Dec. 20 2014 2000 UTC, 21°17'N, 157°50'W Honolulu, Oahu

Maui was nice, especially with the hospitality of the LYC. But we needed to get to our temporarily permanent address, so we cast off one Saturday morning and sailed to Oahu. We had some information about marinas in the Ala Wai harbor. Two private and one state run. The private ones are prohibitevly expensive (Waikiki YC charges visitors with $2.00 per foot per day: 45*2 = $90 per day for Levana). We had some inside information about the state run one and went for it. Found a nice place to tie up and even though we had to move on Monday, we went to an even nicer slip. So, here we'll stay for the next period of time. Month, two, who knows. And that for about $17 per day!
A number of boats paraded through the harbor, decorated in Christmas spirit. Some made very nice reflections on the water.
The night of our arrival we were in the first row for watching the parade of Christmas decorated boats floating by. Some were really decked up and others only had a few lights but the Christmas spirit was with all of them.
We are on the dock closest to the dry land and this is where the chain of Waikiki hotels starts. The nearest one has a nice view across the marina into the sunset - but also into our saloon :-). But it is a short walk to the Harbor Pub where locals find their happy hour among all those hotel restaurants and bars.
Hans (remember, the Finnish guy on Sjostrom schooner) created a monster. He tought Taozi some woodworking - and guess what! she is sanding and varnishing our cabin floors. Not that they didn't need the maintenance but it is a big bite for the first - OK, second - time. She has all my moral support. And my companionship on trips to West Marine for supplies. Evidently, we hadn't seen much of Oahu yet, save for the views of Honolulu from city buses.

Dec. 12 2014 1730 UTC, 20°52'N, 156°41'W Lahaina, Maui

The journey through the famous Alenuihaha Channel (between the Big Island and Maui), claimed to be the most treacherous in Pacific, was a noneventful. The most wind we saw was 27 knots and at times we had to motor to maintain the average speed of 6 knots required to reach Lahaina in daytime. We picked up one of the Lahaina Yacht Club moorings and it became our home for the following week or so. We got temporary membership card to LYC and met there nice and friendly people who run the Club. The Club's restaurant and bar became our favorite spot in Lahaina, not just because of excellent food but also because of very very resonable prices for their members.
Paved road goes all the way to the top. I wish I had a motorcycle instead of a car!
Maui is a beautiful island. We rented a car and drove around the island. Quite exciting drive but too much tourists that hinder the driving. The roads are made for motorcycles and you can actually see quite a number of them. Maui also has a mountain, a dead volcano, and paved road goes all the way to the top. Of course we went there to enjoy the views - you can see Big Island's Mauna Kea across the clouds. We also drove the famous "road to Hana", lined with waterfalls, rivers and bridges. They say it has 500 turns and I tend to believe that. But again, tourists with rental cars - OK, I was one of them, but I know how to drive! - clog the road and move along with 20 mph. At least the return part on the western side of the island was almost empty and that because of some 5 miles of unpaved road.

Dec. 02 2014 2000 UTC, 19°43'N, 155°03'W Hilo, Hawaii

Yeah, we planned to leave quite some time ago but we discovored we had some more work to do on the boat, like changing the main sail furling line - it was badly chafed on the ring below the drum where is a slight angle going to the block on the side of the mast. But also my back snapped and I was in bed for two days and then slowly recovering. Now we are ready to leave, we made a trial run outside of the Radio Bay although still behind the breakwater and everything works fine.
Fixed steering column works fine and looks good with the work of our friend Donnie from schooner Sjostrom who is still tied up un Radio Bay. His mate Hans, Finnish guy who loves to listen to his own voice, gave us a lot of woodworking advice and Taozi is all excited and actually worked on the two pieces that cover little lockers on the side of the cockpit. They look good!

