Monday, July 29, 2013

Tropical Storm Flossie

Yup, about a week ago, Brian was joking with his Gorge friend, Ron, that there's no way we'd encounter a tropical storm in Hawaii since they rarely occur here.  However, it IS hurricane season, and the last storm was in the 90s.. so I guess it was time.  Now, here we are checking weather VERY regularly since Friday when Mike noticed Flossie heading this way.  We are still anchored in Hanalei Bay, Kauai.  The sand bottom of the bay is very good holding.  At this point Flossie appears to be weakening and we are not expecting seriously high winds. Nevertheless we are taking many precautions and awaiting the weather that may arrive. Today's weather has had many rain showers and not much wind.  We even brought Eloise to the beach to play and dig a huge water catcher hole in the sand with Daddy.  Lots of people were "sunbathing" in the rain.  It was a weird scene.  All is calm currently and going well as Brian and Mike lash loose things to the boat.  Tonight and tomorrow morning are the closest encounter we are predicted to have.  Our number one is to be safe, of course, and our number two hope for Flossie is that she will dump enough rain for us fill water tanks and not to have to schlep jerry jug cans back and for the to the beach.  We'll give you updates.

Yesterday, we zipped around the corner to "Tunnels" a known surf spot with a protecting reef for anchoring behind.  We got in some snorkeling and our first fish caught on this trip. Eloise was ecstatic when Mike pulled in a 12 inch lizard fish with pale golden yellow and blue markings.  She didn't mind that we released him after she got to pet him. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Tales from the Pacific

Wow, I just re-read my blog from July 23, 2011.  We were in Tonga, eagerly anticipating Eloise’s imminent first steps.  She was picking up seashells and sticking arms down crab holes. 
Things have changed a little bit.  Here we are on the island of Oahu. She still collects seashells, asking us if we think they are pretty.  Instead of sticking things down crab holes, Eloise made them new homes by poking her finger in the sand.  Now she is proudly learning to swim.  When she wears her life jacket, she flops her arms, kicks her legs and swims from one parent up to the sand on the beach.  Without life jacket, she lets us hold her tummy while she whirls her arms and legs around.  A new joy is when daddy holds her hands and flings her around and lets go so she splashes in the water.

While we were still in Honolulu, I finally got to meet “Kiwi Al” who has been a friend of Brian’s for many many years.  He is a tugboat captain.  When he heard that Eloise was screaming happily the day before when she spotted some tugboats next to the road we were driving on, he offered to give us a tour of his boat on a slow day.  It was so amazing.  I’ve liked tugs since I was a child reading our kid book, “Little Toot”  about a tiny tug.  But now, we have gotten to climb around on a real one. From the top tower where they steer, down to the state of the art Rolls Royce engines we explored and learned about tug boats.  We knew it was time to go, however, when Eloise curled up and laid down in the captain’s chair and asked if she could sleep aboard.  Thanks Alan!

Yesterday, we arrived in Hale’iwa harbor, near where Michael Crosier lives.  He continues to shuttle us to Costco, Whole Foods, gas stations, etc.  He also washed, dried, and folded our laundry at his house!  Thanks Michael!
This morning from the harborwe could hear a loud noised from the hills and town nearby.  It took me a few minutes of thought to figure out that it was a cacophony of wild chickens crowing and clucking, accompanied by the voices of other birds.  This confirmed that we are indeed in a Polynesian island.  From the Marquesas to Fiji, these wily birds live in the trees and bushes near villages, hiding their eggs until hatched, then foraging in fruit trees and opened coconut shells.  I’ve heard they make good eating even if they aren’t extremely plump.

Wednesday, we all leave for Hanalei Bay on the island of Kaui about 90 miles from here. It is reportedly one of the most beautiful anchorages in the islands.  Since Mike is an experienced sport-fishing boat captain, we are looking forward to him using his skills as we cross.  He even bought Eloise her own fluorescent pink lures.  She was excited.  In fact, ever since then, she has been “fishing” off the side of our boat when we are anchored.  “I really want to catch a Mahi Mahi.” She told us yesterday as she pulled up the rope she had thrown over the edge.  “I got one!” she announced and pantomimed removing it and gobbling it up.  She also informed us that she wants to be a fisher girl. 

