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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday April 26th, 2010

Well it's officially our last day here in Hawaii. We have loved every minute here and the Hawaii Yacht Club has been the perfect place to stay - absolute waterfront (you can't get any more waterfront!!) for around $30 a day and a 2 minute walk to Waikiki beach and tourist central. We had a great finish to our stay yesterday with a swim at the beach followed by drinks at Duke's - a bar right on the edge of the sand (the Lava Flow cocktails are fantastic!! And they do a mean Mai Tai too) - followed by tea at the market across the road and a few beers with a new friend, Richard.

We have met some lovely people here like Mike and HaeSung from Ottawa in Canada, and Richard from Sydney. Mike and HaeSung are sailing to Japan in their Canadian Sailcraft 40. They left on Saturday for Guam which they are anticipating will take 30 days – we certainly don’t envy them! Richard is doing pretty much the same trip we are, however he is crazy enough to try it single-handed in his Bill Garden designed 41 foot centre-cockpit ketch. We had an exhausting time when our autohelm died – imagine how poor Richard felt when his failed 300 or 400 miles out... We’re hoping he’ll be able to catch us again in either Samoa or Fiji.

Our next stop will be Fanning Island which is about 1000nm away and should take around 7 to 10 days (we’re hoping closer to 7...!!). After that we’ll head for Samoa which will be another 7 to 10 days. Stu and Richard have assured me that there will be smooth sailing and fantastic weather from here on but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m already dreading those night watches...

We’ll have our spot tracker going again but we’ve heard that there are quite a few black spots from here to New Zealand so we’re not sure how reliable the tracker will be – keep that in mind if you can’t follow our route for a few days! We’re doubtful that there will be internet access for us at Fanning Island so I guess the next blog post will be from Samoa.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wednesday 21st April 2010

One thing we really wanted to do while in Hawaii was to go to a luau to experience the Hawaiian party atmosphere and the traditional luau food.

We picked 'Germaine's Luau' as it seemed to be the one with the most traditional food, the others appearing to cater more to unadventurous food types. Germaine's advertised:

Kalua pig
This uses a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an imu, or underground oven. Extremely hot volcanic rocks are placed in a hole and the hole is lined with vegetation such as banana leaves. A salted pig is placed inside and covered with more banana leaves to preserve the heat and flavor. Then, covered with burlap and soil, it's left to steam all day.

Lomi-lomi salmon
This is a fresh tomato and salmon salad, and was introduced to Hawaiians by early western sailors but still considered a traditional Hawaiian food. It is typically prepared by mixing raw salted, diced salmon with tomatoes, onion and occasionally flakes of hot red chili pepper.

A dish made from taro, which is kind of like sweet potato I guess, but purple...

Chicken long rice
A dish of cellophane noodles in chicken broth (Hawaiian food is heavily influenced by Asian cultures)

A coconut milk based dessert  

It also served a local fish dish. All the fish we have had here to date has been great!

On arrival we were greeted with a shell lei and our photo was taken, which they attempted to flog to us for $20 when we left. It was actually a really nice photo, but rather than forking out $20 I sneakily took a photo of the photo without being noticed  

Ahh, blurry... I guess that's karma...

The ticket price include 3 free drinks (well - "free" is a bit liberal as we'd already paid for our tickets!!), which we could 'supersize' if we bought large souvenier gasses from the gift shop. Which we did, of course :) First up - a Blue Hawaii

Only these and mai tai's were available for 1 drink ticket. These were a bit sweet and sickly and the mai tai's were blow-your-head-off strong, so that was disappointing. We still had drink tickets left over at the end of the night - imagine that!!

Next up - the big unveiling of the pig!

In all honesty this kind of grossed me out...

Never mind - on to the bit we were looking forward to the most - trying all this food!!

Lining up in anticipation, waiting, I could see the food (we were pretty hungry by this stage), the line creeping along so slowly - the food must be great and so people are taking their time to put a lot on their plate, hope they leave some for us! FINALLY at the food! First dish, pineapple colesaw.... Oh... well, give that a miss and leave room for the good stuff! Next up, potato and macaroni salad, then a garden salad (which, as per my previous post, we now know isn't done well in America!!), followed by a three-bean salad and fried chicken.... What the???   At this stage my plate was pretty empty. Well, totally empty apart from cutlery and a small serving of beans (not wanting to look like I was shunning everything...!!) But now - the real food, the food we had come to try! I filled my plate with kalua pig, lomi-lomi salmon, fried mahi-mahi (dolphin fish) and poi, yum!!

