#67 Puff The Magic Dragon

... lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee. The author that penned the lyrics to this song by Peter, Paul and Mary says there is no connection whatever to Hanalei Bay on the northern shore of Kauai. That doesn't keep at least some of the locals from pointing out their own dragon lying peacefully along the valley, head in the water guarding the community. Once you see the dragon shape, it's impossible not to notice it each time you look up into the misty mountains. The whole image from the head all the way along an imaginary neck to the magnificent body, haunches and tail couldn't have been sculpted any more clearly.

Click to enlarge the dragon head as seen from Eliana lying in Hanalei Bay. The bare spot creating the eye has one just like it on the other side. Both have always been there as long as anyone can remember. The shadows are typical as rain clouds form over the mountains. The rest of the dragon is impossible to photograph without making a very long picture left to right!

Hanalei Bay

It's easy to get lost in the magic of Hanalei valley, town, river and bay. Katie Ritto had spoken about Hanalei as she was trying to convince us to come to Hawaii. In her mind Hanalei was heaven on earth. Highly secluded on an already sparsely populated, Kauai, Hanalei would be what I might imagine the Garden of Eden being like. Lush, green, the perfect ratio of rainfall to sunshine. Fresh floral scents everywhere and an abundance of fruit growing wild. I didn't notice any mosquitos, no-see-ums, snakes or any other annoying critters. The water temperature is right at 80 degrees in the bay making summer swimming, surfing and boating ideal.

The mountain backdrop to the lush 19 square mile valley boasts the highest rainfall in the world creating hundreds of magnificent waterfalls and rivlets cascading 3,500 feet down the heavily vegetated face. The resulting river is the Hanalei River. A kayak trip up the river is like a peaceful, slow motion trip through a time warp fantasy of vegetation. Flowering shrubs renew their yellow blossoms daily.

Brilliant twin rainbows during morning showers. The close one was so bright it reflected in the water all the way to us.

A closer view clearly reveals each distinct color.

Artist painting near the mouth of the river.

Blossoms lining both sides of the river

A private foot bridge across one of the tributaries.

Sweet Charlotte at anchor in the river. The shallow water at right is where we wade ashore to town. I placed a sand stake with float in the shallow water so we can pull her back to the shallow when we get ready to go.

About Town

The town of Hanalei is a pretty, unassuming community. Getting there by car means passing the Hanalei bridge, an old 15 ton, one lane structure that crosses the Hanalei river. The town population hovers between 400 and 500. The folks are a wide assortment of long time locals, itinerant surfers, new age types, celebrities, you name it. Many, many movies we all know were filmed here. The list is too long to even start naming, but notably "South Pacific" (1957). More recently "The Decendants" was made here.

The Hanalei sport of favor is competitive paddling. No surprise. All of Hawaii is nuts about paddling, but Hanalei is on paddling steroids. We found that with patience and understanding, paddlers and boaters can coexist in the same water. Eliana being anchored in the bay became a favorite pylon for training. But our spot was perfect on race day because we got a front row seat as literally hundreds of paddlers of all ages compete.

Unassuming "Tahiti Nui" where locals and visitors alike come to eat, drink and listen to traditional Hawaiian music nightly. Many a movie scene has been shot at this place.

Or how about some home cooked, traditional Balinese dishes, right at the river landing?

Saturday canoe races while Eliana looks on.

Canoe racing is an all-ages sport. This heat looks like middle schoolers, and they are very serious.

Of course the pros are very good and go very fast.


Since being in Hawaii, I have taken up SCUBA. I love it. I'm finding life below the surface fascinating. So far, I've logged 22 dives and have gotten my Advanced Open Water certification with specialties in deep diving, wrecks and nitrox. More recently, I started learning underwater photography. I hope to be able to get better so I'll have something to share with my readers.

Now that I'm diving, I've taken up cleaning Eliana's bottom. Little by little, I'm figuring out how to do it and the experience is invaluable. Nothing like inspecting your own bottom! I love jumping in to check Eliana's zincs or wipe off the water line quickly.

I am also providing a 1:37 minute underwater video showing Eliana's running gear, her propellers and rudder. The small propeller on the starboard side of the main is normally in a closed position, but opens automatically when I engage the wing engine. Part of my bottom maintenance duties is to keep the gears of the wing propeller clear and moving freely.

