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Aloha! Hawai’i

Aloha! Hawai’i – The log on my sail aboard Sail Boat from Ventura, Cal. to Hawai’i and the islands. Nov, 2002 – Feb, 2003.
The sailing log was written by Steve.
(The big Guy near me in the pictures. Actually All men crew members were much taller than me…).
His English is excellent and we had great time together both on the boat as well as at Hawai’i and Israel. For the log – roll down.
Haim

Sail Log Part I
Hi Everyone,

Well, I’ve been in Ventura a little over a week. The whole crew was here by last Tues. We have spent most of the time familiarizing ourselves with the boat,
cleaning her up,inspecting, fixing what doesn’t work
or appears near failure, and practically passing out
by 9:00 p.m.

The crew consists of: the captain, builder and owner Moshe; the skipper, Efraim; and the crew, Zachary, Tabitha, Haim, Nogga (Efraim’s daughter and Moshe’s grandaughter)and me (Steve Rohm). Age ranges are from 75 down to 18 years old. Nogga is an art major and is deeply into photography and video editing. She will be combining everyone’s tapes into one big “saga”, narrated, set to music, and transferred to compact disc. Everyone seems very compatible, but then we haven’t been locked on the boat for any length of time yet. Compatibility will be better measured after we get to Hawaii.

The boat is pretty amazing in it’s seaworthiness. It is a 60,000 lb. ketch built like a freighter. It is not a “spit and polished” yacht like you see in the magazines but is more like a well appointed working boat. The emphasis is on safety, comfort and enjoyment , in that order. All systems on the boat are oversized and have a minimum of one back up system. Example: 2 radars, two eight man life rafts (even tho there are only seven crew), three GPS’s, double hull in case of collision with something, etc.

Last night, Tuesday, 11/26, we spent 5 1/2 hours at Costco getting provisions for the voyage. Not much meat as we intend to eat a lot of fresh fish. Ventura has been very kind, weatherwise. It has been in the mid 70’s to the low 90’s for the last week.
Apparently this is 10 to 20 degrees above normal. Now the Santa Ana winds are kicking up bringing dry desert air in the day and at night it reverses, we get cold ocean air in the evening. The Santa Ana’s can get very strong with gusts of 60, 70 and even 80 knots at times.

We have had the boat out once testing systems. We will take it out once more before we leave. We will probably sail around Catalina Island and return to Ventura this afternoon (11/27). We may or may not anchor out at Catalina tonight-depends-gotta stay flexible.

As it now stands we will leave for Hawaii on Friday, 11/29. We will spend a couple of months there island hopping, then head for either the Palmyra atoll or the Solomon Islands. Many of these decisions will depend on prevaling winds, political/social conditions in the area and things like that. Palmyra and the Solomons are both under U.S. control so the decision will mostly be environmental and which one we choose when we leave Hawaii. After this, we currently intend to head for Darwin, Australia and will probably island hop on the way. Which islands of course will depend upon which destination we choose after Hawaii.

The boat has email capability but the satellite phone costs $2.00 per minute and is used only for emergencies so I will not be in contact again until Hawaii. If we happen to get a slip that has regular telephone service, I will be able to email from the boat. Otherwise, I will have to wait until I can get to a library or one of those email coffee shops.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the boat there is a web site: 7knots.com, password: Aliza2000. Let me know if you have any trouble with it. (Aliza must have the capital “A”). By the way Aliza is pronounced “Aleeza”, Hebrew pronunciation. In case you weren’t aware, Moshe is an Israeli national and we will be flying an Israeli flag. Aliza is Moshe’s deceased wife.

Well, so far, so good. I’m starting to feel the excitement now. I’ve kind of been looking over my shoulder the last couple of months wondering what was going to happen to sabotage the trip. But it looks like all systems are “go”.

Sail Log Part II

The crossing was mostly very mild. We left Ventura about 6 p.m. on 11/30 and arrived in Hilo, Hawaii on 12/14 at about 10 a.m. We had approximately 7 days of good sailing weather (winds 15 – 30 knots) and 7 days of motor sailing.

The first few days were so calm, the ocean at times, looked like glass. I think “el ninio” was causing us some wind issues. Instead of the fabled “Hawiian High” pressure zone, we had a low pressure zone. Instead of the winds from the north – northwest we had winds from south – southeast, oh well, either way wind is wind. The standing joke was if we (crew of 7) ate enough of Costco’s four bean salad we could make our own wind.
We had a few hours of stormy weather on a couple of occassions, but nothing more than enough to get your adrenalin going and provide a little excitement to an otherwise routine crossing. The swells, even on relatively calm days can be somewhat annoying after a while. I think I have realized a new Murphy’s Law: When rolling and pitching on a boat, your butt will automatically seek the most uncomfortable object in the cabin to break your fall. Also, even though the bunks have lee rails, it is a little difficult to sleep when your body is doing 270 degree rolls on your bunk, but that was only a couple of the nights. Otherwise, I slept very well.

On the way we were treated to many beautiful sunrises and sunsets (depending upon which watches you happened to be standing), dolphins played in front of the boat, and we ate our fill of Mahi Mahi (called Dorado in the Atlantic). Mahi Mahi is a very beautiful fish. When in the water and just after bringing it out, it is an irridescent blue and lime color – really spectacular.However, it loses it’s color rapidly once out of the water. I am learning to fillet and should be able to do a pretty good job by the time I get back. We stopped the boat in mid-ocean for a swim. The water is a wonderful, clear, deep blue color. It is pretty amazing to look down at your feet, be able to see them as clearly as if you were standing on the deck of the boat, and realize that all that blue down below goes on for 20 thousand feet or so.

Everyone is a pretty good cook. Haim (from Israel) adds a middle eastern touch to his dishes, Efraim (born and raised in Israel) and his daughter Nogga do a blend of middle eastern/American cooking, Tabitha and Zachary brought their New England reciepes with them and I was able to pick up some pretty good tips on cooking fish from a book I bought in Ventura.

So far we have been to the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu. Tabitha and Zachary decided to leave in Maui and Haim will be leaving January 5 to return to Israel. He is not sure whether or not he will continue. I will be alone for a few weeks here in Honolulu because Efraim took Nogga back to N.J. and Mosha took his girlfriend Beverly (she joined us in Hilo) back to N.Y. and Efraim and Mosha are tending to some legal business as well.

On the Island of Hawaii, I have been to the top of Mauna Loa and seen the observatories, I have seen the Volcano National Park and visited the rain forest and the lava tube. The lava tube was very exciting, the lava runs horizontally underground for sometimes miles before it finds a place to go vertical. This is a defunct tube and is partially lit for about 200 feet. But there is a quarter mile more that is not lit and you have to proceed if you wish “at your own risk”. It is so dark you can not see the nose on your face, so of course flashlights are required. It is crumbling in places so you have to be careful where you step, but what a thrill it is to be underground virtually in the bowels of the earth. We also visited the lava flow on the other side of the Island of Hawaii and I have to say that is one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed. You have to walk a couple of miles over cold lava (the last half mile you are not supposed to go into but a lot of people do) to get a good view of the lava pouring into the sea.
We went at night which is a little more challenging on the uneven lava, flashlights are recommended but there was a full moon, so once my night vision adjusted, it was much better without the flashlight. The lava keeps glowing for a very long time under water and for about 30 – 50 feet out into the sea so you know it’s gotta be pretty hot. I was really transfixed by it. It was almost a spiritual experience, like I was watching Mother Earth give birth – very moving.

Hilo is a very quaint town kind of like Anacortes only not so many vacancies in the downtown. Also, housing prices are more realistic. The island has a higher percentage of actual Hawaiians also. So far I think they are some of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever met. I’m sure there are some nasties, I just haven’t met any yet. I was thinking I may live in Hilo for a while when I get done sailing. The island of Hawaii has so much to see and I have only scratched the surface. Well, I guess I’ll have to see what transpires between now and then.

