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Tahiti - Hawaii 31.5. - 13.7.2003

updates:   31.5.   7.6.  14.6.  22.6.   28.6.   7.7.  13.7.  

31.5.2003 Tahiti, French Polynesia
We got a new bolt for the mast and now the rig is fine again. After a week in the city centre we moved for a couple of days to Marina Taina, located five miles away from the town. First we anchored, but the last day we were able to lend the marina berth of Henry, a Finnish guy who has been living five years in Papeete. He had seen our flag in town.
We were waiting for some reindeer meat, sent to us from home. We have had that excellent dried meat onboard all the time except in New Zealand, where it's not allowed to bring meat. The package arrived, we cleared out, took tax-free diesel (0.60 e/litre, normally 1 euro/litre!) and filled the watertanks. French Polynesia is very expensive, so we bought mainly fresh vegetables and fruit: this time ananas, papaya, pomelo, banana and lime. And two kilos emmenthal cheese (10 e/kg) which would be anyway more expensive in the States.
Now we are ready to start towards Hawaii, 2400 miles away. Again we might have to do a curve to east to avoid headwinds, the NE tradewinds, in the end.


Hannu fixing the new bolt

7.6.2003 Pacific Ocean 5 07 S 148 21 W
The last week we have been wishing that we would be far away from the sea and sailing, by a calm lake in the forest. We both have been on a very bad mood, not enjoying the sailing. I cannot remember any other time we would have felt this way. We have not argued with each other, just feeling miserable both. But. The weather has not been bad, there hasn't been any accidents, and we have made an acceptable 115 miles per day. What's the reason?
The weather has been very capricious: first calm, then 40 knots with rain, which made us to pass the low and dangerous Tuamotus from west instead of sailing through them in the night. This way we lost the advantage of the southerly wind to get some easting. After that only gusty headwinds and showers several days. Life has been reefing and un-reefing, getting wet and drying things. Tradewinds should blow from SE, and with them we should sail to NE, but the wind has been NE. We are on the edge of all weather fax map areas and cannot get a proper forecast. Everything is muggy, sweatty and damp. It's hot inside because the hatches have to be closed. Skin is constantly moist and the bunk is wet of sweat.
However, all this is nothing but uncomfortable. We seemed to have started this leg with a wrong attitude. We expected an "easy" passage with smooth tradewinds, at least in the beginning. We thought we need the guts during the last 600 miles, when wind is stronger and the hurricane season brings it's own excitement. And this wrong attitude has made the last week more difficult than the last leg with gales and rig-problems! Interesting.
The last two days we have had weak winds, and we have mostly motorsailed. Even if the motoring is never nice, at least we have proceeded to the right direction. This has cheered us up, and also all the moaning for no reason really starts to be amusing. So this is how to make an easy sailing difficult. 
There is 1500 miles to Hawaii. 

We saw two minky whales just when we left. They were 5-6 metres long, with dark grey backs and light coloured bellys. The paired blowing holes, one of the characteristics of the baleen whales, were clearly visible. The whales dived under the bow before they continued their way. Sometimes a black-and-white fregatt bird is curving above the mast. It is alone, unlike the gannets, which stay in numerous flocks. These are brown and skinny, some other species than Sulo, who sailed with us a year ago.
The first time we had a swordfish on the hook. Two jumps and it was free. Doubtly we could managed it aboard. But we got a perfect two-persons two-kilo tuna. It was made at follows:

Tuna-wok a la Kristiina
a chunk of fresh tuna

a couple of carrots
a small onion
a squash
oil
ginger, white pepper, herbamare-salt
lemon juice, soya, water

Chop the vegetables and fish to mouthfull pieces. Warm the oil in a wok. Fry onion and carrots first, add fish and squash. Stir time to time. Season with ginger and white pepper, carefully with some herbamare. When the tuna is brown, dash in lemon juice, soya and water. Put the lid on and let cook for 10 minutes. Add some soya to taste. Serve with rice.

