Home to Hawaii
It feels like we’ve been back in Hawaii for a month but it’s only just been over a week. So much has change since the last blog.
Last time, we were just leaving Tabuaeran. As predicted the passage back to Hawaii was bumpy. It was one of those passages where nothing to remarkable happened and I already struggle to recall parts of it. But it was a great passage for many reasons. 1. We were lucky that we had only a short stint in the squally ITCZ (Inter Tropical Conversion Zone). Squalls are basically localized mini storms where the suddenly wind picks up and it dumps a whole load of rain on you. Shanley and I had a very unsettling night watch where a squall cloud which we thought we had passed us turned around and then proceeded to chase us from behind. NEVER trust a cloud moving upwind! Seriously, don’t. 2. At 8deg North we were already back in the Tradewinds where we always had winds in the high teens/low twenties. Most days our runs were a mile or two shy of 200nm. So of course every day we picked someone else to blame for it: “ You helmed badly” or “You put in a reef to soon or shook it too late.” Obviously it’s all in good humor, we operate as a crew. Personally, coming from smaller sailing boats I am still very excited every time the run is more than 150nm! Eric on the other hand is less impressed. 3. Due to not being allowed to take any fresh fruit or veg into Hawaii, we did our very best to incorporate them in as many meals as possible. And since we had a lot of squashes left over that in short meant that every meals (excluding breakfast) had squash in it in some way, shape or form. Squash risotto, roasted squash pasta, sweet and sour squash with polenta, mango filled squash buns, etc. So if you happen to be in need of some good squash recipes any member of the crew would be happy to oblige. 4. Though no marine mammals came to say hi, we did see tons of aggregations of feeding birds. Pair a bird feeding frenzy in front of a golden orange spectacular sunset and some dramatic clouds and you’ll be close to what we got to witness more than once. 5. The watches were extremely varied. Sometimes in a squall you’d just get drenched to the bone, then the sun would come out and you’d be roasting again, or the wind would pick up and you’d be able to feel the pressure on the helm increase, or waves would be crashing over the bow soaking whoever was trying to enjoy the lates squash meal or some side swell would really test your helming patience pushing you off course whenever possible. In short the helming and sailing and general variety kept us all on our toes. But it was fun and we all felt we learned a lot. 6. The atmosphere onboard was great since we’d all been on board together for almost a month by that point. We joked and laughed and had many many ridiculous conversations. Especially when a Navy boat called us but we could never quite make it out and it also didn’t’ show up on AIS.
Arriving back in Hawaii was bitter sweet, because arriving is always lovely but it also means the end of the trip. Well, and it being 4am made it an utterly disorientating experience. Oahu has a lot of lights of all colors flashing along its coastline. But arriving also meant time to get the boat all shiny and clean again: bed sheets were stripped and changed, foulies were all washed and everything from the galley to the heads to the deck were thoroughly scrubbed. Once completed it was time for the first shore shower in some time. How fresh we all smelt (including Sea Dragon)!
Then it was time to be alone for a bit or just not be within mere feet of anyone else who had been on the boat for the last month! Time to call family and friends, write letters, go for a hike or just explore Honolulu a little. On Mary and Sarah’s last night we all had a sunset dinner picnic on the beach and even a Hawaiian monk seal came to say farewell. It definitely felt a little odd just being three of us on the boat there after. And with that it’s all on me to tread in Sarahs footsteps. Uh oh. Luckily a boat always has a long list of maintenance projects that kept us busy: re-running some reef lines, re-attaching battens to the mast cars or sewing a new strap for the main halyard in the snake pit (we hang the coils of line on the straps to keep the snake pit neat and tidy).The heat here at midday is almost unbearable so we try to do the outside jobs as early in the morning as possible. But even so we would try to squeeze in a super early morning snorkel trips to see colorful fishies and turtles that always made the work for the rest of the day feel significantly lighter.
With the next trip starting imminently, we also did a full food provision. Though we have had some issues with the boats normal fridge and have a new one in the starboard forward cabin to tide us over. We’ll see how it fares out at sea in the swell… The guest crew who I’ll introduce next trip arrived yesterday. We already whisked them out to Electric Beach for a last warm water snorkel. Excited by the turtles we didn’t quite expect what happened next. We had heard rumors about dolphins hanging out there but only spotted them either far out or we’d just hear their whistles but not see them. Well, this morning they came right in close to say hi and play! A pod of at least 20 twisted and turned below and around us. It was breathtaking! I still can’t quite believe it. What an amazing goodbye from Oahu! Now we grab our last shore showers, the last snippets of internet and give our loved ones a last call for a little while being. The time has come for us to hoist our sails and set a course bound North. Victoria, Canada here we come.