Customs cleared us after nearly three days of waiting patiently. Radio Bay has showers, toilets, water, and other cruisers for company, but little else. It’s a loud industrial port. Construction, cruise ships, container shunting, refrigerated storage and concrete silos all make an unpleasant daytime ambience, but it’s safe and secure.

We might stick around Hilo for another week to explore, provision, and finish boat repairs before heading for our next destination. Our fellow Canadian and South African cruisers both departed yesterday, leaving us with only Americans for company.

I’ve uploaded groups of pictures in a few blog posts, just scroll down to see those galleries.

Some videos of the boat under sail in different weather:


Miscellaneous cruising photos are below:



Testing out the wordpress app on my phone…




Looks like this is too cumbersome for now. Many more pictures to come! For now we are filling up on fantastic Hawaiian friendliness and fruit.


Describing those hurricanes may have been overdramatic. Iselle’s path left lingering winds that opposed the trades and nearly zeroed our wind, and Julio’s outer fringes were 500 miles behind us. We had pleasant but slow progress in our final day.

In a break of coastal fog, “eagle-eyed Marchena” was the first to spot land about 20 miles from the big island. On the radio we overheard tugboats discuss storm damage from the last few days (minimal in the harbours). After coasting into Hilo Bay at 3 knots and dropping anchor we’re still in quarantine, but we have already made buddies with a few other cruisers. It’s a friendly world out here!

Now that you’re up to speed while we wait in quarantine, here’s a ridiculous story — before departure, a point of disagreement and contention was the boat’s quantity of fresh water. We erred on the side of caution and carried around 350 L, enough to comfortably last a month or more (lots of extra weight on the boat). We expected rainfall to supplement our stock of water and it would be the opportunity to wash the boat, our clothes and ourselves.

Not once has it rained. After 3 days into the cruise it was also too warm for morning dew. We tried sailing towards small squalls, we’ve been surrounded by them, and even had them approach us. Each time has been a flurry of excitement: donning bathing suits, pulling out dirty laundry, washing salt off the boat and preparing for a deluge. Each time the squalls offer a wisp of moisture before moving away. Each time has been a tease.

Nearby rain showers became a recurring disappointing joke so we kept conserving our water and forced ourselves to live with our funky hairstyles. We arrived with over 150 litres so we probably could have used a little more rain to keep the B.O. minimized… lessons for the future. There was still no rain near those pesky tropical storms, and then today was sunny bliss.

Back to the present. I won’t expect an opportunity to upload pictures for a few days yet. Maybe we’ve been fueled by excitement and dedication during our 4-hours-on, 8-hours-off schedule for the last 20 days. Maybe it’s latent sleep debt, or just additional activity today with sail changes and more time in the sun. Anyways, something from the cruise finally caught up to the 3 of us and we are now blindingly exhausted.

Ahh. I can hear the pitter patter of raindrops outside. Aloha, Hawaii.

A Final Thrill

Three weeks have passed since leaving Ladysmith. The blue Velella sailing jellies have been replaced by blue flying fish on deck, with schools (flocks?) leaping around the boat. The swells have increased to 3+ metres and can be steady enough to turn Piggy into a smooth rocket ship that surfs at 10 – 15 knots. We are in the final stretch to Hawaii.

We joked how the North Pacific can be simple and benign in the summer. The gales are only near the coast and all the tropical storms are contained south of Mexico along the intertropical convergence zone towards the equator. “Hawaii doesn’t get hurricanes” was suggested.

Foot, meet mouth: two hurricanes decided to buck the trend and head straight for Hawaii.

Just a few days ago, Hurricane Iselle’s winds were steady around 190 km/hr with gusts well over 200; it’s reaching Hawaii now with winds closer to 100 km/hr which downgrades it to a tropical storm. We expect to reach Hilo two days later. Hurricane Julio, also becoming a tropical storm, will pass to the North a day later. We are truly running the gauntlet by squeezing between them.

If things go awry we have our storm tactics, and if things get awfully snarly we have a parachute sea anchor. Marchena and I have been learning the boat’s many redundancies and intrisic strengths and sacrificial parts designed for extreme weather. We’re not racing and will not be putting ourselves into a treacherous situation, and Piggy has surely proven herself capable before.

Friends have asked about pre-departure fear or hesitation about cruising — I still have complete confidence in our vessel with her complement of working sails and many reef points, and of course my sister and dad as crew.

Besides, we need to save our energy for all the pleasantries associated with the Department of Homeland Security.


We reached halfway today and are now accelerating away from the spurious high pressure region that popped up in our path. 1200 miles remain. When we left Canadian waters on July 22, 2014, Piggy passed within 20 miles of Tom and Don’s maiden voyage to Hawaii on July 22, 1974.

It seems luck is a huge factor in ocean passages or races like the Vic-Maui: we stayed further East than their path which should have resulted in stronger winds yet we ran into an unexpected high pressure that becalmed us. We’ll see how our duration compares to their 18 days!

Notable sights in the last day: dolphins, beer crates, and two small car wheels with tires in excellent condition. The “spot the ship” game has become “spot interesting garbage” and coming up with absurd stories of how that garbage arrived in our path.


Yesterday, Tom was having a morning nap and Marchena and I were handling sail changes through variable winds. The self-steering windvane doesn’t behave well with light winds and Piggy can become stuck pointing into the wind (to free the boat I had to sail around in a circle and now that “oops” is recorded on our gps track). We were proud of ourselves for keeping the deck tidy and keeping the boat mostly in the right direction without the self-steering… until the wind decreased and dwindled down to nothing. We dropped the sails and found ourselves in that familiar frustration of being becalmed!

This time we had hot sunshine rather than dreary fog so we jumped into the Pacific and had a great time splashing around so far offshore. It was best not to ponder the 4500 metres of water below us.

I inspected the hull and found deep scratches on the port bow, probably from impacting a hard object while bashing through the storm off the Washington coast. Only the antifouling is scraped off, the fibreglass is intact. Unfortunately, near the back of the port hull there’s a much deeper impact that has exposed bare wood. A small amount of seawater has been seeping into the aft compartment and we now know the cause.

Most likely the bow struck the floating object and submerged it, which then floated up and hit the bottom of the hull while Piggy was at the bottom of a swell. In this case the object hit the hull between the sacrificial fin keel and skeg; the fin protects the bottom and the skeg protects the rudder and especially the vulnerable trim tab. I don’t want to imagine a similar situation where a submerged object misses the skeg and damages the self-steering in the middle of a storm.

So! A repair is needed but the simplest approach of beaching the boat won’t work on Hawaii as tides are too small. We still have more than a week to consider our options.

I wonder if future wood/fiberglass offshore cruisers will require some sort of underwater armour to deal with increased jetsam and garbage?!