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Alaska Bound ~ Published After We Began Our Pacific Ocean Crossing.

After spending an unexpected but excellent year cruising the Hawaiian Islands, it is time to seek new cruising grounds. Although our original intent when we left Mexico in March 2020 was to sail to French Polynesia, the decision to turn toward Hawaii proved one of our best. During the difficult times of a world pandemic, we were fairly isolated from risk because of our location, the precautions taken by Hawaii, and by our own actions which were guided by safety.

Provisioning in Mexico – first run.

Cruising Hawaii during Covid 19, while restricted, also allowed us a glimpse into what Hawaii must have been like 30 or 40 years ago when tourism was not the mainstay of the economy and fewer people were exploring the trails and beaches. Certainly many attractions and restaurants were closed due to Covid, but the ability to walk trails that were almost devoid of people and have the natural beauty of places to ourselves was a unique gift that we will always treasure.

As lovely as Hawaii and its people have been, our original plan of traveling to French Polynesia is still our goal. We prefer to arrive in FP with a long stay visa in hand, which would allow us to stay for a year rather than three months. Long stay visas are not available at this time, so we have decided to point our bows in a northeast direction and “reset” our itinerary.

The plan is to leave Hawaii, sail north and east to Alaska and spend several weeks exploring the northern most state of the U.S. By the time weather forces us to seek a more southern location, we hope the Canadian borders will be open so we are allowed to stop in Canadian ports throughout the Inside Passage. From Canada we will sail to Seattle, then make a long jump to San Francisco, followed by stops in Long Beach and San Diego. Of course, all of these plans are “written in sand, at low tide” because we will be directed by the weather and border restrictions.

Anticipated route to Alaska using PredictWind

Unlike our east to west trip across the Pacific which was driven by the trade winds, this passage in the opposite direction will be influenced by the Pacific High weather system. We await its formation because once that high is in place, the low pressure systems are less numerous and our travel weather should be more stable and predictable.

But there is no guarantee that we will be able to avoid low pressure systems completely because the trip is expected to take 11-18 days and weather forecast predictions are not accurate that far in advance.

We have hired Bruce “The Weather Man,” a weather router located in Perth, Australia who studies the Pacific and will send us daily updates and course recommendations based on the information he has available. In addition to Bruce, we use the PredictWind weather application which gives us weather updates a few times each day.

Hopefully between Bruce and PredictWind, we will be able to find a comfortable and reasonably fast weather window. If you would like to follow our trip, here is a link which shows our location and speed.

Those who have sailed Alaska tell us the beauty of the area is amazing and that one season is simply not enough to adequately explore all Alaska has to offer. We are certain this statement will prove true and we will decide later if we want to extend our exploration beyond one short season.

We have also heard a wide range of reports about the weather in Alaska and I am certain those reports vary greatly depending on what weather each summer unleashes. Obviously the temperatures will be much different from the warmth of Hawaii. But we also anticipate encountering fog, ice, big winds, no wind, fishing boats, fish traps and perhaps a few cruise ships. To say the least, we expect our experience in Alaska will be about a 180 degree change from Hawaii.

We will trade the lush landscape and warm waters of Hawaii for the unknown and cold temperatures of Alaska.

We have mentioned often that the “aloha” we have received in Hawaii is amazing. If our saying so wasn’t enough proof of that, perhaps the fact that we have three crew members, all of whom we met in Hawaii, on board for this passage will cement our statement.

Our three crew are: Erik who we met in Maui in May 2020, Tommy who we met in Kaneohe Bay in June 2020, and Amelia who we met in Kauai in July 2020. Needless to say, we would not have asked these people to join us on a long passage unless we enjoy their company and they are capable hands on board Ticket to Ride. Inviting three Hawaiian residents to crew for us certainly proves that we have been well blessed to meet many excellent people while also enjoying the beauty of Hawaii.

So, when you see this post, know that we are somewhere along our course toward Juneau, Alaska. Hopefully the weather window we chose is a good one and we are enjoying a smooth, comfortable, safe and uneventful trip across 2700 nautical miles of Pacific Ocean.

