My good friend Ken Mayer had been cruising around Mexico on his sailboat Wishful Thinking for the past couple of years and had just made the passage to Hawaii. I had finally finished the details of the divorce and of the selling of the house. Before getting back into the rat-race, I wanted to update the MH-E manual which was woefully out of date.
And as you can tell by the photo above, I seriously needed to work on my tan.
I would do all this--and more--on Ken's boat in Hawaii. Here is that story.
Lori dropped me off at airport at an hour that I usually do not see. It appeared that Lori abhorred the hour as well, but I was thankful that she gave me a ride and see me off. All went smoothly. When I arrived at the Kahului airport on Maui, I called Ken. He was just hitching the boat to the mooring after a long drive from Mahukona on the big island of Hawaii.
There weren't any buses on the island, but there were shuttles you can reserve. I was in luck and the company I called didn't have any shuttles. What kind of luck is this? They sent out a town car instead, so I had a very comfortable ride into Lahaina while having a very entertaining conversation with the driver who gave me a little history and culture lesson on the way.
I found my way to the Lahaina Yacht Club and waited for Ken. After he arrived, we had to have a couple of the yacht club's famous mai tais of course and agreed that they were good. The folks at the club were nice enough to let me keep my bags in the office while we walked around town, had dinner, and watched the fireworks.
It was a fitting that my trip would begin on Independence Day.
I found that my cell phone reception here is far better than I had ever seen in the Bay Area. It is strange indeed to call home from a sailboat off the coast, have a clear signal, and not have to worry about paying exorbitant long-distance rates.
Ken made an awesome breakfast of eggs, garlic potatoes and toast from bread he had made himself. We needed a lot of energy for the day's activities which included laying around and jumping in the water when we got too hot. I guess we worked in some shopping for food too.
Ken finished up the day by making an awesome dinner of marlin with a tomato-onion-garlic-cilantro salsa.
No mom, we are not starving. Our diet is quite healthy, thank you very much.
Ken went into town to pick up the Sunday paper and do laundry while I applied Murphy's Oil Soap to all of the wood in the cabin. I'm not sure if you could tell from the interior photos, but there is a lot of wood in the cabin. Anyway, the place looks great now!
Ken forgot the paper.
I steamed the leftover fish for dinner and then we went into town to pick up the Sunday paper, take a quick shower, and have a drink. Kip was closing the yacht club but was nice enough to let us use the showers. We reciprocated by buying him a drink at the Lahaina Coolers where we met Eric Smith who offered to loan us some diving gear and show us a dive spot or two.
We hopped into the dinghy but it stalled before we left the marina. The gas hose had broke! Ken popped the top off of the engine and hooked up the business end of the hose directly to the fuel filter. So we were able to limp home.
And Ken forgot the paper.
Since I wanted to have backups for the work I'd be doing on the MH-E manual, and because I didn't have my old 14 GB SCSI tape drive any more, I had to modify my backup script to write the backups to the CD-ROM drive. I had been working on it here and there the past couple of days and finally finished it this morning so that I was able to begin this essay and the manual!
Towed a hungover sailor into the marina who doesn't have an outboard on his dinghy, motored out to sea to pump out the holding tank, washed some laundry, and visited the local sailmaker. All before lunch.
We stopped at the sailmaker since Ken requires some repair work on his jib and needs to build a new awning since the seams blew out of the old, sun-damaged, one.
This sail shop was a curiouso shop. The first thing we noticed on the stairwell up to the shop was a jar of centipedes and a photo of someone pulling a human arm out of the stomach of a very major crocodile. Then the skeleton hanging over a line. Then the manikin with zippers, buttons, and other pieces of hardware glued to it. The walls were adorned with awfully strange masks including a couple of death masks. In the midst of all of this we bartered our computer skills for some labor. If you come this way, be sure to give your business to Candy at Freedom Canvas & Sail.
After kibitzing for some time, we had some awesome fish and chips at the yacht club. After lunch, I got a library card. In addition to the usual bunch of books and papers, the Hawaiian public libraries have Internet terminals that you can use an hour a day for free. This was a pretty good deal considering terminals elsewhere were over $10 per hour. Ken hit the papers looking for a job while I worked on the manual.
There was a bit of excitement at the yacht club when we took our showers. A tall ship from the Ukraine (the Ukraine!) was just about to grab a mooring and would be coming over for drinks tomorrow night. On the way back to the boat, we decided to drop by and greet them to Hawaii. We were warmly welcomed by the captain of the Bat`kivshchyna (previously at http://www.batkivshchyna.net/) Dmytro Biriukovich and his crew of 9 and given a tour. Expecting vodka, we got "two buck Chuck." Their last port was in Southern California which appears to have Trader Joe's too. There's a English-language Ukraine newspaper with an article about his visit to the Lahaina Yacht Club
We took the dinghy out to Black Rock to do some snorkeling. The coral isn't that great. The staghorn coral was spotty and never any bigger than a foot in diameter, in contrast to the acres and acres of it in the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Beach on the west side of Australia.
We did see a pretty good number of fish however. Wrasses. Trigger fish. Parrot fish. Puffer fish. Yellow and black angel fish. There were lots and lots of other schooling fish whose name escapes me. The highlight was a couple of green turtles.
It is 23:30. The nearly full moon illuminates the ever-present puffy cotton-ball clouds over the West Maui Mountains. It is a calm evening. The winds are low. The sea is fairly still. The guitars of the Allman Brothers sing in the background. We're wearing the usual: shorts, no shirts, no shoes. The temperature is very comfortable.
We shopped this morning, and then I went into town to drop off some of Ken's clothes at the Salvation Army while Ken stayed on the boat and baked some bread. I also checked out the Internet connection at the Maui Swiss Cafe. It is very nice to be able to hook my laptop up to a network and read and send mail normally. I then hung out at the library and worked on the MH-E manual.