Nov. 17 2014 1730 UTC, 19°43'N, 155°03'W Hilo, Hawaii

We are about to finish our visit to the Big Island. In two weeks since our arrival we did some repair work on the boat, we toured the island all around and made some new friends.
Hawaii (the big island, not the state) is a beautiful island, some say the most beautiful of all Hawaiian islands. That remains to be seen, but from what I've seen it just may be so. The two big mountains, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea raise up to over 13,000 feet and catch the clouds. Most of the rain falls in the east side of the island. As we drove along the east coast we were admiring the rain forest vegetation, raising above the black shore rocks. Numerous waterfalls adorn valleys, deeply cut into the otherwise gentle slope of the mountains. It is where the water encountered harder basalt mass that it couldn't dredge through, the waterfalls formed. Some are over 400 feet high - and of course, most made to be a state or county park.
It is beautiful at almost 14,000 feet (4,200m) on top of Mauna Kea, but also windy and bitterly cold.
There is an abundance of parks, camps, historical sites. I rented a Chrysler Town and Country that sits seven people but also converts second and third row seats into a flat bed and we slept in the car as we toured the island. Defintely the way to go, it doesn't tie you to any location and you may stay or go as you wish. So we saw all - or better most of - the island's attractions, macademia nut farm and factory, volcano national park, Captain Cook's monument, famous Kona coffee farms and the best of all, astronomy observatories on top of Mauna Kea at 13,796 feet (4205 meters for metric people among us). All the advisory posters, brochures and pamflets advise against driving up there in a two wheel drive car - and I didn't see why. Although steep and some (about 4 miles) not paved, the ride up and down is quite safe - if you don't ride the brakes all the way down but instead keep them cool. It was last minute decision to turn right towards the top as I was driving out of the parking lot at the visitor center at 9,300 feet (2,835 m). My initial intention was to turn left and drive down from the mountain. And I am glad I did it, the views from the top are simply breathtaking, even if you see only the sea of clouds far below.

Nov. 04 2014 1600 UTC, 19°43'N, 155°03'W Hilo, Hawaii

Yeah, the red line goes all the way to Honolulu, but we changed our mind on the way and set our destination to Hilo on the big island of Hawaii - the one with an active volcano right now.
It is six in the morning on Tuesday. We arrived yesterday, through some last fierce squalls and found quiet bay behind a long sea wall that protects the whole bay, not just the port. Slowly we inched through the bay to the docks. Slowly, because I discovered that while I can shift engine gear in reverse I cannot rev it up in reverse, so no sudden stopping of the boat. On the account of the broken housing of the gear and accelerator controls. That housing carries ship's compass, helm plotter, cup holders and - the stainless steel arch that everyone uses for support on any move through the cockpit. And after ten years of abuse the four corners, where it is fixed to the more sturdy steering column, gave up. Probably one by one and the last one when I tried to get up from the cockpit seat and pulled myself up on that arch. First thing to fix, since we do need the reverse gear fully operationl. Radio Bay is a tiny little space!
Yeah, tropical sailing, right? The rain is flying almost horizontally and pokes like needles in your face.
It is six in the morning on Tuesday. We arrived yesterday around ten in the morning, after two hours less than three weeks at sea. After anchoring I called the customs and arranged the visit with them the next day. Then we assembled the dinghy and went to bed. Got up in the evening, cleand the cabins, have supper and went back to bed. And slept until now...
Five days out of Hilo I started calculating the landfall time. Of course I wanted it during daytime and if possible in the morning. But our speed and distance put the arrival on Sunday afternoon. So we had to slow down. With mainsail lowered to the top spreader and only the staysail we were making just under 5 knots, the speed we needed for Monday morning arrival. But squalls and wind shift pushed us faster and at the end we were under main sail alone. The worst squall happened at night and sent the true wind gauge to 36 knots. And it happened in seconds - sailing in 20 to 24 knots before that with nice apparent wind angle of some 90 degrees makes for a comfortable ride if you work along with the waves. So the wind just hit me at once and changed the pleasant journey to a hard work. Yes, it didn't last long, ten minues maybe, but it tells you who's the master out there.
In my trip log the journey came to 2,650 nautical miles, about 126 Nm a day or just a hair above 5 knots on average. We could've done it in less time but we would have to push the boat and ourselves harder. And there was no reason to do that. The whole journey was as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, but with only two people on the boat it becomes tiresome. We had a three hour schedule and shifted that as we felt, but at the end it is 12 hours of watch per day and the sleep is never like it is on a level, quiet bed. If you ask me now, I would say that we went to far east and the last part of the journey was a bit too paralell to the waves. Steering oneself one can get around them smoothly, but leaving it to the autopilot the boat sometimes rolls too much.

Oct. 27 2014 2230 UTC, 09°58'N, 145°45'W North Pacific

We are going through a major squall right now, wind up to 30 knots and rain needles flying horizontally (well, almost). Waves have become much bigger. I wonder why at times like this I always think of verse from "Legend of Edmund Fitzgerald" that goes "... does anyone know where the love of God goes when waves turn minutes to hours..."
Mahi is much tastier than tuna, all white, tender meat. Don't mind the wild appearance and color.
A passage like this, even without any extreme or even serious conditions, will test the boat and its systems. And some systems will fail, of course. Like our solar panel controller. It faulted and stopped sending charge into the batteries. I bypassed it to get the sun juice in, but must watch voltage in order to disconnect if there is too much of it. Or our alternator - one morning it decided not to charge batteries any more. Not a nice proposition when there are clouds all around and the wind barely moves the boat, let alone dripping some electric charge through wind generator into half empty batteries. And if no juice (or better, not enough) in the batteries then you must make decisions. Should I let the fish in the refrigerator go bad and beer warm (NO! You can always catch another fish, but warm beer!) or should I spend the night at the steering wheel and keep refrigerator running. After one such night I went into deep research on the alternator and found a lousy connection on its field terminal. Cleaned it and reconnected and now the batteries are all bursting with juice. There are other things that will need attention sometime soon, like fresh water leak somewhere, like the car on the traveler that snapped the screws and went its own way (I had to drill new screw holes and make main sheet block fixed on the traveler track). But with each such event and fix one's confidence and self reliance goes up.
But all unpleasant moments and troubles are forgotten at time like this: a four feet long mahi-mahi decided to have for an after supper snack the bait attached to our boat. It took a while, but comparing with tuna, mahi gets tired very quickly and is easier to pull it in. On board it will still give a fight until in the dying moment it's colour changes from golden to silver. Longer than my tuna catch before mahi is much thinner and lighter, his one had 12 lb. Tastewise it beats tuna hands down.

Oct. 22 2014 2230 UTC, 00°12'N, 148°31'W North Pacific

Notice the position - we just crossed the equator at 19:35 UTC time at 148°29.207'W
Morning sun on the waves.
And the same with my glasses in front of the camera lens.

3000 nautical miles is about 5700 kilometers, for those metric inclined (Galapagos to Marquesas) and 2300 Nm is about 4500 km (Raiatea to Honolulu). Add twice 1000 Nm for USVI to Panama and Panama to Galapagos, some change of 800 Nm from Marquesas down and some more change for bumming around the islands and before you know it you have close to 9000 Nm behind. At average 6 knots it translates to some 1500 hours. I think you must really love the ocean to spend that much time with it. I know I do. 24 hours a day, day in and day out, for weeks at a time. And you take whatever it gives, sometimes smooth, gentle ride that rocks you to sleep, but also waves that crash over the deck and take whatever is not fastened firm enough. It is the wind behind all that, of course. It creates the waves and sends them across distances, it shapes them into myriad of forms, some friendly and others nasty, but all beautiful. Did you ever catch yourself staring at the flames in a fireplace? I do that with waves. There are probably some four or five sizes that all together form the picture, smaller riding bigger ones. I watch them through polarized sunglasses which filter out the glare and leave a crisp image of the smallest wrinkles dancing on the big waves.

Oct. 21 2014 2230 UTC, 01°58'S, 149°12'W South Pacific

What is the probability that you'll find yourself on a collision course with a ship crossing the Pacific? Must be miniscule, but it happened to me. I started to see the light beyond the horizon on my port side and slowly by slowly it came over the horizon and turned into a ship with its deck all lighted. It was moving slow, about my speed which was some 7.5 knots on a starboard tack, and it was creeping closer and closer, ever so slowly. I tried to contact it on VHF 16 but no answer. It was clear to me that if I don't turn our paths will converge - and I will be the one in trouble. I turned from my original course of 010 to 340 and passed behind it close enough to see the crew of some seven men on its deck, all looking at me. Couldn't read the name and there was no flag. But what kind of a ship requires crew working at night on a lighted deck? For all I know it could be a japanese whaler, its size was comparable to what remember from the TV. We've met two other ships so far but all in a very respecctful distance.