Thanks for reading our blog. Take a peak at the link above to check our progress and perhaps add a little prayer for our safety. We have no idea how much internet/cell service we will have while in Alaska, but we will update our Facebook and Instagram pages more quickly than this blog page. See you soon from the chilly north!

Kaneohe Yacht Club ~ The Embodiment of the Aloha Spirit.

No doubt cruisers around the world have faced challenges throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic.  While we consider ourselves fortunate to be in the immensely beautiful group of Hawaiian Islands, we too have faced some challenges during this last year. However, since our first introduction to the Kaneohe Yacht Club in June of 2020, this gem of a yacht club, its members and staff have been a haven of welcome and safety for us.

KYC is beautiful and serene at night.

Way back in June we happened to meet Tommy Henshaw, a junior member at KYC, while we were anchored in the Bay. Upon learning that we needed to have some sail work done, Tommy introduced us to the KYC dock master who allowed us to spent a few nights on the KYC end dock so we could off load our sails. This was a huge relief as it allowed Jake, the North Sails rep, to come to TTR, help us remove sails and use a dock cart to get the sails to Jake’s truck. Much easier than trying to transport our sails via dinghy!

A week or two later, KYC kindly allowed us to once again tie to their dock when the repaired sails were returned to TTR. How awesome is that?

During our early visits, KYC was pretty deserted due to COVID.

Fast forward a month or so…. we were doing some rudder work on Ticket to Ride and once again KYC allowed us to hang out at the end dock. This time we were able to stay for a two week period and we had the opportunity to meet the club members who would stroll down the dock to say hello. We also had many interactions with the KYC staff and every single person was a pleasure to work with!

Rarely have I met such a welcoming group of people! 

Our two week visit was during high COVID time and the KYC was mostly closed due to state restrictions. None the less, those who were around the club would stop by for a chat, inquire about our plans and share stories about KYC and how much fun it is in “normal” times. Members shared information about favorite places to sail, things to do around Oahu and hikes that shouldn’t be missed.

One of the walks we took with Lori and Tony – both KYC members.

Kaneohe Bay rests behind the only barrier reef in Hawaii and is a lovely place to anchor. So we spent several weeks in the Bay and watched the comings and goings of the Yacht Club from our anchor. 

Fast forward to December 2020. After spending several weeks in Kauai, then running from Hurricane Douglas, hanging out in the roadstead anchorages of Maui, and spending weeks in Keehi Marine Center for boat work, we once again sought out the calm, protected waters of Kaneohe Bay.

When we returned to the Bay, we were again allowed to seek refuge for a week or two at KYC. This time the club was a bit more open and we were able to get a better sense of what KYC is like when completely operational. 

Players waiting for the next set to start.

During our December visit, I met a few KYC tennis players who invited me to join their round robin gatherings on the weekends.  Because the days were short, the Friday night tennis was played under black lights! What’s not to love about such a free spirited type of tennis?

Members told us that New Year’s Eve in Kaneohe Bay was not to be missed as Hawaiian families go all out on fireworks and the bay would be lit up.  Well, they were quite correct! At midnight the fireworks began all along the bay and must have lasted 30 minutes! I honestly believe this is the longest display of fireworks I have ever seen.

In January, Frank and I left Kaneohe Bay and sailed to Maui to seek out the annual humpback whale migration. We spent about seven weeks moving from spot to spot on Maui, watching whales and connecting with friends from our college days. The time in Maui was magical because of the marine life and the time with our friends. However, the rules in Hawaii require us to move locations often and the winds were tearing through the anchorages with gusts often in the 40 knot range.  

After weeks of bumpy roadstead anchorages and changing locations every few days, we were ready for some calm water and we were looking for a refuge where we could recharge in a peaceful space.  

With that in mind, we contacted KYC and made a proposal with these things in mind:

~KYC had less traffic and fewer visiting yachts than usual because of COVID 

~the KYC end dock was not in use 

~we were in need of a respite from constantly seeking new places to anchor

~we guessed that KYC revenue was down due to COVID 

SO….