14.6.2003 Pacific Ocean  9 34 N 147 55 W
The reason for the capricious weather of the beginning of the trip revealed - and we should have known that: it was the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), similar to the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) near the equator. As the name tells, the SPCZ lies within the southern hemisphere, and it can be absent for times. Generally, SPCZ doesn't have calms typical to ITCZ, but otherwise the weather patterns are similar: gusty winds and rain. Just what we experienced. 
The Intertropical Convergence Zone, i.e. the doldrums, separates the northerly and southerly tradewind belts. ITCZ's location and width changes. East of 160 W (where we are at the moment) it lies almost always north of equator. We reached the doldrums at the 6th latitude N. It became calm, cloudy and drizzling. The ITCZ was 3 degrees wide, i.e. 180 miles. At the latitude  9 N the NE tradewinds started to blow.
Between these two convergence zones we experienced tradewind sailing as its best. Sea was slight and Kristiina moved on steadily. No rain, only soft wisps of clouds on the blue sky. We were able to make enough easting for the future head winds. What a life! Sailing was wonderful again! 
On Tuesday, the 10th of June at 8.16 am we crossed the equator at point 147 deg 52 min W. No need for Neptunus this second time, but we had French sparkling wine from Papeete for breakfast. We had been over a year on the Southern hemisphere. Now the winds in lows and highs will circulate in a familiar way again, and the midday sun is shining from south instead of north. Soon we'll see the North Star, upside down sitting Plough we have already seen for a while.
After the EQ we got a current with us for two days and the miles started to run. Speed hanged constantly on 7-8 knots and we made an unbelievable 24-hour record: 178 miles! 
We have 700 miles left to Hawaii. This is the most exciting part, because we are now at the edge of the hurricane area. Hurricanes develope at the Mexican coast, and do no usually come west of 140 W, but even Hawaii (155 W) has experienced 6 hurricanes after 1950, the latest in September 1992. The season is from May to November. According to statistics, two tropical cyclones are possible in June of which the other developes to hurricane (wind speed over 64 knots). In July, August and September the possibility is twice as high. For us an unpleasant statistical feature is, that in the beginning of the season hurricanes are more likely to move far west, whereas the later ones keep closer to the shore.
Hurricanes - in other names cyclones or typhoons - exist only in tropical ocean areas. They born out of thunderclouds, fed by warm (over 26 deg. C) seawater. When they reach landmass or cold seawater they gradually die. Tropical cyclones have no fronts like normal cyclones (low pressures). An immature tropical cyclone moves slowly, about 5-10 knots, and also a fully developed hurricane can move relatively slowly, about 20-25 knots. But the windspeed is another matter. Windspeed in tropical depression is under 34 knots, in tropical storm 34-64 knots, and in hurricane over 64 knots (32 m/s).
In addition to the normal weather faxes, Hawaiian and Californian radio stations send information about hurricanes. So that you don't have to be ignorant when meeting a hurricane...

Back to earth from the weather systems: BEAUTIFUL MIDSUMMER to everyone, especially to Sindbad-folks at Elisaari! We should reach Hawaii on the Midsummer Eve. The phone is on during the Finnish Midsummer Eve. 

22.6.2003 Hilo, Hawaii
On the 19th of June we arrived to Hilo, Hawaii. The log counted 2480 miles, for which we had spent 19 days (an average of 130,5 miles per day). Two days before our arrival, hurricane Blanca developed at the coast of California. It moved, however, along the coast before dying out. In addition to hurricanes, also tsunamis are a threat in this area. They are huge ocean waves, caused usually by an underwater earthquake. The city of Hilo has experinced two bad tsunami devastations, in 1946 caused by an earthquake at Aleutians, and in 1960 at the coast of Chile.

The Hilo yacht harbour is a small basin next to a noisy container harbour. Here are only four boats, one Canadian, the rest Americans. All the officials were very friendly. Hannu had to do all the paperwork by himself because Auli had stepped on a fish hook a couple of days earlier and couldn't walk. We are allowed to be in the USA 6 months at the time, which means that our plan to winter in Alaska is impossible.
The town of Hilo is located 2 km away, which is inconvenient for Auli and her hurted foot. On Friday we kicked there with our Helkama scooters, walking would have been impossible. All the facilities, including shops and internet, are in town, near the harbour is only a small store and a laundry. We have already washed six loads, the normal job after an ocean passage.

