 30 people on the hike, in the stream, on the beach and in the ocean.

Needless to say, we experienced the Kalalau Trail in a way few modern travelers have or will.

 

 

 

Turning Back The Years ~ Frogs On Board

Suppose you sailed to Maui to find a safe haven during the coronavirus and realized that four people you knew from college lived on Maui. Suppose the number of COVID cases in Maui was a total of six on the whole island. Suppose the restrictions for gatherings had been lifted and the restrictions for inter-island travel had been lifted.

Would you invite those friends to spend a week with you sailing around some of the Hawaiian Islands? Well, that is exactly what we did last week.

Dave, Dave and Frank were fraternity brothers in college.

Dave, Gloria, Dave and Nikki agreed to pack a few clothes and hop on TTR at Mala Wharf in Lahina. We upped anchor around 10:00 a.m. and initially motor sailed toward Lanai because the wind was very light. Once we turned along the southern side of Lania, we had a bit of wind and finished with a downwind sail to Shark Fin Cove.

Star 1: Mala Wharf. Star 2: Shark Fin Cove. Star 3: Honolua Bay.

Fortunately Frank had the coordinates for a mooring ball at the cove and after a bit of hunting, we spotted the ball and were able to secure Ticket to Ride in a lovely place. Although the area doesn’t look protected, there was a rock outcropping to protect the boat from swells. Plus the weather was very mild.

Shark Fin silhouetted in the sunset.

Shark Fin is a rock that protrudes from the ocean and looks like a shark’s fin. It is an excellent place to snorkel with an interesting rock formation underwater that attracts marine life. Some of us swam from TTR to Shark Fin to get in some exercise as well as check out the fish. Others took the dinghy over to Shark Fin and snorkeled from it.

Crystal clear water with sea caves in the far corner.

We spent two nights at Shark Fin Cove. TTR was moored in about 30 feet of extremely clear water and the fish were so plentiful it was like floating in an aquarium! There was a small sea cave within swimming distance and several rocks that made snorkeling entertaining as well as refreshing. Early mornings were calm enough to explore on the stand up paddle boards.

Coffee in hand, Frank waits to tie TTR to the mooring ball.

Cruisers know that sometimes there are maintenance items that require a quick off-shore motor to clear tanks. This is a picture of Frank enjoying morning java as he waits for us to return in TTR so he can retie us to the mooring ball. Not a bad way to while away some time.

Shark Fin Cove was pretty isolated and we only saw one sailboat that appeared to be doing some day snorkeling tours and one fishing boat. Well, except for the three rock climbers who repelled down the 60′ cliff face, then swam over to say hello…. that was definitely a first! I wish I had a picture of those folks but I was coming back from snorkeling when we saw the climbers.

MaryGrace and Frank watching the sun set at Shark Fin Cove.

Our next stop was Honolua Bay, back on Maui. We figured we should stop back at the home island in case Dave, Nikki, Dave or Gloria decided they wanted to jump ship. Happily, everyone wanted to remain for the whole week!

TTR nestled in Honolua Bay.

Honolua was our first stop on Maui when we arrived back in April and it remains one of my favorite spots. The bay is wonderfully protected from waves and it is a marine preserve so both above and under water it is beautiful!

Another gorgeous sunset in Honolua Bay.

One positive aspect of COVID is that the reduction of tourists to Hawaii has lessened the pressure on the reefs. Locals are saying that the coral and fish life is improving quickly in the absence of large numbers of snorkelers and divers. Even compared to when we were in Honolua Bay two months ago, we saw an increase in the number of fish and turtles around the reefs.

A small turtle surfaced next to TTR.

We spent a lot of time in the water while in Honolua Bay snorkeling, SUPing, lounging on floats and watching dolphins swim through the bay.

Dave, Gloria, Nikki and Mary Grace enjoying some down time.

Perhaps the highlight of our visit to Honolua this time was swimming with the dolphins. We saw them playing in the bay and quickly jumped in the dinghy to get closer. Frank and I had grabbed our masks, but unfortunately not a camera. We took turns using the masks and jumping into the water from the dinghy to see the dolphins.

Frank swimming with dolphins in a different anchorage.

There were probably a dozen dolphins on the surface but underwater there were at least two dozen more. I SO wish I had a photo to share, but at least the memory remains.

Frank and I are very comfortable in the water and didn’t think twice about jumping in to swim with the dolphins, but our friends were slightly hesitant. The look of wonder and excitement on their faces after they did jump in and see the dolphins was priceless. What a joy to share this experience with friends!

Frank attempts a running start on the SUP.
Star 3: Honolua Bay. Star 4: Kaneohe Bay.