We proposed to the KYC Board that TTR be allowed to stay at the end tie for a month and in return, we would make a larger than usual guest fee.  In addition, if any club member needed the end dock, we would leave the dock and anchor to allow the member to have first use of the dock.

Ticket to Ride comfortably tied to the end of the dock at KYC.

Our hope was that this would be a positive arrangement for KYC because we knew it would be a great relief and fun rest for us. Happily, the board at KYC accepted our proposal. 

We are SO thankful that the Board was able to think outside of the box during these crazy times and allow us an extended visit. We sailed back to Kaneohe as soon as a weather window allowed!

Sunset beams highlighting the Thursday night beer can race.

I did not realize how much I “needed” one place to call home for a few weeks until we tied up to KYC.  The sense of relief at being on a safe dock, the knowledge that we didn’t have to move for a few weeks and the immediate welcome back from the members and staff nearly brought me to tears! 

I do not think the KYC Board, members or staff have any idea how truly grateful we are for the time we had at their amazing club! 

KYC boats sporting their spinnakers.

During our last visit to KYC, Oahu had raised the COVID level to Tier 3 and as a result KYC was beginning to come alive! Of course there were still restrictions and limitations, but wow, it was so fun to see the members enjoying their club again!

The minute we retied at KYC, we were welcomed with extreme generosity! Some members offered us the use of their cars for errands, others invited us out to dinner, we were invited into peoples homes, I was welcomed on the tennis court, we cheered on sailors sailing in the Beer Can Races, folks strolled down the dock to say hello, and as boats entered and left the dock, we called hello to folks by name and they knew our names in return.   How incredible is that?!

A few juniors rigging their WASZPs before zinging away from the dock.

KYC has a very active junior sailing program led by Jesse Andrews.  Jesse and his crew teach dinghy sailing in a variety of boats like Optis and BICs.  But in addition to these traditional junior dinghies, the KYC has a very active group of WASZP, 420 and 429 sailors. We loved watching the small dinghies tack in and out of the fairway and we were amazed watching the WASZPs zip down the lane – usually up on foils and moving silently through the water.

It is absolutely impossible to explain how much of a refuge KYC has been for us during the Pandemic.  Cruising in Hawaii can be challenging because of wind, waves, storms and the ever present 3 day anchoring rules. 

It is equally difficult to portray the warmth and fun of the yacht club members. There isn’t really a cruising community in Hawaii and I dare say the KYC members and staff became our cruising family.

If we were living on Oahu, we would definitely apply to join Kaneohe Yacht Club. In fact, we tried to join as “out of town” members, but that isn’t allowed unless one has already been a club member for two years. Although we cannot join KYC, this club will forever have a very special place in our hearts and in our memories. 

KYC stands out as one of the most wonderful aspects of our year in Hawaii. Every person we met there absolutely exemplified the aloha spirit and we were blessed to have been recipients.

Thank you for stopping by to read our blog. We hope this story of the wonderful people of KYC brightens your day and fortifies your belief in the goodness of people. If you would like to hear from us more often, please see our Facebook page or Instagram.

Servicing a Clutch or Two or How About Twenty-one?

Every so often the clutches on TTR need to be cleaned and lubricated. Although it isn’t an exciting job, it is a very important one.

For the unfamiliar, lines connected to our sails run through a clutch which helps control the movement of the lines and therefore the shape of our sails. If the clutch is locked down, the line will not move in or out of the clutch, thus keeping a line immobile so the sail will hold a certain shape. Pretty sensible.

On the other hand, an open clutch will allow a line to move easily in either direction so we can trim a line (shorten) or ease a line (lengthen). Suppose we were sailing and suddenly a big breeze came up and we needed to release a sail because there was more power than we wanted. The line would run through an opened clutch to the release pressure on the sail.

Clearly the ability to power or de-power a sail is an important function and clutches are vital component of sail trim on TTR.

Ticket to Ride has 21 clutches and we spent a looong day servicing them. The pictures below will give you an idea of our process:

Remove the machine screw holding the interior mechanism.
Remove the internal mechanism.
Eww, that is a lot of dust and fiber from the lines!
A bottle brush with some boat soap to clean the inside.
Fresh water rinse to make sure all the dirt and soap are cleared.
Air from the dive tank to remove any water remaining after hand drying.
Giving the interior part a soapy scrub then rinse.
Taping the rope surface before lubricating the “guts.”
A little dry Teflon lubricant works wonders.
Ditto on the dry Teflon spray for the interior.
Reinstall the internal parts.
Clutches reassembled with lines run.

Voila! That is the process we use to take care of our clutches on Ticket to Ride.

I am sure there is someone out there who has a different way of maintaining clutches. We are always open to suggestions, so let us know your clutch secrets! Or secrets in a clutch. 😜

Recently we have been spending time on “boat love” like the servicing clutches. We have been tackling exciting jobs like polishing the brightwork, cleaning the bilges, oil changes, servicing the Pontos winch, cleaning the hulls under the water, “lifting” the mast for proper rig tension, testing lights and equipment on the mast, etc.

Frank and Tommy adjusting the mast lift pressure.

We definitely appreciate Tommy’s continued dedication to TTR. He is always ready to sail or lend a hand on projects, as well as introduce us to new people and avid sailors.

Frank checking the mast equipment as the moon supervises.

We do our best to keep TTR in great shape and ready to take on our next adventure at a moments notice. We are looking forward to seeing borders open again so we can resume our travels. In the mean time, we have begun researching alternate opportunities since French Polynesia remains restricted. Who knows, maybe these two warm weather sailors will decide this is the perfect time to explore Alaska!

We will let you know as our plans develop.

As always, thank you for visiting our blog. We hope you will share any of your favorite maintenance secrets. It is always good to find effective, time saving secrets. If you want to hear from us more often, please look for us on Facebook or Instagram. Stay well y’all!

Our Take On Sailing Hawaii Via Latitude 38 Magazine

In December, we were contacted by the editor of Latitude 38 Magazine and asked to write a quick article about cruising in Hawaii.

TTR moored at Shark Fin, Lanai

If you are interested in reading it, please follow this link to read our write up on page 86. I hope you enjoy it.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai

Although the magazine heading mentions Long Beach, we are actually nomads without a land home.

Right now we are spending time anchored off Maui. The weather is keeping us on our toes as we have to move around for incoming weather systems. But we are enjoying the water, whales and friends in between storms.

Thank you for stopping in to read our blog. I have not had enough cell/wifi to post blogs but I hope to soon. If you want to hear from us more often, please visit us on FB or Instagram.

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.

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.

Why Buy a “Ticket to Ride” When We Could Just “Let It Be?” or Why We Bought a Performance Cat.

Fairly often we are asked why we sold our 44′ Fountaine Pajot catamaran, Let It Be, and bought our Hudson Hakes 55′ catamaranTicket to Ride. The follow up questions are usually “how different are the boats?” and “was the change worth it?”

Well the answers are pretty involved, but we must begin by saying that Frank and I would probably not have ordered an HH55 unless we were certain the cruising lifestyle worked for us.  I have read that as few as 30 percent of couples who decide to live on a boat for an extended time actually complete their plan. That means about 70 percent of the partners who begin this journey do not enjoy it enough to continue as long as they planned. Before investing in Ticket to Ride, we had already learned that we enjoyed the cruising lifestyle and that it would be a long term choice for us.

Let It Be was a trustworthy boat and clearly capable of the circumnavigation recently completed on an FP 44′ by our friends Amy and David of s/v Out Chasing StarsSo obviously our decision was driven by other factors.

Rather, we were in search of three things: more space, more speed and more sailing. Plus there was a strong “why not?” factor.

Recently I read a well written blog about a couple who found cruising just wasn’t for them . The main complaints were that their boat was slow, they were the last to arrive at a destination and their motor use/sail use proportion was 73 motor/27 sail. That would be very frustrating.

The difference in how often we sail Ticket to Ride versus Let It Be is tremendous, especially because now we can sail well to windward. Clearly having dagger boards rather than mini keels is a huge advantage in sailing to windward. Combine the excellent design of our hull and dagger boards with the piercing bows and significant sail plan on TTR and we find that we sail much more than we motor. At wind angles that allow sailing, TTR usually sails faster than she can motor. Overall on TTR, I would estimate that we sail 70-80 percent of the time and here in Hawaii that percentage has risen to about 90.