One of my first underwater pictures of a coral growth on some boat wreckage.

Mike, my photography instructor at 100' depth is difficult to get the white balance correct.

Eliana's wing propeller folded.

Eliana's wing propeller deployed.

Underwater video of Eliana's propellers (1:37)

Before Signing Off

Thank you for following Eliana's Journal. I encourage you to visit this posting on our website. The advantage of looking at it on your web browser is I think it shows the photos better. Plus if you widen your browser window, it allows the enlarged photos to get larger which is the best way to see them. You can go to the journal entry directly by clicking on the link below. There you can also leave a message for us or ask questions.

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Lying: Ko Olina, Kapolei, HI

Mileage: 11,589 Miles


Patrick 9/12/2012
Hi Rick and Debbie, just another Kansas Cityian that follows your adventures. Been a few months since your last post, and wanted to make sure you hadn't been taken by Hawaiian Pirates! ;)
Grant Hancock 9/7/2012
Hello Rick! As you hear from almost everyone reading, thanks so much for taking the time to keep up with your posts and answer questions. Fantastic to learn your lessons and get acquainted with living aboard. My question to you: I am doing a lot of research into Nordhavns and starting to set out a serious budget. One of my concerns is going too small and not being comfortable actually utilizing the boat. I know this will be objective, but do you think you would have been comfortable in those heavy seas on say a 55/60 or maybe a 63? Also, how would I go about getting a accurate idea of how much those different models cost? Base prices and what the costs are for different types of customization? The Nordhavn site is amazing, but doesn't include any price figures and only a few review articles mention prices and I don't know if those are dated. Thanks in advance, and keep up the great work, these new underwater photos are fantastic!
Kyle 8/28/2012
Hi Rick & Debbie I just found this blog and I cannot imagine how I missed it for this long. I have a few questions, but I'll wait until I've read everything here so as not to be redundant. I can say I am a little jealous of you two, but I want to thank you for sharing your travels and your procurement of Eliana. cheers,
Murray 7/17/2012
Rick: Love your website. Great job. Can you please tell me whether you carry a spare main prop that you carry on board or have you had one made and in storage somewhere ready to ship if needed? Thanks Murray Hi Murray, We do not carry a spare propeller. It has a diameter of 52" and weighs in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. so I don't have a good place to put it if I had one. You raise an excellent question, though. The factory states it is a standard model, so my hope is I could procure one and have it shipped to wherever we are. As an aside, the propeller is very well protected since Eliana has a full length keel from bow to rudder with a protective skeg running under the main gear. Rick
Sue McKenney 7/17/2012
Hi Rick and Debbie, while people are asking you questions I thought I would add one that we are currently considering for our 68. Teak decks - my recollection is that you have full teak decks everywhere? How have you found the maintenance, do you regret them, how do you treat them? All the best to you both. Warmest regards, Sue McKenney, Port Douglas QLD Austraia Hi Sue, Good to hear from you! Hope your project is going well. We have teak decks on the side walkways, aft cockpit and swim step. We have non-skid on the foredeck because we use it more as a working area rather than as living space. Regarding teak caprails and tables, we chose to do those in FRP. If I were doing it again, I believe I would do all of the above the same way. Teak deck maintenance for us has been super easy. We chose to let it go to natural gray. We do not treat it with anything, however, we mop it with soapy (Meguairs wash n' wax) water and rinse about every 10 days at the same time we're washing the boat. I use the same mop I do the sides with, so it's not like another tool to get out. I already have a bucket of soapy water. All together, I would say it takes no more than 15 minutes every ten days to mop and rinse all of our teak. While the teak may be slightly susceptible to chips and dings, it's otherwise very trouble free and exceptionally good footing and traction when wet. Give our best to Jon, Rick
