Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View
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Eric & Sherrell
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Posted on Sunday Dec 1, 2013
I was busy procrastinating on the computer and went to sailinganarchy.com to see if there were any interesting stories when I got punched in the gut by their main photo.
I immediately recognized Switchblade in the photo. Not many boats are painted with the exact same paint as a Ferrari. In hopes they saved the boat, I searched the internet for information.
This was when I learned the newest owners have been chartering the boat in Thailand for races. And there were some nice photos and they had added some tacky sponsor stickers to the hull.
We had some great races on that boat. But what happened?! Is the boat ok? Sherrell managed to track down the story. Apparently a squall rolled through and brought a lot of large waves that in 10 minutes pushed all of Mike Downard's "Sail in Asia" sailing school boats, which included two the region's famous sailboats Switchblade and Tag.
From the sounds of it they were all anchored and the owner raced down to check on them only to find them all up on the beach. Switchblade had the keel ripped off. I have to warn you the next photo is distrubing.
It really brought me down. We had a lot of fun on that boat and admittedly I hadn't thought about it for years until I was gut-punched by its loss.
Posted on Friday Nov 29, 2013
This is the first time in many years we've been in the US for the holidays and I was totally perplexed by all this conversation about "Black Friday". I kept reminding myself to check the stock market and see what everyone is talking about. Then I saw a Daily Show where they were making fun of the "news" coverage of Black Friday and what stores were open...oh yeah, shopping.
We spent our holiday low-key as usual. A sailboat was pulled off a reef last week and limped into the spot next to us with some bottom damage. I spent Thanksgiving helping him and another guy prepare to extract his big spade rudder so he could repair it. Then on Black Friday (stupid name if you ask me, perhaps accountants like the sound of it) we extracted it from his boat.
It's a big heavy rudder and naturally it leaves a big empty hole in the bottom, so it's a job you have to take your time with and be very careful. There is a real chance you could hurt someone and/or sink the boat.
I'm happy to report it all went well -- no injuries no sunken boat -- and is off to get repaired. Sherrell heard all the commotion while we were trying to keep the rudder under control and load it into the dinghy and snapped a couple photos. Perhaps we'll use them for holiday cards.
Posted on Saturday Nov 23, 2013
Often on a boat there's too many things to fix. Sometimes the only solution is procrastination. A great way to do this is by making beer! Something we've been trying to perfect for a while on our boat. By no means whatsoever are we experts, but we have a system now that works for us, so I thought I'd share it.
I don't go into how to brew beer, but rather how to do it on a boat where space and water are a tough to compromise. Give it a read.
Posted on Thursday Nov 7, 2013
That was the first thing I noticed after rounding the famous Diamond Head point. There were people! After a month of touring the Hawaiian Islands we haven't seen any other cruising boats and we only met a handful of people. We came out of the ocean swell and wind to the leeward side of Oahu and BOOM! Parasailors, tour boats, sail boats, motor boats, submarines, surfers, kayaks, Coast Guard...it was like Maui times 10 or Molokai times 10 million.
We are still trying to get a med-moor style slip and get our paperwork approved, so they stuck us at a public loading dock. We should get a spot assigned soon. But it has been a long long time since we were in a real city with the boat...and we are really IN the city.
Posted on Sunday Oct 27, 2013
We haven't written much because we've been having fun. We visited the Big Island, Molokini, parts of Maui and now we are anchored in Molokai! It's been hot with the temperatures near 90 and there's no sign of fall approaching, much less winter.
Today is Sherrell's B-day! We made her some cupcakes...chocolate of course. Tomorrow we are going to "borrow" a car and do a tour of the island for a couple of days. Molokai has been a very friendly place and there are many things here that remind us of Mexico. (I should probably clarify that this is a good thing because I understand that many people have the wrong impression of Mexico based solely on news coverage.)
The trades are expected to pickup this week so we might be here for a while waiting for a window to get to Oahu, but that's ok because the anchorage is calm and we aren't in a hurry to start working on the boat and rushing around the big city of Honolulu just yet.
Posted on Monday Oct 14, 2013
The Frog King, the Fishing Lady and many others will be missed but NOT the ice machine. Our past couple of months inside the Wailoa Harbor (which is really just a tiny boat basin) hasn't been dull. When your boat is parked curb-side and open to the public 24/7 you get to meet everyone. Really the only downside with this very public spot is the ice machine that is about 50 feet from our bow that dumps out about 100 pounds of ice every hour and has a motor that won't quit along with a work crew that starts around 3am with lots of shouting and music. Other than that it has been interesting seeing the world go by and floating in what amounts to a fresh water river that keeps the bottom of our boat super clean.
We've enjoyed our time here on the Big Island but it is time for us to sail on to Maui and the other islands. Friends are going to ship our car to us on Oahu once we get there so we'll have transportation again which will be fun.
We are both a bit anxious to get moving again. Three must be something wrong with us.
Here's a parting shot of our boat in the basin with big-ol' Mauna Kea with its telescopes in the background. Awesome.
Posted on Wednesday Jul 31, 2013
UPDATE: Check out our guide to brewing beer on a boat.
What do you get when you combine some starches, Hilo rain water and yeast? Vog Head IPA! Vog is volcanic fog and it drifts around the islands Volcanoes depending on the wind direction. It's toxic and can be quite a pest sometimes. Since we were using rain water we thought it might make a subtle difference to the beer. Ok, we also thought it makes a great name for a beer. Vog is a very unique feature to the Big Island of Hawai'i and even the WikiPedia page for Vog features Hilo.
The past year or so we've been experimenting with brewing our own beer. We've learned a few things about it and how to do it best on the boat. Now we've refined our technique and upped the brew size to almost 4 gallons.