TTR sailing off Long Beach, CA.

I remember a particularly frustrating day when we were sailing Let It Be from Barbuda back to Antiqua. The day was beautiful but the sail was upwind and we had to tack and tack and tack because the best we could point on LIB was about 73 degrees true and 52 degrees apparent.  At those angles we also suffered from side slipping so achieving our destination was time consuming and frustrating.

Later we bought some very nice North 3Di sails for Let It Be and we improved our apparent wind angle capability by about 5 degrees (68 true/47 apparent) but those angles still didn’t allow us to head to wind well and often we used our motor(s) to help.

The angles I’ve mentioned are probably pretty standard for production cats with mini-keels, so there is no shame in those numbers for Fountaine Pajot. We thoroughly enjoyed our Fountaine Pajot and are very glad LIB was our first sailboat.

TTR sailing at a TWA of 60, and AWA of 28, boat speed 6.9 in 7.5 knots of breeze.

Sailing Ticket to Ride is completely different because even in ocean waves we can sail at 47-50 degrees true wind angle with an apparent wind angle of about 29-30 degrees. Combine those tighter wind angles with the dagger boards which keep us from side slipping, and we actually sail where we are pointing.

Clearly pointing better allows us to sail much more directly to our destinations without using engines and that reduces frustration and improves our arrival time. 

When we were route planning on LIB, we would hope to average 6 to 6.5 knots but on passage our average number of nautical miles per 24 hours tended to be about 140 or 5.8 knots of boats speed. I’m certain others with a FP Helia have better speed averages, but we were conservative about sailing a socked assymetric spinnaker at night, so that lowered our average speeds.

On this sailing day in Hawaii, TTR has boat speed of 23.1 in 24.4 knots of wind.

On Ticket to Ride, we route plan anticipating an average boat speed of 8.5 to 9 knots but we usually have better speeds than that and end up arriving earlier than expected. On TTR a 200 nm day (8.3 average) is casual and routine sailing and we have had several comfortable 250 nm days (10.42 average).

The really nice thing about the faster speeds of TTR is that what are overnight sails for many boats often become long day sails for us. This means we don’t hesitate to “pop over” to anchorages that on LIB would have required an overnight or partial night passage. Faster sailing brings more opportunities and willingness to explore additional anchorages.

The other obvious advantage of sailing faster in TTR is that our passage time is shorter so our exposure to weather is shorter. Although we do our best to avoid bad weather, if we encounter systems, we have a better chance of outrunning or avoiding storms on Ticket to Ride than we did on Let It Be.

In the article I referenced above, my take away was that two of the main frustrations were first how slow the boat sailed:   “It’s pretty demoralizing to be passed by every boat on the sea, especially when it was rough out.”  The second frustration was that they only sailed 20-27 percent of the time and the rest was spent motoring or motor sailing.

I completely understand how frustrating that would be and I think I would also want to throw in the towel or move to a motor cat if we were always using the motor and our speeds were slow. 

The standard rigging on the HH55 is more sophisticated and precise than it was on our FP.  One example is that the HH55 rigging uses Karver Hooks for reefing the main sail. Karver Hooks are fixed to the boom and attached to the mainsail through a designated loop. The benefit of the hook is that the reef is always in the same place and the reef in the sail is clean and properly aligned every time.**

On Let It Be, we had the standard 2:1 main halyard held in place with clutches and, while we could reef from the helm, our reef point varied depending on how tightly it was pulled and how well the line ran. Our reefs on LIB were not always clean and well aligned, especially at night when we could not see well.

Another example of more sophisticated rigging is the use of halyard locks for sail lines. Once we raise a sail, we make sure it is engaged in the halyard lock, then release all the pressure from the line. The sail is held aloft by the locking mechanism rather than by tension on a line. Learning to use the locks took very little practice and the benefits are; our lines are not under load when the sail is up, we have a shorter halyard because it is a 1:1 ratio instead of 2:1 length ratio, and the diameter of the line is much smaller. Removing the load from the halyards also lengthens the life of the lines and clutches.**

TTR stretching her legs.

