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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.

Cliffs, Caves and Waterfalls ~ 16 Miles of Coastline Beauty.

The Nā Pali Coast, found on the northwest side of Kauai, stretches for 16 miles. Pali means cliffs in Hawaiian and with some cliffs rising 4,000 feet out of the water, the area is aptly named.

                              The green line shows the Nā Pali Coast area.

It is impossible to put into words how beautiful this coast line is with verdant cliffs rising dramatically from intensly blue water and waterfalls cascading periodically through the deep green foliage. Instead I will include photographs that only partially capture the beauty.

                              The cliffs begin just outside of Hanalei Bay.

Early one morning we upped anchor in Hanalei Bay and chose a course close to the coastline. The wind was pretty light and the sea state calm so we motored at a casual pace which allowed us to enjoy the views.

                                                 Amazing greens and blues.

Higher and higher cliffs.

In addition to the waterfalls and cliffs, the coast has several sea caves. After spotting a few interesting looking caves, we found a shallow spot to anchor Ticket to Ride and launched the dinghy for a closer look.

                                 A waterfall inside of a small cave.

The caves were not particularly deep and certainly were not at all similar to Painted Cave in the Channel Islands of California, but it was still fun to pretend we were intrepid adventurers scouting out unexplored places.

                             A waterfall on each side of this outcropping.

After re-boarding TTR and traveling another 30 minutes, we arrived at the iconic Honopū Valley where we again dropped anchor.

TTR anchored off of Honopū Beach.

Stretching up to 90 feet, Honopū Arch is the largest natural arch in all of Hawaii. A must see in our opinion.

                                     TTR just outside this powdery beach.

We swam from TTR to shore and were dazzled by the dark rock arch rising from the creamy white beach. Honopū Beach is isolated and no boats or aircraft are allowed to land in Honopū Valley which gives the area an unspoiled and somewhat sacred ambiance.

                          Looking from the high side through Honopū Arch.
      This photo offers a better perspective of the magnitude of this formation.

We walked to the nearby waterfall and Frank and I cooled off in its fresh water before walking back to salt water and swimming to Ticket to Ride.

                                             I see those rabbit ears!
                                   A view of the waterfall using the drone.

One of the most spectacular caves along the coast is Open Ceiling Cave; just a short dinghy ride from Honopū Beach. Like other caves, we slowly dinghied into the arched opening. The unusual part is that once inside, the cave is filled with light because the ceiling fell down into the water.

Now sunlight streams into the circular cave and illuminates the walls as well as the fallen ceiling which can be seen underwater marking the center of the cave. 

Open Ceiling Cave is a huge contrast to Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island, CA. This one reveals all of its beauty and secrets in the sunlight while Painted Cave is deep and pitch black as you go blindly into its depths.

                      Looking over the fallen ceiling to the entrance of the cave.
                       The cliffs became more arid further along the coast.

After returning to Ticket to Ride, we spent a bit more time motoring along the coast.  Soon it was time to turn around and point TTR back to Hanalei Bay. Since the coast line is an exposed area, we preferred to spend the night back in Hanalei where we are in protected water.

                              The calm, protected water of Hanalei Bay.

On the trip back we raised the main sail and genoa, then threw out a couple of fishing lines to see what might bite. We managed to snag a skipjack tuna but chose to release him. Although the fishing wasn’t successful, the sail was very pleasant and exploring the beauty of the Nā Pali Coast was a wonderful way to spend the day.

Thanks for visiting our blog. We hope seeing the beauty of the Nā Pali coast brings a bright spot to your day. As the virus cases rise in Hawaii, we are doing our best to stay healthy and restrict our interaction with others. We hope all of you are staying healthy and sane too. All the best from us to you.

 

Day Tripper Video ~ Possible With A Little Help From Our Friends

We have had several people send us photos and videos of Ticket to Ride and we are always very appreciative of the effort they make to reach out to us.

Recently, Tim sent us a video he had taken of TTR as we were sailing out of Kaneohe Bay. The video was great and we definitely wanted to share his excellent video, so we asked Mae and Tommy to help us. Fortunately they were willing to teach us about editing video and contribute some of their own shots.

The resulting video if a compilation of Tim’s video, Mae’s videos, Tommy’s videos and maybe just a tiny bit of our own.

Tommy and Mae, thanks for patiently sharing your knowledge with us!

I hope you enjoyed seeing this glimpse of life aboard TTR. Our normal, non-COVID travel locations limit our uploading ability so we rarely share video. We would like to hear what you think of this one.

Thanks for stopping to visit our blog. If you would like to hear from us more often, please check out our Facebook page or Instagram.

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.

A Few Favorite, Practical and Inexpensive Things Aboard TTR

**Our blog is not monetized. We do not have affiliations with any of these products and are not paid for any links or mentions.**

There are four items on Ticket to Ride that I am really happy to have on board and although they are mundane, they make my life easier and I think they are worth sharing.