Rick & Debbie, Thank you for including us in your blog. Your trip through the islands seems idyllic. Since you have traveled across the Pacific we had a quesion. With the house aft and small boats forward do you find a lot of water/salt damage to the small boats taking water and spray over the bow? We love the idea of an aft house but have never had the chance to ask this question. Make sure you try a helicopter ride with the doors removed while in Kauai. Paul and Marlene Hi Paul and Marlene, It is true the foredeck get's drenched with saltwater during a passage. Recently on our return from Kauai, we literally had sheets of ocean water repeatedly over the pilot house. Which brings up a subject I rarely talk about, but the five windshield wipers with fresh water wash often get a workout, and I love them. To your question, Sweet Charlotte often gets soaked as does the entire anchor platform. When we have giant waves hitting our beam, it's common to have giant waves breaking into the cockpit leaving it completely awash in salt water. Almost no part of the boat is immune. I have a normal closed door policy in all but the nicest weather. To combat corrosion, we give every surface of the boat a complete soap and water bubble bath upon arrival to our destination. So far it's worked well, however, the place we recently discovered some corrosion is around the deck hatch seals. So now we repolish the stainless and treat the rubber gaskets every three months. Lots of wax, corrosion block and good ole' soap and water is our recommendation. We love the aft pilot house arrangement. When the boat is pitching, the helm area rides fairly smooth. We often look to the forward part of the boat and exclaim we're glad we're not riding it up and down! Rick
Ron and nancy heiniger 7/16/2012
Rick and Debbie, We have so enjoyed reading your blog! It looks and sounds like you are having the adventure of a lifetime. It was wonderful to see the pics of uncle Wayne. He looks really good. We fdnt know he had gotten married but wish him the best. If you make it to the other side of north America anytime, we would love to visit with you. Ron and nancy
Jay 7/4/2012
Hi: I'm a newcomer to this blog, having seen Rick and Debbie's Youtube video. While I still have kids to put through college, I am starting early in my boating education so that I'll be ready when the time comes. I'm not sure this is the right venue for basic questions about the continuing lifestyle challenges and other matters regarding live aboard life. If it's not, please direct me. But, if it's OK to ask, I guess my dream would be somewhat of a working retirement with a business that is not location dependent. This would, of course, require consistent high quality telephone and Internet access ( not to mention TV service for my wife ). How is this accommodated while at sea or even in foreign ports of call which might not be cosmopolitan port areas? Also, are you in a position to compare the ongoing everyday costs of live aboard life to more traditional alternatives? For instance, property taxes vs docking fees, costs and availabilities of utilities, etc? I have seen some boats ( not many) that appear to have solar panels built into the cover of the top deck. Does anyone know if this would be a net gain or loss compared to the alternatives? And what about satellites for Internet/TV/ etc. reception World wide? Very grateful for the site. Very helpful in seeing the reality of this great retirement alternative. Apologies in advance if these questions are off topic. Hi Jay, Thanks for posting. You're doing exactly the right thing. Most owner operators like us are eager to share almost anything you need, because we were in the same spot not so long ago. I'll answer your questions from our perspective, but then you may find it helpful to sign up for the Nordhavn Dreamers forum which includes many who are at various stages of preparing for their future career at sea. The website address for Nordhavn Dreamers is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NordhavnDreamers/. Now to your questions. Telephone and Internet at sea are becoming easier and easier. Even today, it's no problem. We use the KVH V7 Mini VSAT which provides two telephone lines and unlimited broadband internet with coverage over most of the world. It's been a lifesaver for me since I still do work and have numerous meetings. The downside is it's expensive. You can budget $25,000 and up for a year of service depending on the speed you like. But it's well worth it, I think. Our cost of living has actually gone down from our previous land life. Of course, some things are more expensive, many are less expensive, but overall I think the financial picture is simpler as long as we maintain self sufficiency. If you're hiring everything done for the boat, it starts getting more complicated and expensive. We don't use solar power, but I know many that do successfully. For us it's such a tiny contribution to our total requirement, we prefer the simplicity of traditional power generation. Hope these thoughts are helpful to you. Rick