The island of Hawaii is the biggest of the numerous islands in the Hawaii archipelago, and therefore also called the Big Island. Hilo is located on the rainy east coast, whereas most of the tourist activity is on the Kona coast on the west side. Here are the highest volcanic mountains, active Mauna Loa (4169 m) and non-active Mauna Kea (4205 m). They rise over 9 km from the sea bottom making them the highest mountains in the world. We were waiting to see the tops far out at the sea, but the rainy and cloudy weather prevented it. The only thing we saw was a small strecht of green shoreline between the rain patches.


The two sides of Hilo harbour...


The Hawaii Islands are scattered along 1400 miles from the easternmost Hawaii (20 N 155 W) almost to the dateline and 30th latitude. There are alltogether 130 volcanic islands, atolls and reefs, most of them just tiny spots. The eight biggest islands are Hawaii (Big Island), Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe, covering 99 per cent of the land surface. The capital Honolulu is on Oahu, as well as Pearl Harbor navy base.
Hawaii is part of Polynesia, but nowdays the Polynesians make up only a couple of percents of the population. The islands are a mixture of people, race and religions - very different from the other Polynesian islands. The origin of the inhabitants are mainly Japanese, Whites, Filipinos and Chinese. In 1898, Hawaii became a part of USA, and in 1959 it was made the 50th state of America. The main industries are tourism and pineapples - well, a slice of pineapple makes an escalope as Hawaiian. Also coffee and sugar cane are cultivated.

Captain Cook has been given the honour of being the first white man on Hawaii, in 1778. He named the place to Sandwitch Islands according to his Lord-supporter. The islanders knew iron, which they appreciated as an object of trade, and they also had it in small quantities. This implies that there had been someone before Cook and his ships, Resolution and Discovery. Cook himself writes in his diary that it might be the Spaniards.
Cook ended up to Hawaii on his way from Tahiti to north. He was sailing the same route than us, only so much more in west, that he run into Christmas Island. The remote atoll came in sight at the Christmas Eve, therefore the name. The ships anchored for a week, men catching turtles and fish.
The voyage from Tahiti (or more preciously from Bora-Bora) to Hawaii took about one month excluding the stop at the Christmas Island. On the 18th of January they sighted the western island of Kauai.
Cook and his men were welcomed friendly. They anchored for about ten days, first at Kauai, then at Niihau. Ships stores full they left for Alaska, looking for the Northwest passage. When the winter became too hard, Cook decided to return to Hawaii. This time the ships anchored at Kealakekua Bay on Hawaii. The Polynesians were friendly again. An annual festival for the god Lono was going on, and Cook was treated like a god - or as an guest of honour. After three weeks the ships were ready to leave again, stores full of roots, fruits and hog meet. They didn't get far, however, when a storm damaged Resolution's foremast, and they were forced to return to Hawaii. Now the locals were hostile and the two-day-stay turned into wrangles and thefts. The stealing of the ship cutter together with an attempt to take hostages to get it back, ended up to a fight and finally to the death of captain James Cook in 14.2.1779.

28.6.2003 Hilo, Hawaii
You think that Hawaii is only palm and beatches, but the best attraction on the Big Island is the Volcanoes National Park, where much green isn't around. We have been in some volcanic areas during our trip. In Iceland we walked on the still steaming slopes of a volcano in Westman Island, and in New Zealand we hiked through Tongariro. But here we were able to see - and almost touch - melting lava!
The four kilometres high Mauna Loa erupted from the top last time in 1984. However, the top isn't the only place where magma penetrates the surface, along the slopes are several eruption spots, craters and calderas. Caldera differs from crater not having a crater channel, but magma is exploding with high pressure, making finally a large, round "valley". The slopes of Mauna Loa are joined with an other volcano, Kilauea (1250 m).