My first item to share with you is an egg cooker. 

Regardless of where we travel, eggs are available and they are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein.  We eat them pretty often and we add hard boiled eggs to chicken salad and tuna salad.  And of course we need eggs for baking brownies and other delicious desserts!

Most people haven’t seen an egg cooker and they think this is a silly gadget, but I love mine. This little egg cooker was inexpensive and can make hard boiled, poached or scrambled eggs.  I only use mine for cooking hard boiled eggs and it makes them perfectly every time.  While this gadget does use electricity, it uses very little water and it doesn’t use any propane.

DSC07647Dash has a new double layer egg cooker if you want to cook more eggs at once.

To use the egg cooker, you put the indicated amount of water in the bottom of the cooker, make a pin hole in the fat end of the egg using the poker on the bottom of the water measurer, close the cooker, push the start button and walk away. About 15 minutes later you have perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs – every time. Voila!

My egg cooker by Dash cost $15 from Amazon in 2016 and was worth every penny to me. Today the same egg cooker is $19.99.  

Laundry is a reality of land and boat life. I see many on-line conversations about how to wash clothing on a boat but nobody talks about clothes pins for hanging clothes to dry.

For many years on our last boat, Let It Be, we hand washed our clothing.  On Ticket to Ride, we are very fortunate to have a washer/dryer combination unit. However, since the dryer uses a lot of electricity and takes a long time, we usually hang dry our clothing. Twisty Pegs are my favorite type of clothes pin.

DSC07644

Twenty twisty pegs cost $10.

I like Twisty Pegs for several reasons:

  1. They are flat, easy to store and don’t take much room.
  2. There is no metal soI don’t get rust stains on our clothing.
  3. No moving parts so they don’t break.
  4. They last a long time – my originals are 5 years old.
  5. I like the happy colors.

We have lost a couple of twisty pegs overboard, so I recently ordered more from Defender.  Here is a link if you are interested:

https://www.defender.com/search.html?q=twisty+pegs&x=37&y=15

ICE is a luxury on a boat and we have made it a priority since we began cruising in 2015. Perusing Amazon, I found silicone ice trays that have been perfect for us.  These ice trays can make really large cubes which we refer to as “icebergs.”

DSC07643

Icebergs coming right up!

The nice thing about these trays is that I can make really large cubes or only partially fill the trays for smaller cubes.  We have a dorm-like refrig/freezer in our cockpit and the upper freezer shelf holds three silicone trays which make plenty of ice for us every day.

One observation about the silicone trays: when we use RO water from our water maker, the cubes are very easy to clear from the tray. However when we use dock water, the cubes are much harder to remove. I think this has to do with the chlorine in the dock water, but I am not certain.

I like these trays so much that I have a spare package of them on TTR, but the ones we have are still in perfect shape after 5 years of use.  Here is the link on Amazon.

Moving to the expensive category.

Finally, cookware. Now this one, I have to admit is a luxury item because of the expense, weight and space usage of these pots and pans. For years I used the nesting cookware with removable handles that is so popular on boats. Frank was not a fan and I was lukewarm about those pots and pans.

Two years ago, at the Annapolis Boat Show, we watched a cooking demonstration by Allen Cerasani of ScaleDown Cookware. I was pretty skeptical about the product because I realize I am a sucker for demonstrations and the product is definitely expensive.  (Website is being rebuilt, but you can reach Allen at scaledownnow@aol.com or by phone at 518-587-6130)

DSC07648

I love our pots and pans.

Long story short, we ended up buying some of these pots and pans and they are fabulous! I have used them for two years and they are holding up very well. They are truly non stick and clean up is absolutely simple. The handles are oven safe up to 500 degrees so they can be used for nearly any oven cooking.

Using the small pan, I can cook an omelette without using any oil and it folds and slides right out of the pan.  I have had two friends order the cookware after using mine while on board TTR.  Also, do you remember Connor, our stellar crew member? Well he loved these pans and made himself an omelette nearly every day! In fact when he left the boat I double checked to make sure he didn’t take the small pan with him! (I know you wouldn’t, Connor!)

Recently a neighboring boat wanted to make pancakes and borrowed my large skillet. I laughingly told her I would let her borrow it if she promised to give it back. When she returned the pan she said, “I didn’t really get it when you made me promise to return the pan if I borrowed it. But now that I have used it, I know why you said that!”  She wants the name of the pans now too.

If you buy the whole set of pans, you will need more galley room than normal because they are not space saving, nesting pans. Also, these pans are heavy, so they won’t work if you like lightweight pans.  If you don’t have room for the whole set, you might decide to buy just one pot or pan in the size you use most often.

I found a demonstration by Allen on YouTube,  if you want to see the demo.  FYI, I will definitely keep these pans if we ever move back to land!

There are certainly other, more essential items on Ticket to Ride, but I was stupidly happy about receiving my Twisty Pegs yesterday and it made me think about practical items that “bring me joy” and make life afloat easier. Perhaps they are of interest to you.