We left Hilo at about 9 p.m. on 12/19 and arrived at Molokini (an extinct volcano which barely rises above the sea) at about 10 a.m. 12/20. We snorkled in the volcano crater and it was wonderful. Like snorkeling in an exotic fish tank. It is a protected area so the fish are very curious and not at all afraid to come up and look at you (and I thought I would be the one looking at the strange creatures!) we probably all look alike to them.

We left Molokini at about noon and arrived in Lahaina, Maui at about 2 p.m. Maui is very nice. Lahaina has a banyan tree in it’s city center that covers an entire city block! Haim and I have become touring buddies and visited the sights in Maui. We went up on Haleakula (sp?) volcano (Haleakula is “house of the sun”). We drove the road to Hana (a town on the other side of the island). It is EXTREMELY winding. There are over 600 sharp curves and switchbacks and over 70 one lane bridges, but what spectacular scenery. On the way we visited a place called the “Garden of Eden” where they have all kinds of exotic plants and birds. We stopped at a state arboretum (sp?) and walked through the forests. We stopped at a black sand beach in another park and had our photo taken standing next to a “blow hole” in the lava. Of course, just as the picture was snapped, water shot out of the hole and we were drenched. So we wore our swimsuits for shorts the rest of the trip. We went through Hana (very small town) and went to Haleakula National Park where there are seven pools fed successively by waterfalls one into the other. It is said that if you swim in all seven you will have long life and prosperity. The problem is, it is not easy to get to the pools. You have to walk two miles over thick and tangled roots and rocks on a path that is sometimes at a 45 degree angle and cross through a large bamboo forest. Because of the long drive Haim and I didn’t get to the park until about 4 p.m. We walked about 1 3/4 miles and decided that we had better turn back because of the lack of light and the path even in daylight is not that clear. But since we had come all that way we decided that we would treat ourselves to a quick dip. Also, since we haven’t seen anyone else in 45 minutes to an hour, we decided that we would keep our remaining clothes dry and “skinny dip” in about 3 – 4 feet of water. It was quite refreshing and some little varmint that looks kind of like a cray fish kept nipping at my leg as if to say – “get out of my house”. Anyway, as we stood up and dried and were preparing to leave (fortunately I was behind a very large rock) a couple came around the corner and caught Haim in the “altogether” – he grabbed his towel with an “oh shit” and smiled and apologized, put his towel down to put on his shorts and another couple coming the other way caught him, another “geeeeez”, grab the towel, smile and apologize, thank her for the arrival warning, start to dress again and guess what ANOTHER couple shows up, this time the under the breath expletives are getting a little more pointed, never-the-less, smile, apologize and FINALLY get a chance to put your shorts on. Murphy had to be hiding in the woods. Murphy and I were laughing a lot (remember, I had the rock so all anyone could see was my head and shoulders).

The next day, 12/23 we went to a city park (can’t remember the name) but there was a beautiful valley with a clear cold river and a large needle shaped rock. Anyway this was the scene of one of the decisive battles between Kamehameha I and the rival king of Maui. Kamehameha I is the king who united all of the islands. He was from Hawaii but was born in Maui. When he was born his mother spirited him away to the mountains because the king of Maui had heard that a king would be born in this village that would rule over all the islands so the king had all the male children put to death (sound familiar?). When Kamehameha I was 17 years old he nearly 7′ tall and weighed 370 lbs. He began his unification efforts and in the valley park I was describing above, while the women and children stood on the hillsides and watched, one of the bloodiest battles of the wars was fought. Thousands died and the bodies were so deep that it dammed the river. It is so beautiful and tranquil there that it is hard to imagine today.

We left Maui on 12/24 and arrived in Ala Wei harbor in Waikiki, Oahu on 12/24 at about 4 p.m. I was able to make it to the late service at Honolulu Lutheran Church and what a great service they had. It was pretty traditional and the music was a mixture of classical, done by the choir and soloists and traditional, done by the rest of us frogs.

Oahu is beautiful as well. I have pretty much stopped photographing sunrises and sunsets. They all seem spectacular and how many can you ask people to suffer through when you’re showing your home videos?