SUBJECT: Re: #67 Puff The Magic Dragon Hi Rick, this is Daniel from Venezuela. I am a Eliana's follower. A few months ago I wrote you asking is you were planing a trip to Venezuela, because my family have a boat and we can meet there in one of the most beautiful island (Los Roques). In this opportunity I write you, because I am aboard the Pride of America (Cruise Ship in Hawaii)and my wife and I are in our honeymoon trip. On Thursday morning until Friday morning, we are going to be in Kauai (Nawiliwili) and probably we can meet and talk about your trips, experiences and ours. Just let me know if it is possible by mail or cel: 786 4238869 Best Regards, Daniel Garcia. Hi Daniel, Welcome to Hawaii! We remember well your invitation to visit. Maybe some day when we get closer!! Congratulations to you and your new bride and may you have a long and happy marriage. We have moved Eliana temporarily back to Oahu so aren't close enough for a visit. Regretfully, we'll miss seeing you and meeting your wife. Please extend our best wishes to her and to your family at home. And enjoy your time on the beautiful island of Kauai. Rick
Tim and Anne 6/29/2012
Dear Rick and Debbie, WOW! What an answer I have received from Nordhavn! Norhavn Australasia has sent me the yard drawings they had prepared on A/B ratios for both the 86 and the 76. It is dated 20th of November 2010, so I imagine would directly relate to the construction of Eliana, which is a nice touch, though no specific vessels are identified on the drawings. Now I have to be careful here as they appear to have made a slight placement error (inversion) on one of the drawings, but when I re redid the maths with the inversion removed it came out to the same ratios that Nordhavn had calculated. So please do not take these calcs as being directly from Nordhavn. To dilute the information down to something suitable for this format I interpret the calcs to read: N86 Above water line area = 1274 SQ. FT. Below water line area = 541 SQ. FT Therefore A/B ratio = 2.35/1 N76 Above water line area = 770 SQ. FT. Below water line area = 370 SQ. FT Therefore A/B ratio = 2.1/1 (Its really 2.08108/1, so even slightly better than they advertise) This obviously also reflects the difference between a 400 000 lb vessel and a 250 000 lb vessel. Though you have to be careful when comparing area with mass as they are never directly equable. It also explains the tremendous stability that you speak of in regard to Eliana. I must say I am very impressed with the speed and thoroughness of Nordhavns answer. It only reinforces the respect I am forming for this company. I do hope you find the above of interest. Kind regards, Tim and Anne
jim miller 6/28/2012
Hi Rick, Enjoy your journal for the inspiration and knowledge it provides. I am curious as to the brand and size of your light weight inflatable and electric motor. Hi Jim, The dingy is a West Marine HP310 (about 10') and the motor is a Torqeedo 1003. This is a sweet package for us. The dingy lives in the lazarette in a small bundle rather than on deck where we have to work around it and wash it every time. It blows up in about 5 minutes. The high pressure bottom is fairly hard without using wood panels. It weighs 60 lbs so one person can easily drag it ashore, or two people carry it. The motor is 30 lbs. with an integrated lithium ion battery. It slips on and off in 30 seconds. When we go ashore, we can take the motor with us if the car is close, or even just take one of three parts (say the battery) that renders what we leave useless. We put what's left in a bag and leave it under the dingy. So far nobody bothers it. Good luck, Rick
Tim and Anne 6/28/2012
Rick and Debbie, Thank you so much for such an excellent answer. Anne in particular said to say thank you for taking the time. She did turn a funny colour when she read your comment about the elevator ride! It did answer many of my questions totally. I will independently research the A/B ratio via Nordhavn. My question in relation to fuel burn wasn’t rate related it was weight related. Does it affect trim or the A/B ratio? She did turn a funny colour when she read your comment about the elevator ride! Once again thanks! Tim and Anne
jeff and sara jo irons 6/27/2012
We met Rick and Debra in Hanalei bay this month when they plopped their gorgeous Nordhavn next to our very modest C&C 38 sloop. We met when Rick offered to give me a hand when he saw me reattaching my mooring ball to my mooring system i hand dropped to allow the canoe races. My wife had pointed him in my direction when they met a couple minutes earlier as r&d were kayaking back to Eliana. A couple days latter, as we were heading out on an afternoon pleasure sail, we close hauled our boat upwind to Eliana to shout out a high speed two knot drive by greeting. They invited us to dinner and the resulting evening was the definition of the Hawaiian word HO'OKIPA. In Hawaiian "kipa" is the noun hospitality, and "ho'o" is a prefix that makes any word an action verb. The food was incredible and Debbies home baked bread "broke da mouth" as we say in pidgin here (that's a good thing). Rick filled my scuba tank and that shouldn't surprise anyone reading this blog who knows the heinigers personally. They are as genuine and generous as they come and sara jo and I consider the gift of their friendship as a blessing.
Tim and Anne 6/27/2012
Dear Rick and Debbie, Your commentary on fuel consumption relative to sea state initiated quite a discussion over here. Particularly that you spent 19 hrs at sea state 4 (your grading). Is Eliana fitted with just hydraulic fin type dynamic stabilisers or are gyroscopic stabilisers also fitted? Do you have any comments on the advantages and disadvantages of both hydraulic stabilisers and gyroscopic stabilisers? Nordhaven is famous for having “Above Water/Below Water Ratio (A/B)” between 2.1 and 2.7, the lower number offering better stability. Do you know how the 76 and 86 rate in regard to this ratio? Was any optimisation on A/B ratio included in the fit out of Eliana and if so do you have any comments on how this worked out, now that you have had your vessel at sea for significant periods? Is course selection in open sea a viable option for vessels as slow as the Nordhavens or is “point to sea” regardless of course the best option? Did you choose to stay on your great circle route for the entire 19 hours or where course changes required? Could you please make some commentary on which direction the seas where approaching at various times during your sea state 4 periods and what you learned about your vessel in those conditions? How does the length of your vessel, affect stability in open sea conditions when compared to the smaller vessels you tried before selecting Eliana? I have seen film of a 300 foot Australian Navel Frigate disappearing between waves till only its radar mast light was visible, so I am aware that when it comes to sea state all things are relative. However is there a hull length sweet spot for say 90% of sea state conditions? What is the effect of fuel burn in relation to stability on long ocean passages in Eliana? Sorry to ask so many questions but as my wife is also a farmers daughter raised and lived most of her life on a large central Queensland cattle property who gets sea sick in bath tub she has considerable concern as to interest in one day spending considerable time on a boat. Whilst she has told me that she will follow me anywhere, some pre consideration from my part would considerably lower her anxiety levels. She does smile a lot when I tell her that Nordhavens are the vessels I most admire. Thankyou very much for all you have written in your blog. Tim and Anne Dear Tim and Anne, I'm happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability. Debbie says to tell you she too was apprehensive and indeed got sea sick in the early days. Neither of us have too much of a problem with it now. Guests do at times, but we try to keep them resting and hydrated until they feel better. So Anne has a point, but you're right to select the most stable platform you can. I'll answer your questions in the order you asked... Eliana is fitted only with TRAC hydraulic fin stabilizers. They do a great job controlling roll. They keep the vessel relatively level to the horizon when underway, while pitch is still occurring normally. They become useless when operating slowly or at anchor. For anchorages, we use flopper stoppers which do pretty well. I don't know much about the gyro systems except that they stabilize at any speed. Somehow I've lost track of what the A/B ratio is of the 76 and 86. I know for sure PAE stays true to their acceptable ranges on all models. Eliana has an enormous amount of lead packed deep in the keel. Weight, especially low weight is your friend at sea. We did not do anything to optimize the A/B ratio other than move some of the aforementioned lead around to make sure she was trim fore and aft before sealing it up. Yes, course correction is an option at sea in the worst case scenarios. My problem with changing course only to cope with heavy sea burns fuel just as fast if not faster, AND slows progress to the destination. For example, during the trip from Ensenada to Hawaii, we diverted southward because the Pacific high pressure began shifting southward. In order to avoid frontal activity from crossing our path during the ensuing two weeks, we chose a course about 10 degrees less than a direct route to Honolulu. Once it became clear that wouldn't greatly affect the weather we would encounter, we reestablished a direct route. Wind and waves were on our starboard beam almost the entire trip, even during the 19 hours of 30' sea, 35 knot wind. The ride was mostly elevator like, up and down with some pitching, but roll stability was pretty much unaffected due to the TRAC. We took blue water over the starboard rail numerous times. A big wave broadside sounds like thunder inside the boat, she rolls to