We Bought an Island Car! And it Came With a Roach Colony!

We decided to buy a car so we have transportation for the next couple months. Alyssa needs to go into Honolulu for a certification class for work and the bus system is ridiculous on the island. I bought a motorcycle back in November (2008 Yamaha FZ6) but between the crazy drivers, congested freeways and rain, it has become a less than ideal means of daily transportation. I’m also planning to fly down to Tahiti in March to help a friend deliver an Outremer 55 catamaran to Hawaii and Ill be gone for a month, leaving Alyssa without transportation. So we went shopping for a car via Craigslist…

Those of you that know me will already be up to speed but for those that don’t… I never buy any vehicle in perfect working order. I always find a vehicle that has a problem and a ticking clock. That way I can buy it under market value, fix it up, clean it up and sell it for more than I paid. This has worked well for me about 95% of the time. So with that in mind we scoured the Oahu Craigslist for steals and deals. We came across an ad that said, “2001 VW Passat – $1,300obo – NEED GONE ASAP.” We read the ad closely and it said the car had a massive oil leak and they are pretty sure it’s the oil pan. They also need it gone right away because they only have one parking space. PERFECT! This was right down the fairway. The blue book on the car in “fair” condition was $2,700 and we got her down to $1,000 via phone. Within two hours we were en route to a military base in the middle of the island to secure our new-to-us island car.

We got to the base but they wouldn’t let us ride in on the motorcycle. Apparently we weren’t wearing the right gear and shoes and we were told, “You are not prepared to ride on this installation, Sir. Please exit immediately.” So we parked across the street from the base and walked in. The car was covered in twigs and leaves and there was a huge puddle of oil underneath. I checked the oil level and it was bone dry. I poured in 5 liters of oil and watched as it began dripping out the cracked oil pan. We wondered if we had brought enough oil to get us all the way back to the marina. The car was pretty neglected and missing the glove box, a few buttons, ashtrays, etc. There was crap everywhere; I mean crumbs, trash, paper, juice boxes, you name it. She was a slob. The leather was in decent shape with a few rips. The AC blew ICE COLD which is huge in the tropics and is a big selling point when we have to dump the car. The stereo sounded awesome and it drove pretty well with good tires and brakes and no alarming sounds. So we cut a deal with the seller, handed her $900 and then had her buy us 8 more liters of oil and we drove it back to the marina with oil leaking out the entire time. We pulled over a couple times to check on the level and top it off. Turns out that if you are on the freeway, most of the oil is in suspension so it doesn’t leak that much. When we stopped at the marina I put a bucket under to catch all the oil and then went to work changing the pan with a new one I bought at Napa for $70 bucks. Alyssa went to her job for the evening and I went to work changing the pan. By the end of the night the new pan was installed and we toasted to our genius car buying skills. We were pretty excited about getting a $2,000+ car for only $900…

The next morning I added oil and much to my dismay watched as it leaked all over the ground. Frustration doesn’t fully describe my reaction. I was annoyed, pissed and frustrated that the new gasket was leaking. Well, I pulled myself together and came to terms with the fact that I did it wrong and would have to spend another evening removing and re-installing the pan the RIGHT WAY. See, I cranked the bolts right after installing the pan. This is the wrong way and you need to seat the pan and THEN WAIT ONE HOUR before tightening the bolts to spec. After another painstaking five hours, in the rain no-less, under a car that has only 6 inches of clearance, I had the pan re-installed.

I sat in the drivers seat and cracked a beer for a job well done. Then I noticed a roach on the passenger floor board. Killed it immediately. Then I noticed a couple more. Big ones, small ones, medium….oh sh!t, it’s infested with fkn ROACHES!!  They were in my tools, in the bag with my snacks and water, EVERYWHERE.  No wonder she wanted this car gone so badly! They sure had enough food given her total lack of cleaning. I slammed the doors and went straight to the boat to get our bug bombs. I returned with three cans. One can is enough for a large room in a house so I set one in each cup holder, let ‘em rip and closed the doors. Just then Alyssa walked up and I said I have good news and bad news. Good news is that I’m pretty sure I fixed the oil leak and the bad news is that the car is infested with roaches. She laughed and said she is not surprised. We then took our friends’ golf cart down to Monkeypod for a beer and a good laugh.

We spent today cleaning up the car and doing a thorough detail. I added the oil and NO LEAKS! Second time is a charm. Three days of hard work later, we have a clean, leak-free, roach-free island car that runs great and looks awesome, all for under $1,000. We’re happy. Check it out:


Aloha from Hawaii! We’re Back! Update and Tribute to Phil and Alex

Aloha Friends! We’ve been back in Oahu for about a week and we finally feel like we’ve caught our breath again and are officially back living the boat life. Sorry for the long delay.

Since being back we have re-sealed some leaking deck hardware, acquired new galvanized 5/16″ anchor chain, changed the engine oil and filter and began to sort though all the gear and stores on the boat to rid Ellie of any unnecessary weight (so we can cram more toys onboard of course!). The remaining list of to-do’s is not daunting. The list includes inspecting the rig, inspecting and lubing the steering system, disassembling and lubing the sticky feathering kiwiprop, some more engine maintenance, new VHF antenna, some brightwork, waxing the hull, polishing stainless, etc. We’ll spend the next month or so getting her ready.

Alyssa got a job at the steak house next to the marina and starts work today. We were both relieved when she got the job because it is very expensive to stay in this marina and having some income will greatly help to offset some of the higher costs of being here. We love it here though and Alyssa never wants to leave. The atmosphere is super laid back and friendly. We are right on the beach with gorgeous sunsets every night. There are amazing restaurants with live music every night. We can use the pool and gym at the hotel and the showers at the marina are first class. We don’t plan life so if we still love it here in a few months we’ll have to weigh our options. We have work visas for Australia that require us to be in the country by November 2015 so that will most likely drive us to set sail in April.

The six weeks we spent back on the mainland were jam packed with visiting family and friends. We also had a very sad Christmas tragedy with the loss of Alyssa’s uncle, Phil and her cousin, Alex in a small plane crash on Christmas eve. The entire family came together, along with the entire town of Sutter Creek, to mourn the loss and celebrate their wonderful lives. Phil and Alex were amazing individuals who were full of life and love and they will both be sorely missed. You may remember Phil from early in the blog when we were anchored on the Napa river and he flew his plane down to take us on a flight and spend the night on the boat. We always had a blast with Phil and he had a larger than life personality. He was always immediately everyone’s best friend. We will always cherish the times we spent with them and will never forget the advice Phil gave us when he visited in Napa. Phil told us that during our travels if anyone invites us into their home, or on an adventure, to say yes without hesitation. The advice has served us well as we have met the most amazing people that we would never had met if we hesitated and declined their warm offers to share their lives with us. Phil and Alex were cremated and we have the privileged of bringing a part of them with us on our voyage. We will also be flying Phil’s fishing burgee under our port spreader and I’ll be wearing his favorite fishing shirt to bring in some monster Mahi and Tuna. It is with loving memory we dedicate the next leg of our voyage to them both. May they rest in peace.IMG_0069IMG_0065Phil RR track2IMG_0044OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA