Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Journey's End

Snug in our slips, Kaneohe Yacht Club

The squadron launched an amphibious assault on the beach at Waikolu, meeting minimal resistance.  It was a bit tricky landing in the basketball sized river rock, but the swell was down and there were no casualties reported.  Aerial surveillance duties were handled by Jonathan, who got some fantastic drone video of the spectacular scenery and the fleet sitting serenely at anchor.

I walked about half a mile west along the rocky beach in one last desperate attempt to find a glass ball on this voyage.  It was reminiscent of my walk along the same beach 49 years ago after swimming down this coast with pals Dave Schaefer and Palani Ashford.  Somehow the boulder hopping seemed easier at age 17 than it did at 66.  We didn't find any glass balls on that first walk, and I didn't find any this time either.


The squadron officers enjoyed a final dinner party aboard Maka'oi'oi and watched with awe as the sun disappeared over the Kalaupapa Peninsula a mile to the west and the majestic cliffs of Molokai's north shore glowed orange as daylight faded.  Discussion over dinner focused on the fleet's final chance to change its luck at fishing.  It was decided that a 6AM departure the next morning would optimize our chances at boating a fish while they were having breakfast, the most important meal of the day in the aquatic world, I am told.

Our alarms went off, coffee was brewed, sleep rubbed from our eyes, and the crews jumped into action for the last passage home.  Bo helped me manually pull Maka'oi'oi's anchor, sail was set, fishing lines deployed, and the fleet was off!


Both boats ran along the 50 fathom line off of Kalaupapa hoping to snag an ono, but they were all apparently dining elsewhere.  Once clear of the peninsula, jibs were wung out and we enjoyed a lovely sail directly towards Kaneohe.  We managed to sneak out a bit ahead of Puanani, so about half way across the Molokai Channel the Beneteau 39's crew hoisted their spinnaker to catch up.  Puanani reeled us in until they were right on our stern off of the Mokapu Peninsula where the spinnaker decided it would rather be wrapped around the headstay than fly properly.  Cleaning up the mess gave Puanani's crew something fun to do over those last few miles.

Both boats arrived back at the Kaneohe Yacht Club shortly after 2PM yesterday to a fantastic greeting by our lovely wives and friends.  Lei, pupu, cocktails and celebration to mark the end of a fantastic trip!






Monday, July 13, 2020

Waikolu

At anchor in Waikolu Valley, north shore Molokai.

One often repeated definition of "cruising" is "Working on your boat in exotic places."

Things are always breaking on boats, and if you don't fix them as they fail, pretty soon nothing on the boat is working and you can't enjoy your cruise. Bo's list of things that need fixing is getting pretty long. We are trying to resolve the problems that would cripple us going forward, but with just a day left in this epic cruise, we are ignoring those issues that don't affect us significantly.

This morning our windlass decided that it was going on strike. Great. We had all 150 feet of 5/16" chain out with a 44 pound anchor at the end of it. I pulled much of it in by hand, but when I got to where I was lifting the anchor, this 66 year old body could pull no more. I recalled a trick I'd seen racing yachts, that don't have windlasses, use back in the '70s. They hook their spinnaker halyard into the chain and pull it up using a halyard winch. Mark swam over from Puanani to help with the grinding, and we got the ground tackle back up into Maka'oi'oi. Thank you. Mark!

It was only 1-1/2 miles from Keawanui to our next anchorage at Waikolu, so we powered The distance. It is one of the most scenic mile and a half's on the planet. A 3,284 foot inverted cliff hanging over the water, sea caves, offshore spires... For those that have the courage, and the intrepid officers of the squadron did, a must do is traversing the 50 yard wide pass between Okala Island and the adjacent headland that protects the Waikolu anchorage. It was butt puckeringly tight contemplating the impact of a steering or engine failure at the wrong moment... but the fleet made it through safe and sound. And then, almost immediately, we were in the calm waters of Waikolu, just a mile east of the Kalaupapa peninsula.

Anchors went down just before noon. A celebratory beer, then lunch, and now we are looking forward to going ashore to explore this afternoon.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Bo’s Bistro and Island Tour

At anchor in Keawanui, North Shore Molokai

Eighteen days ago as we were getting started on this adventure, the squadron decided to call it "The Covid Staycation Cruise". I've come to the conclusion that perhaps a better name would be "Bo's Bistro and Island Tour".

I don't believe I have ever eaten this well on a cruising sailboat. Every evening Bo buries his head in the ice box, extracts something I wasn't aware was in there, and prepares a gourmet meal. With the leftovers he makes delicious lunches in the form of either a sandwich or a wrap.

Last night it was kalbi ribs, grilled zucchini, and a salad. I wouldn't have been able to make kalbi ribs last for eighteen days, but Bo did. He even has a couple of more fresh dinners queued up for the last two evenings of this most excellent adventure.

We got a late start this morning, which gave Bo a chance to go wild in the galley. It was a cheese and veggie omelet, hash browns, and bacon. I am getting spoiled.

Now, don't be thinking that Bo does all the work around here. I am in charge of coffee in the morning, doing all the dishes, and I fix a lot of broken stuff. Yesterday it was the wind generator that sucked a line into it and disassembling and lubricating the windlass, which has been acting up. I am also the squadron tour guide, blog writer, and cribbage instructor.