After three nights in Honolua Bay, we awakened at first light and sailed to Kaneohe Bay. We sailed along the north side of Molokai Island because the views of the island are very pretty. The wind was lighter than expected and the direction wasn’t quite what was forecasted so we ended up further away from the island than we would have preferred.

Molokai’s shores are lush and dramatic.

The sail from Maui to Oahu took about eight hours in winds of 14-20 knots so it was a very relaxed sail. Unfortunately two of our friends battle sea sickness so they slept most of the way, which is a good way to avoid feeling ill.

Kaneohe Bay is very large and we spent our first night at the Sand Bar. Our time at the Sand Bar included SUPing, swimming, hiking and generally relaxing.

TTR anchored off the shallow Sand Bar in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay.

Chinaman’s Hat is a small, sharp rock close to the entrance to Kaneohe Bay which can be “hiked.” However, the hike is really more of a scramble up the side of this steep little island and Dave, Nikki, Frank and I decided to try it. The view was great, but the hike up volcanic rock and dirt is extremely steep and becomes very slippery when it rains.

Chinaman’s Hat was a scramble not a hike.
Frank peeking from the top of Chinaman’s Hat.
Nikki working her way down Chinaman’s Hat before the rain started.
Beer-30 in the afternoon.
Star 4: first stop in Kaneohe Bay. Star 5: last stop in Kaneohe Bay.

After just one night at the Sand Bar, we moved TTR to the southwest portion of Kaneohe Bay near the Kaneohe Yacht Club and rented a car so we could take a driving tour of Oahu Island.

Shallow reef break along the North Shore.
North Shore of Oahu.

We managed to drive most of the island and made a few stops at beaches and scenic overlooks with a stop for lunch sandwiched in between. (See what I did there?)

A sign of the times: with COVID masks and without.

After eating all of our meals on Ticket to Ride, it was a nice change to eat out while visiting Haleiwa on the North Shore. This week on Ticket to Ride, everyone helped with meal prep and clean up so providing meals on the boat was not difficult. In fact, I would wager the food we ate on board TTR was as good as anything we eat in restaurants; and the view from the boat is unbeatable!

Frat brothers cleaning the galley after dinner.
Grill master, Frank, in Honolua Bay.

Here are a few more pictures from our day spent driving around Oahu.

Rescue helicopter near Diamond Head Lighthouse…. hope it was just practice!
The blow hole near Eternity Beach.
Looking down on Eternity Beach used in the final scenes of “From Here to Eternity.

I was a little concerned that this lifestyle would be too restrictive or odd and that Dave, Dave, Gloria and Nikki would feel really confined, but happily I didn’t sense that and no one seemed too tired of boat life.

Several times Dave, Gloria, Dave and Nikki mentioned that seeing the islands from the water was a unique experience for them and gave them a new perspective for the islands. Frank and I enjoyed sharing our floating home and perhaps demonstrating that we aren’t completely crazy for choosing to live on a boat.

Even though it has been decades since we have spent time together, these friendships, forged at Texas Christian University, melded as if no time had passed. We never broke stride and everyone interacted as if we had been spending time together consistently for years. Thanks for a great week y’all! TTR seems a bit quiet today without you.

GO FROGS!!

Side Note: Unfortunately, Hawaii is beginning to see a spike in COVID-19 cases and once again restrictions are being put in place to stem the spread. In just a few days, the 14 day quarantine for inter-island travel will be reinstated; at least for air traffic. Luckily, Dave, Nikki, Dave and Gloria returned home before these restrictions were reinstated. We sincerely hope the virus is curtailed in Hawaii before it becomes rampant. In the mean time, Frank and I will exercise greater caution in our social interactions.

Several of the photos in this post were taken by our friends, and Dave S. was especially good at capturing fun shots during the week. Thank you for the pictures.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts about the places we are visiting should you care to make comments below. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check out our FB page or our Instagram.

Dodging A Hurricane ~ Good Riddance Douglas!

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and I never thought about hurricanes. Tornadoes, yes. Hurricanes? I hardly even knew what they were.

Now we live on a boat and hurricanes are a determining factor in where we want to be at different times of the year and thus have a major influence on our lives.  In 2020, we had planned to avoid the hurricane season by sailing to French Polynesia in March. The plan was to stay for a while in the Marquesas Islands where hurricanes are virtually unheard of.

But like every other person in the world, our 2020 plans have changed and we are spending this hurricane season in Hawaii.

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Pretty views in Hanalei Bay, Kauai

Fortunately, Hawaii rarely suffers from hurricanes, but recently Hurricane Douglas developed and decided to head toward these beautiful islands.