Oct. 19 2014 2230 UTC, 06°12'S, 150°37'W South Pacific

As you can see the wind is shifting back towards E and later to SE. The course we made since yesterday was due North and right now we are doing even better. We still have 1696 Nm to go - as the bird flies, we'll for sure make quite a few more. And continuing the work saga - I bypassed the solar cells' controller and connected the power directly to the batteries. It works fine except that I have to watch the voltage manualy in order to disconnect if it gets to high. And to top it of, last evening while lowering the main sail the furling line broke at the very end in the drum. I decided to sail through the night with jib alone (still doing close to 5 knots) and this morning I turned the ends on the furling line and put it back again. There! I don't remember being so busy while I was working my regular job!

Oct. 18 2014 2230 UTC, 08°05'S, 150°37'W South Pacific

There's always something to do on the boat. One thing or another will fail at some time. Few days ago the traveller car decided to part ways - two screws broke, one after the other. Not having replacement screws and nuts that would fit and at all not feeling like taking the traveller rail off to fix it as it was before, I drilled new holes and cut threads into them and used 5/16 screws from ship's stores. Now I cannot move the main sheet up and down the traveller rail but it sure holds tight. At this point of sail I really don't need to move it, it stays centered.

Oct. 17 2014 2230 UTC, 09°48'S, 150°02'W South Pacific

Helmswoman Taozi hard at her work supervising the helm and once in a rare while readjusting the steering wheel for few degrees.
It is really nice traveling on Levana. Somewhat heavy boat with 30,000 lb displacement at 43 feet and full keel she is very steady. Why am i telling you this? Yesterday the solar power controller stopped working. It displays a fault (of high voltgage) which I cannot find with my voltmeter neither can I clear it with a reset button. So no solar juice into the batteries. I am trying not to run the engine to charge batteries which means cutting down the consumption. Refrigerator has all that tuna meat still in and must be running. So must the sailing instruments. Autopilot is the next on the list. Not using it means hands on the steering wheel at all times, right? Not so! I've been sitting at the wheel writing this and haven't touched it in the last hour. With jib and mainsail well balanced I fixed the steering wheel at 15 degrees to port for weather helm and Levana goes like a train. She faithfully follows the windshifts albeit a little slow, but dependably! She maintains the apparent wind angle at about 55 degrees and makes around 5 knots in 15 knots wind. Hands free, electricity free (well, to some extent) sailing.

Oct. 16 2014 2230 UTC, 11°39'S, 149°51'W South Pacific

The ease of the first few days changed and wind is pushing us back west. It will be almost impossible to cross the equator much more east than 150°W. And squalls are making sailing more interesting - reef the sails, get the weather gear on, sail through gusts and then reverse all action. Until the next one.

Oct. 15 2014 2230 UTC, 13°32'S, 149°28'W South Pacific

Sailing, sailing, sailing. Back to the old routine. Except that this time is is a bit tougher. No downwind sailing, easily over the rolling waves, this time they come from half ahead and from time to time Levana hits the next one with all her weight. We sail as the wind blows. It turns, we turn. We try to keep the apparent wind at 55 degrees on starboard. Trying to get as far east as the wind will let us to make the last part of the passage, when we cross the northern trade winds, as easy as possible. Unfortunately, as they say, nothing goes into the wind like 747.

Oct. 14 2014 2230 UTC, 15°26'S, 150°03'W South Pacific

Not a bad catch for the first day. But we wont fish again until we finish this one.
Day one, 120 Nm, with about 2 hours at 2 knots, fighting to get our first dinner at sea on board - a 24 lb, 11 kg bluefin tuna. A tough one, but a lot of sushi, sashimi, steaks and carpaccio!

Oct. 13 2014 2230 UTC, 16°43'S, 151°26'W Uturoa, Raiatea

We finished our visit to French Polynesia. Just top off our fuel tank and we are on our way to 2300Nm distant Hawaii. I estimate some three weeks.