Category Archives: Land Travel

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Culture Shock – We’re in Sydney!?!

We are in the concrete jungle for the week. Skyscrapers, trains, buses, cars, horns and heaps of humans everywhere. It is all very overwhelming and on day three we are just starting to adjust a bit. It’s a gorgeous harbor with innumerable inlets and bays. A local said to me that they got the better harbor, I am forced to agree.

We flew in on Tuesday, did a small provisioning run, and hit the sack. Day two was spent wandering around the city and attending a marine medical appointment to get our ENG1 medical card, a requirement to gain employment on large yachts….more on that later. The afternoon was spent at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbor. We climbed aboard a fully-functional replica of Captain James Cooks HMS Endeavor, the ship he sailed to make the first European landfall on the eastern coast of Australia. It was really neat seeing the rigging and climbing into one of the hammocks that his crew slept in. There were some old Aussie salts who filled us in on the details of life aboard. Interestingly Captain Cook allotted each member of the crew one gallon of beer each day. I was doing the math in my head and that is a hell of a lot of beer. They must have been brewing aboard – a tradition that we proudly carry on today aboard Ellie ;-)

Yesterday we got the Princess a makeover at the Bondi Junction mall. I was informed that her hair was not up to par and wearing torn-up sperry topsiders was just not going to fly. So we got her a haircut and a nice pair of country cowgirl trendy boots. A renewed smiling Princess walked out of that mall a different woman and ready to hit the town. So we jumped on a bus bound for the famous Bondi Beach for some outstanding people watching. It’s a gorgeous beach and the aforementioned people watching was world class. We ended the day at a live music spot deep in Kings Cross, not far from where we are staying in Potts Point. A day in Sydney well spent.

Today we are jumping on the ferry bound for Manly Beach. Pine trees line the golden sand beach with towering cliffs on the point. We’ll rent bikes and tour the coast. Then tomorrow we head to the airport for a 14 hour flight to San Diego via LAX. 

Sure is crazy that we will be covering in 14 hours the same stretch of ocean we spent two years sailing across. But it just isn’t the same thing now is it….

Cheers from Sydney, Australia!

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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:

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Land Cruising the Big Island of Hawaii

Aloha!  We are currently on a mooring in beautiful Lahaina, Maui.  We just sailed in yesterday from La Perouse Bay, where we stopped for two nights after running the Alenuihaha Channel from the windward side of the Big Island.  We had a great overnight downwind run through the channel with winds around 20 knots and waves 8-10 feet.  We timed it well and the conditions were relatively pleasant compared to the horror stories we have heard about the channel.

We spent about 10 days anchored in rainy Radio Bay, Hilo.  We set Ellie’s anchor hard, paid the extortion fees to the government and went in search of a rental car.  We found a good deal from the airport and rented a Town & Country minivan.  All the seats fold into the floor so we took some cushions and mattress pads out of the boat and turned the back of that van into a little camper!  We spent an awesome week circumnavigating the Big Island counter-clockwise.  We spent way too much money on good food and good times but it was a great way to see the amazing sites, soak in the natural beauty of the island, unwind and reacquaint ourselves with life in the good ol’ US of A.  

Here are some pics from the road trip:

IMG_0374Picturesque Waipio Valley

IMG_0354Akaka Falls 

IMG_0360 IMG_0366The wheels / land yacht

IMG_0378Exploring the inside of a lava tube

IMG_0396 IMG_0397 IMG_0401Hiking down to gorgeous Polulu Valley

IMG_0402 IMG_0405Our attempt to camouflage the van while parked down a dead-end dirt road in Kohala.  Didn’t work because a local stopped and stared intently for 5 minutes before figuring out it was just a couple cheap white tourists boondockin’ it…  

IMG_0411Awesome beach on Kohala coast where we enjoyed breakfast

IMG_0427Bet you didn’t think you could take a miinvan offroad did ya?

IMG_0428 IMG_0431Opulu Point.  Northern most point of Big Island.  Token hottie

IMG_0433Hike to Kamehameha birthsite and the eerie Mookini Heiau

IMG_0439Mookini Heiau.  The flat rock is where they sacrificed 10’s of thousands of Hawaiians as offerings to the gods or because they violated a Kapu (taboo).  A lot of blood was shed here.

IMG_0450Inside the walls of Mookini Heiau

IMG_0454The grounds of Mookini Heiau

IMG_0458Minivan glamour shot

IMG_0459Exploring a 600 year-old native fishing village on the NW side of the island

IMG_0472 IMG_0473Pu’ukohala Heiau in the background.  Kamehameha the Great built this (OK thousands of Hawaiians built this) amazing structure to appease the Gods and allow Kamehameha to conquer and unite the entire island chain.  They sacrificed people throughout the building just for good measure.

IMG_0478Hammock time

IMG_0488 IMG_0493We took a grueling hike down hot lava fields to visit and pay homage to the Captain Cook memorial on the shore of Kealakekua Bay.  It was here that the great explorer and circumnavigator was hit in the head with a club and then stabbed to death by the Hawaiians after a misdeed by one of his men led to retaliation. 

IMG_0494 IMG_0495 IMG_0496 IMG_0501 IMG_0502 IMG_0512Volcanoes National Park.  That is the active vent on Kiluea.  It is currently erupting lava and flowing down on the edge of Pahoa Village.  Unfortunately the Nanny State won’t let people near the flow.  Thank God we have the State to protect us from ourselves.  What a shame that we could not see the lava up close.  

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