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Randy and Shellie pulling Frank on the foil board.

We were happily anchored in Hanalei Bay, Kauai when Douglas began swishing about in the Pacific and heading this direction. Between swims, foiling practice and visits with other boaters, we began exploring our hurricane options. 

Most of the local boaters were taking the hurricane threat fairly lightly but since Frank and I experienced running away from Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit, and we saw friends who remained suffer severe damage, we tend to err on the side of caution.

 

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That little green dot represents TTR in Hanalei Bay.

Folks who have permanent marina slips for their boats already know they are going to ride out any storm in the marina and thus go through some lengthy steps to prepare:

  1. remove sails and canvas
  2. remove any loose objects
  3. tie down anything that remains on deck
  4. tie, cross tie and reinforce all of the lines that keep the boat in the dock
  5. pray

Since we do not have a permanent marina home, our options vary depending on our location. Here in Hawaii, we had contacted a couple of marinas and they either did not have room for us or only had an end tie available. The issue with an end tie is that we can only secure TTR from one side so we have no way to secure her in the middle of a slip to prevent her from banging against the peer when winds push her in all directions.  That was not a good option as we had visions of Ticket to Ride surging and smashing against the dock.

When we were in the Caribbean, it was possible to find mangrove holes where one could anchor and secure the boat and the roots and trunks of the mangroves absorbed much of the storm, thus offering a viable hiding place during a storm.

We are not aware of such places in Hawaii.

Much like when we were in Puerto Rico and sailed away from Hurricane Maria, we believed our best option was also to sail away and avoid the storm altogether. The difference this time was that we didn’t have a destination to sail to; instead we were just sailing out of harms way and would be bobbing about until it was safe to return to land.

There were a few other boats anchored in Hanalei Bay who had the same plan, so several of us left the Bay on Saturday, 48 hours ahead of when the storm was expected to reach Kauai.

When deciding where to run from Douglas, we originally considered sailing north because forecasts showed a chance of the hurricane passing Kauai on its’ south side. But as the storm tracks were updated, it became more likely that Douglas was going to pass over Hanalei Bay or on the northerly side.

After much discussion between us and with other sailors, we decided a better plan was to sail south, thus keeping the Hawaiian Islands between TTR and Hurricane Douglas. The plan was to sail our way south on the western side of the islands while Douglas stormed north on the eastern side of the islands.

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TTR sailing w R1 in the main and the self-tacking jib.

Fortunately this plan worked well and TTR encountered very little of Hurricane Douglas’ effects.  The highest true wind speeds we encountered was 31 knots and the highest seas we saw were probably 8-10 feet.

We saw no rain and the seas were reasonable.

Frank did an amazing job of reviewing the weather reports, analyzing the wind predictions and guiding us toward the lighter wind spots. In fact, after the storm passed us on Sunday, we saw a long stretch of very flat seas and only 6 knots of wind!

When we sailed out of Hanalei Bay, we had the genoa and self-tacking jib up as foresails. We did find we used the self-taker most often and we had one reef in the main at all times.

All told, we were only out sailing about 48 hours. We left Hanalei around 9 am Saturday and we dropped anchor off of Maui at 8 am Monday.

Things I learned:

  1.  TTR is a sturdy, well designed and well fabricated sailboat. She can handle much more than I can. (Ok, I already knew that.)
  2. I love how quiet the rigging is on this HH55!
  3. Frank has a higher tolerance for speed and bumpiness than I do.
  4. Self-tackers are especially nice when short handing in rough seas.

If I were to change anything about how we handled this sail, I would have put a second reef in the main after we were behind Oahu and had a little distance between where we started and where the eye was predicted to hit Kauai. While a second reef wasn’t necessary and we were completely safe, I would have been more comfortable since we didn’t exactly know how windy it might become; especially at night when I am alone on watch.

I would like to express our appreciation to the many friends who reached out to wish us well and who followed our track as we were avoiding the storm.  I appreciated the prayers and the messages we received. It is comforting to know others are looking out for us when we are out of communication and guessing our best course.

Kuddos and big thanks to Frank for handling the lions share of the decision making. He is very good at analyzing the weather and I am often only able to listen as he tells me what is happening so I don’t get sea sick. I’m fortunate that he is so capable and that he doesn’t get sea sick!

This is a very simplified version of the decisions that must go into how to handle an upcoming hurricane. There are so many facets and it takes hours of weather watching and option assessment to come to a conclusion. Each boater must consider the capabilities of his own boat. How prepared is the boat and can it be moved right now? What does your insurance mandate? Have you filed a hurricane plan with your insurance company that must be followed or can it be changed? How much time is available to get into a safe zone before the weather affects sea conditions? How healthy and how capable is the crew? What “outs” are available if the plan isn’t working? Are communication systems up and functioning on the boat? Do you have people in place to communicate in case your weather information fails? Who knows where you are and can keep up with your location in case a problem arises? How much fuel, food and water are on board? These are a few of the factors that must be considered.