Do you have any favorite items I should know about?

Thank you for visiting our blog page. If you want to hear from us more often, visit our FB page.  All the best from us to you.

**Again, this blog is not monetized and I do not receive anything for mentioning these products.

 

May 2019 Blog Post Info Update

DSC07411

The current view from TTR in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, HI.

About a year ago we wrote a blog post about TTR and some of the issue we were experiencing. As we stated in that blog, we think issues on a new boat are to be expected. Today we review the problems we were having and how those were resolved.

Looking back, it is amazing how few issues we have had with Ticket to Ride. Fortunately all of the issues have been manageable and none of them are structural in any way!

Once again, we must be very clear and express our sincere appreciation to HH Catamarans for their excellent service and support of us and for our sailboat. Each time we reach out to HH, they are prompt, extremely helpful, and reimburse us for labor and materials. We are truly thankful for their continued support and guidance.

The electronics on sailboats have become increasingly important and more complex. CZone is a control system that allows boaters to replace traditional wiring with electrical switching controlled at a centralized computer screen. One cool feature of CZone is that you can program six different settings on your boat and with the touch of one button wanted systems are engaged. For example, one setting we have is “Day Cruise.” When we engage Day Cruise, the electronic charts and VHFs turn on, power is turned on to navigation lights, winch controls are turned on, etc.

DSC07519

Along the top are the six programs we have customized

Initially we had some issues with communication between CZone and our systems and we thought CZone was not working properly. However, the issues turned out to be programming issues not function problems. When CZone was installed and programmed at the factory in Xiamen, China, the programmers didn’t really understand how we would want to use CZone on Ticket to Ride.

Frank spent plenty of time on the phone and through emails with Jessica Li, overseer of the installation and programming of electronics on our HH55,  and Kiel Moore of CZone in New Zealand. Frank gained a better understanding of CZone and he has worked to get it set up to function well for our purposes. The beauty of CZone is its’ flexibility among other features. CZone is now working beautifully and we are very happy to have it on TTR.

In our original post, we discussed problems we were having with the air conditioning units and the processing of power from the generator to our inverter / chargers and then passing that AC power on to the AC loads onboard. We spent a good deal of time communicating with Jessica and tried a few different fixes without success.

DSC07516

Mastervolt Inverter/Charger installed.

In the end, the underlying problem was a faulty Victron Inverter / charger. Hudson Yacht Group specified the Victron Inverter/Charger because it was the largest wattage inverter in a single unit on the market at the time. We ended up replacing the Victron Inverter/Charger with a Mastervolt Inverter/Charger and since then we have not had any issues with the ACs or the generator to inverter/charger power.

AIS/VHF issues. As offshore travelers, having the ability to talk to other boats or ships using the VHF is extremely important. The AIS allows us to transmit our location to nearby boats and ships and to receive information about nearby boats if they broadcast on AIS. This information is extremely helpful, especially at night when it is hard to determine distances from other ships. For a while our AIS/VHF were unreliable and when working, only transmitted 2 to 2.5 miles.

After a bit of diagnosing with the help of an excellent electrician, Will Immanse in LA Paz, Mexico, we determined that the cable spec’d by Pochon (electronics supplier based in France) that ran from our VHF/AIS to the top of our mast was not properly sized for the distance between the units and the antenna. As signals travel through wire, transmission signal diminishes as the distance traveled increases. Frank and I replaced our RX-8 cable with Ultraflex 400TM (Times Microwave) which has greater signal strength and carries the information between the antenna and our radios and chart plotters.

After changing the cable, our AIS signal reception changed from 2 or 2.5 miles to 6 – 8 miles and on VHF we can talk with ships that are sometimes as much as 15 miles away.

As for the other small issues we listed, happily, they are resolved:

~ the enclosure around our helm station was made sooo tightly that we cannot get it zipped all around, even when we had three people working together.  We had a small strip added to the enclosure and it now closes easily.

DSC07520

Now we are snug and dry inside this enclosure.

~ the oven on the stove sometimes goes out without any apparent reason.  Easing the burner knobs out a little resolved this problem.

~ there is a leak from a vent box in the engine room that allows seawater into the area when we have following seas. Frank spent a bit of time replacing the hose with a longer hose allowing a large upward loop routed into the outer transom bulwark. The  problem is solved.

Considering the complexity and performance of the HH55 catamarans, the issues we have had on Ticket to Ride are pretty minimal. Today we have over 10,000 nautical miles under TTR‘s keels and we are very pleased to say that her systems are running very well and we are living quite comfortably.

Thanks for stopping to read our blog. We will be finished with quarantine on Oahu very soon and we look forward to exploring this island soon.

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.

fish pond-6

“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.

 

Floating In an Aquarium During COVID-19 Isolation.

This point can kick up great surf waves.

Honolua Bay, located on the northwest side of Maui, is a very popular stop for local day cruise boats. I have learned that four boats carrying 25-50 people each are often moored here for the day to allow their passengers to swim and snorkel.

