We arrived in Hilo a couple of nights ago, after 18 days of sailing, from Papeete, Tahiti. The wind and rough seas we had so much of on this crossing continued for those last 500 miles. We were very excited to glimpse the Big Island and scanned the sea all our last day. We figured we couldn't miss it, since it is topped by a 4200 m. peak. It is an amazing feeling to sight an oceanic island, after days and days of seeing nothing but sea and sky. It seems like a miracle that it's there at all and equally unlikely that we could find it. I can't imagine how the Marquesans, who are believed to have first colonized Hawaii (only about 13oo years ago) did it. It seemed sufficiently epic in a strong sailboat, with high tech sails, electronic navigation, a tank of fuel, holds full of water and food.
Anyway, we never did see the island, there was so much cloud, but as night fell we could see the bright white light off the east cape and eventually the orange glitter of the lights of Hilo. As we turned into the harbour a land wind blew into our faces. Suddenly I had a dog's sense of smell. There were cloves and compost and gardenias and the inside of cigar boxes. We finally dropped our anchor after midnight. Since then we have been in that enhanced state of enjoyment you only get after tough expeditions, when simple things are exquisite: a hot shower, clean clothes and bedding, a meal that is cooked, delivered, and cleaned up by pleasant strangers. It has rained mostly since our arrival (not surprising, since Hilo is on the rainy side of the island) but we don't care. The city is lush and feels more real than many Hawaiian towns; there are lots of bookstores and indie film theatres, and dim shops full of second hand Hawaiian shirts and retro knick knacks. Now, off to find a Kona latte, no maybe a chocolate macadamia nut ice cream cone, or a pair of new flip flops...
Our most excellent crew: