Big Island of Hawaii to Fort Langley BC, Canada
Chronologically by Newest to Oldest

General Comments on the Leg

The Island of Hawaii is an amazing place and somewhere Laurie and I will definitely go back to. The big scary North Pacific did not live up to its reputation this time around. The crossing was incredibly long and slow. The one major concept that came out of this trip is that were going to do it again. Laurie wants the boat refitted to make it more comfortable and once done (with some money in the bank) were going to go on another trip. A wonderful dream to keep us going through the next few wet and cold winters.

17 Aug 07 - HOME

Fort Langley, BC

Home again after 11 months away and tied up to the exact same slip position we had before. It seems a bit surreal, almost like we never left as the same boats surround us.

The trip from Hawaii to the Vancouver Island was long and at times very difficult. Why because there was no wind for most of the time we were out there. Our boat is very comfortable making 140 to 150 miles per day but on this leg our best day once outside of the trades was 135 miles and our worst was 18. It is very dishearten to be able to see the same place you were 24 hours before. At left is the kids on the foredeck as were leaving Hilo Harbour, sigh!

Before leaving we knew we had to go quite far west to get around the Pacific High Pressure area usually sitting at 35 Lat and 155 Long and we certainly did that. At one point we were less than 800 miles from Midway Atoll which is at the western end of the Hawaii archipelago (800 miles is not far in this area of the North Pacific) and of course the plan only partially worked as the high promptly moved west and over us bring all sailing to a stop. This was a pre curser to things to come. The trip up until this point, about 1 week, had been beautiful with strong trades blowing from the East with warm days and nights. Once into the high the warmth stayed but the wind was gone for good.

Each day we crept North and and hopefully beyond the highs affects but with no avail. When we did get above it another high developed to our West or East and sometimes both moving around below us or above and then overtop of us continually. Pictures at left and right are sunsets with little or no wind somewhere way out there. We were now out of the tropics and into the cold waters of the North Pacific and the combination of no wind, warm air and cold waters meant fog; days of it! Prior to the fog we had seen a few freighters and some quite close. I had two radar reflector up but I knew that out in this area of the ocean they only man a radar watch and what if someone sleeps through the alarm!! We could only see about 200 yards to a 1/2 miles most of the time and we didn't have the electrical power to keep the radar on all the time.

Why were we low on power? About 1600 miles from home I noticed that the contents of the crankcase of my little engine had doubled in quantity overnight. A crack in the exhaust cooling manifold was allowing sea water to get into the engine. It actually happened twice before I figured out what was going on. I had brought quite a bit of oil for such an eventuality and managed to get the tainted stuff out both times and new oil in. Once the engine sat over night full of cold salt water and to be honest I didn't truly believe it would start after the second episode. This meant no power for the remainder of the trip including no autopilot as we had not seen the sun for quite some time to power our solar panels. Amazingly after cleaning everything out with new oil the engine did turn over (with some protesting) and continued to run for the remainder of the trip. I did have to jury rig a new cooling system but you get very creative under that sort of pressure. Diesel engines are incredibly tough little things.

Just about three weeks into the trip and with only a few days of any serious movement we were still 1200 miles from home. Our Northerly movement had put us at almost 50 Latitude which meant that any movement would have to be dead East and what wind we did get was slowly pushing us North. At this point we really tore the boat apart to get an exact inventory of food stuffs left and then knew that we had to be at a port in 14 days max or people were going to be seriously hungry. A possibility that gave Laurie a headache for most of the remainder of the trip. In reality the closest port was Alaska and we then made plans to head to Ketchican which was only 700 miles away but slowly the wind changed and started pushing us East.

Ten days of inching our way to the West Coast of Vancouver Island later and finely we could see land again. Luckily the air tempurature had dropped enough that most of the time during this period the fog was not too bad or even gone, however it was always grey and cloudy. At this point the closest port was really Tofino but I had no charts on this area and decided that Ucluelet, which I did have some charting of, was a better option because I had been there by boat many years ago. The wind got us to within 10 miles of the coast by last light and there we were hove to and watching vessel traffic moving up and down the coast all night long. At left is Ampitrate Point at first light and at right is the kids just as were entering Ucluelet Harbour. As much as we wanted to get to a restaurant I was not going to try and enter a unfamiliar west coast harbour at night. The next morning the waves breaking onto the very rocky entrance of Ucluelet Harbour confirmed that this was a prudent decision. The one good thing was we were able to call the family using the cell phone and let them know we were ok. They got the word out as I know many people were getting very worried.

All the kids could do was talk about the type of food they were going to eat. Sadly the little town of Ucluelet had changed much since my last visit with the influx of very rich tourists and the sky rocketing real estate prices; the town turned out to be the most expensive place we visited in our entire trip. A modest lunch for four people that would have cost less than $10 in Mexico and around $25 at the burger stands in Hilo Hawaii cost over $50. We knew then that the stay here was going to be very brief. After two nights of sound sleep we pushed off and headed for home past the unbelievably beautiful Broken Islands Group at left and down into the Strait of Juan De Fuca. The picture at right is sunrise at the southern end of the island. This was our last night run and due to a strong flood tide pushing us around the end of the island we made Oak Bay Harbour and had the anchor down by supper the following day. Fort Langley took another 2 days with stops in Ganges Harbour, Saltspring Island and Captain Cove on the Fraser River.

Click the picture to see why I'm grinning like an idiot!

At right is Sherringham Point Lighthouse.




At left is our slip with balloons decorating and waiting helpers; a lovely site.