Haim and I have visited Waiamea (I know I’m butchering the spelling on a lot of these words, but please bear with me – phonetically they are pretty close). Waiamea is on the north shore. This is where the big waves and the surfers are. We went back a couple of times – the waves were 20 – 30 feet high – the public beaches were closed. Just outside the public beaches were the surfing areas so there were surfers taking advantage of the big surf. The day after Haim and I were there, there were warnings to the residents to prepare to evacuate the shorline because waves of 50 feet were expected. On our first trip to Waiamea, Haim and I drove around the island. We stopped at a lookout called Nuuanu Pali. This is where Kamehameha I fought the last battle against his Maui Rival and forced him and about 400 of his followers over a 1200 foot prespice. Kamehameha I sounds like a pretty harsh guy but he is greatly revered by Hawaiians because as fierce as he was in battle (a missionary eye witness to one fight said that he saw Kamehameha handle six spears thrown at him simultaneously – he caught three in one hand, dodged one and deflected/broke two with his own spear), he was even kinder, and more just and compassionate in peace.

We visited two craters on Oahu: Diamondhead and Punchbowl. Both were created by single blasts at about the same time 500,000 to 700,000 years ago.

We wanted to film Diamondhead at dawn so we went at about 6:15 a.m. expecting to drive right up there. Wrong! You have to climb to the top. Although it is only 760 feet, it is very vertical in many places and takes about an hour to get to the top. I filmed the sunrise from inside the crater, not the top, because I wasn’t there in time. Rationalizing, if I filmed it from the top, you wouldn’t know I was in a crater anyway since it rises over the sea. I got some pretty nice shots of Honolulu and Waikiki from the top anyway.

I didn’t know this before we visited Punchbowl, but it is a Veterans Cemetary. People who died in WWII and Korea are buried there. There is a huge memorial inside the crater with the graves, to all the men who died and were never found to bring home. Huge sandstone colored rectangular memorial stones with their names engraved on them. Another pretty moving experience. At the top of the stairs there is a huge statue representing freedom and behind the statue are maps and descriptions of the strategy and response of the enemy of all the major battles, Correigedor, the Solomon Islands, Midway, Okinawa, etc., etc.

We have visited the Arizona memorial, it’s a more moving experience than I expected. The museum has photos and letters and artifacts from the sailors who died and are entombed there and it is more personal than I thought it would be. Many of the survivors of the Arizona, after their death, have their ashes placed in the hulk by divers so they can be with their shipmates. I think there must be some feelings of guilt for having lived through it.

The last three days Haim was here, we kind of hung out around the beaches and decided to check out the local
Elks Lodge in Honolulu for dinner. The beaches are as beautiful and full of bikinis as I had hoped they would be. It would be fun to be 30 years younger. To anyone who is waiting until they can “afford it” or until the time is right – stop waiting, as the Nike ad says – “just do it”.

The Elks Lodge is pretty amazing. This must be the most beautiful lodge in the world. It is like a country club decorated with furniture in ivory colored bamboo with medium blue cushions, blue and ivory carpeting and koa wood bars. It is right on the beach, so if you wish you can have the waves crashing at your feet while you enjoy a ridiculously low priced dinner with a bottle of wine and listen to a three piece band playing 40’s swing or 50’s lite rock. Besides being very reasonable the food is also very excellent and the staff treat you like you are an old friend. Sunday before Haim left they had a buffet dinner. This is one of the highest priced dinners they have – $17.00. All you can eat, five different salads, two kinds of pasta with six different sauces, e.g.: clam alfredo, seafood marinara, meatballs in marinara sauce, etc., a huge bowl of fresh fruit, three desserts: tira misu, fresh apple pie and hot brownies plus whatever you want to drink (not alcohol, that’s separate).

Well that about brings me up to date. I’m alone on the boat now for another week. Haim was a good traveling buddy but he had prearranged to go back to see his girlfriend and family in Jerusalem. He was kind of sorry to be leaving because we were having such a good time. Mosha will be coming back on Jan. 16th. I may go back to the big island for a few days. I didn’t even get to the other side. The big island is twice the size of all the other islands combined and seems to have more to see.

I am using the State of Hawaii library internet and am limited to an hour so, I have to go now.
Steve Rohm

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