Tuesday, April 15, 2014

31 Hours of Oahu

Well, we went, we conquered and are now enroute back to Seattle. We arrived in the Port of Honolulu around 10am on Friday the 11th of April. After breaking tow and getting cleaned up, it was 1pm as the 2nd Mate and I headed into town. We first went to Hilo Hattie's for our complimentary Aloha necklace and then grabbed the free shuttle down to Waikiki beach. We walked the beach in search of a good lunch stop, and afterwards we went our separate ways to shop and look around.

I went straight to the beach and made a few calls home to the family, and watched the hundreds of people on the beach having a good time. There were surfers, stand-up paddlers, outrigger canoes, sailboats, swimmers and everything else you can imagine on a tropical Hawaiian beach.

I personally enjoy both surfing and SUP, but I hadn't come prepared to get in the water. I began to strategize and after picking up some cheap board shorts, a towel and some water, I was headed back to the beach and more specifically, the SUP rental tent. I rented a board and paddled Waikiki for an hour before drying off and going on about my shopping business. I figured, "I'm here, and I'll regret it if I don't", so I did.

I then spent the rest of the day walking around. I visited the international market with its hundreds of small vendors in the alleys, then walked for a few miles stopping into anything that caught my eye. I ended up stopping into the largest outdoor mall in the world, Ala Moana, just to check it out. Impressive, but I'm not much of a mall rat. After that, I grabbed some dinner and then hopped on a public bus headed back towards our pier. It was a short day, but I got to get wet and sink my toes into Waikiki, which I was grateful for. I have to say, Waikiki reminds me of Las Vegas on the beach. Tons of posh shopping opportunities and expensive restaurants to choose from and fairly polished. The beach is wonderful, but I could do without all the glamour and 5-star hotels that surround it. I'm thinking maybe Maui might be more my style. I like grass huts and less cars.

The next morning, Saturday the 12th, I stood a 2-hour watch from 6-8am, and then went grocery shopping with the captain. We hit up Safeway and spent about $1600 on food for the next 2 weeks. After cramming it all, including 12 cases of bottled water, into a minivan taxi, we headed back to the boat and I began the process of unpacking and stowing it all.

We got underway that afternoon around 17:00 and are now 3 days into our trip home. The weather has been clear, but we are bucking a headwind from hell and not making very good time. We averaged about 4 knots for the first 2 days as the winds came right out of the northeast and slowed us to creeping speed. Today, the captain decided to head more north and we are finally making speed, but not heading in the right direction. I'm think he's hoping that we'll skirt around the winds and hopefully they'll shift to a southerly at some point, helping us home. When the wind is on our beam, we are parallel to the wave, or "in the trough", which makes for a rolly ride, but at least we can make some speed.

About an hour ago, I was asleep when suddenly a large wave smacked the starboard side of the house with a lot of force. It smacked my porthole so hard that it forced about a quart or two of water past the seals and all over the inside of my room. It all leaked down along side my bed and all over some of my electronics (portable hardrive, video camera, charging station, etc.). So, needless to say, I was now awake and cleaning up a mess. I think everything survived, but time will tell. I put a few more turns on the wing nuts, grabbed some lunch and am now back in my bunk. I checked the porthole when I first came onboard, but I guess it still needed a few more turns to be fully waterproof. Live and learn.

So, that's my 31-hour Hawaiian adventure in a nutshell.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

12 hours till port

Today is our 12th day at sea and we will be pier side in the morning! 12 days was nothing when I was in the Navy, but for some reason, they drag on very slowly on a tug, probably because we are not a 30-knot Navy vessel. I've watched a ton of TV shows that I have on my hardrive, read quite a few magazines, ridden about 45 miles on the recumbent bike and taken lots of video with my sports cam in an attempt to put together a little video when I get home. Today we had a P3 sonar plane dropping sonar buoys along our route. Apparently submarines like to hide under barges as they approach the islands to see if they can sneak up on the forces and the planes drop bouys to take a listen underneath us. They fly really close back and forth in the process and at least it's something to look at.

After we tie up and get our barge situated, I'll have all afternoon and evening free to explore Hawaii. I'll need to be back in the early morning hours to stand a 2-hour security watch and do some grocery shopping afterwards but then I'll be free for Saturday as well until we depart and head home.

The trip back sounds like it might be a little ugly as we've got some nasty tradewinds coming from the Northeast that will slow us down and make for a bumpy ride. But, being on the homeward leg, we will just be happy to be heading home. This leg should take about 12 days, hopefully putting us back in port on the 23rd.

Almost everyone on this crew seems to have a keen interest in their health. 5 out of the 6 of us, eat healthy and workout every day or every other day at the very least. For our homeward leg, we are going to track the total amount of miles that we each ride on the bike so that we can push the office to try and get other boats equipped with the same equipment. We have one crew member who doesn't really care to exercise, but he's in fairly good condition and we don't pressure him too much.