For all the difficulty and hard work on this crossing we did see some wonderful things. About 1200 miles off the coast a pod of Killer Whales swam by the boat. They played around the boat for a minute or two then proceeded west towards Asia. It seemed that they were in the middle of no where in that incredibly cold water but obviously it was home to them. Albatrosses and small deep ocean sea birds always spent time flying around the boat each day. In tropical waters flying fish constantly glide away from the boat in a shimmering silver fan. Close to the coast again I did see early in the morning the biggest Sun fish I had ever seen; about the size of our cockpit, ghost past the boat. The sea itself to me is ever interesting to sit and watch although you will get an argument over that from Laurie or Billy. The best times have always been and continue to be the simple things we do together as a family. Combat Scrabble and Rummy games, the nightly family meals and the interaction between the family during the changing of watch or if something unique is spotted. But we're home now and soon the pressures of work and school will start!

It is funny how much I already miss being out there.

Cheers for now and thank you for all your encouraging emails and calls. It was lovely to hear from everybody and we will get back to you just as soon as we can.

15 Aug 07

Ganges Harbour, Vancouver Island BC

We made it!!! Actually we got to Ucluelet on the West Coast of the Island on the 11th of Aug. 31 days is a record of some sort but definitely not a speed record. Were on our way home to Fort Langley and our old dock slip. As soon as I get a chance I will update this site with lots of stories and pictures. Suffice it to say that the trip had lots of adventure, good times and some bad. Cheers for now.

10 July 07

Radio Bay, Hilo Harbor, Hawaii

Where just a day or two away from leaving for home. The big island of Hawaii is a magical place but it is time to return to reality. Our trip should last 20 to 25 days but with the Pacific High moving around as much as it is right now who knows how long the trip will take. Our spare autopilot is being delivered today and the boat maintenance is just about done so time to push off.

There are about 15 cruising boats here and all are serious cruisers from around the world. We have actually learned more about cruising in the short time we have been here than we had through out the rest of the trip.Perhaps our crossing from Mexico has focused our minds. Anyways the rest of the crews here have been wonderfully helpful.

The weather here is just about perfect everyday. It rains during the night and early morning after which it is sunny and hot for the afternoon. The cruise ships come and go regularly and we tag along on the free shuttle to and from town. Laurie is right now buying out the grocery store using the lessons from our first crossing.

A number of other boats are leaving tomorrow for the North Pacific also but it is a vast ocean and we will most likely lose sight of them the first day. Were monitoring SSB for weather and hopefully will also pickup weather reports from boats ahead of us (others left this weekend and nicely placed to let us know what is ahead). The trick is to stay south of the big lows (gales) and north of the high (no wind). Of course that is the plan but we will see what happens. No matter what the crew is looking forward to getting home and is more than capable of handling what ever comes.
Wish us luck and fair winds. TTYL

29 June 07

Radio Bay, Hilo Harbor, Hawaii

We love this island! It is simply the most beautiful place we have ever been. We rented a car for 5 days (not cheap) and drove around the island as much as we could. The changes in geography and biology over such short distances is mind boggling One minute you're in tropical rain forest with the most exotic plants and a few miles away you're in desert with cactus; very weird. Eleven of the earth's 13 climate zones can be found on this island. The windward side as they say here (at left) is the side where it rains each and everyday, and where we are in Hilo. Mostly at night or in the morning squalls come through and drench the area. On the leeward side where Kona is it rains quite a bit less and in the NW where the largest private ranch in the world is, the Parker Ranch, it very dry (at right); all over a quite short distance. In between these areas there are large lava flows which dominate the terrain.

We spent a day over on the Kona side trying to find a marine store to help with the Autopilot problem, finally gave up and just around the corner went snorkeling at Honokohau Bay (at left). It was the first time we have seen a coral reef and were blown away. Once outside the little reef, we swam over hundreds of the most incredibly colored fish in crystal clear water. On the beach docile as can be or out on the reef swimming around us were sea turtles, amazing sight to us that close but quite common here.

The next day we did the Kilauea Volcano. Portions had been quite active and we were only allowed to drive the Rim road as the Crater road was closed. It was a cold rainy day and of course us cruising people did not even bring a windbreaker with us let alone proper shoes. Never the less it was very impressive. The pictures are looking down into the Kilauea Caldera which last had lava flowing in it in 1982. Left is looking east towards the Halemaumau Crater in the Caldera which was lava in 74. Right is the west side of the Caldera. Tommy at right standing on a 1974 Lava flow.

The following day we drove back to Kona around the south end of the island where we discovered the black sand and lava beaches on the island. We stopped at Punaluu Beach Park and watched the crowds disgorge from the multitudes of tour busses, rush out to the sand, take some pictures and rush back to the bus. That day was sunny but the trades were kicking up something fierce and we were glad our boat was in the nice snug secure bay.

After seeing the wild and rugged south coast we made it around to where supposedly the best snorkeling on the island was and they weren't lying. At Puuhonua O Honaunau Historical Park (Place of Refuge) we parked just beside the park and stepped off the lava rock beach into wonderland. The kids and I were amazed! The coral there was astounding and went out until you could not see the bottom anymore which was very deep as the clarity was at least 50 ft. The fish were varied and not that scared although we didn't see any sharks (Billy was disappointed and Tommy relieved). Turtles came right up into the tide pools to feed on the algae right beside you. A long day but completely worth it.

After that it was all work as the car allowed Laurie to get to all the big box stores and start the re provisioning. I managed to get the Autopilot fixed today (We will head towards Honolulu and see if it lasts). A bit more work on the boat and she will be ready for another go around. I think it will be another week here (we hope).

At left is Banyan Trees just a little ways away from the harbor with their huge root structure. Right is Pineapple growing in someone's back yard.