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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hilo Wrap Up (on passage to Maui)

Sunday, December 15 - night watch

It's finally time to leave Hilo and we are midway into our overnight crossing to Maui. John found calm weather for us to transit the locally infamous Alanuihaha channel. Thus far the weather has been so calm that we've motored most of the way. But it's either that or a hairy sail in boisterous seas - no thanks!

Regarding our stay in Radio Bay, I forgot to mention that the Harbor office no longer accepts any form of payment other than a local check or a money order. Every cruising boat we spoke with, especially the foreign ones, were confounded by this archaic method of payment, especially since it requires a tedious bus trip to Walmart or the Post Office and then another visit back to the Harbor office. They are adamant about payment in advance which for us meant several trips to Walmart for money orders as we extended our stay from week to week.

I also didn't make it clear that Security will no longer escort you from your boat out to the main gate. Instead you are required to land your dinghy on the beach. We eventually found it easiest to land in the extreme right hand corner of the beach to avoid grumbling from the members of the private Palekai canoe club, none of whom seemed to know that we had no other option for landing.

In addition to the noises of the container terminal we also discovered that the Coast Guard ship Kiska often performed some sort of training drill at around 0430. They started the outboard motor on their tender mounted on the rear deck of the ship, ran it for a bit, and then shut it down. This was only mildly disturbing to our sleep because Ziggy is usually pestering us to wake up by then anyway.

One evening John was sitting in the cockpit after dark when he heard a screech and located an owl perched on a tall structure. From then on if I heard the screech, I ran out to see the owl flying across the sky, illuminated by the Harbor flood lights, either on its way out to hunt at night or returning to roost somewhere before sunrise. We identified it as a barn owl by its size, color, and its unique call.

This is one of those things you hate to admit, but we were enchanted by the nightly Coqui chorus. After a day trip to Costco and Kona with Fabio and Lisa of S/V Amandla we stepped out of the car in Hilo to the familiar sound that meant we were home. The Coqui frog is a non-native species that has overrun parts of Hawaii, and drives the locals absolutely bananas. Until just recently there was a government program attempting to control the problem, but it has been discontinued as a lost cause. You can hear them doing solos during daylight hours, but it's at night that they sing loudly and in unison. We apologize profusely for loving the happy sound of "ko kee'" repeated ad nauseum!

One day we rode our bikes to Uncle Billy's General Store to use their Wifi. As we were surfing the web a tsunami siren began wailing away. We immediately started to shut down our computers, ready to race back to the boat, when we realized that no one else appeared to be concerned. Hmmm. We asked a local about it and learned that the sirens are tested the first Monday of every month. Yup, it was 12/2. Having been through three tsunami evacuations we take the warnings very seriously no matter how far away from our location the quakes occur.

Ziggy and I began a new activity which I hope to resume in the calm waters of the Ala Wai Marina when we get to Honolulu. At the end of each day he waited for me to return from my shower, eager to jump into the dinghy and go for a row around the harbor. I used the opportunity to get in a few licks with the cat brush while he was otherwise distracted. He hates being brushed but whenever he became agitated by it I dropped the brush and began to row again. That immediately shifted his focus and averted any aggressive behavior. As we approached other boats he was brave and appeared ready to jump ship. But when we got too close to shore or any unfamiliar object he slunk down and crawled under my legs, yowling with concern. I'd row us back to Nakia where he could leap to the safety of home. I'm sure we were a source of amusement to at least a few of the cruise ship passengers I could see watching us from high above. It's not often you see a cat perched on the bow of an inflatable dinghy!

Late one afternoon we came home after a long day off the boat. I climbed down the steps to the salon and was puzzled by small grey bits of something on the carpets. What had Ziggy found to tear up? It wasn't until my eyes adjusted to the dimmer light down below and traveled up to the rug opposite the nav station that I saw the bird wings - which were all that remained of what had probably been a sparrow. That and some downy grey feathers tumbling in the breeze. We sprang into action rolling up the carpets and shaking the debris into the water. John saw what looked like vomit sink through the water so at least Ziggy had already gotten it out of his system and we didn't have to worry about him throwing up later.

For an "indoor" cat he really does get to enjoy more of the great outdoors than a true house cat, and without most of its hazards. We are hoping to find him a permanent land-based home here in Hawaii, and I thought it would be great to find a rural place far from cars where he could roam and hunt. We met a very kind man who is convinced that a boat is no place for a cat. He's read the same books I did when we first moved aboard in which some very famous cruisers lose cats over the side. But when I start thinking about Ziggy being "free" on land I think of him picking up fleas, getting abscesses from fighting other cats, being chased by vicious dogs, or getting hit by a car. On the other hand I can't imagine him being cooped up in a house without access to the sounds and smells of life outside. I think he actually has it pretty good with us, and it will be hard to let him go should that day ever arrive.