Ken spent the day at the library and at the Maui Swiss Cafe while I wrote back on the boat.
Come evening, we were feeling social. Ken picked me up and we had our showers and paid the shower tax at the bar in the yacht club. We crossed the street and had another drink at Moose's. We then had an excellent dinner at Lahaina Coolers, and then we were off to see what was happening at 505 Front St.
We ducked into Pacific'O where a band was playing jazz where were chided by some folks from Portland for drinking foo-foo drinks. I showed them by ordering some grappa. Unfortunately, they left before they could be impressed. So we bought a bottle of champagne for the singer, whose birthday it was. She was local and didn't feel obliged to make disparaging remarks about our drink, so we chatted with her and her friends for a while.
The day started rather quietly as we recovered from last night. Ken read while I worked on the manual and made water. I was also pleased (and so should you) to see that Ken's universal card reader read the memory card of my camera. I also processed the pictures so that you could see them here.
One of my jobs while I'm on board is to keep an eye on the holding tank. And so I did. And of course our blissful, mellow day was to take a turn.
We raised the sails and sailed off into the sea. The conditions were quite cozy. Then--wham!--we were pummeled by 25 knot winds as we moved out of the lee of the island and into the trade winds. Adrenaline rushed as I drove the boat at a 45-degree heel while Ken rolled up the jib on the roller furler and put a couple of reefs in the main.
Sorry, there aren't any photos of us when we were being blasted. We were, uh, busy.
Once under control again, Ken pumped out the holding tank and we skedaddled for shore where Ken prepared another wonderful meal of chicken mole, steamed and raw vegetables. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture first as the plates were quite colorful.
Ken went into town and I passed out.
Took down the jib in preparation for its repair tomorrow.
Took a swim.
Ken performed an inspection of the water maker and cleaned the prop shaft.
Took a swim.
After our showers at the yacht club, Ken had a brilliant idea on how to get away from the heat. We paid $7.00 for air conditioning and $0.75 for a movie. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was a wonderful summertime romp.
We had an appointment to see Candy at Freedom Canvas & Sails so we removed the hardware from the old, icky, awning which was self-destructing and leaving sandy bits of itself all over the boat. We (over)loaded the dinghy with the awning, the material for a new awning, the jib, the cart, and ourselves and turned the dinghy into a submarine. But we arrived safely and hauled the cargo to the sail shop where we cut the material into a few squares which Candy turned into a brand spanking new awning.
I've observed four things:
Today we learned that you always put on the sunscreen before leaving the cabin. Even the short venture forth in the morning might well turn into a longer, sun-soaked, burning experience.
Later, I purchased aloe vera moisturizing lotion.
Anyway, we jumped on the opportunity to get a slip in the Lahaina marina this morning. Since this is a matter of "snooze, you loose," I eschewed the sunscreen, "since we'd be done before PTH," otherwise know as Peak Tanning Hours. The first slip we were given was made for Pee-Wee Herman. All of the slips here are Tahitian moorings (or is that Mediterranean mooring?) where you tie the stern (or bow in our case since our rudder hit the mud when we first tried stern-first) and tie off the bow to a mooring (or stern in our case and you already know why). The mooring was such that it pushed the bow into the dock rather than the other way around. To make a bad situation worse, we had two power boats on either side which rendered the fenders useless.
Fortunately, the harbormaster was able to issue us another slip which was just right. It had a reasonable mooring, and it had a sailboat on either side.
Once secured, our shade tree mechanic fixed the holes in the dinghy. At least one hole was in the pontoon, allowing air to escape, and another in the bottom, which allowed the water to come in, neither of which is a desirable attribute of a floating vessel.
Meanwhile, I rinsed the weeks of salt encrustation off of the boat. Nay, scrubbed.
To keep in touch, Ken brought his handheld VHF radio. In case you want to know, we monitor the LUV channel, Channel 69, all the time.
So, sweaty, dirty, oily, we trundled off to the yacht club for a shower and the Wednesday night spaghetti feed. There we met Bruce and Cheryl who taught sailing to the yacht club kids and needed another "big" boat on Saturday to treat the kids for their graduation. And so Ken graciously volunteered his "big" vessel. We also met Colleen, who works for Trilogy (a company that takes out tourists on a fleet of catamarans), who invited us for a Trilogy fun sail on Sunday.
Destined not to make the same mistake twice, I was lathered up with sunscreen before sunrise and was determined to stay in the shade. Ken did his part by adding hardware to the awning in the hopes of getting it hung today.
And it was hung.
Not beautiful--yet--but it is between us and the hot sun.
Meanwhile, I pumped water into the boat's fresh water tank, wrote, checked the seals on the dinghy and found one leak. Ken arrived and on cue, the port pontoon sprung a glorious leak. We placed the dinghy in the water and discovered there was another water leak. So, dejected, we hoisted the dinghy back onto shore and fashioned a patch for the leak in the pontoon, and patched up the seal between the pontoon and the steel bottom where the water was entering.
Back on the boat Ken began his dismantling of the outboard transmission, but he was blocked by lack of a gear puller.
Hot, tired, dirty, with darkness descending, we decided that the day had ended and we headed over to the yacht club for our refreshing showers and beer. We treated ourselves to dinner on the town.
On the way back we chatted with a couple of ladies dumping a large quantity of trash into the marina dumpsters. I chided them for using the marina's dumpsters and they replied that they worked for the Maui Princess (not that it would have mattered either way) and so we chatted with them for a while. One of them wanted to go to Australia and so I gave her a few pointers.
