Monday, March 25, 2013

Red Sands Beach

trail view of Red Sands Beach
It's true, Red Sands Beach in Hana, Hawai'i is right in town, near the Hana Beach Park, but it's a hidden gem and a little difficult to access. Located on the ocean side of an ancient volcanic cinder cone, it is completely invisible. 

Though the hike is short, it is challenging in places and not for anyone with an aversion to heights. Wear shoes, not flip-flops or slippahs (unless you are a local), and travel light - no bags or heavy backpacks that could cause imbalance. No signs will point the way, but you know you are on the right path when you see the hand-made warning sign tacked to a tree in the center of the trail. 

The following directions provide the easiest walking route to this beautiful beach and isolated cove, created by a millennium of weather and relentless sea erosion. 
  • If you can find a spot, park at the end of Uakea Road on the grassy, uphill side and just below the green school buildings. (If not, try parking around the corner across from the ball field.) Obey the 'No Parking' signs or you will be ticketed.
  • Standing on the grassy hillside with your back to the school buildings, look toward the surf and you will see a well worn trail at the edge of the grass heading downhill to the beach. Take this trail down to the beach - do not veer left through the cliff-side cemetery or the upper cliff trail as the terrain is unstable, dangerous and prone to slides. 
  • Once on the pebble beach, follow the shoreline to the left for about 40 yards where you can, again, pick up the trail to the left. 
  • From here the trail is a clearly visible narrow path over coarse, loose lava pebbles so care is recommended. When you reach the top you'll have the first view of this beautiful cove and beach. 
  • The trail down to the beach is barely a foot wide in places with a sheer drop to the ocean below -- be VERY careful. 

Directions to Red Sands Beach: 
Though the red sand isn't truly red, nor is it really sand - it is a mixture of tiny red and black pebbles - I know of no other reddish-colored beach as picturesque as this in all of Hawai'i. Try visiting late in the afternoon and you may have the place to yourself!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Favorite Seafood Recipes

On a whim, I accepted a chef position (an emergency fill-in) at the onset of the fishing charter season in Alaska and happily stayed for the entire summer. 

A summer cruising the Misty Fjords in Alaska afforded me the unforgettable opportunity and challenge of cooking a wide variety of freshly caught seafood on a daily basis. Now available in a new cookbook, a collection of easy and elegant seafood recipes for salmon, halibut, giant spot prawns, Dungeness crab and more, are presented in full color. Preview the book here or click the title below for more details and to order your copy. Ahoy and happy cooking!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 17 - Wing on Wing

During this sailing expedition I have enjoyed the pleasure of a perfect anchorage, every 2nd or 3rd day, when Mother Nature is kind, and a sound, blissful sleep is granted. Nothing can compare, nor can I adequately describe, being cradled by a boat's hull and gently rocked by calm, sea wavelets. Today well rested, I feel the routine of living on water is creeping into my comfort zone, like slipping on a pair of shoes made just for me.

This morning dawned chilly with clouds, crushing yesterday's enthusiasm for hiking the El Rincon trail, so I venture on deck with my morning cup of hot, vanilla chai tea. While contemplating my last few days at sea, a panga boat steered by two local fishermen tentatively approached. They inquired about cigarettes but I was really hoping they stopped by to sell fish. After exchanging broken pleasantries sprinkled with smiles (some with teeth, some not) the two fishermen motored away on their quest.
Fishing casitas, Ensenada la Partida

A short while later, from below deck, I heard the sound of their motor once again. They had returned this time looking for AA batteries. During this "conversation" I learned these fishermen were part of a small group who live in the casitas (shacks) on the isthmus, three weeks out of each month, before returning La Paz to visit family - a foraging lifestyle and a link to our past. First hand exchanges like these paint a picture of a world unknown to me.

I feel we could have talked for much longer but breakfast was ready. Captain Mike made a great batch of hash browns, extra crispy, with eggs over-easy. And the fishermen must wait for another day before the ocean delivers their meal.
SV Zulu - pirate style
~ ~ ~ 

If you've been tracking this journey you might remember me mentioning the wacky winds that unpredictably whip around these islands from all directions. I have also learned that weather reports are sketchy here, subject to frequent and often inaccurate interpretation. Weather is a first priority conversation for sailors on the VHF radio. The next topic naturally is... who is right? The answer is, "Yes", and then the wind changes, depending on where you are.

With the wind at our back, leaving Ensenada la Partida marked the only day we've been able to sail directly, without motor assist. Anchor up, spin the wheel, furl the jib and the Compass Rose eases out to sea. I feel like a Pirate right now, especially after watching Zulu embark just after sunrise.

So today we sail wing-on-wing, wind at our back, with the main sail starboard and the staysail port.  It was more work that I imagined. I would take the helm and aim her on course, but during the channel pass between Isla Espiritu Santo and La Paz, the winds would swirl, change direction for a moment and swing the booms before changing yet again. Sailing wing-on-wing requires constant monitoring particularly with today's swell, pitching the boom at any moment.

Midway, we were rewarded with another 'fly-by', as I call it, by SV Magic on her way to, coincidentally again, the same cove we were headed for. By the time we arrived at Bahia Pichilingue, Magic had secured her spot and we saddled up nearby. It's always a pleasure to meet and greet with fellow cruisers and this was no exception. 

Over two weeks at sea, I was ready for a new restaurant experience and there were two on the beach to choose from...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 16 - Paparazzi Cruisers

The day dawned brisk and I couldn't stand it anymore. Five days now and my goldie-long-locks needed a bath. The process started in the galley sink with a soak-and-soap, then up on deck to hang my head over the side for a cold, salt water bucket rinse... or 2 or 3. Back to the galley sink for a conditioning rinse and again on deck for an air-dry fluff in the wind. I'm good to go! (Just in case you were wondering, I use Aubrey Organic hair care - it is 100% biodegradable, made from all food grade ingredients.)

Isla La Partida (north island)
Fluffed and dried, it was time to weigh anchor for a morning sail. It's official; today marks the beginning of my return home to 'civilization'. Winds from the north, 10-15 knots on a downhill run, and an easy south easterly swell guided the Compass Rose to our destination - Isla la Partida. This island is connected to Isla EspĂ­ritu Santo by a narrow isthmus. These two islands, in the Gulf of California, are protected by UNESCO as biospheres. 

SV Tortuga passing by
A speck in the distance, SV Tortuga, gained on us over the hours, then passed on the starboard side in full sail. I grabbed my camera for a rare shot as they also took pictures of us on a beam reach toward Ensenada La Partida. Close enough to holler, it turns out Tortuga was headed to the same anchorage so we agreed to meet up later.

We settled the Compass Rose in 20 feet of water, as close as possible to the turquoise shallows that extend far from the beach into the cove. Like Swiss cheese, vertical orange cliffs riddled with holes encircle the sugar sand beach. Wild fig trees, stunted from the elements, cling to nearly nothing alongside the numerous cliff-side caves, and the echoing, cascading call of a canyon wren gives this deserted beach an almost eerie feel.

On the way to shore Captain Mike opted to take a snooze in the dingy, floating in the shallows, while I walked the remaining 50 yards through knee-deep water to explore the length of shoreline; again the only person in a quiet landscape. My feet sank into the soft, warm, white powder and, dotted along the beach, strangely shaped rocks and driftwood made their own kind of art. Adding to the eerie feeling, and somehow the beauty of life on these arid islands, was harsh evidence of life no longer.
At the south end of the beach I discovered a trail-head entrance through the one, and only, canyon leading up to several rugged camping locations tucked away from view. Perhaps tomorrow I will explore...

Returning to the dingy after my solitary expedition, we headed for the Tortuga to meet up with the boating Paparazzi. I learned over a glass of wine that Rick and Marilyn have lived on board for 30 years, raising two daughters. I was enchanted with their tales and adventures of living on board. Rick, turns out, is an accomplished guitarist and harmonica player and happily shared samples of his musical talent. Marilyn over the years has also developed musical accolades as a washboard percussionist, not to mention a skill for creative food recipes like a Trigger fish concoction that is said to rival Jimmy Dean sausages. I so enjoyed their stories and company!

Night fell while visiting and it was time to say goodbye, for now. I promised to look them up in La Paz during Carnival, which they wholeheartedly recommended as a must-see. Flashlight in hand, we scooted in the dink past a handful of other yachts from other ports of call - Canada, Oregon, Hawai'i, Washington, and an old seabird - a wooden square rigged boat from the past, Zulu.