I’m looking forward to running a one day a week preschool for Eloise and her same-aged cousin, Elijah when we get back to Santa Cruz.  Brian and I are also looking forward to hosting Thursday night sailing gatherings aboard Nomad this fall.  He’s a bit more dinged up on the outside, modified on the inside, has a new mainsail, and other new bits and pieces, but he’ll be home and needing to be used.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back on Board in the Pacific

The very first thing Eloise wanted to see when she first re-acquainted herself with Nomad three weeks ago, was her “baby bed.”  It has been a year and eight months since she lived on Nomad but our stories and pictures have kept alive in her a familiarity and curiosity.  The other thing she immediately wanted to see was the blue hammock.  In Tonga and Fiji, Brian often rigged our turquoise hammock in the forward rigging.  Then, Eloise would spend hours in it.  This was pre-speech.  She would request time in the hammock by humming the first four notes to our “swinging, swinging…” song.  Now she just says, “Can we do the hammock today, Daddy?” 

So, Eloise has easily acclimated to boat life.  She LOVES going fast in the dinghy (with life jacket on), and likes jumping off the side of the boat in Brian’s arms (with life jacket on).  She has figured out how to make a stool out of the firm cockpit cushions by placing them on top of each other.  In fact, last week, I was outside and wondering why she was tossing cushions down the companionway.  I peaked in and caught her red-handed standing on the cushions, stretching up to the inside ledge in our galley where I had placed her birthday lollipops out of reach.  She is very at home.

Brian and I spent the first three weeks in Kona, getting Nomad out of dry dock, painting her bottom, cleaning inside and out, unpacking sails, boards and gear out of the salon and placing them back in their proper places on deck, trouble-shooting minor electrical issues, re-provisioning, and generally making a home again.   It was all made possible because my mom came with us for the first two weeks and watched Eloise, ran errands, did piles of boat laundry, and supported in many many ways while we got the boat in shape.  Jeff and Jane, Kona locals also were a huge support with friendship, local knowledge, the use of their car, sewing machine and laundry. We’re still getting systems organized but we set sail from Kona on July 6.  A great image I have of leaving the harbor is of Eloise standing in the cockpit (wearing harness and tether), holding on to the dodger braces with both hands eagerly looking out to sea ahead of us.  We had a fantastic passage across a notoriously very windy channel.  “Light” winds meant we had a reef in the main trying to slow ourselves down in the smooth water. 

We are waiting for the next period of light trade winds to come back around as we sit comfortably in the 20-boat marina on Lanai.  This is the first that we have felt truly on vacation.  On Hawaii, we did go to some hula dancing (Eloise LOVED the hula and wanted to go on stage every time), attended an amazing luau, and went to the beach frequently, and attended 4th of July festivities, but it was all interspersed with chores.  On Lanai, we are truly relaxing together as a family and having fun at the beach, on the grass at the marina, driving around the island, or going to the park in the one town on the island.

We arrived in Lanai at 7:30 am on Eloise’s birthday.  Her first present was opened under way.  The rest of the day was spent swimming and attending a huge community gathering/potluck/send-off to the Hukolea, a well-known traditional sailing canoe that was visiting.  The best part of it was that Eloise got to run around bare-footed till late at night playing with local kids.  A very close second best was the amazing food and feeling of community we experienced.

Brian and I regularly experience things that make us feel nostalgic for our Polynesian crossing in 2009.  Everything from tattoos, plants, rakes, architecture, and the aloha spirit brings back good memories.  Cruising in Hawaii has been a good blend of American conveniences and Polynesian culture.  We’ll see what the next three weeks hold.  That is all that is left before Brian and his friend Mike set off on the 3-week crossing to return Nomad to Santa Cruz.