.
The caldera of Kilauea

Around the Kilauea caldera has been built a 18 km long tourist road with outlook stops. It can either be walked or drove by car. We had a rent-car, so we sat comfortably inside the airconditioned Oldsmobile driving through the moon landscape. Besides the round drive there is a road all the way down to the shoreline, where lava cuts it off dramatically. An eruption started on the eastern slope  in 1983, and it's still flowing. And this melting, hot lava can be seen nearby.
Auli's foot was not in a hiking condition, but this was something too special and temptating as well as peculiar (how come they let tourists to the area without guidance, isn't that dangerous?!) that we decided to walk to the place. To reach the hot lava you have to walk an hour and half over an older lava field. The best time is of course in the evening, when the lava is glowing in the dark. So we started - with tens of other tourists - our walk towards the hot glow. We had our sturdy hiking shoes on and flashlights packed with us, it will be dark when we'll be coming back. First we went through an area that only a couple of months ago was a road. The lava here was very different from what we had seen in Iceland, there it was gravel and hard stones, here it was shiny and even with round figures. Like fudge or cake dough. The layer wasn't thick, here and there you could see the road, traffick signs sticking out of the black lava.


No parking

Closer the magma the temperature rose. An orange glow was shining between some stone cracks. And finally we saw it, the fire river in the middle of black lava field. The area was maybe 10 metres wide and mainly the glow was covered by the dark layer popping into the surface in some places. Also near the water edge was a fire "rapid" which was steaming when it reached the sea.
I considered the heat unpleasant and also a bit frightening, but Hannu went near the glow edge. Suddenly near him a magma flow started to spurt out. His leg hair burned, but he hardly noticed it then, so excited he was with all the three cameras. There were people on the other side of this new spurt and it looked like they sat on the lava flow. Somebodys rubber sole was burning.
The night became darker, and the glow more visible. Up in the volcano slopes were red glows, like giant barbecues. A dense smoke came from the top, but the only thing we could see, was a red glimmer on the night sky. There was  Pu'u O'o, the top of the eruption.
The experience was wonderful. Now later it feels odd that we have been so close to molten lava.

In the park visitor's centre we saw a film telling about the birth of Hawaiian Islands. Before we had believed that the islands have been formed each by an own underwater eruption, but this isn't the case. Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific platform as well as on the top of a "hot spot". The island chain was born by one and same volcanic eruption, and the movement of the platform formed the separate islands. It has worked like a giant conveyer line, on which lava - i.e. an island - has spurted between some millions of years. The islands have formed during 70 millions years. The island of Hawaii is the youngest, but not last on the line: still under the sea surface is Loihi, which is growing.


People went very near the lava spurt, literally sitting on it


The molten lava flow ends to sea

7.7.2003 Molokai, Hawaii
After ten days in Hilo, we left in the evening to the darkening sea. During the night the trade winds ease and it's best time to cross a channel between the islands. They can be really windy when the trades funnel into small sound. Especially the Alenuihaha Channel between Hawaii and Maui has a bad reputation. When we got nearer the north tip of Hawaii, the wind gathered some speed, about 25-30 knots, which lasted long to the leeward side of Maui. Then suddenly it stopped blowing. We got a small mahi-mahi just before we lost the speed (no need for fish hook this time!). Our plan was to explore the island of Maui next, but it doesn't offer good anchorages, all are open both to wind and swell. We stayed couple of hours resting and swimming in front of a beach, but in the afternoon the rising swell drove us away. We continued to the island of Lanai and Manele Bay, which has a small harbour behind a sea wall. We planned to anchor inside the breakwall, like one big motor boat, but the harbour master told that the area is private and they charge 1,25 dollars per foot! For Kristiina that'll be 46,25 per day! So we had to take a slip with 10 dollars a day. Never an achorage has been more expensive than a slip. Although the harbour is small, it is very busy. The Maui ferry arrives five times a day. (With the ferry we could have visited Maui and it's biggest town Lahaina, but that would have costed us 100 dollars, so we didn't go.) Every day three big catamarans bring a full load of tourists. A big rubber boat takes divers out, and smaller boats full of long rodes are for fishing tours.
Lanai was in past owned by Mr Dole, and the whole island was pineapple fields, but it's present owner has concentrated on tourism. Lanai has two classy hotels with golf courses. Besides the hotel guests, tens or maybe even hundreds of people arrive with charter boats from Maui to swim, snorkel and dive. Between the hotel and harbour lies a wonderful white sandy beach, which is also a nature protection area. The town is up in the middle of the island, where a cooling wind makes the heat more tolerable than down by the shore. There are about 3000 inhabitants on the island. Only a few per cents of the land is owned by the local people.