Morning. A time to drink coffee, listen to Bob Edwards Morning Edition on NPR followed by classical on the Hawaiian public radio station, read, write, manipulate images. Wake up. Now we're ready for the day.
Today, Ken added some more hardware to the awning and reassembled the propshaft on the outboard. I wrote and helped Ken when I could. I also spent an hour on the net checking in files and stuff.
We were to meet the Lahaina yacht club kids at 9:30 so we got up early to get the boat ready to go. However, we got a call from Bruce saying the kids wouldn't be ready to go until 10:30.
Which was a good thing.
We met up with Dave (the maintenance manager at the Pioneer Hotel) who gave us the keys to his mooring, as it were, since Ken had rented it from him for a month. As you may recall, the glue was still drying on Ken's dinghy, so we first carried his dinghy out to the dock. The three of us then took Ken's boat out to see where Dave's mooring was located.
We then picked up the kids at the loading dock and went out for a sail. We had six kids and Dano´ (Hawaii-5-O lives) aboard. We sailed about for a while. Some kids wanted to work sheets and drive. Others were content to hang out on the foredeck. Another hid under the dodger and another got a little green. Before coming in, we hitched up to a mooring and let the kids go swimming and everyone had a great time.
We dropped off the kids at the loading dock and hitched up to another LYC mooring next to Bruce's boat. Thumper came out and picked us up in the club's laser. I've never seen such a loaded little boat: three adults, a gas can, and a whole bunch of tools and stuff in a large dry bag. The idea was to be able to get back to the boat in Dave's dinghy. At least we arrived safe and sound at the yacht club after our submarine (we're getting good at this) missed the reef by inches.
Back at the yacht club, the kids were given awards and the adults were given pizza and beer.
Lo and behold, Ken had everything he needed to put the outboard back together. We neither had to pump water out or air into the dinghy. It was a refreshing change.
I took the dinghy over to Dave's mooring and tied up. Ken picked me up and we made another trip out into the ocean to take care of business. We then tied up to Dave's mooring which will be our new home for a month. I won't include any new pictures since our new home looks pretty much the same as our old home--a large ball in the ocean. There are subtle differences though: the water is deeper (67 feet versus 43) and we're a little closer to the channel so there is a little more traffic. By the same token, it will be a shorter ride to get into town. And maybe the music from the Hard Rock Cafe won't be so loud. Except that we liked the music. Oh well.
We set up the inertial dampener, the awning, had a lunch of apples, oranges, nectarines, plums, and mangoes, and took a siesta.
Refreshed, I then attached a float and a pendant I had purchased yesterday to the mooring pendant, since it was missing. For you non-nautical types, this makes the mooring much easier to snag. I was rather proud of myself since it was the first time I had ever spliced rope.
I then donned my snorkeling gear and hopped into the water. What a dive! There were a dozen or so baby sergeant majors the size of a dime were hovering around the mooring. If you've ever read Dave Barry's column on diving, then you'll know what will come next. This group of tiny, irresistibly cute fish came swimming up to me saying, "Food? Food? Food?" Then they realized that I was ridiculously large and fled back to the safety of the mooring saying, "Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!"
Even though the bottom was 67 feet below, I could still see the sandy floor fairly clearly. A school of a hundred or so jacks or mackerel swam by. I dove down the anchor chain and saw a few knuckle-sized coral colonies. I also noticed an anchor connected to the concrete piling below.
I continued swimming around since Dave had mentioned that there was a 36-foot fishing vessel which had sank about 6 weeks earlier. I found it! It had pretty much broken apart. You could see the outline of the keel, and there was a piece of deck by the transom which was recognizable, but much of the timber had been carried away by the current. To the side, a large pile of rigging was seen. Fish net line?
Dave dropped by later and let us know that the attached anchor is intentional. In a good storm, a large swell can pick up the concrete block; the anchor keeps it from moving. I also later learned that the chain was about a year old, so those coral colonies grow pretty fast (but must be removed, alas).
We were treated to a fresh fish barbecue dinner with Layla (from the club) and Ben (and Dan and Shadow). These folks live in their boats and we had the barbecue on the docks. I felt a little nostalgia for Malaysia where we used to eat local meals on the side of the street. Yum.
We had like a totally relaxing morning. Drank coffee. Listened to NPR's morning edition, like most days. Ken worked on the awning (again), which is, like, you know, being really recalcitrant. I read a pretty bitchin' book on rigging so that I could put all the right knots in all of the right places.
After lunch we hit the town, and it was like rippin' hot, and then out of nowhere, Layla yelled out of her window and said that her new van had some da kine air conditioning, and so I said, Man, you have to give us a ride to the gas station, because we, you know, needed gas.
And she gave us a ride back. Cool.
We walked down to the yacht club, walked upstairs, and there they were. A couple of 8-foot, long-legged beauties. I felt pretty cool walking the streets of Lahaina with a surfboard under my arm. We were stoked! I said, are we like having a mid-life crisis or what? Here we are, 40, and surfing for the first time. Ken said that it wasn't a crisis because there wasn't really a problem. And he was right. So we carried that luscious pair down to the beach and splashed them in the water and paddled out to the surf.
First wave. On my knees. On my feet. Front of the board a foot under water. Oh man. Not good. Lean back. Nothing. Uh-oh. Wham! Face plant. Wave crashes over me. I'm thinking I'm fucked with the coral just a few feet below and the board above me. So I tuck myself into a tight ball and put my hands over my head. And then I said to myself, Dude, get those feet out in front. And so I did and stood up. Whew. All parts intact.
Second wave. Slipped. This time I simply stepped off the board. Surfing is like, so much faster than body surfing. Most excellent.
Third wave. Doing better.
Now, in between all of this, there is a lot of paddling. Paddling to catch up with waves that still pass you by despite your heroic efforts to the contrary. Paddling to get out to the waves. One foot forward, two feet backwards as a wave crashes into your face. Man, surfers are definitely not slackers. This is a lot of work!
In fact, I told Ken, bra no can. My arms would not move. Done. Finished. This would be the last wave.
Fourth wave. On my knees. On my feet. Oh cool, man, the front of the board is finally out of the water. OK, I'm like still on the board. I'm like on the board for the count. How cool! I look around to find Ken, and yell out, Ken, check out this righteous wave! This is like bitchin'!
So we call it a day and head back to the boat. I hop onto the boat with the idea of moving the fenders to the other side of the boat cause the canoe go bang, bang, bang against the boat bro. Right where I'm sleeping. Bogus.
And then the outboard dies. Ken drifts. The surfboards fall out and they drift also. Chaos.
I grab an oar, dive into the water, handed the oar to Ken, and tied up one of the boards to the boat using adrenaline to make up for my exhausted arms.
Ken tries to paddle with the oar I had presented him, but the paddle blade falls off and sinks slowly into the sea. I had given him the broken paddle. Like, I knew it was broken. It wasn't labeled or anything. Well, at least it is one less thing that Ken has to fix.
Then I clamber aboard and put on my fins as Ken drifts further and further away in the current. The outboard has issues. Big issues. I watch Ken in a futile battle to start the outboard.
Back into the water, armed with my turbo fins, I catch up with Ken, who has managed to get the other board back into the dinghy, and towed him back to the boat.
Man, was I beat.
And Ken gave up on starting the engine for the day.
So we had a beer.
Ken wanted to attach an American flag to the topping lift. Since this--according to Ken--was a one-beer activity, we had another beer since the first beers were already gone.
Having flown our colors, I then made a dinner of roasted rosemary, garlic, potatoes and chicken and a saute of onions, and carrots, butter and pineapple wine. Hey, it's Hawaii!
And we listened to the Beach Boys while we wrote this entry.
And if you don't read anything the next few days, it's because we're surfin', Surfing USA.
Ken checked the spark on the outboard. He had spark. He tightened up a loose connection to the coil. The engine started. He exclaims, "We're not stranded! We're not going to die!"
Spent the rest of the day in the library and on the Internet in the Maui Swiss Cafe. Considering how much we were spending there, we considered getting an Internet connection on the boat. I visited a couple of dive shops to see if they had a wrist console for my dive computer and inquired about their rental prices.
At the end of the day, we made our daily pilgrimage to the yacht club for a shower and a beer and decided to test the mettle of the new cook. Dinner was good!
Ken called Maui Sky Fiber and booked a wireless network connection. We'll be taking the bus to Kahului tomorrow to pick up the modem.
I guess Ken is going to stick around for a while.
We then went for a morning surf until our arms fell off and we got our RDA of sodium. Ken is now standing.
Not that I'm British or anything, but I would like to talk about the weather. The past two days have been really pleasant. Cooler, with a breeze. Today is even overcast.
Lunch (stuffed tomatoes with tuna, with carrot, plum, and nectarine on the side), siesta, and writing took up the balance of the day. Since we had rinsed with fresh water after the surfing, we skipped on the drive into town for a shower and played Mystery Meal instead, picking cans of stuff in the cupboards at random as Ken has a lot of rations from Mexico that need to be used.
We were awakened last night by the sound of the awning whipping in a sudden wind. So we performed, in Ken's words, "the naked man dance;" doused the awning like a spinnaker and brought the other blowables down below.
Later, after coffee, we went ashore and figured out the bus schedule to Kahului. We took the Route 3 Express to Ma´alaea, and switched to the Route 5 bus to Kahului. The buses were actually right on time, there wasn't a wait for the connection, and it was pretty cheap. No complaints.
The IPW modem, or how to surf on a boat. Also note the cornucopia of electronic gear: SmartMedia reader (how these pictures move from camera to web site) and FM transmitter (which gets the tunes from the laptop to the radio and thus into our ears; note also that it is very cleverly powered by the USB port)
I asked Ken if he had remembered the address, and he exclaimed that he had not. Uh-oh. Fortunately, he recognized the street name on the map, so we got the driver to drop us off somewhat near it and started walking. We found Harmer Communications without difficulty and picked up our cellular modem. We walked back to Kaahumanu Center, had a frozen yogurt, and attempted to get on the net with our new toy while we waited for the return bus. I had brought my laptop you see, for this sole purpose. No joy.
For the benefit of the British amongst you, I'll talk about the weather again. It rained! It rained as we motored back to the boat. And of course the ports were open. Ken's bed got a wee bit wet. It rained off and on the rest of the evening, giving the boat a much-needed rinse. Unfortunately, it didn't rain hard enough to wash off the salt and muddy tracks from last Saturday's sail with the kids, nor the blue bits left over from a pad that was sitting on the foredeck (which was thrown out after we discovered that it was spewing forth blue bits).
We dropped by Lahaina Divers and rented some scuba gear for tomorrow's dive. I bought a simple velcro watch band for my computer which worked well. If you're confused, I'm talking about my dive computer. (Look at my wrist in tomorrow's pictures to see what I'm talking about.)
Back at the boat, we attempted to get connected via Windows (groan). This worked since the Windows software did some magic with the modem. Unfortunately, we still weren't able to connect with my laptop (running Linux, natch) so we took a break to go to the yacht club for our usual shower and beer.
Once we got back we discovered that the network wanted to talk CHAP and we were speaking PAP. Once we discovered that, a few deft and clever movements of the fingers enabled us to talk to the ISP and olgas.newt.com was on the air!
And you all know what that means: tomorrow's update will be made from the boat!