“Our anchorageas seen from the road.

The Coronavirus has changed all of that. Instead TTR is sharing this beautiful bay with three other cruising boats who have also sailed to Hawaii for refuge during this pandemic. A local couple escapes here on their monohull as well.

A variety of fish anywhere we look.

Although our plan to sail to French Polynesia is on hold until boarders begin to reopen, we consider ourselves extremely fortunate to spend our isolation in Honolua Bay.

A school of Convict Surgeonfish.

Nearly every day we snorkel or swim and every time it feels as if I have jumped into an aquarium. The water is chilly enough to warrant a rash guard or a light wet suit for longer water sessions.

I love those eyes! 

The visibility in the water depends on the surf but usually it is very clear.

A Wedgetail Triggerfish – love those lips!

I am amazed by the variety of fish we see and how wide the range of colors, markings, shapes and sizes.

A pretty Pinktail Triggerfish.

I wonder if there are more varieties of fish than any other species…. no, probably insects have even more varieties.

I’ve seen a trumpetfish as long as I am tall!

Still, each time I snorkel I realize how few fish I can name and that I will never know them all.

What kind of fish is this? Part bird? Part dolphin?

Here are a few more photos taken while swimming in our Honolua Bay aquarium.

The turtle is unfazed by Shellie and Randy of s/v Moondance.

The brightly marked Moorish Idol.

Of course there are a few maintenance items we have to take care of because we do live on a boat! However, with so much time on our hands and restricted movement, these projects are pretty easy to accomplish – as long as we don’t need parts or supplies!

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Frank inspecting the anchor light on TTR.

They say timing is everything and that is proven true in the above picture. We have a few college friends who live on Maui and Dave and Nikki happened to drive by the bay while Frank was at the top of the mast. They snapped this photo and sent it to us. It’s fun to see this perspective, so thanks guys!

That’s a peak into life aboard TTR while we are restricted to one location. Hopefully the pictures will brighten your day and offer a slightly different view than one from land. If you are a cruiser who was caught away from his floating home when the pandemic hit, or someone hoping to become a live aboard, maybe these will remind you of what awaits.

We on TTR hope that anyone who reads this is staying well and safe during this crisis. Remember to be especially cautious when restrictions begin to lift. This pandemic has certainly proven that we all share this world, so let’s do our best to be patient and help one another. Wishing each person health, safety and comfort during this challenging time. 

 

2800+ Nautical Miles ~ Sailing To Hawaii

Warning: A very long post! 

So what is it like to sail almost 3,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean?

dscf0223Itemizing the ditch bag in case we have to abandon the boat while at sea.

Honestly, the preparation is a whole lot of work!

All aspects of the boat and sails must be in good working condition and spare parts for repairs need to be on board. Planning meals and buying enough food for the passage plus extras in case we encounter delays, or restricted land access (thank you Coronavirus) requires organization, many trips to the grocery and time finding and recording storage locations on the boat.

Passage to HI     A pretty sunset prior to leaving the dock at Paradise Village.

However, the real answer to the actual passage experience depends on your vessel, the weather and sea conditions you encounter and the crew on board.

We were confident that our crew was excellent and experienced and that our HH55 Catamaran is strong, fast and comfortable.  Our variable would be the weather.

The unique circumstances created by COVID-19 made us especially cautious about our health once we left mainland Mexico.  As a precaution, we sailed from Puerto Vallarta to San Benedicto Island, part of the Revillagigedo Islands, about 320 nm off of mainland Mexico. We spent six days in this completely uninhabited marine park waiting for a good weather window and insuring that none of us had any symptoms of the virus.

Passage to HI-8Revillagigedo Island with buddy boat Kalewa at anchor. (Photo by C. Stich)

While anchored at San Benedicto, we once again enjoyed some excellent scuba diving and relished the opportunity to see the giant manta rays again. It was fun to share this special place with Clayton and Connor.

IMG_0115-001Mary Grace swimming with giant mantas. (Photo credit s/v Migration.)

This time we saw more sharks at San Benedicto and perhaps because there weren’t any dive boats, they seemed to hang around TTR more than the last time. Surprisingly the sharks swarmed when I dropped some lettuce off the back of the boat. Perhaps these were vegetarian sharks??

Passage to HI-6That’s close enough, Mr. Shark. (Photo by C. Stich)

Once we were confident we all felt well and we saw predictions for good weather and wind, we upped anchor and departed for the remainder of our 2660 nm adventure across the Pacific Ocean.

We are often asked if we stop at night during passages and the answer is no. We are always moving and we must have someone on watch 24 hours every day. We settled into a pattern of 3 hour watches per person when the weather was good.  If we anticipated big seas, winds or storms, we had two people up for six hour watches with a ‘primary’ watch person at the helm for 3 hours while the alternate slept in the salon. For the last three hours, the twosome would switch roles.

