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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tsunami warning

We were woken out of a sound sleep this morning by a phone call from our friends on The Dorothy Marie. They wanted to make sure we had heard the tsunami warning issued by the Coast Guard. We saw the news of the 8.4 Chilean earthquake while watching the Olympics last night, but assumed it would come to nothing for us in Hawaii. Glen and Sally had already decided to depart Maui this morning so they just left a little earlier than planned. After seeing the warning on NOAA and listening to the Coast Guard reports (potential first contact for the Big Island is 11:19 AM local time), we exited from the harbor during the first siren warning at 0600.

We are now hove to just off the harbor entrance waiting to see what develops. We've seen a few early bird charter boats returning to the harbor to disembark their passengers. Our friends on Our Country Home were preparing to leave as we passed them on the way out of the harbor. My parents were asked by their ocean front condo manager to move the lanai furniture inside, and they are packing to leave until the warning is over. We were all supposed to get together for breakfast at The Big Island Grill this morning, so maybe it will have to be for dinner instead.

We are happy to be away from all the dock talk/speculation, and the hourly sirens which scared Ziggy up through a small hole to the forward part of the chain locker - a place I don't think he's ever been to before!


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Blue Marlin Pic

We finally got the picture from the Charter Desk, here we are. Left to Right, Blue, John, Keith and Russ.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Beach Day

Last weekend we took a vacation from the "vacation" and made a spur of the moment decision to get out of the marina and go anchor out. After a week of John's hard work stripping and sanding the exterior brightwork we managed to spend almost another week laying on coat after coat of Cetol (a product we use instead of varnish). We had gotten to five coats and were ready to lay on the sixth when, of all things, we woke up to find rain threatening. The tiniest spot of rain on fresh brightwork will leave unsightly spots so we decided to wait one more day for better, more Kona like, weather. That night it rained in earnest and we woke up to a still threatening sky. In addition to the rain we were also working against time. We had completely taped off our work area and, even using blue tape (now wet), we were looking at a problem with cleaning off any adhesive that remained on the fiberglass when we pulled the tape. So John decided five coats would have to be enough and sure enough, tape residue on the fiberglass will have to be attacked with adhesive remover. But that's a chore for another day. With the brightwork done, I got busy scrubbing off the rust stains weeping down our stern. It looks much better (for a little while at least), and hopefully now our neighbors will stop making gentle suggestions about using products like FSR and Ospho!

Between the couple of walking trips we made to town and John's never shrinking list of boat projects we also got lifts to Costco with our friends, Ralph and Glenda. They have been very generous about picking us up to let us tag along with them for shopping and lunch at Costco, and sharing dinners in their beautiful new home (in addition to receiving our mail for us). But other than that we hadn't been anywhere or done anything on our own since parking Nakia in the marina. We were itching to get out to enjoy some freedom and Saturday afternoon John suggested we up and leave for the night. We hastily cleared the decks of project debris, and at the last minute remembered to grab our swim ladder off the dock.

We motored back over to our favorite spot off the Kailua Pier (in front of the Kona Inn) and set the hook. Our dinghy is on its last legs and has to be pumped up every day so we elected not to put the motor on it to go ashore. Instead we enjoyed watching the departure of Holland America's Zaandam and the sunset cruises passing by. We had a lovely quiet night with Ziggy free to roam the decks at will, and we managed to sleep in until 6 AM! Later, after breakfast, John suggested a morning snorkel/swim to the King Kamehameha beach and we donned our wetsuit jackets and snorkel gear. We made sure to look both ways before crossing the busy bay and quickly swam over to the rocky entrance to the beach. There weren't a lot of fish but we were treated to a long look at a sea turtle on his way out of the little cove. We must have been an odd site to the tourists on the beach because we were the only ones wearing wet suits. But the water still feels chilly to our Tropic thinned blood! We explored the small temple site and then swam back to the boat.

We had an uneventful motor trip back to the marina and got a ride out to the airport to pick up a rental car. It's great to finally have wheels! Monday we picked up Ralph and Carmen from Relax and we all made a much needed trip to the laundromat before hitting the stores for provisions. After saying goodbye to Relax at the pier (they are off to Maui this week) John and I drove south but got stuck in commute traffic (!) and decided to turn around.

Tuesday we met my parents at the airport and helped get them settled in their condo, and I spent most of Wednesday visiting with them while John was out fishing. Yesterday John and I had our first real beach day since arriving in Hawaii. We drove north to the beach at Mauna Kea (it was a windy, red flag day), visited the little harbor at Kawaihae, made a brief stop at Spencer Beach Park (absolutely calm), drove up to Waimea (where the temperature dropped 20 degrees!) for lunch at Tako Taco, back down to Spencer in time to see Relax dropping their anchor in the no-name unfinished boat harbor, then to Hapuna Beach where we sat and watched the body surfers getting pummeled, and finally to a roadside pullout for the gravel road and lava trail hike out to Keawaiki Beach where we walked the black sand beach and watched for whales. After seeing huge splashes but missing most of the actual leaps we called it a (great) day and headed back to the marina.


