Good morning –
It’s another very pleasant day here in Ala Wai Harbor, Waikiki, Oahu – the Hawaiian islands are a fine place to be during the winter months, particularly as they do not have typhoon or hurricanes at this time of year – though it may rain a bit. Always check your typhoons and hurricanes forecast before purchasing airplane tickets to anywhere warm that is furthern than 10 degrees latitude from the equator, at least that would be my recommendation.
I have a new transport device, namely one Dahon Mariner D8 bicycle. It has tiny little 20″ tires and looks somewhat reminiscent of a circus bike, with the handy feature that it can be folded in half and stored in relatively small spaces, such as are found on board Tiger Beetle. The convenience factor is significant, a bike makes most places within five miles a reasonable run, as compared to walking in which a 2.8 mile walk in the Hawaii heat, humidity, and sun something of a wish-you-had-taken-the-bus run by the time you reach the destination, and you still have the return route to traverse. The bike is a game-changer for that circumstance as your feet aren’t sore from walking on concrete when you arrive and it didn’t take an hour to get there. Which leads to the my visit to US Customs at Pier 1 to complete my yacht check-in to the USA.
The US Customs lady that visited Beetle on Saturday (the day I arrived) checked me in and told me I needed to telephone the main Customs office at Pier 1 to arrange a time to go there and complete my check-in. I had no idea what I hadn’t done nor why the agent in front of me standing on the dock in Ala Wai couldn’t complete my check-in, but apparently you’re not done until you go to Pier 1 and do whatever it is they ask you to do. So I telephone Pier 1. I need to be there before 2:30PM as that’s when they stop dealing with small boats, bring funds to pay for my $27.50 US Customs CBP Decal that I’m supposed to affix to my boat adjacent to the entry way. I ask about directions from Ala Wai, she thinks a moment and says it’s a long way, take a cab.
I decide to check out Google Maps and see how far this place really is. I also decide to pull the AquaSignal Series 40 bicolor bow nav light that has died and take it with me as West Marine might have one, never know, and West Marine is out that direction somewhere. Google Maps declares it is 2.8 miles from Ala Wai to Customs. I compare this to my stroll over to the Ala Moana Center to visit AT&T, that was 1.4 miles – I can easily double that distance and hit Customs, plus see the waterfront I haven’t been along before.
Turns out that 2.8 miles isn’t quite accurate, and more importantly Google Maps doesn’t account for heat index. I have a nice reasonably brisk walk, it’s an interesting waterfront. And I don’t seem to be getting any closer, despite passing the shopping center a while back. I check directions on the smartphone, it’s still a long way off. The dark asphalt street is hot, reflecting heat back up at me. I forgot to bring a water bottle – hmm… I eventually appear in front of a sign stating US Department of Homeland Security, walk up to the enormous barred iron gates painted green that span the entire front of a mid-size building… and they’re locked. I can hear someone speaking on the other side through the bars, so I call out, “Is US Customs inside? Can you let me in?” A fellow in a uniform pokes his nose out and says, “Uh… Customs is around the side towards this rear. This is Deporation, I can’t let you in.” Ah… that would explain the few people speaking on their cellular telephones in various foreign languages while hanging around in front of the giant green gates – perhaps they know someone on the other side of that gate. I decide I prefer being on the outside of this particular gate. I walk around back.
Around back turns out to be a half mile walk out over more hot black asphalt to the commercial port Pier 1, to talk with a guard at the container truck entry, he points out where Customs is (the white one-story building back there, he points), takes my Washington state drivers license and signs me in on his clipboard, and off I go, though I’m asked to walk on the other side of the green fence within the yellow painted lines so I don’t get run over by a truck. There isn’t a lot of truck traffic at the moment, I feel fairly safe doing this.
Inside the small structure structure through the blue door to your left is a little desk with a small silver bell on it, the sign says, “Hit bell twice if you are small vessel reporting…” so I do. A lady pops up and I asked her, “Do you have a glass of water I can have?” I explain who I am and why I am there, turns out I spoke with her on the phone, and she brings to me a fancy bottled water straight from the fridge. I fill out several forms intended for merchant marine cargo ships that want to know whether or not my cargo was hazardous, where I picked it up, lists of all crew on board, it’s a full-on commercial cargo ship entry that I’ve walked into. She crosses off (or writes ‘NIL’ in several spaces) and I start filling out forms between drinks of nice cold water. She wanders off. A while later I’m done, I consider pressing the bell again (twice) when another person wearing a blue Customs uniform and a gun (but not a bullet proof vest, that would cook these people) walks in and asks why I am there? I point at the forms. He rings the bell twice and walks off into the interior of the office and my friend re-emerges. “All done?” Indeedy do. She proceeds to stamp things, make copies, send faxes, record things in computers, send email… and I’m done! Wow! That completes Beetle’s entry into the USA, and CBP will send (first class) my Decal to Washington state within 5-6 weeks. Maybe it will actually show up? She asks if I’m taking a cab back to Ala Wai (hint, hint, it’s hot outside) and she points out there is a bus that goes that way directly in front of their place. I decide to try the bus.