port about 5 - 10 degrees, then slowly back to level, no problem. With storm plates on the salon windows, these were non events. We got used to it. And as I said before, I could have turned into the sea, but the shape of waves was a lot more vertical that direction. Not sure it would have been better and we wouldn't have been making progress. There is simply no comparison between Eliana and any other non-Nordhavn boat we've been around. There will always be a lot of movement in the ocean, but the inertial effect of massive weight improves most scenarios. At 250,000 lbs over 76 feet of boat, she is a confidence booster. I don't know of a sweet spot on length, however I can say with our boat, even 4 foot wind chop is barely noticeable. There has to be an element of swell or much bigger wind waves to begin affecting our ride. Regarding fuel burn, what we've learned is that sea state is by far the biggest factor in increasing fuel burn. I defined our four logbook sea state levels based primarily on how much hull pounding we're getting. If oncoming waves hit our hull so hard it causes spray or even blue water over the rail, it slows us sometimes over 1 knot. Horsepower and fuel burn go up immediately to regain that speed. It may take 20 to 30 seconds to get back to a good speed and then, BAM, it starts all over again. I hope this answers your questions without causing Anne undue anxiety. I'm familiar with your part of the country. Being from Kansas farm country with no boat or ocean experience at all, I can tell you that if Debbie and I can do it, you and Anne can too! All the best... Rick
Tim 6/25/2012
Hi Rick, You have an Aussie tracking your voyages now. Thank you for displaying the welcome mat. I ound the bottom shots and the technical information very interesting.
With the mileage to Hawaii are you a full Captain now, and if so, can we call you Captain Rick? heh My friends call me "El Capitan"! Rick
Richard Barton 6/21/2012
Kia Orana Rick from your only Cook Island recipient, Loved your last post. Enthusiasm is rampant and infectious. We know the area very well that you describe. A technicality. They are paddling not rowing. Kia manuia Richard.
Jaynell 6/21/2012
Your pictures are beautiful!! Thanks for the thrill. Scuba diving, huh? So glad you all have the opportunity to visit such interesting places. We will head to KC tomorrow for a Sat. baseball game: Cardinals vs Royals. Of course, we are Cardinal fans. Then on Sunday we will watch two of Jackie's boys play in basketball tournaments in KC. Gary is doing well after his serious accident and loss of his father, Randy. We see him at least once a week and talk to him daily. He and Donell were by here earlier this week. The latest post for him is on caringbridge - garybearkoelliker. Take care and so glad you stay in touch.
dale cole 6/20/2012
Really enjoyed the underwater photography--an exciting new adventure has opened up for you. Look forward to seeing more. Life is great in Hawaii!
Vaughan S. 6/20/2012
I always enjoy reading these blog entries, thank you. I've been meaning to dig through all your comments and see if this question have come up and been answered already, but will ask anyways: 1. After getting this far into your experience - how's Sweet Charlotte doing? As I recall your tender is not-so-tender, and almost indestructible, and a bit of an unusual choice vs. RIB's. Just wondering, and prompted to ask after seeing your picture. Cheers! Hi Vaughan, Thank you for asking. SC is the most marvelous little machine we could have imagined for a tender. She is absolutely indestructible and yet her sides are soft so when she bumps Eliana there is never any damage. She weighs only 1600 pounds wet so is easy to lift on and off. I maintain the motor normally, and wipe 303 protectant on the plastic parts. Otherwise, regular washing is all she gets. We love her large, flat walk-around floor plus we can walk around on top of her sides. I have installed a removable swim ladder on the transom. We have not added a biminy because we need to have the top open for the lifting sling. SC runs about 25 mph, stays completely dry inside unless the wind is blowing hard and the 25 gallon tank lasts for months. The aluminum bottom is so hard we wouldn't think twice about running her up on rocks and gravel. Now the down side. We can't beach her with the idea of leaving her there. We're always concerned about finding her high and dry later, but then there is the theft issue. She's just too nice to leave. I have some techniques for pulling her back out in deep water, but even then I am never completely at ease when leaving her unattended. So we have purchased a light weight inflatable that we can carry ashore with a little electric motor that is easily concealed or take-with. For us, it really takes both solutions to do everything we want to do! Rick
Dick Qualsett 6/20/2012
Great photo of Puff!