Later, I got an email from my friend Greg DesBrisay who said that he was working with IP Wireless, the company that was providing the modems to Maui Sky Fiber. How cool!
This weekend is the Jackpot Fishing Tournament. At 0700, 35 boats all gunned their engines and were off.
Dave arrived around 10 and we geared up and jumped in. Now, I know how much weight to wear when I've got a 6.5 mm suit with a 6 mm vest (20 pounds), but I had no clue how much weight to wear with no suit at all.
So I jumped in with four pounds and sunk. Took out two pounds and sunk again, so I chucked the belt entirely. When we hit the bottom I was bobbing like a cork--go figure--so I bobbed to the surface, threw six pounds back in the belt and finally was able to get myself down to the bottom.
Meanwhile, Dave and Ken were checking out the mooring and determined that there was a bit of wear in one of the links and should probably be replaced soon.
Work aside, we then turned our attention to the wreck for some fun and entertainment. Can you believe this vessel sank only 6 weeks ago? It was a 30 foot fishing boat. Ken and Dave poked around to see if there was anything worth salvaging, while I looked at all the pretty fish, and took pictures. You'll note that I am not an accomplished underwater photographer and I intend to keep it that way! Ken and I then messed around until we ran out of air.
Self portrait at safety stop #2. Of course, it looks like I'm a little goofy, so maybe this was stop #1.
When we returned the gear, Ken inquired about working for Lahaina Divers as an instructor. They were interested and since Ken isn't yet trained as an instructor, they wanted to get him started right away, so he signed up for a scuba rescue course at 8 on Monday morning.
I guess Ken is going to stick around for a while.
We then walked over to the post office and Ken tried to get a P.O. box which he needs because he doesn't have an address. But you need an address to get a P.O. box. Well, isn't that just like the U.S. government? So Ken gave them an address of some friends in Hilo, and the postal employee said they'd check it out to ensure it was legit and would we come back on Tuesday? Harumph.
I guess Ken is going to stick around for a while.
The USS Russell keeps Lahaina safe
Ken used the loo in the yacht club and came out with a package. For me! I didn't realize I had an address in Hawaii, so I certainly couldn't have given it to anyone. Maybe it's a bomb? Anyway, a clever admirer discovered that my address is Bill Wohler S/V Wishful Thinking c/o Lahaina Yacht Club, 835 Front St., Lahaina, HI, 96701-1699. Be the first on your block to send postcards and fan mail to me!
Finally, I'm working on putting this entry together and uploading it to the web site--from the boat! I just realized I need to update my contact information also. The diving pictures are taking a long time to put together. We are getting very hot, very sticky, very hungry, and very grumpy. It's time to go ashore and finish this tomorrow.
Once again, a score of fishing boats took off at 0700 in the hopes of winning the Jackpot fishing tourney. We followed them but with a different mission: to pump out the holding tank. When we got back, the port pontoon on the dinghy had blown. Ken determined that it was the same seam which had blown up in a different place. So we took off the outboard and emptied the dinghy before we lost it all. And we nearly did once.
We thought of all the things we could do to the dinghy, like tow it within 500 meters of the USS Russell and have them open fire upon it. We'll probably settle for something less violent like dropping it without dignity in the nearest dumpster.
We had our usual lunch of local fruit. But I threw in some kimchee for good measure.
This afternoon we were visited by a large (~100) pod of spinner dolphins. You can see where they got their name!
We motored into the harbor in order to get rid of the unruly dinghy and borrow Dave's dinghy again but the loading docks were all full. So we slipped into slip number 99 and the harbormaster immediately raised us on the radio and wondered what in blazes we were up to. We explained that we had tried to reach them before and we didn't think they worked on weekends anyway, but couldn't we stay for 20 while we swapped dinghys. They took pity on us and were very nice about it.
Later, Dave came over to try and salvage more stuff from the wreck.
I made lunch and walked Ken to the bus stop for his first day of school. Scuba rescue school that is. And I lied about the lunch and bus stop bit. He was nearly gone by the time I extracted myself from the quarter berth.
While Ken was away, I rolled up my sleeves and started making progress on the MH-E manual. I switched on the VHF and heard the USS Russell ask the harbormaster's permission to pull up anchor and leave. Like they need permission! The radio is pretty interesting. You hear the comings and goings of vessels in the harbor. You hear the dive and dolphin reports from the charter boats. You hear the coast guard reports of Places You Should Not Go and coast guard requests to render assistance to vessels that have made distress calls. They were in the Honolulu area though. The coast guard has a Very Large Radio.
I gave my wrists a break and cleaned and oiled a couple of the fans. It's important to have well maintained fans here.
After school, Ken picked me up and we went to see Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. This was a matinee, and the film wasn't that good, which means that we spent $5 for air conditioning and 25 cents for the movie this time. The movie wasn't that bad, but then I went in with no expectations, and I wasn't disappointed.
Ken, get this, has been getting a little sea-sick on the boat since things have been *really* rolly, so he wanted to do his studying on terra firma. So we went into Moose's for some beer and appetizers (and air conditioning, natch!) and we read. I left Ken and popped over the yacht club for a shower. We had dinner at Moose's when I returned.
I promise not to include any more pictures of me and my laptop, unless it's on a beach under a coconut tree. But then again, I don't think sand and laptops mix, and it's dangerous to hang out under coconut trees, so that's not going to happen anyway.
Ken finished his scuba rescue class and I got a lot of writing done. Not on this, obviously.
Here's a switch: I woke up cold this morning. I was expecting to read 50 degrees on the thermometer, but there is was: 77 degrees with 72 percent humidity. Guess I've acclimated to the heat where anything below 80 is cold. No, I've always been that way.