All in all, the watch schedule worked well and the vast majority of the time we only needed one person awake.  I had the easiest watch schedule of 7-10 am and pm.  I think they gave me the easy watch because I planned the food and we ate very well.

IMG_9765Clayton cutting the dessert pizza.

 Clayton and Connor made a dessert pizza with a layer of Nutella on the bottom, then half of it was topped with cinnamon-apple and half was blueberry pie topping. Delish!

We are also asked what we DO ALL DAY while “stuck” on a boat, but the days go surprisingly fast. One reason the days go quickly is that being constantly in motion is tiring physically and mentally and all of us rest, if not sleep, more while underway than when at anchor.

There are duties that must be accomplished often:

  • enter the log:  lat/long position, boat speed, wind speed, wind direction, state of battery charge, water levels, etc (every two hours)
  • check the bilges of the boat and make sure they are all dry
  • run new weather reports (think slower than dial up data speeds)
  • manage water levels
  • manage boat energy levels
  • take watch
  • prepare meals
  • watch the skies and seas in case unusual weather develops
  • check the sails, lines and attachments

But what do we do for fun? In addition to reading, watching movies, playing games, listening to books or podcasts, how about a little fishing?

DSCF0084Connor has something on that line.

DSCF0093    A small Mahi but enough for dinner and sashimi.

IMG_9777Connor created a pistachio crusted Mahi! YUM

He who catches, gets to cook the fish and Connor did an amazing job after Frank expertly filleted it! Many thanks to those back home who helped with the recipe because it was fab. I told you we ate well! Farm to table right there.

When surrounded by water with no land in sight, watching the nature that surfaces or flies into view is interesting.

Passage to HI-9Clayton caught this Booby as it dove for a fish!

Dolphins always bring a smile and everyone awake goes outside to watch them. 

DSCF0111This pod of about 10 dolphins stayed with us for 20 minutes. (Photo by C. Stich)

This trip we were absolutely blessed with excellent conditions. We had manageable winds with only one night of rain with winds gusting up in the high 20s.  For the majority of our passage, the wind was between 11 and 22 knots. We did have several days of cloud cover which made for cool days.  At night it was cold enough to require long pants and a jacket and that was excellent for sleeping when off watch.

Passage to HI-2The moon was waxing and became full during our passage. 

I seemed to have the luck of catching some spikes in the wind during my evening shift and at one point as we surfed down a wave and I saw 17.9 knots of boat speed! You’ll have to trust me on that as everyone else was asleep. (25k wind, R1 main, genoa)

Passage to HI-11Interesting shot of  TTR blazing along. (Photo by C. Stich.)

We had engaged the services of Bruce, a weather router, for our planned trip to French Polynesia, so instead he helped us with the trip to Hawaii.  We think having Bruce advise us was helpful to anticipate weather troughs that were not predicted through our PredictWind weather service.

Based on Bruce’s forecast of squalls and unstable, increasing winds, we had our main sail reefed for about 30% of our trip. In actuality, we missed the unstable weather and in hindsight the reefs were mostly unnecessary. But better to be prepared than caught overpowered.

Passage to HI-7Sunrise is welcome and beautiful when on watch. (Photo by C. Stich)

Even with our conservative sail plan, the whole trip took a total of 14 days and we averaged 8.2 knots. Pretty impressive considering we want for nothing and were able to cook meals every night.

Since Hawaii was an unexpected destination, I was trying to read a book our friends Katie and Kevin of s/v Kalewa had lent us when we were at the Rev Islands. Trying to figure out where to go on each island was slightly overwhelming. Also, we were concerned we might be restricted to one island once we arrived and we wanted to choose a good place to hang out for an extended stay.

DSCF0294Frank studying sunset from the galley. (Photo by C. Stich)

I suggested we each take a Hawaiian Island and give a presentation on that island. This idea quickly became a competition of who could best “sell” his island to the others on board.

Clayton and Connor delved into their personal skills.  Clayton drummed up some long forgotten high school expertise and made a power point presentation about O’Ahu.  Connor was very secretive about his presentation for Molokai and I knew I needed to step up my game…. I have NO computer skills, so I thought I would draw pictures of rainbows, waterfalls and unicorns to demonstrate how wonderful Kauai is.  BUT I have no drawing skills either, so I quit after drawing the rainbow and instead tried to paint with words! Frank was the straight man and his presentation about Maui was filled with facts and persuasive reasons to make Maui our island of choice.

IMG_9767Clayton hammed up his PowerPoint presentation!

Turns out Connor had written a poem about Molokai which I have copied and put at the end of this blog post.  I’m sure a compendium of Connor’s poetry will soon be available on Amazon!

Lest you think life on a passage is all rainbows and unicorns, like on Kauai, I will tell you we did have one rather interesting event.  Prior to leaving, we had tried to determine why our steering system was making a noise that was continuing to grow louder. 

DSCF0126Frank testing and retesting the steering system.