Well, I'm off to bed and an episode of Deadwood.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 10 to Hawaii

Time doesn't fly by at ALL when your bobbing around in the Pacific. We started this trip wIth about 4 days of nasty seas, followed with 3-4 days of nice, followed with 2 days of nasty and we still have a few days to go. Yesterday, the winds were right In our face at 40+ knots as well as the ocean swell, causing short-stacked waves and therefore a slow boat. The captain pulled back on the throttle to about 3/4 "impulse" (enter Star Trek Sound here) and we creeped along at about 4-5 knots, getting rocked every which way. It sucked for cooking, sleeping, showering, breathing, living. So far, today has been a bit more calm and we are back up at full power, making good way at around 9 knots, with a much better ride quality.

I couldn't sleep at all last night because of all the jostling around and I was unable to achieved good leverage in my bunk. These bunks are a little wide and leave a little to be desired when your trying to wedge yourself in for rough seas. If you don't find the right position, one or more parts of your body will shift back and forth with the movement of the boat and wake you up, mostly hips, legs, head. It can work to your advantage at times as well, but mostly it's just annoying. If my head isn't stabilized enough, it will move back and forth for hours in my sleep and I'll wake up with a sore neck, or worse, a pinched nerve.

So, it's Monday and we should be popping Into Honalulu on Thursday or Friday sometime. I'm looking forward to getting off the boat and stretching my legs a little, even if its only for a day. Probably going to dips my toes into the sand of Waikiki beach, just because.

Making pot roast in the crockpot for dinner and I baked a couple pumpkin loafs for some finger food for the day. Tuna melts for lunch and eggs over easy and ham for breakfast.

Off to watch my final episode of Game Of Thrones, season 3. There might be more, but this is the last one I have at the ready.

Mike out.


Friday, April 4, 2014


Tonight was taco night, and I began the process around 16:00, giving me ample time to prep all the veggies, cook the meat, heat the tortillas and not feel rushed. Most of our refrigerators and freezers are down in the forepeak of the boat, so you have to walk forward and down some stairs to gather everything you need for your meals. Fortunately, someone had the bright idea to grab one of those handy plastic baskets from the grocery store, you know, the one with the folding handles. Quite handy in this type of setup, but every time in head down there carrying my basket, I feel like I'm off the market.

At any rate, I got all my veggies prepped and needed some olives to finish out the lineup. We only had whole, pitted olives, so I proceeded to slice a whole can of olives, which I've done multiple times before. It's not my favorite task, but it's necessary if you want sliced olives. So as I'm chasing these stupid little olives all over the cutting board that is sitting stationary on top of a countertop that is connected to a 130' vessel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I invented a new maritime culinary term called "hobbling". I do this all the time, but hadn't really realized it. It's essentially cutting a round vegetable or fruit in half so that it can't roll away from you. On a boat, anything round will take off on its own mission. I always half my tomatoes, onions, olives in this case, etc as my first move so that they stay put, and it works great.

So, anyhow... Hobbling.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Somewhere on the Pond

The first few days of this trip have been kinda brutal on me. We had weather as soon as we rounded Cape Flattery and exited the Straits of Juan De Fuca into the Pacific. From the Cape, we headed out into the open ocean and immediately got slammed around while we tried to outrun a low-pressure system that was turning to the north. We ended up heading south along the coast for about 2-3 days before turning more to the West. The captain is a weather fanatic, so he had it all planned out so that we would avoid another low pressure system and have it move around behind us, leaving open waters and clear skies for the the remainder if the week. It worked, but the first 72 hours were brutal. This boat indeed has "cork-like" motion and leaves much to be desired in the way of smoothness. Apparently the boat was designed to cross the Gulf of Alaska and hit some of the small fishing villages that lie on shallow rivers and inlets.

So, on day two, I found myself somewhat hungry and thought I might be able to keep something down. So I chose the easiest item on the menu, sweep potatoes. All was good and it appeared that I was not going to be seeing them again... Until I had to run up to the pilothouse for a minute that turned into 5. I had to sign the logbook after my rounds, which only takes a few seconds, but the chief asked me to sign some papers and it took longer than usual. It was dark out by this point and having no visual horizon to please my inner ear, I started to feel it coming on. After I signed the papers, I began to head down the 2 flights of stairs. I entered the head, closed the door and before I could turn around and aim for the direction of the toilet, it all came out, spitting up sweet potatoes all over the backside of the door and wall. It was like something straight out of a Jackson Pollock collection. I could only laugh as I cleaned up the mess and went on with my evening.

By today, (day 4), I'm feeling much better and my inner ear has found some peace. The seas have become less "confused" and have some consistency to them. If I have my head buried in a cupboard looking for a hidden spice, I might feel a little queasy, but it seems that I've adapted. The only problem I face now, is that for the past 4 days, I've slept so much that now I can't. I could go ride the bike and get some exercise, but I'm not quite there yet.

The last I checked, we were about 200 miles off of the coast of Oregon, and heading on a course towards Hawaii (~242 degrees). We are holding about 8 knots consistently, so at this rate we should be there in something like 10 years.. At least that how it feels. More realistically, we are looking at approximately 8 more days of big ocean boredom before seeing the wonderful sight of land.

Tonight's dinner: pork ribs, mashed potatoes and broccoli.