Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where are we again?

The east side of Waikiki from where we were initially anchored
Honolulu is like taking a vacation in a big Asian city and only having to travel half the distance.  Of course, the prices are much higher than in many Asian countries, but much lower than they would be in Japan or Korea.   In addition, the streets are cleaner and there are far fewer motorbikes.  We have been thoroughly enjoying all of the different food options from Vietnamese spring rolls to Cantonese noodle houses.  The amount of tourism from developed Asia is astounding.  There are so many Japanese and Korean tourists that they have their own bus systems, and in our experience these foreign language busses seem to come by the stops much more often than the city bus system we have been using to get around!  The wealth present in Honolulu is apparent everywhere with a Rodeo Drive like outdoor shopping district stretching block after block just off Waikiki Beach and one of the largest malls I have ever seen within spitting distance of the marina. Comically, many of the stores (like the two Chanel stores within one half of a mile of each other) sport winter fashions that would not be practical at any time of the year in Hawaii.  I am guessing that their target customers are not the locals but instead the Japanese tourists who come here for “bargain” prices on the luxury goods heavily taxed all over Asia. Luckily for us, food prices are a little more reasonable than they were on Maui and we have been able to have many meals for under $20.  We just got back from a yummy lunch/dinner at a Japanese ramen counter and had to waddle our way home.  Last week we were very excited to find avocado smoothies (don’t knock it until you’ve tried one) and markets in Chinatown where we can stock up on all of the goodies we miss from our time overseas.
One of our favorite spots on the back side of Lana'i

Atop Diamond Head overlooking Waikiki

We are still in Honolulu after having sailed here about two weeks ago from Molokai.  In addition to eating our way through the city and our funds we have gone hiking on Diamond Head, spent many hours watching surfers on the beach and plan to get up early tomorrow to go out to Pearl Harbor.   Last night we spent a few hours on a local race boat, through which we met a nice group of young people, most of whom are PhD students at the University.  For now we are in a bit of a holding pattern, waiting for the next phase of our adventure to play out.  Although we loved our first crossing, neither of us is too excited about returning to Seattle by boat if we can’t find some crew.  The passage is both colder and has the potential for trickier weather.  We would love to stay in Hawaii for a while and we are currently applying to jobs, but no news yet.  Either way, boat or plane, I will be heading back to the mainland in September to start the residency application process but for now I have a little bit of adventure left in me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Vacation from our "vacation"

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be on a vacation. I could go back to high school Latin and let the nerd in me peak out its head but in favor of our shortened, 21st century, attention spans I will just fill you in on what we have been up to for the last few weeks.  Since our arrival in Hawaii and our frolics with the dolphins on the leeward side of the Big Island, the last week of May Adam and I made our way to Maui just in time for his parents to arrive from Wisconsin.  This began two weeks of family fun, with some of my family arriving four days later.  There were two very notable events that occurred.  First, we got to sleep in a real bed!  We love Moments, and I have to admit that all of our various bunks are surprisingly comfortable, but after almost nine months of sleeping in the pie-wedge-shaped V-berth I was ready to stretch my legs, horizontally.  I have luckily (for Adam) given up the habit of kicking in my sleep for which I was famous as a child, but it is impossible to avoid bumping knees every once in a while sleeping in the bow of a boat.  Secondly, although Adam and I have been dating for close to five years, this was the first time that any of our family members had met each other.  You might think that this could be nerve racking but in general the two weeks we spent with our family were a wonderful time of exploring this beautiful island, lounging on the beach, and spending quality time with our family members whom we miss very much despite our tendencies to head off around the world.  Adam and I also got to enjoy that nice, juicy steak we had been dreaming about since about 2000 miles from Hawaii!

Of course, our trip to Maui was not uneventful.  Due to the (still paper based, imagine!) system of renting dock space and moorage here in Hawaii we had to stop at a DLNR office on the Big Island before making it to Maui over Memorial Day weekend.  It is a good thing that we left Hilo with some days to spare because we ended up staying in Kailua-Kona and Honokohau Harbor to make some repairs before jumping across the channel to Maui.  We spent one night anchored off of Oneloa and then headed into Maalea Harbor to tie up while our parents are here.  Adam and I knew that Maui was windy.  It is a famous spot for kite boarders and wind surfers, but despite this we truly had no idea.  In the harbor, wind whips through at 20-30 kts on a regular basis!  The leeward side of the Big Island is somewhat projected from the trade winds due to the high mountains.  Maui is essentially shaped like a dumbbell running east to west and, it turns out, that wind funnels right through that central valley making Maalea harbor one of the windiest in the world.  This is good for our batteries as the wind turbine is running full blast, but tough on our hearts because our boat, as well as all of the larger boats surrounding it, move quite a bit in the wind.  We have out every dock line we own, another that was already in the slip tied to a tire to help with the movement and surge, plus our secondary bow anchor out the back to keep the boat from slamming into the dock or the other boat!  We ended up buying another fender because the four we have plus the tires and carpet on the dock were not enough!  Oh and did I mention that there is a reef in the middle of the harbor and that the majority of boats are Tahiti tied instead of side tied to a dock? All of this and there is still a 10+ year waiting list for locals to get a slip.  I guess that small craft advisories nearly every day make for pretty good sailing, if you are into that kind of thing.

For now, it is back to boat work for us.  We once again had our lovely visitors cart gear back and forth.  Christmas three times in one year is not bad. Although the general impression of cruisers involves a healthy tan, colorful drinks with umbrellas and lots of time lounging on beaches, that ideal is far from our day to day life.  I now understand what my history teachers meant when they said that the invention of dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators made it possible for women to have more free time or enter the work force.  Our days are mainly filled with repairs and chores, not exactly the vacation most non-cruisers imagine yet still a separation and change from our normal life.  Despite our chores, life is more simple, we get more sleep and we have much more quality time together, fulfilling our main goal for this year.  It is hard for me to even remember what it was like when we were dating long-distance. For now we have no idea what the future holds.  Similar to our plan to head "south" in Mexico we are heading "west" here in Hawaii.  This phase of the adventure will end in September when I have to be back on the mainland to deal with residency applications and interviews. Until then we are exploring all of our options: applying for jobs both here and at home, putting the boat on the market, looking for crew to sail back but most of all taking our time and enjoying Hawaii.