Frank was in touch with the maker of the steering system and several other experts.  After trouble shooting and trying the suggestions, the noise remained, but thankfully no one thought this would create an issue…. other than making it hard to sleep on the port side where the master cabin bed is. Imagine having Chewbacca mouthing off every 5 seconds behind your headboard while trying to sleep and you will understand what we heard when resting. Thank goodness for earplugs to dampen the sound!

One clear afternoon about 10 days into our trip, Frank was on watch and Clayton and I were chatting when the boat suddenly rounded up toward the wind. Clayton looked up and said, “Where ya going dad?”  Frank’s unhappy response was, “I don’t know!”

We had lost all steering!

Talk about all hands on deck! We quickly rolled in the genoa and centered the main. I took the helm, started the engines and kept us into the wind. Clayton opened the port engine compartment and Frank and Connor took the starboard, all trying to diagnose the issue. Somehow the bolt of the steering rod on the starboard side had completely backed out and we had no steering!

DSCF0124Frank and Connor after replacing the steering bolt. 

Fortunately the bolt, washers and nut were found in the engine compartment and within 15 minutes we had steering again! At least now I know what happens when we loose our steering while under sail!

This issue was completely independent of the Chewbacca noise which stayed with us the whole trip. (Now we think this is an issue with the roller bearings but we probably need to have TTR out of the water to attempt this fix.)

Passage to HI-10Frank on the foredeck at sunset. (Photo by C. Stich) 

We expected to have unstable conditions as we approached Hawaii, but instead the wind died, the sea flattened out and we had enough of a rain shower to wash the topside of Ticket to Ride! Except for when we were fixing the steering, we only used the engines for the last portion of our trip – about 16 hours of our 2600 nm trip. 

Passage to HI-5The verdant hillside of Hawaii was a welcome sight.

Even though we had a great trip, land was a welcome sight. Knowing we would be back on U.S. soil during these turbulent COVID-19 times was an added benefit.

Passage to HI-4   A quiet and relaxing view in Radio Bay, Hilo.

This trip was exceptionally easy especially for two weeks of ocean travel. We could not have asked for better weather, wind or sea conditions. The crew was pretty special too!

When we arrived at the seawall in Radio Bay, s/v Moondance and s/v Kalewa were there to grab our lines and secure Ticket to Ride to her check in space.  While we couldn’t greet our friends with hugs or touch of any kind, seeing their smiling faces was joyous.

Surprisingly, what I most enjoyed about coming to rest was not the lack of motion, but the quiet.  My ears tend to be sensitive and two weeks of noise from the rushing of water and the wake created by TTR was very tiring for me. I ended up wearing noise cancelling headphones at times during the passage to give my senses a rest. The hush of Hilo was magical.

During our trip, several friends reached out via IridiumGo to say hello and let us know they were watching our progress. I found great pleasure in these short messages and looked forward to the little “pings” announcing a new message.  Thank you so much for keeping me company as we traveled and for having us in your thoughts and prayers. Your messages warmed my heart and added a lift to my days! A special thank you to Laura who made a concerted effort to contact me every other day with newsy notes that were entertaining and more welcome than she realizes.

Summary:

  • Banderas Bay, MX to San Benedicto: 320 nm, average speed: 9.2 knots or 10.6 mph
  • Total time from Banderas Bay to San Benedicto: 1 day 10 hours
  • San Benedicto to Hilo, HI: 2500 nm, average speed: 8.2 knots or 9.4 mph
  • Total time from San Benedicto to Hilo: 13 days, 2 hours
  • Total distance Banderas Bay to Hilo, HI: 2820 nm or 3,245 miles
  • Total under engine for both segments: 16 hours
  • Highest SOG to Hawaii: 17.9 knots or 20.6 mph

A special thank you to Clayton Stich for most of these great photos!

Molokai*

By Connor Jackson

We’ve been on this boat for nearly two weeks
We’re tired, out of produce, and my executive suite reeks
But 400 miles away lies a great destination
I think we’re all ready for a Hawaiian vacation
 
But where do we choose? We all have a different priority.
Well, I’m here to represent an island minority.
You say the debate’s closed; let sleeping dogs lie.
Well hold your dang horses – let me tell you of Molokai.
 
With many safe anchorages during all passing seasons
It’s no wonder this was the landing spot of the first Polynesians.
Known at times as the Friendly, Forgotten, and Lonely Isle
With the highest density of native Hawaiians, she’ll garner a smile.
 
She has an export economy of sweet potatoes, coffee, and peppers
But she holds another treasure – an ancient colony of lepers.
Unfortunately restrictions there prevent us from going on land
But their story is inspiring, so let’s… give them a hand?
 
If access was granted, it wouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg,
We could cut footloose with the locals like Stump and Peg. 
But enough with rotten jokes, don’t let them give you a fright
Thanks to them is a lack of development, not even a stoplight.
 