Once back outside, no need to sign out the with guard at the road gate, which is odd as he wrote down the time-in but didn’t write down the time-out, I hit the bench in front of the Deportation and telephone West Marine, they are only 0.8 miles further up Ala Moana Blvd. Yes, the girl on the telephone determines that they should have FIVE of the AquaSignal Series 40 bicolor nav lights, she hits the shelves and returns with one in hand. I tell her to look for the person with a bright green SSS t-shirt, that’s me. She tells me that she thinks it’s a lot further than 0.8 miles from US Customs to their store. I decide to walk anyway. She’s correct. My feet are defintely getting a work-out, I purchase the complete new lens & bulb & bulb mount & bracket AquaSignal nav light and depart the store with instructions on how to find the bus (go around back, cross the park with the homeless people in it, look for the China-type architecture and you’re in Chinatown, first road is King Street, every bus going there will probably go towards Ala Wai Harbor).
I depart the store and promptly get lost, wander around for a couple of blocks and find the homeless people, then find Chinatown beyond them, but I missed the all-important feature of the bus stop. I can’t find one. I decide to walk towards Ala Wai in search of a bus-stop, this was probably a mistake as the bus stop was one block behind me. I walked 8 blocks the other direction. Chinatown is an interesting place, lots of signs in Chinese, tons of food markets, they clearly like Chinese food here. Eventually I find a bus stop and I have no idea which bus I want; the first two that stop say, “Nope – don’t go there” and depart. Third or fourth bus says, “We get close. Step in!” Off we go. Past Ala Moana Center (now walking needed, very cool), over the Ala Wai river, and start to head east (!) away from the Marina. I’ve had 25 minutes on the bus to observe this and have been tracking our progress on my Google Maps feature of my phone, and figure out I want the next stop. The drive, amazingly enough, has remember that I want this stop also, he pulls the bus over, looks at me, points, and says, “You want off – Ala Wai is that way!” Super nice guy.
I’ll skip ahead, the next morning I swapped out light fixtures in the bow pulpit, which involved trimming back 12vDC Ancor wire, removing corrosion from the stripped copper with the Dremel tool and a wire wheel brush, Nav lights are all up again and running – I’ll want that for my marina inspection in the morning. I do my own inspection based on the marina’s check-list, find that I have in-date flares (three SOLAS parachutes), and put an oil-absorbent pad under the engine ’cause the checklist says they’re going to look for one.
Since that’s all done, I call up Eki Cyclery – they are a family-owned and operated for 106 yeras now, all started by their grandfather Toichi, and the grand kids continue to operate the store – most amazing. Eki is a Dahon dealer and has the Dahon Mariner D8 bicycle, a folding bicycle that is supposed to be ‘marinized’ or at least not rust as fast as the average bike. People seem to really like them (or have the exact opposite feeling about the bikes), I rode one 12 years previously in Oakland and it was shakey and I didn’t like it, so I didn’t purchase one. I decide to try one today, Dahon is up to the D8 (meaning it now has an eighth gear, one up from the D7), and indeed the grandkid at Eki says they have one on the floor, come on over. This time I take the bus, it is a lot further than West Marine – I’m not walking that far. Bus is pretty neat, quick, clean, and Eki does have the D8. The lady and I (I can’t really call her a grand kid as she’s significantly older than I am) go through the bike, she explains how it all works, demonstrates the folding mechanism, I go ride it around the parking lot. The bicycle behaves entirely unlike as it did 12 years ago – this is now a solid machine without wobbly hinges and soft bendy handle bars – this is a real bicycle that is solid, fits my frame (slide seat back 1/2″, lower handle bars slightly) and it’s great. I purchase it. I ride home to Beetle on it. This is very cool. So now I have shore-side wheels as-needed, and the machine folds up quite nicely into a fairly large package but it will fit down below. Next step is to figure out where and how to stow it. There are several places it could go, I’m just working on which is the best spot.
And finally yesterday (Wednesday) it worked out that my Uncle Richard and is lovely daughter Megan are on the island at the moment, and they were able to make the time to come over and visit Beetle and me. It was super to see them, I suspect it has been a long time since I’ve seen either (I believe Megan was a baby girl when last I saw her). Mucho fun. They got to see the boat and then Uncle Richard treated us to hamburgers up the road at a great brew pub with a fine Aloha Amber on tap. (And this place actually brews the beer right there on premises.) Good stuff!
That brings us up to more or less current affairs. More things have happened that can wiat for another day, finished the marina check-in and buoy run out to No. 1 Green Mark and back, insurance papers have arrived and were given to the marina, all is good.
Enjoy the afternoon!