Actually, no - disappointing :(

The pig was nice but only in small doses (even Stu didn't finish his serve, which is saying something as he was so lookig forward to it), the fish was super dry having obviously been fried earlier then re-heated, and the poi was - well, you saw the picture - purple glue...! The lomi lomi salmon was nice, but we only got a small pre-portioned serving of that. Disappointed, I headed back to the buffet to load up on some of the rest of the (un-Hawaiian) dishes, needing more food. Bean salad, green salad, chicken, teriyaki beef -  none of which was particularly enjoyable. At least they couldn't get dessert wrong, could they? Well, the chocolate cake was terrible, but the haupia was actually quite nice, sort of like a coconut flavoured custard in a jelly consistency (sounds gross, but good!).

To add to this, the bar lost power so drinks weren't available...

Throughout the night there was hula to entertain, complete with an MC straight out of a caberet show (think hawaiian shirt, beige trousers and a voice made for radio, who like bursting in to song in Hawaiian) and audience participation.

What - we have to participate?

Cold sweat, slide down in our seats so as not to be noticed, not even more drinks available to give us courage!! But - phew - it was purely voluntary. And I can now say that Americans love to participate! There was no stopping them! They were up there as quick as could be, solo-huluing (solo! as in up there on stage by themselves!!) and dancing around like they were at home with curtains closed!! Maybe this isn't unusual, but for two 'public display' introverts it was cringe-worthy... At least we didn't have to do it! 

So all in all not quite the luau experince we had hoped for, but an experience all the same and isn't that what this trip is all about??!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Monday 19th April 2010

We went to Pearl Harbour today, which was very ineresting.

We all know the story I guess(we've all seen the movie!!!) so here are some photos:

USS Bowfin - submarine

USS Bowfin kill list (over 9 patrolls during WWII)

torpedo tubes

I wouldn't want to be in a hurry trying to race though these tiny hatches

The gun on the conning tower

USS Missouri through binoculars on Bowfin's conning tower

The Missouri was the site of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces on Sept. 2, 1945, ending World War II

USS Arizona memorial

This memorial is built over the remains of the USS Arizona, which sank at her berth when bombed by the Japanese. Of the 1,400 crew members on board 1,177 were killed - over half of the casualties suffered by the entire fleet in the Peal Harbour attack.

Memorial wall
(compete with a Kruger and a Watson!)

Remains of USS Arizona's aft gun turret foundation.
Her sister ship - the USS Missouri - is in the background

Remains of USS Arizona's forward gun turret foundation.

Pacific Aviation Museum - Aeronca 65TC Defender

This was being flown by a civillian at the time of the attack.
He found himself caught up in the Japanese planes as they were flying in to bomb the harbour.

Pacific Aviation Museum - Curtiss P-40E Warhawk with B-25B Mitchell Medium Bomber behind.

 Broom handles were painted black and added at the tail gunner position on the bomber in the hope that the Japanese would think they were real guns!

Pacific Aviation Museum - F4F-3 Wildcat

Pacific Aviation Museum - Stearman N2S-3

This plane was flown by George Bush. At age 18, he became the Navy's youngest pilot when he received his Naval Aviator wings and naval commission.
Love him (??) or hate him, that's quite an effort!

Stu with missiles

Submarine escape pod

This pod held 2 operators and 8 others
And I thought getting in to our life raft would suck...
 When it was used there were 32 people on the sub. Who drew the short straw and had to wait for the second (or third!!) trip??!!

Japanese suicide torpedo

A driver sat in this and controlled the torpedo ensuring accuracy.
There was a hatch intended to be used for escape when the torpedo got within 150 feet of the target... ummmm...yeah...

There is no record of any pilot attempting to escape (as if he would have time!!), so the escape hatch was dropped from later productions so that, once inside, the pilot could not let himself out.

Again - short straw??

I should have known not to get excited when the snack bar advertised a garden salad for $3.00...
Lettuce anyone??

Saturday 17th April 2010

Scuba Diving!!

We booked a scuba diving session for this morning. Stu is certified but I didn't get around to it before we left Hobart, however the dive companies are quite happy to take beginners out provided you sign away all sign I did and off we went!

There were 5 beginners, 6 if you count Stu as he was happy to dive with me rather than leave me to the mercies of the ocean! That said, the advanced group was diving in the same place anyway so there wasn't much difference. The instruction was brief but to the point and very good.

Our first stop was Turtle Canyon - deceptive, as there were no sea turtles....

As fate would have it once the experienced divers had gone I was first in line - not really my preference! But in I went, amazingly remembering to hold my mask and reg as I leapt in to the unknown!! Well, not totally 'unknown' as the water was incredibly blue and clear and I could see exactly what was going on below, including the massive school of fish that swam under me just as I jumped in.