In this picture you'll see our white fermentation bucket (food grade) with a spigot and a vapor lock. Then we have our 16qt. stainless pot for brewing. And since we are beer snobs, we have to have some fresh grains. We use a "mash extract" technique where we crack the grains (for best freshness) with the grinder you see on the stove, and then we soak them in a bag we made out of bridal vale material. We also use some dry and liquid malt extract just to make the ingredients more portable.
Then we cooked it with the malt, grains and hops, which is a hot job in the tropics!
This is our biggest batch of brown sugary stuff yet! Hard to believe that turns into beer, but add some bacteria and it does the work. It takes about 10 days to ferment in our warmer climate we can't keep it at the proper temperature so we have to be careful not to let it sit too long.
We were a bit worried how our 4 gallons of bubbling beer would do during the tropical storm that came through, but fortunately we didn't get bounced around too much and the beer looks and smells good.
When it's done fermenting it's time to break out the freshly sterilized bottles, bottle caps and priming sugar!
Now the hardest part is letting them "bottle condition" for weeks. Agh!
Some of the tricks we've worked on refining is using minimal water for sterilization and cleaning. We've also have a system the eliminates the need for a bottling bucket, siphon, and a second fermenter. It's a work in progress so we'll see how Vog Head turns out when the bottles are ready to be cracked open. I hope it's good!
Posted on Tuesday Jul 9, 2013
Sure it's only 13,796 feet above sea level, but measured from it's oceanic base it stands 33,500 feet (more than twice the base-to-peak height of Everest). No sherpas or clamp-ons for us -- we drove to the top
I've always been a big Astronomy fan and ever since playing around in the University Observatory many years ago I've wanted to see the best facility this side of our atmosphere for a long time. I wasn't dissappointed.
On a rare clear day you can even see some of the large telescopes perched on top.
From the visitors center at 9,000 feet we climbed a small hill to try to acclimated as we both felt the altitude.
At the dizzying top we were freezing cold, the wind was cranking and the views were stunning. (Yes that's me in foul weather gear)
While it was pretty cool to drive up to 13,700 feet. It was even cooler to see the tools we as a species have built here just to look at the sky and search for answers.
My personal favorite was the Submillimeter Array (see the photo with Sherrell and one of the big dishes). And I also liked the James Clerk Maxwell submillimeter telescope. We were going to sneak in on a tour that was looking at it, but we were spotted so we just stayed outside...bummer.
In the cheesiest sort of ways seeing this massive investment in pure science research from countries all around the world gives me hope for the future. Learn about the 12 Observatories here or check out some live webcams of the mountain top.
It's not so much the mountain top that is spectacular, but rather the things you can see from it. I'll leave you with one amazing image from Mauna Kea: Interacting Galaxies NGC474 (Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope).
Posted on Sunday Jul 7, 2013
When we crossed from Mexico to Hawaii each evening we listened to other sailors checking into the long range radio network. At the top of the list (goes by longest number of days at sea to least number of days) was Jeanne Socrates on Nereida. She was doing a non-stop solo round the world sail (not her first attempt either). We listened as she sailed around New Zealand and started working her final leg back to Victoria, Canada.
An amazing story in itself. But long after we arrived in Hawaii and during our time of climbing volcanoes and hiking jungles she has continued on day after day. Now she is less than 60 miles from the end and there is no wind. There's been little or no wind for some time on her leg home. Once she reported in 24 hours later that she had managed to go backwards.
Now on about day 260 I decided to see how she's doing. She's in range of the US/Canada coastal AIS tracking system so you can see live updates of her position with her track history. I was surprised to see her still struggling to get home.
Can you image the intense frustration to be able to see your destination yet, be going backwards? 260 days at sea. That's 6,240 hours of sailing. Compare that to your average 40 hour work week and that's almost 3 years of being "on the job". With only 60 miles to go you can bet she wants a vacation.
Posted on Thursday Jul 4, 2013
We've been having so much fun here. But we are leery of the strict laws regarding boats in Hawaii. Sometimes the only solution for living on your boat can be to move it on land. We helped Dan and Sylvie move Ustupu onto a flat bed which they trucked to a nice plot of land about 25 miles from the bay. Why? Well getting a permanent mooring is almost impossible and you can't live on your boat for more than 90 days before you have to leave. So out came the boat!
And down the road USTUPU goes:
There are some fun aspects of Hilo we 've been enjoying a lot. There is a farmer's market right down town run mostly by Philipinas. Much of the produce is from the Island and the variety is incredible. It's a lot like being in Latin America but the produce is often pesticide free or organic.
And there are parks about every 100 feet with Banyan Trees expertly maximizing their photosynthesis and providing shade for us.
We've also hiked to some of the local waterfalls and lava tubes.
We took an amazing hike to Pu'u O'o Crater which is very active right now. While this trail is officially closed, we read the reports and tried it out. There was a 4 mile tropical rain forest hike, which took us up to edge of the lava flow. We were surprised to see that when we emerged from the forest the heat waves across the rocks were distorting everything. The lava has moved well past the boundary it reached during a large flow in '86 to '89. So far in fact it was in the process of burning all the vegetation around us. We could hear trees crackling and burning and there were areas of rock that would just suddenly start smoking! Good to know we could be airlifted out in an emergency...or was this just a cruel joke?
Let me tell you this stuff was HOT and fresh. Fortunately the wind was blowing in the right direction to keep the toxic gas and smoke away from us. After seeing how the world around us was burning we didn't linger long.
We were LAVA struck! So we took another hike to the area where it pours into the ocean were the gods Pele (lava) and Poli`ahu (water) do constant battle. This is the same lava flowing underground from the Pu'u O'o crater which was several miles up the hill from this location by the sea.
We also made a mesmerizing video of the lava in the "Burn baby burn" post. Incredible isn't it?