I just got a good indication of the pace of life here on Maui. Walking in front of the library, I was asked not what time it was, but what the date was.
As you can tell from the dearth of entries, things have settled down during the week. Ken goes in and works towards his scuba instructors card; at the moment he is working as a divemaster, an instructor's apprentice. This means he lifts heavy gear and washes it. When he gets to be an instructor, he gets to lift heavy gear and wash it. Meanwhile, a little jealous since I like to lift heavy gear and wash it too, I work on the MH-E manual. Later, we catch a shower and beer at the yacht club and either go out for dinner or come back to the boat.
After Ken got back from assisting a dive class, we went for a walk around the park (a euphemism for pumping out the holding tank), and parked the boat back in the marina again (slip 82). Ken has to give the outboard motor a tune-up because it keeps dying at inopportune times. We've also got to get some propane. So, we decided to live on the docks again for a while.
Fixed the gash in the surfboard.
We were to take the Lahaina Yacht Club employees out for a sail and a snorkel today, but they canceled.
Lori had mailed my second Cisco wireless card to me and Ken finally got around to get it running on his system. We got them squawking in ad-hoc mode. I set up a NAT router on my machine, which is connected to the Internet via that Maui Sky Fiber wireless connection I talked about earlier, so that we can both surf the Internet at the same time.
It has begun to rain as I write this. We've had a couple of light sprinkles, but this is a little more. Cooling.
Took a couple of buses to Honokowai to get some propane while Ken did his endurance test where he had to swim to Lanai and back. Just kidding, but he came back and crashed, so maybe he did. Anyway, Ken got a small 3 gallon propane canister so that it fits in his backpack; if you don't have a car, you have to schlep it somewhere, usually far away. Bringing a propane cannister onto a bus was a first for me.
Went surfing when I got back, wrote, cooked.
And it rains still.
Wrote, surfed, had beer and a shower at the yacht club. Ken continued his dive education. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Walked to dinner at Bamboo along the beach tonight. Reminded me of my time in Kos, Greece. Or was that Malaysia? Wait, it might have been Bali. Oh, never mind.
Ken renewed our slip until the 22nd, so we'll be here in the marina for a while. Nice.
Today was a good day. Shopped, fixed my gnus problem, got some awesome surfing in. I'm turning a bit. No rad cutbacks and stuff, but I'm able to stand up reliably and turn enough to follow the wave. I still manage to poke the nose of the board into the water on the biggest waves resulting in brutal face plants. Fortunately, I haven't knocked my teeth out on the coral floor a couple of feet below.
I then cooked some seared ahi for dinner. Mmmmm. Hung out in the cockpit drinking some scotch and listening to Santana in beat with the waves crashing on the breakwater.
Today was Alice's birthday. She's 86. We had a pot-luck at the yacht club in the afternoon. Everyone seems to know Alice and has kind words and stories about her. Alice has been know to spin a few yarns of her own. The musician, Trevor Jones seemed to know everyone too and sung nautical ballads and used member's names in the songs. He and Alice even sang a few duets. It was an enjoyable afternoon.
Back at the boat, Ken cooked up a salmon in a mango/jalapeno sauce while I mailed off some photos to Lynn Tenney, the yacht club newsletter's editor.
Yesterday a large boat parked outside of Lahaina. Rumor has it that it is Jean-Michel Cousteau's research vessel.
Today, a large submarine parked to the south. It's the USS La Jolla. I'm feeling safer and safer here in Lahaina with the US Navy making house calls.
I've been surfing every day. Today, armed with a few tips picked up from a class that I overheard yesterday, I finally got it. I caught a wave, didn't perform a nasal enema, cut right, and followed the wave all of the way in. Actually, it was probably the bitching board shorts that I bought today. A few girls smiled at me too. On the other hand, they were probably just laughing at the old guy in board shorts. No matter, I had fun, and that's the only thing that matters.
I'm documenting a new feature in MH-E. I had a bit of writer's block for the past few days, but things are well-oiled now. The writing has allowed us to tighten up the details of the new feature, as I had expected. So it's write, code, write, code, write.
I've been burning so much juice with all of this, the solar panels haven't been able to keep up, so I've had to run the engine the past couple of days. Shhhh, don't tell Ken.
Ken got five dives in yesterday and collapsed at 9. It's 7:30 and he's still not home. He's working hard.
Shocking. Didn't surf today. Installed a mister system because it's been HOT and wrote a lot of code.
I didn't turn on the computer at all yesterday for a change. Instead, Ken and I were invited to go diving at Lanai on the Lahaina Divers boat Dominion with Becca at the helm with divemasters Dave and Scott. We dove the Cathedrals with its caverns and swim-throughs and Fish Rock with great fields of coral and clouds of fish.
On the way, we floated through a pod of spinner dolphins, up close and personal. The water was so clear you could see them frolic under the water.
I dove with Ken and one of his instructors, Mike Mencl. We spent an hour and a half underwater. It was grand! Fish of all colors from parrot fish to wrasses and dozens of other species whose name I don't know, a moray eel, a big, fat pincushion sea star, slate pencil sea urchins. At the end of the second dive, I went to steady myself on a rock to peer into a hole and the rock swam away--it was a venomous devil scorpionfish!
Ken and I helped schlep tanks on off the boat when we got back and then we hung out with the staff at Coolers for the rest of the afternoon.
On Sunday, we got the word that we had overstayed our welcome at the yacht club. Ken checked with Mary-Lou in the office today and found that because they are a private club, they have a very strange relationship with the Maui Liquor Board. Evidently, they share that strange relationship with us. The yacht club's by-laws state that reciprocity can only be extended 28 days per year, and by gum, they are going to stick to it, even though Ken is going to join.
