If the mountain weren’t there, you might wonder if you would see any evidence of the sun this morning. It’s after sunrise, but a low thick layer of clouds covers the bay and our little boat in this wide open stretch of water on the shores of Hilo. But the mountain, Maua Kea, IS there, and it’s famous peak glitters brightly as direct sunlight reflects off the large white domes of the observatory buildings, as well as the large patches of snow on the mountaintop. It’s an impressive sight – on a tropical island or anywhere – and the observatories must be massive to appear so clearly, just a hair below 14,000 feet. Nico was saying something to us yesterday, that they have 364 nights of clear visibility up there, no matter what the weather on the rest of the island might be like.
Anyway, my coffee is good today, a bit of Kona Coast grind mixed in with the Tahitian coffee that we are close to finishing. The bay is quiet if a tad rolly and Lara sleeps peacefully in our cabin. On shore some early morning traffic takes the locals wherever it is they are going, perhaps to church or the market. The nearby Hilo airport remains busy with an interesting mix of commercial and military traffic. Yesterday we watched enormous cargo planes – jets, not the prop-driven C-130’s – make repeated approaches for landing, only to touch down briefly, take off again and repeat the whole exercise. The planes are so large they seem to fly and maneuver in slow motion.
So today is moving day. In a few short hours we’ll have the boat cleaned up and everything stored so we can raise the raise the sails and make way out of the breakwater. We’ll be heading south and around the bottom tip of Big Island before turning north again and arriving eventually at our destination: Honokohau Harbor. Located on the leeward, or West side of the island, this is kinda smack in the middle of the bustling and touristy Kona Coast. I expect an experience altogether different from the quiet and quaint Hilo town and surroundings. For Walk On, the harbor will be home until mid-March, as we hop flights to the US and Brazil for family visits.
It’s a little sad to leave Hilo, I must say. Thanks in large part to Nico and husband Charuto (Renato), Hilo has been the perfect place to rest, relax, and decompress after the passage from the Marquesas. In addition to playing tour guide all last weekend, Nico went out of her way all last week to help us out – most days this meant leaving her truck with us while she was at work. We got a lot done thanks to her – loads and loads of laundry for the cheap, a propane tank fill and several runs with jerry cans to gas station for diesel. Then there were pharmacy and supermarket visits – all of these things that would have been slow and much more difficult were we to do it all on foot, as cruisers normally do. We also spent copious amounts of time at Starbucks, sipping coffee and taking full advantage of the free wi-fi connection. Skype put us in touch with Switzerland, San Blas Islands in Panama, and Rio.
Charuto came back from a visit to Guam on Thursday night and so Friday we had the chance to get all four of us together, finally! They took us to a family stye Mexican restaurant known for their Margaritas (they even have an electronic counter for how many had been served, like McDonalds used to do years and years ago, and I think the number may have been like 35,000… But after the Margaritas we had, no one could be completely sure). Yesterday we left Radio Bay and anchored over in Hilo Harbor. It was time for a day sail with friends and a barbeque to finnish off the afternoon. We picked up Nico and Charuto just after noon and eventually headed out of the breakwater, into the swell and breeze for a quick sail. Almost immediately we got exactly what we were looking for: an easy beam reach and a repeated visits and near-encounters with Humpback whales! The first and the closest were a mother-infant pair, just cruising across our bow and enjoying what must be warm waters for them. The young one was really quite small for a whale and behaved just like a kid – breaching (jumping) and splashing like crazy, stretching his/her muscles and obviously having a good time showing off. Lucky us! We got some photos and enjoyed our friend’s reaction to the whole thing – though they live here, it’s a rare event to get out on a boat and see whales. I love when we can share experiences like that with friends.
Later we tacked back and beam reached again back into the protected waters of the bay, where we anchored and got ready for our sunset barbeque. Lara and Nico had done the shopping and we simply had a feast: steaks and teriyaki Kalbi beef ribs, potatoes baked on the grill, salad, garlic bread, and even farofa with authentic Bahia flour that we still have on the boat! It was delicious. Another new culinary treat for us was the Poke that Nico insisted we try. Clearly from the strong Asian influence in Hawaii, Poke is raw ahi tuna, cubed and marinated in a special flavored mixes, with different kinds of exotic powders, spicy chilies, green onions and other yummy flavors. You put some on a little sheet of seaweed and make your own rolls – it was soooo good I couldn’t stop! We had a great time with Nico and Charuto, and look forward to seeing them again – be it in the Islands or on the coast once we’re settled there. Thanks guys – valeu, por tudo mesmo!
So, that’s about it. Time to put away the barbeque paraphernalia, take the trash ashore, and get this boat ship-shape for a quick round-the-island passage to the Kona Coast. In terms of sea miles, it’s something like 160 or 170 nautical miles, so it will be an overnight. We’ll get plenty of pictures and do some posting from Honokohau. I know everyone prefers the pics, but today that’s not possible… No wi-fi out here in the Bay, so today we’re coming to you via satellite, so to speak. 🙂
Have a great Sunday gang. More from Kona. MM