Big Blue

Wednesday dawned a little breezy and with Ziggy getting me (John) up at 0130 to sit on deck to look at crabs I was still in bed when the charter showed up at 0630 for Lepika, the charter fishing boat moored next to NAKIA. Russ, the owner/skipper, is a super guy which was confirmed again by his offering to cancel the charter for the day and reschedule (it would have been no fun for people on vacation to go out and bash around trying to catch a fish).

Russ had a problem though, he was trying to catch a fish for a Luau to celebrate the first birthday of his cousin's daughter. They take these things seriously and I guess he was feeling the pressure because at about 0730 a friend of his showed up and announced they were going to go out to try to catch a marlin for the Luau. I'd met Keith the day before. He lives in New Mexico and has a boat in Hawaii which he puts in the water one month a year.

While Keith and Russ prepared to go out, Keith looked over at me and ask if I'd like to go fishing. I stayed put for a second until I heard Russ ask too, I wanted to make sure he was ok with my coming along, but as soon as the words were out of his month I was out of my seat to get a hat, jacket and sunglasses and in two minutes was aboard Lepika.

Once we left the harbor it was clear that canceling the charter was the right thing to do. It wasn't rough by sailing standards but it was rough enough to make fishing uncomfortable. Keith set the lines while Russ drove and at some point Keith told me "ok, when we hook a fish you get in the chair." "Oh great", I thought. "I'm going to be the one that looses this fish." I can remember being very excited the first time I went sport fishing, but I wasn't so excited this time. This had more of an air of a boat ride with friends who just happened to be fishing at the same time. For me, the fun part was watching Russ at work, here is a guy who truly loves his job and I really did not want to let him down.

So we set about the task of fishing, which for those of you who have never been sport fishing before I'll tell you it is a pretty boring activity. Mostly you just motor around the surface of the ocean looking for anything that might indicate a fish. This trip had the added entertainment of windblown spray and a pitching deck due to the wind, but really it was just a chance for Russ and Keith to talk over old times and for me to make a joke when I could. For 4 hours we went back and forth off the coast with nothing to show for our efforts. Finally Russ called it in and we motored back to the harbor to wash the boat.

After the boat was clean, extra clean in fact because Keith and I took special care to dry everything thoroughly, we went to the harbor restaurant for lunch. We talked over burgers and beers but the whole time Russ watched the ocean. He was clearly stressed about this Luau and he started joking about all the places we didn't try to fish. Then he started saying that he thought it was getting calm and maybe we should go out again. The idea that it was calming down was pure fantasy, but I'm game for anything on a boat so I supported the idea of heading out a second time. We finished lunch and drove to a spot overlooking the ocean. If anything there was more wind, the only improvement was that it had shifted offshore a little so the waves weren't so big. "Looks good to me," I said. Keith mumbled something under his breath and Russ said; "Lets Go."

So out we went again and as soon as we cleared the harbor I heard Russ say "This is insane." Well, obviously these fisherman didn't know what it looked like when the sea was really crappy but Russ did have a point. Off again to motor around looking for a Luau fish.

After about 2 hours, nearing the last of the days runs Keith went down on deck to clear a snag in one of the lines. Then Russ started yelling about a fish near one of the lures. I couldn't see anything but moved down on deck as well. "He's taking it, He's taking it," yelled Russ, and then "BANG" one of the reels started peeling out line. Of course I saw none of it, but got in the chair I did. Keith set the pole in the chair and I clipped my belt to the pole. Now the only thing keeping the fish from pulling me over the side was a 1/4" nylon tag line attached to the reel. Russ and Keith were like mad men behind me, clearing the other poles and readying for the arrival of the Luau's main course.

About that time two things happened; First I looked down at the reel and noted that about half the line was gone. "Crap," I thought to myself, "I have to pull all that back in." Second I looked out to sea where I got my first glimpse of the fish. I'm not going to go all Ernest Hemingway here, in fact I'm trying not to use the word 'fish' too much in this description, but this animal was definitely bigger than anything I'd seen on the other end of a fishing line. It was really something to see as it broke the surface, thrashing wildly for 20 yards or so.

Then, Russ yelled "Reel John, Reel," and I started the work of pulling back all the line the fish had taken. I'm not sure how long it took, maybe 20 minutes, but after the first five the muscles in my shoulder were flaming. Thank god Russ and Keith were there to coach me. Every once in a while Russ would say something like "Sorry to be yelling at you John, but I really want to get that fish on board!" As if I didn't know it already. I told him not to worry and to make sure I didn't do anything to loose this fish.

Finally the line filled the reel and I got to sit back and watch while Russ and Keith gaffed and subdued the fish so they could bring it on board. Russ opened the door in the transom and they tried pulling it onboard. I say 'tried' because the first attempt failed, it got stuck in door and had to be turned a little so it would fit. A second more forceful pull brought it in and for the first time I got to see all of it. A blue marlin, it had to be about seven or eight feet long. Keith estimated 210 lbs, while Russ guessed 250. Back at the dock it weighed out at 306 lbs.

I guess I always thought I wanted to catch a big fish, and I can say doing it was fun. But the best part, by far, was being there to watch the relief on Russ's face when that fish was finally on board and knowing that I'd taken part in getting the main course for a little girl's first year birthday party.


For more information on the Lepika, see http://lepikasportfishing.com/