Yesterday as we approached the breakwater at Hilo we still couldn't see the Big Island in front of us until we were right offshore. The whole island was socked in with clouds and rain, the constant drizzle had soaked the canvas, cockpit cushions, and we were all in our rain gear. The various smells from the island attacked our underused, offshore, olfactory senses. The smell of flowers, rotting vegetation, trees, cut grass and humans was amazing after over a month smelling only the sea. Everyone had grins from ear to ear as we made our way past the breakwater and into the little, tiny, anchorage called Radio Bay.
Radio Bay is a little Coast Guard bay that is open for a nominal fee, $10.96 per day for about six or seven boats med- moored to the south wall and three or four boats anchored in the tiny bay. From offshore we had called the harbor master and obtained permission to enter the bay. He told us the wall was full but that we could anchor. When we arrived there were two other sailboats anchored out so we dropped the hook and it instantly reminded me of the little harbor in Oriental, North Carolina. Both are small and can only hold a few boats and you have to be willing to be close to your neighbor. There was also not a bit of wind or motion on the boat.
Within minutes of dropping the hook we were chatting with the folks next to us. This is a place where any boat that comes in from offshore just finished a significant passage so everyone immediately shows you some real respect. To have arrived in Hawaii from offshore you must have passed a few real world sailing tests so there is no questioning your anchoring or anything. It was pretty great to see Wandering Dolphin looking so dapper only moments in the harbor having sailed 4,556 offshore miles. She did have some crazy little alien things growing on her stern where there is no bottom paint. This area is usually above the water but when the boat is underway it squats and that area is submerged. In this case it was submerged for 38 days so it was covered with ... Well things... Weird things that looked like... Becky calls them boat boogers. Emily had to clean them off, she wasn't happy about it either. The starboard side of the boat was scummy above the boot stripe because that was the side we were healed over on for 80% of the voyage. It amazes me that all of that stuff is out there in the open ocean just waiting to attach to a bottom and grow.
Once the boat was ship shape we put the dingy in the water (we left the motor on board because the bay is so tiny). We all rowed ashore to the little shower house where we cleaned up our bodies, donned our only clean clothes and then we made our way to the Customs office and Harbor Master.
The customs guy here in Hilo was the nicest guy you could ever meet! He did all the paperwork for us with a genuine smile. The United States should be so lucky to have a first face of our nation in every harbor just like this. We were a little concerned because I had refused to pay the crazy fees to clear out of Costa Rica and we just sailed without clearance. I told him that right out and he smiled and said, "No Problem! Just fill out a form I have explaining that, it's no big deal."
After clearing in we went to the Harbormaster and filled out a few forms so we could stay in the bay and once again we were treated with smiles and kindness. What a great place!
Our cruising friends from Sailing Vessel "Salt and Light" told us about some friends of theirs who lived in Hilo. We called Richard and Rita who insisted on coming right down to the harbor to make sure we could go to a great place to eat for our first meal. Richard and Rita are cruisers who live here in Hilo. They have owned the same Gardner designed a Choy Lee sailboat for 30 years and have cruised the Pacific. They took us to "Ken's House of Pancakes" which is sort of a misnomer because it has EVERYTHING on the menu and it is all GREAT FOOD! I ate the SUMO burger which was two 8 oz patties, bacon and all the fixings. They even rang a gong when they served it to me so the whole place knew there was a fat guy having lunch here. The kids were free to order whatever they wanted so there were a couple of triple decker BLTs for Kaleb and Ben, a double cheeseburger for Kanyon, a Triple Turkey Club for EmilyAnne and a Bacon cheeseburger for Becky. We washed it all down with milkshakes for dessert. During the meal we told Richard and Rita our tale and listened to their sailing stories. It was the PERFECT landfall first meal with the PERFECT people!
After lunch they gave us a quick little tour of the town and we went back to the boat. When we boarded WD Becky and I cheered our landfall with a bottle of champagne and orange juice and then we all decided to take a nap.... We woke up this morning!
It rained all night so the boat was clean this morning. We decided to take the day off and start on chores like laundry, and boat scrub down tomorrow. Breakfast this morning was back at Ken's, eggs Benedict..... Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Thanks for all of the kind words on Facebook and Thanks for Reading!
Captain Tofer, Becky, EmilyAnne, Kanyon, Kaleb, and Benny