At this time, it is very important that we recognize and thank Tommy Henshaw for his incredible help during Hurricane Douglas. Tommy is the young man with whom we became friends in Kaneohe Bay.  I think he is our living guardian angel. Tommy was in communication with us several times a day during our Hurricane Douglas sail. Tommy watched our tracks, looked at weather and sent us the latest information based on images we are unable to get while at sea. He sent us messages just to let us knowhe was keeping an eye out for us. Tommy has shared local knowledge and offered information and advice that has been invaluable! Many thanks, Tommy!!

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We would love to hear your thoughts using the comments below. If you want to hear from us more often, please look for us on FB or Instagram (hh55ttr).

Visiting the Kaneohe Yacht Club

After several weeks anchored in Kaneohe Bay, waiting for quarantine to finish and some sail maintenance to be completed, we were invited to visit at the Kaneohe Yacht Club.

What a delightful change to be docked at this yacht club.  While the Bay is nice, we were almost the only people living on a boat and we had very little interaction with others. Plus the Bay is large and has some considerable fetch so relaxing in very calm water at the Yacht Club is appreciated.

DSC07778Mae and Tommy chillin’ on TTR.

Tommy and Mae came by in Tommy’s fishing boat while we were anchored in the Bay and we have very much enjoyed getting to know these young people. They have told us about some local places to visit, sailed with us, helped with some rudder work and offered to take us out on their whaler.

KYC has a very active junior sailing program. We see the youngsters heading out on a variety of sailboats that range from tiny Toppers and O’Pen Bics all the way up to Waspz.  The kids tack up the harbor right past the bow of TTR with coaches following behind offering instructions.

DSC07514A Waspz out in Kaneohe Bay.

COVID-19 put the kabosh on casual beer can races at the KYC until a few weeks ago but now they are back in full swing with a few modifications.  Crew numbers are limited and instead of starting the race from the bulk-head, the boats take off from their slips and head to the starting line for each appointed class start.

DSC07868Racers jockeying for position before the race start.

As  you can see, the fairway gets pretty tight with all the race boats setting up and bearing off to cross the start line on time. TTR is on the end dock and very close to the rolling start line which is also the finish line.

DSC07897Spinnakers are deployed before the start line.

DSC07783Tacking back to slips just past the finish line.

The folks at the Kaneohe Yacht Club have been incredibly friendly and welcoming! We have met so many people that the names are beginning to run together but the overall feeling of kindness and acceptance has been universal.

Last Thursday we had a few folks over to watch the races and share some “pupus” which is what Hawaiians call bite size appetizers. Drinks and conversation flowed freely but we kept a close eye out for the returning race boats.

DSC07801Looking to see which of their friends is first this week!

DSC07805Dancing toward the fairway.

Lori invited us to join her and Tony for a walk along the Ulupaina Trail.  While the trail was slightly less than four miles, it was often quite steep and the footing was a variety of roots, rocks and pine needles strewn with the spiked round balls of sweet gum trees.

P7010034Frank, Tony and Lori paused for a photo in the shade.

The sweet gum balls hidden in the pine needles made the footing a challenge but the majority of the trail was shaded and we had some really nice views.

P7010042This would be a perfect reading spot; shady with a lot of birdsong.

In addition to meeting sailors, watching races and taking hikes, I had the opportunity to play tennis twice while at KYC. I admit, my racket was dusty and my strokes quite rusty, but it was really fun to whack a few tennis balls around the court. I am certainly not ready for or in shape for Dallas tennis leagues, but the tennis here was very casual and no one seemed to care about the inconsistency of my shots. I hope it isn’t another five years before I play again!

Our time here at KYC is just about finished which is too bad because we already feel like we ‘belong.’  We truly appreciate the warm welcome here, the opportunity to meet the Kaneohe Yacht Club members and enjoy the ambiance of the club.

A special thank you to Ike for finding a spot for TTR at the yacht club and to Noodle (Bill) and Lori for taking us under their wing and introducing us to so many people!

Thanks for stopping to read our this quick update about what we are doing in Hawaii. We hope you and your family are healthy and well in these unusual times.

 

Kaneohe Bay And The History Of He’eia Fishpond

Currently Ticket to Ride is anchored in Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu, HI. 

Choosing to anchor where we did was random, but we have found that sometimes random anchor spots allow us to stumble upon something.  Similar to an unexpected find on Martinique way back when, we love it when we happen upon an interesting place that we probably would not have heard about in a guide book. It is sort of like cruising lagniappe! (Lagniappe: something given as a bonus or extra gift.)

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Photo credit: Google Maps satellite images

Located on the windward (east) side of Oahu, Kaneohe is the largest estuary in Hawaii and covers about 11,000 acres.  Although the opening of Kaneohe is more than 4.5 miles wide, outside of the bay lies the only barrier reef in Hawaii which breaks the ocean swell and provides protection in the bay.  Even when the trade winds are blowing outside the bay, the anchorages are very calm, especially in the southern part of the bay. This is particularly nice for us on TTR because the breeze keeps us cool but the boat has very little motion at anchor.

fish pond

It’s interesting to SUP along the coral that rings the sandy areas.

Meandering through the long channel to get to our anchor spot, we passed several shallow areas of sand and coral. These shallow areas are often right next to the channel and the depth on the reef is ankle deep at low tide, but where the outer coral ring ends the depth immediately drops to 30+ feet.

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“The Sandbar” is very popular for family gatherings, kiting and fishing.

Boaters often motor right up onto this sandbar then lay a stern anchor. Unwilling to nose TTR onto the sandbar, we chose to drop anchor a bit off of the bar and SUP to get to the shallows. We were only able to stay at this spot for a night or two.

I read that the Kaneohe area was the most heavily populated part of Oahu during the “pre-contact” era of Hawaii. (Research indicates that pre-contact is considered to be prior to the arrival of Captain James Cook sometime around 1778.)

The fact that Kaneohe is an estuary, which means that one or more fresh water streams or rivers mix into the seawater, is important and was influential in the lives of these Hawaiians. 

The mixing of fresh water and seawater creates a brackish water that is perfect for growing algae that nurtures fish. As many as 600 – 800 years ago, native Hawaiians recognized that value of this brackish water and put it to use for loko iʻa kuapā; walled coastal ponds. Below is a picture of the He’eia Fishpond that encloses 88 acres of brackish water.

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Photo credit School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology, HI

The He’eia Fishpond wall is about 1.3 miles long and has seven gates; four along the seaward wall and three along the He’eia stream, which allows for controlled mixing of the salt and fresh water to create this brackish enclosure.

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One of the seaward gates.

Trapping fish in this brackish enclosure allowed Hawaiians to supplement their food source in an area that naturally developed food for the fish and eliminated the need for a caregiver to feed the fish.

“Ocean fishing is dependent, to a great extent, upon conditions of the ocean and weather.  High surf, storms, and other associated weather phenomenon influence and interrupt most fishing practices.  Therefore, fishponds provided Hawaiians with a regular supply of fish when ocean fishing was not possible or did not yield sufficient supply (Kelly, 1976),” per the Paepae o Heeia website.

It is amazing to me that hundreds of years ago, these Hawaiians had a back up plan for days when traditional fishing methods did not provide enough food for their people.

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A portion of the He’eia Fishpond wall.

As you can see in the picture above, this pond is not built with one wall but two. Each wall is constructed of basalt (volcanic) rock and they are 12 to 15 feet apart. The section between the two walls is filled mostly with coral but also with dirt.  The purpose of the two walls is to slow the flow of water and create a base level of water in the pond so that even at low tide there is sufficient water for the fish.

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Looking over the wall toward shore where early Hawaiians probably lived.

It is estimated that building this loko iʻa kuapā took two or three years of dedicated work by hundreds or even thousands of residents who passed and stacked rock and coral.

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Another example of the seaward gates.

In May 1965 a flood ruined a 200 foot section of the He’eia Fishpond and it went unused until 1988 when Mark Brooks began repairing the wall. In 2001, Paepae o Heeia, a non-profit organization, was established with the express purpose of restoring and caring for the He’eia Fishpond.

Today this historic and innovative walled pond is fully restored and in excellent condition. TTR is anchored about 300 yards from the Fishpond and on calm days we can paddle along the wall and see the waters entering or leaving the gates depending on the tide.

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Shallow sand and coral just off the Fishpond wall.

Kaneohe Bay is so large that there are many areas to explore, but until our two week, inter island quarantine is finished, we have to remain anchored here, so we haven’t had a chance to see as much as we would like.

But the Q will end soon and we have no complaints about our location. The views are stunning, the temperatures are very comfortable and in addition to learning about He’eia Fishpond, we are taking care of routine maintenance on TTR.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. I posted a video of the He’eia Fishpond on our FB page, so be sure to head over there if you want to see the video or hear from us more often.

 

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