The set up was that once we were in we held on to a rope which stretched from the boat to the bottom, giving us time to get used to the idea of breathing underwater...

What a strangely foreign concept! It really did throw me, and I found that I was really, really concentrating on my breathing. It was quite an uncomfortable feeling at first, and I signalled to the instructor that I wanted to go up 2 or 3 times before I finally began to feel comfortable. I also hadn't expected the sound of the air bubbles going past my ears to be quite so loud - it was almost headache material and it took me a while to get used to that. I had a moment of frustration when I thought that I wouldn't be able to do it, but I'm here for adventure and I wasn't going to be the one that gave up! As it turns out, out of three girls on the dive I was the only one that did the dive so I'm pretty happy with myself :)

We spent about 5 minutes on the ropes, giving all 4 divers time to adjust plus practising skills like clearing our masks and regs of water and finding our reg if it got knocked out of our mouth. Then down we went! As soon as I was under the water properly and not bobbing about a foot from the surface I found it all suddenly became quite easy! Also, I guess I was distracted by what was happening around me. We followed the rope down to the bottom. I had  bit of trouble equalizing my ears (left was fine, right played up) so was up an down a few feet at a time, but eventually I was fine and just had to remember to keep clearing them as the pressure built. Frustratingly I had to do it a lot, and I know I snotted in to my nosepiece a couple of times (delightful...) but at least I had it sussed.

Equalising while heading down the rope to the bottom

We were about 40 feet down - the water was so clear and we saw lots of fish, some of which seemed to be as curious about us as we were about them.

Moorish Idol

Some dopey looking thing!

After about half an hour we went back to the boat. I must have been sucking the air like crazy as I only had 500kpa of air left when we got back and Stu still had about 1200....!!

Our next dive was at Koko Crater, which is where we were told we would probably see turtles. As if on cue a massive green sea turtle popped its head up near the boat. It was about a metre long - incredible! No problems getting used to being in the water this time - I jumped in and headed straight for the bottom where Stu already was. As I watched the turtle dove down from the surface, passing right underneath Stu within less than a metre before finding itself a comfy position under a ledge.

We made a couple other friends on this dive too:

The friendly neighbourhood octopus
('Hawaiian Day Octopus' / Octopus cyanea ??)

Pincushion Seastar (?)

Some weird species of starfish...

We had to go back to the boat way too soon (and this time I had loads of air left too!!), but it has given me a taste of diving and I definitely want to do more. Perhaps I'll get certified while I'm somewhere warm, rather than waiting until I get back to cold Hobart...

(Look at me, diving and kind of looking like I know what I'm doing!!)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wednesday 14th April 2010

Hello, Honolulu!

Stu was very excited to see all the yacht masts.
I, on the other hand, have seen enough 'boat' to last a while...!

Once the sun came up we could see the channel markers quite clearly marking the safe passage in to Ala Wai Yacht Harbour. We could also quite clearly see the surf breaking on the reefs either side so were quite happy with our decision to wait until morning! The reefs make a great surf break, apparent by the number of early morning surfers waiting for the perfect wave.

We entered the harbour and tied up the the fuel dock so I could go the the harbour office and announce our arrival. When I arrived back at the boat 25 minutes later, berth secured, Stu informed me that he had been talking to the guy at the fuel dock/cafe - Curtis - who said that we could have a berth at the Hawaii Yacht Club for not too much more than the harbour office was going to charge. The promise of better facilities, access to the bar and restaurant and opportunities to meet more people made the decision easy for us, and we got a berth right outside the yacht club. We are literally 15 metres from the yacht club door! As well as making food, drinks and showers (nice showers!) very convenient it also means we're meeting lots of people, some of who come for a wander around the boats, see our Aussie flag and come on board for a beer and a chat. We're also in a prime spot to hear the live bands (whilst drinking out own drinks on board and avoiding bar prices!!) and, as we discovered this evening, a prime spot for watching the local dinghy racing.

We spent the day tidying the boat befre having a quick explore around Honolulu and Waikiki, discovering the wonder of 'shave ice', which is very popular around here. Basically a snow cone - but surprisingly tasty and refreshing in these 28 degree days :)

We are 'parked' behind another Australian boat. Mike bought his Hallberg Rassy 40 in Vancouver and is leaving on Friday to do pretty much the same trip we are. Apparently the number of Australians who come through here after buying boats on the west coast of America is huge (so we're not the only crazy people!!). Mike has done a lot of single handed sailing, including his trip from Vancouver, but has a couple of mates flying out to do the next leg of his trip with him to Kiribati.