Kaunakakai Harbor is the place that everyone loves
Its main street has an old western feel, so we can reenact Lonesome Dove.
Despite it being the birthplace of the hula dance and (maybe) flower leis
The locals still request to please refrain from any of your sporting ways.
 
There’s also Papohaku, a stopover from O’ahu
To ease the crossing from Maui from one day to two.
I won’t say this is Kaui, with vegetation resplendent 
And it sounds like some of the anchorages here, are highly weather dependent.
 
We are stocked up for months with plenty of provisions
So don’t let the lack of markets affect your decisions
I know only Trix and peanut butter may sound like slim pickins’
But rest assured Frank can make 10 kt chickens.
 
The island abounds with stunning geography and ample places to hike
And its home to a Pacific Seafarer Net radio operator, KJ8ZXM.
I saw no mention of surfing, and I know for some that won’t please
But I don’t really care, because I don’t have good knees.
 
But I’ve been going on a while, and I don’t mean to tire us
I think by now we have clear choice to avoid coronavirus.
Your guys’ islands are not that great, I say with a sigh
The only rational option is the gem, Molokai
 
Oahu? Localism. Maui? Crowded. Kaui? Anchorages too few
To go anywhere but “The Friendly Isle” I must poopoo
I see your sad faces, but before your mood turns sour
Let’s just go to the place with the most mana power.*

 

*This poem includes some inside TTR passage jokes and might be confusing.

WOW, if you made it through this looong blog, thank you.  We appreciate you taking the time to share our journey. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out or add them to the comments below.  Stay safe out there!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas, Family, Sharks and Kites

Having the kids home for Christmas is a wish come true, so Frank and I were thrilled when Hunter and Clayton decided to spend the Holidays with us on TTR.

Having a real Christmas tree is unrealistic on Ticket to Ride, but Frank’s mom, Jackie, made us a festive and pretty lighted Christmas tree mural that we hung up in the salon of TTR.  Although Jackie hasn’t been to this boat yet, she managed to make the tree the perfect size – and it’s easy to roll up and store!

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The Christmas tree Jackie made for us is perfect!

Initially we thought the kids might enjoy being in La Paz where they would have access to local restaurants, the Malecón and nightlife, but we were mistaken. The focus of the trip would be sailing, sports and family time…. the usual Stich agenda!

Christmas-4

Just one area of many festive decorations on the Malecón La Paz

Although we consider ourselves to be fairly energetic people, the activity level increased significantly with everyone on board; and it was a blast. 

We toured the local farmer markets in La Paz for some fresh food and dinghied to Magote for a kiteboarding session. We also strolled along the Malecón and had a delicious dinner at Mesquite Grill.

But then it was time to get active.

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Between us and the gear, the rental car was packed!

Kiteboarding is always a focus on TTR especially for Frank and Hunter, but Clayton is an avid surfer so we wanted to find a few good waves. Since the wind did not look  promising for kiting, we rented a VRBO in Todo Santos and drove there for a bit of surfing and boogie boarding.

Christmas-1

This Toto Santos beach was pretty and had good waves!

Toto Santos is a charming little town and the surf beach is really pretty! We spent two days and one night in Toto Santos enjoying the surprisingly warm surf.  In fact, the water in Todo Santos was a good 10 degrees warmer than it was in La Paz. 

IMG_8976My handsome Clayton waiting for breakfast at La Esquina in Toto Santos.

There is a turtle sanctuary in Toto Santos and every day in December they release hatchlings at sunset. I was excited to see the little turtles crawl to freedom and all my guys were surprisingly interested as well.  Apparently many other people wanted to watch the turtle release too as there were about 50 people mulling about! 

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A little glimpse into the incubation tent.

The turtles are hatched in a large incubated tent monitored mostly by volunteers. Just after sunset eight plastic containers holding a total of about 100 hatchlings were released near the surf.

I had no idea that only one in 100 turtles survive to adulthood!  Thinking about it though, I can understand why – there are predators at every step of the turtles birth.

Christmas-3

Look how small and cute these little babies are!

First the egg has to hatch before some animal steals into the nest and eats it.

Next the hatchling has to walk from the relatively protected grass across the open sand to the ocean surf, and it is exposed and defenseless to prey during that slow, awkward crawl.

Driven by instinct, turtles scrabble toward the light of the setting sun they see over the ocean waves. However, these days the artificial lights used by humans can disorient the baby turtles causing them to go away from the ocean instead of towards it, creating another obstacle to survival.  For this reason, flash photography and flashlights were not allowed. 

Christmas-2

That is a long, dangerous crawl for these hatchlings to the ocean.

Once the hatchling reaches the ocean, it must swim for three days without food and catch a specific ocean current that will carry it on its first journey.  And of course, many sea animals think baby turtles make a delicious snack, so again the little things are in danger! 

IF the turtle manages to reach the current without being killed, it can relax and eat the plentiful food also drifting on the current.