There are some performance sailboats that bring speed to the table but sacrifice interior space and amenities to make sure the boat remains light. We looked at a couple of performance cats that were longer overall than the HH55 but they had less interior space than our 44′ FP. The HH55 definitely has more room than our FP had.

The designer for this HH Catamaran, Morrelli and Melvin, has a long history of go fast boats including several Gunboats.  The Gunboats I have seen are fast and modern, but somewhat spartan inside.  Our HH is fast but also has all the luxuries we want for living aboard our boat. We think Morrelli and Melvin’s HH55 design is the perfect combination of speed and space still manageable for a couple.

When discussing the strengths of our HH, we must include the materials and manufacturing of the boat. This cat is made of carbon fiber which is strong and light.  The boat has very little flex and is extremely quiet under sail – no creaking in the rigging. We have greater confidence in the strength of this boat than we did in our fiberglass sailboat. Every part manufactured at HH is cut using a CNC machine so the fit of the parts is excellent and we have confidence that each part is made to the proper specifications.

“Why Not?” We bought the boat we really wanted.

Finally, let’s talk about the “why not” factor. Frank worked very hard to provide excellent care for his patients and have a successful business. We were conservative stewards of his income and, while we lived well, we rarely spent our money on flashy cars or a lot of extremely high end items. 

When considering a new sailboat, we definitely decided to let go of our circumspect mentality and buy the boat we wanted without regard to the statement it made. We sort of said, “why not” get what we want and not worry about how others perceive our choice. We decided the HH55 worked within our budget and we were going to go for it.

During a day trip down the Nā Pali Coast we anchored TTR while we explored land for a bit.

When looking for a new boat, we were at a point in our sailing where we could maintain our level of experience and buy a larger production boat; or we could step up the performance of the boat and our experience level by sailing a faster and slightly more sophisticated boat. We wanted to challenge ourselves and grow through the new boat.

I was more hesitant about the image of an expensive boat than Frank was, but we are extremely happy with our HH and wouldn’t change our decision.  Although I was concerned the boat might put people off, she has actually increased the number of people we meet. TTR is rather eye catching and folks tend to paddle up, motor up, or approach us dockside to ask about TTR. We love meeting new people this way and sharing TTR with friends.  With her ample space, Ticket to Ride is often the gathering place for sundowners or dinners and we like creating those memories and sharing our floating home. 

Pictures of just a few of our guests over the last 21 months.

One final “why not” note; we both feel the importance of “loving your boat.”  Big or small, mono or cat, white, pink or blue, when you approach your boat in the dinghy or welcome guests on your boat, we feel it is important to “love your boat.”  We liked LIB for introducing us to the cruising lifestyle and taking us to many beautiful places. However, having the opportunity to build our own boat that meets our personal cruising needs and even have it painted the color of our choice all added to our “boat love” category. 

We do our best to savor the sunsets.

Living on a sailboat is not all sunset cruises with umbrella drinks. Routine chores take much longer than on land and require more effort; like walking to the grocery and carrying your groceries on your walk home.  Power and water must be monitored and carefully used; no more 20 minute showers with unlimited hot water. Moving from point A to point B takes a long time and if you don’t learn to enjoy the process of sailing to get to point B, you will probably not enjoy cruising. If you are a “type A” person you will need to learn to let go of the reins; a schedule is your enemy.  Nature, not you, determines your timing.

This is what we like to see from mother nature during hurricane season!

Cruising is definitely more challenging than living on land and it takes some time to adjust to moving at a slower pace and expending great effort to do things that were so easy on land. 

For Frank and me, sailing has worked very well. We have learned to enjoy the slower pace and embrace the rhythms of nature that guide our decisions. We have adjusted to spending all of our time together and we have become a team, focusing on the same goals.

I hope this offers a little understanding of why we chose to move from our Helia 44 to the HH55. If you have questions, feel free to write them in the comments and we will do our best to respond.

**These features may not be included in the 55′ Ocean Series or the HH50 Catamarans.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

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