But first he has to find a member that has known him for over six months who will formally request a new member packet from the club, fill it out, and return it to the club. Only then will the membership process get started. Boy howdy. Fortunately, Ken does have some old friends who are members. The trick is finding them. Last time he checked, they were in San Diego...
In the meantime, it's showers on the foredeck. The boat needed a cleaning anyway.
But there was good news today.
Ken got his first paycheck for cleaning a bottom. No, he's not working as a nurse. He cleaned the bottom of a boat in the marina today and has another tomorrow.
Second, we were invited to go diving on Molokini with Captain Becca tomorrow. This is one of the premier dives of the area.
We watched the BMW DVD tonight. We used my laptop as the projector, and used the FM transmitter to use the stereo for sound. It worked out well!
We did indeed dive at Molokini yesterday aboard the Lahaina Divers boat Endeavor. Fantastic stuff! Jason was at the wheel, Dave and Becca were in the water and Mike was on top watching bubbles as these were drift dives.
The first dive was along the Back Wall. The most impressive thing about this dive is that the wall is steep--almost vertical-- and drops straight down into the abyss. If you don't get your buoyancy right, you're doomed.
Ken immediately spotted a 2-meter white-tipped reef shark. Then he spotted a little moray eel. There were hundreds and hundreds of colorful fish hiding in the cracks and crevices and along the wall. For the first time, I surfaced with more left than Ken. Ken couldn't believe it.
The second dive was along Reef's End. Again, there was a plethora of fish of all shapes and colors surrounding us the entire dive. A couple of manta rays swooped by, followed by a small white-tipped reef shark. Becca spotted a baby frog fish, which is the ugliest thing. It attempts to simulate coral. Then there was a dragon nudibranch which looked more like a worm, or like one of those long colonial polyps that we have back at Monterey. Then we spooked an eagle ray and it plummeted straight down into the black depths.
These were two absolutely remarkable dives!
Becca shot a roll of film for us on this dive and I've included the pictures below for your enjoyment. More of her work will be available at Becca Branum Underwater Photography in the Fall of 2003 (which was rumored to be http://www.branumunderwater.com/ but this link does not yet exist).
On the trip home, we could have shot the Perfect Storm. The boat was tossed by the huge waves that shoot across the channel and the spray broke over the back of the boat where Mike, Ken, and I were chatting and peppered us with water buckshot for half an hour. We tired of this game, and went inside.
We helped out the staff again with the unloading of the tanks. Later Dave, Consuela, Becca and I met at Pancho & Lefties, a great local Mexican restaurant and bar for cheap drinks while Ken cleaned the bottom of another boat.
We watched the sunset on the breakwater. While walking back to the boat, we saw a meteor fall to the northeast of Maui. It was huge and burned white, blue, and other colors and broke up into several pieces. Beautiful!
We're anchored in a little cove behind McGregor Point. We're in the middle of nowhere and we have cell reception and Internet.
The game plan is to hang out here on an anchor for a few days and map out the area to complete Ken's divemaster course. The pile of tanks makes the boat look like a research vessel
McGregor Point is located in central western Maui at the saddle of the island, so the wind rips through here. Just a couple of hundred meters out, we can see the whitecaps, but it is relatively protected here, and the breeze is refreshingly cool.
A nearly 270 degree view of McGregor Point. There is a lighthouse on the point. To see it, the whitecaps further out, and the imperfections of my sewing job, you have to view this really large 1.1 MB image
Time to go diving!
Ken and I snorkeled for a couple of hours on the point. The coral and fishlife was surprisingly good. However, the viz wasn't so great. We got back to the boat, had lunch, and crashed. Later, I went for another two-hour snorkel on the west side of the cove. Alone, since Ken was beat. I found there to be more coral, more fish, more interesting boulders, and even some large overhangs and swim-throughs.
And now I'm cold. Freezing even. I think my teeth even chattered a bit. I'm wearing a fleece, drinking tea, and am hiding under a blanket. It's wonderful! It's good to know that you don't have to cook to death in the summer in Maui. OK, so it takes four hours of bottom time to do it. So much the better.
This morning the coast guard paid us a visit just to see if we were all right. Nice guys!
Ken and I went out for an hour and mapped half of the west end of the cove. After lunch, we mapped out the other half. Essentially, I navigated (kept a straight line with the compass, or at least attempted to do so, although once I formed a triangle instead of a rectangle). Meanwhile, Ken wrote down depths at regular intervals. With all of this data, he should be able to draw contour lines and point out features.
We had a salad. Exhausted, we crashed.
I spent quite a bit of time underwater today, although at three hours, it wasn't as long as the past couple of days. I had three dives: I cleaned the bottom of the boat, I took some photos for Ken's divemaster project and took some photos for me too. Finally, I did a night dive with Ken.
I had a lot of fun taking pictures. I found that most fish are skittish and don't let you get close enough for the flash to find them. I guess they know that if they stay far enough away, they won't turn out very good in a photo--just like people who put their hands up when someone points a camera at them.
The highlight of this dive was undoubtedly the spotted eagle ray.
Here are some shots.
Yellow margin flatworm. Finally, a fish that wouldn't move away when I approached. But then I got too close for the camera to focus!
Tonight, after dark, but before dinner, we went for a night dive. Diving at night is really like hanging out in space, not that I would know what that is really like.
Lots of interesting beasties come out at night. Coral shrimp poke their colorful heads and beady little eyes out of the coral. A couple of 20 cm catfish-like fish swam by. We didn't see them listed in the fish identification book--maybe we discovered them. Maybe not. The sputnik urchins were out in force. These guys have thick quills and really look like a satellite. They were obviously named since the 60s. There were a couple of stareye parrotfish trying hard not to be seen against a rock. But we saw them. And then my light went out just as a meter-long eel swam past my nose. I got the light working again and found the eel, which is probably a conger eel. The picture in the ID book showed it poking its head out of a hole, but it was swimming freely for us. Very cool.