I also learned that sea turtles ‘imprint’ the beach where they hatch and will return every year to the same location to lay their eggs.  Researchers do not know how the turtles record their particular beach or how they navigate back to the same spot.

After catching waves in Santos, we headed back to Ticket to Ride in La Paz and planned on sailing to some local anchorages, initially Colita Partida.  We set out one calm morning before the wind had filled in.  The sea surface was a flat, mirror of steel gray as we slowly motored away from La Paz.

Whale Sharks

How beautiful is this giant creature?

But very shortly, the smooth surface was broken by whale sharks!!

Christmas-7

Clayton is a fraction of the size of this whale shark!

We shut down TTR’s engines and grabbed snorkeling gear.  Since Frank and I have already had the whale shark experience, we stayed on board while the kids jumped into the water.

We launched the dinghy so Frank could get close to the whale sharks to let the swimmers jump in, but we found the whales didn’t much care for the engine noise. So we dropped the paddle boards and the guys were able to paddle right up to the sharks without disturbing them.

They swam SO close to TTR!

Even though I stayed on Ticket to Ride, I had a perfect view. You can see from this video I took from the deck of TTR that the whale sharks swam very close to our drifting boat.

Seeing and swimming with these whale sharks was a rare gift!

Christmas-6

Their markings are distinctive and stunning.

It’s pretty hard to beat the excitement of seeing those whale sharks, but the weather decided to show her stuff and prove that she is worth respecting.  Nothing bad happened, but the day was interesting. The weather changed from flat calm to breezy, then to about 28 knots of wind and dark clouds.  We quickly realized that anchoring in our original destination of Colita Partida was not going to be comfortable and we set our sights on Isla San Francisco or San Evaristo.

DSC06089

A very vivid double rainbow one rainy afternoon.

After about 25 minutes the wind dropped off and the clouds drifted away. But an hour or two later, more clouds developed and another wind system blew through.  The wind shifted about 40 degrees in the blink of an eye and we decided the all around protection of San Evaristo would be a good choice in the shifty conditions.  Plus the wind was expected to be from the north for the remainder of the week and we could sail our way south as anchorages opened up.

DSC05859

Hunter pulls Clayton for a foiling session.

San Evaristo is a quiet anchorage with a quaint and usually active fishing village that was inactive due to the Christmas Holiday.  But we managed to enjoy ourselves with a mixture of foil boarding behind the dinghy, SUPing and snorkeling. 

And we celebrated Christmas by exchanging gifts and giving thanks for our blessings.

DSC05956

I love how Clayton is cheering for Frank’s successful foiling!

The wind forecast was showing excellent possibilities for some good kiting in La Ventana, a well known kite hangout around the corner from La Paz. Although a good place for kiting, La Ventana is not an ideal anchorage.  Instead we wanted to anchor TTR in Muertos and use a car to drive between Muertos and La Ventana.

So we sailed back to La Paz and dropped off half the crew who rented a car and drove to Muertos, while the other half sailed Ticket to Ride to Muertos.   We spent the next several days anchored in Muertos and split our time between Muertos and La Ventana.

DSC06014

Clayton checking out the mainsail and Hunter kiting in the background.

The days were filled again with kiteboarding, swimming, snorkeling, foiling behind the dinghy, bits of boat maintenance and having shore time at the only Muertos restaurant, Cafe 1535.

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Hunter kite foiling in Muertos

New Year’s was a WILD night…. exhausted from another active day in the water and wind, we sipped champagne at dinner time and went to bed by cruisers midnight – 9 pm!

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Once in a while there was some rest time.

All too soon vacation time was over and we had to sail back to La Paz.  All of us were surprised how quickly the two weeks passed!

In concluding this post, I must be honest and admit that saying goodbye to my kids is hard for me. Sometimes I long for the more ‘traditional’ lifestyles my friends have back in Texas, where their families live nearby and they see each other on a routine basis. I miss the traditions we had with friends and neighbors at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – sharing meals and parties – but especially spending time reminiscing about our histories together and creating new ones for later.

But then I have to be realistic…. if we lived in Texas, Hunter and Clayton would still live in California and we would see them less often than we do now.  It is much more interesting for them to come see us in unusual places on the boat than it would be to visit in Dallas.  Over the last few years we have spent Christmas together in Bonaire, the Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, etc.  All of these places add a uniqueness to our celebration and because we don’t see each other very often, we relish and appreciate the time we do spend together.

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Just one of the gorgeous sunsets in Muertos.

So when those days pop up and I miss seeing family and friends on a regular basis, I stop those thoughts and remind myself that this opportunity to travel with Frank on TTR brings blessings of its own. We love exploring both well known and more remote places on this planet and we get to meet new friends with whom we also create histories.  And hopefully our long time friends will find time to come visit us on TTR.

We hope your Holiday Season was filled with the love of family and blessings from above.  As always, thank you for stopping to read our blog.  If you have comments, we would love to hear from you.  And if you would like a more regular glimpse into what we see, please check out our FB page.

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