 
The paradise beach on Lanai. A hotel on the background.

The time on Lanai went by quickly. Every day we went to the beach to swim and watch surfers. Perfect for them, there was a high swell warning caused by a storm somewhere in the south. Towards the end of the week more and more people came to the beach with their tents, barbecues and cool boxes. The 4th of July, the Independence day, may have increased the amount of campers. We waited for fireworks, but on Lanai that happened on the next day, combined with the traditional Pineapple Festival. In the town park a local band was playing, there was a pineapple eating competition for kids and a pineapple desert competition for adults. A variety of stalls were spread out on the lawn. We didn't stay until the fireworks.

The only headache during these lazy days has been the reporting to customs. We have to report to the officials by arrival to a new place. The first stop was in anchor, so we called the Coast Guard by VHF. They sounded unaware about this reporting system, but after a long and breaking connection the report was done. But then the weather drove us away, and we didn't stay on Maui, as we had told a couple of hours before. On Lanai we tried to phone from a phone box, without success. The harbour master arrived when we had spent two days in Lanai, telling that the phones are not working properly. We used her cell phone and made our report to an official who was slightly annoyed because of the delay.

On Sunday, the 6th of July, we finally left Lanai and sailed 40 miles to the west corner of Molokai. Again the wind increased from calm to 25-30 knots when we reached the channel between the islands. With two reefs in the main and the genoa we sailed with the wind 6-7 knots. Molokai has a couple of sheltered anchorages and we chose an abandoned sand harbour. A breakwater shelters from swell, but the east wind wipes along the shore. Local youth is drinking beer on the shore. Not a pleasant anchorage. The landscape on Molokai is as dry and dead as on Lanai. We went for a walk early in the morning, when it still is cool, but the dusty dirt road wasn't very temptating.

13.7.2003 Honolulu, Hawaii
We were really looking forward to Honolulu, and everything turned out to be just wonderful - after some troubles. We were near not to get a place for Kristiina in town, because of the TransPac Race from Los Angeles. The 1000-slip marina is fully booked. We had to spend a night in Keehi Lagoon, which is a marina/anchorage 5 miles away. It's dusty, noisy and ugly. It's located by the airport, next to a quarry where they crush stone. Surroundings is an industrial area without facilities or services. It would have been really difficult for us to get to the town, although Honolulu has an excellent bus service. Auli phoned tens of desperate calls, and finally Hawaii Yacht Club offered us a place for a week (17 dollars per day). It's hard to describe our feelings when we left the smelling industrial area and tied up to the yacht club dock in the middle of the town, next to Waikiki Beach. The tiny yacht club area is pleasant. Surrounded by palm trees and green lawn it's like a green oasis in the middle of  the huge marina. Here are other visiting cruisers as well: illywhacker from Australia, Chaski from France, SawLeeAh and Star of Winds from Canada and Jasmine from California. illywhacker and Chaski have spent the winter in Alaska, so we got a lot of information, charts and cruising guides. Except of two boats, all the others are heading south, from where we just arrived, so chart and information trade has been lively.


Hawaii Yacht Club


Two coming from, one heading to Alaska: 
Chaski,  Illywhacker and Kristiina

Bob and May Jane from Jasmine took us with them around the island by car on the first day. It was interesting to see other places on Oahu than just Honolulu. About 80 per cent of the 1 million inhabitants of Hawaii live on Oahu. This island reminds a lot of Tahiti. Hills are steep and green, the scenery is lush, and the shoreline is protected by the reef. Difference with the younger Hawaiian islands is remarkable. We saw first time pineapple fields and visited a Surf Museum.
In Honolulu we have been wondering the hotel mazes (almost got lost in one), visited the Maritime Museum, climbed on the top of 232 metres high Diamond Head, and have taken care of the usual city-affairs such as developing slides, provisioning and doing the laundry. Unfortunately we got the place just for one week, so around Tuesday-Wednesday we have lo leave the Yacht Club.


Pineapple grows near the surface, surrounded by sharp leaves


Pineapple fields on Oahu

 

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