I highly recommend spending an hour underwater before dinner.
Oh, and I actually slept with a blanket last night. And both Ken and I are wearing long pants and a fleece right now. The temperature here is much nicer than back at Lahaina.
We had a leisurely morning, pulled our anchor, raised the jib, and ran before the wind on the way home.
Ken dropped me off with the tanks and hooked up at Dave's mooring. Instead of carrying 7 tanks several long, painful, blocks to the dive shop I waited until the Lahaina Divers boat came in and threw my tanks into their truck and helped them out in return.
I then did some shopping, had the dive pictures developed, and then borrowed Dave's dinghy to go pick up Ken and the outboard. We then hooked up the engine to Dave's other dinghy. But then the engine wouldn't start. And we didn't have tools.
Fortunately, a kind soul came by and gave us a tow to the boat with his dinghy. So, Ken set about to fix the engine. Turned out that a needle valve in the carburetor was stuck and there wasn't any fuel getting into the engine.
Victorious, Ken came below and continued his studying. Ken just read that, "Some medical professionals have even 'formally' redefined 'middle-aged' as starting as 50 instead of 40." Yes, after having a mid-life crisis at 40, we can look forward to having another at 50.
Later we went into town and I picked up the photos (which you've just seen) and had dinner at Pancho and Leftys. Becca and Dave from Lahaina Divers met up with us for a couple of drinks later to give me a sending off.
In the middle of the night, I got up to pee, and was astonished to see Mars reflecting on the water. I've never seen a star or planet reflect off of the water like that. I gazed at this for a moment and then went back to bed.
Ken rented a big truck today. A really big truck.
We used the truck to pick up his dinghy. You know, the one that we kept on sealing which kept on leaking. Anyway, we put it in the water and put his engine on it. Again, it wouldn't start. (I'll bet Ken is really getting over this boat stuff.) Turned out to be the needle value again, which must get some dirt in it when the engine is turned on its side while it is moved. This time, we came prepared with tools and Ken was able to get it running again. We gave an Irish guy a lift to his sailboat who was patient enough to wait while Ken operated on the carburetor.
We had a last lunch at the Cool Cat Cafe, and I packed and said goodbye to Wishful Thinking and Lahaina.
Ken and I then drove around the north of the island. We stopped occasionally to admire the rugged coastline and to sample the "best banana bread in the world" in Honokohau which was reachable by the smallest road in the world.
The northern side reminded me a lot of Scotland: the moors, the cows, the weathered bushes, and stumpy trees.
We had an excellent Vietnamese dinner at the Saigon Cafe in Wailuku and then Ken dropped me off at the airport. You'd think the story ended here, but another story begins!
The security in the Hawaiian airport at Kahului is unlike any I've seen. I was standing in line and a nice attendant observed that I hadn't gone through the agricultural inspection line yet. So I threw my bags in their x-ray machine and got a green sticker. Once I reached the beginning of the line at the ticket counter, my bags were taken from me and tested for drugs and explosives. I finally checked my bags after showing a photo ID and thought I was on my way.
In the line to get to the gates, I showed my photo ID again and went through the metal detector, and took off my shoes and took the laptop out of the backpack. This is getting to be usual. However, security opened my laptop and tested it and the backpack for drugs and explosives. Then they gathered around the x-ray machine and looked a little concerned. They opened my bag and found my Swiss Army knife that I had placed in the backpack two months ago and forgotten.
They added purple lines and circles to my boarding pass and then escorted me out of the security area. I went back to the ticket counter where they were nice enough to find a box for my knife and check it after I showed my photo ID again.
Back in the line to the gate, the security guard smiled and let me in at the beginning of the line making a comment about the "guy with the knife" but still needed to see my photo ID again. I took off my shoes and took my laptop out of the backpack before placing them in the x-ray machine. Then security opened the laptop and tested the backpack and laptop for drugs and explosives. They also went through the backpack and passed a handheld metal detector all over my body since as you recall, my boarding pass now had purple circles and lines all over it.
I finally got on the plane after showing my photo ID one last time and we left on time at 11:25 pm. Luckily, the seat next to me was empty so I had a little elbow room. I closed my eyes and awoke to a beautiful sunrise, a cup of hot coffee, and a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the distance.
This section is a virtual walking tour of Lahaina. This isn't your typical walking tour that you might find in Frommers. Instead, it shows Lahaina through the eyes of Ken and Bill.
505 Front St. with Bamboo Restaurant and Bar, a local hangout with Asian food, sushi, and pool tables
Cool Cat Cafe, where we got some excellent hamburgers, and got to meet Elvis (waving from the window)
Pancho and Leftys, home of great Mexican food and $1.75 beers. Yes, this photo sucks, but the better photo was over-exposed, so it sucked worse. P&L is to the left in the photo below
The Kamaaina Kitchen and the Korean BBQ next door. Owned by the same folks and great food all around
One of the great things about small towns is that you often bump into people you know. Here's Captain Becca and her son
In the mall behind the Hard Rock Cafe is the Front St. Theater where we paid $5 for air conditioning a few times
Looking over my shoulder down Papalaua St. as I head away from the ocean and Front St. and towards the...
...Napa Auto Parts, where they "stock hard to find parts" and can order impossible to find parts. Remember that lamp for the propane switch which required a full city search?
I just love looking down into the water to see the fish and crustaceans at play. There's a crab on the rock
Here is some of the flora and fauna.
Copyright © 2003 Bill Wohler
Last modified: 2006-02-09 19:14:02 -0800 (Thu, 09 Feb 2006)