The anchors came up at 9AM, and the squadron romped across the Pailolo Channel to Molokai's Cape Halawa. A quick left turn, and we were running west along the highest sea cliffs on planet Earth.

I never tire of the north shore of Molokai. 2,000 foot waterfalls that empty into the sea right next to us, lush valleys, spectacular headlands. If there were only more fish....

Yes, the squadron got skunked again. We pulled into Keawanui Bay, little more than a gorge along the coast, at 1230PM.

Anchoring in Keawanui is tricky. Comfort requires both bow and stern anchors to keep the boats pointed out into the small chop that wraps around the point protecting the bay. The bow anchor is dropped offshore in 40 feet of water, and the stern anchor must be swum into shallow water or secured ashore.

The squadron sailed up to another cruising sailboat as we made our way down the coast, and he came into Keawanui with us. We dinghied over for a visit after all three boats were secured, and the Ventura, California based skipper said that he was following a cruising guide written by some guy with a funny name. "Do you mean 'Noodle's Notes'?" we asked. "That's it!", he responded.

The squadron dinghies ferried the fleet's officers over for the obligatory dip in the pool below the bay's waterfall and into the large deep sea cave 100 yard from the anchorage. The Puanani crew also explored a large cave half a mile away that Clay recalled from previous visits.

Jonathan is flying his drone this afternoon around the bay. I can't wait to see the pictures and video he gets from that!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Honolua Bay

At anchor in Honolua Bay, Maui

The trade winds blew with a vengeance in La Perouse Bay, even harder than it was blowing in Nishimura Bay.  Aboard Maka'oi'oi we decided that the mainsail cover would likely blow right off the boom, so we didn't put it on.  The strong winds tested the squadron's anchor gear, but this morning both boats hadn't moved.  It was so windy that we didn't get together for dinner.  Launching and retrieving dinghies and traveling by dinghy in that much wind just didn't seem prudent.

This morning we got an early start in order to get through Maalaea Bay before the trade winds filled in.  When the trades are up, as they are now, the wind gets squeezed between Haleakala and the west Maui mountains, accelerating as it enters Maalaea Bay.  This phenomena doesn't normally start until about 11AM though, so the early bird avoids the storm.

We made it 2/3 of the way across the bay when it went from flat calm to 35 knots in an instant.  Good thing we left the 2 reefs in the mainsail from the day before.  Puanani had learned their lesson, and left all three reefs in their mainsail as well.  We only had to deal with the wind for a short time until we were in the lee of the west Maui mountains.  The engines came back on, and we powered to the wind line off of Kaanapali.  Once again, we were grateful for our deeply reefed sails as we short tacked up the coast to Honolua Bay.  Anchors went down at 130PM in one of the calmest and most tranquil bays in Hawaii.


Honolua is normally visited by multiple tourist catamarans every day, three at a time, for a few hours each.  Covid 19 has put and end to that, at least temporarily, and Honolua Bay has resident visitors only.  There were three other local boats in the bay when we arrived, but I think 2 are day trippers from Lahaina harbor.  It will be nice to relax in a peaceful anchorage tonight before we venture down the north shore of Molokai tomorrow.


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Friday, July 10, 2020

Scared

At anchor in La Perouse Bay, Maui

We are going through a period of strong trade winds, so strong that small craft advisories are in effect for the Alenuihaha Channel.  That meant that it was blowing in Nishimura Bay as well, just like it has for all of my visits there.  So it blew like stink all afternoon and into the night.  At least the seas were calm so it was still a relatively good anchorage.

We make the trip up to Nishimura, the furthest north viable anchorage I know of on the Kohala coast, because that puts the wind on our quarter for the Alenuihaha Channel crossing to Maui.  With the wind that far aft, it doesn't matter how hard it blows in the channel.  I usually reef the mainsail as deeply as I can, roll out a small rag of a jib, and hold on for the 37 mile sprint across to La Perouse Bay, Maui's closest comfortable anchorage.

The offshore wind at Nishimura can be challenging though, and Clay was concerned when he made the half mile dinghy trip to pick up Johnathan in Mahukona.  He came over to borrow our dinghy oars and took along a VHF radio and cell phone... just in case...  There was no problem though and he and Johanthan came back safe and sound at 4PM. 

Marcy injured her hamstring jumping from the pier to the boat in Honokahau, and she has been hobbling around ever since, unable to use her injured leg.  She went to Maka'oi'oi's swim step for a bath yesterday afternoon while Bo was kicking my butt in cribbage.  We were focused on our game, lost track of Marcy, and then noticed that there wasn't any sound coming from the stern of Maka'oi'oi where we thought she was.

We searched frantically for her, thinking that perhaps her injured hamstring had caused a cramp.  Bo and I were yelling to Puanani, anchored nearby, that we couldn't find Marcy.  After a panic stricken few minutes Bo sighted her 150 yards away swimming along as happy as a dolphin.

Marcy is an Ironman triathlete, and probably more seaworthy than Maka'oi'oi, but that didn't stop us from worrying about her, particularly with her injury.....  Scary....

Last night the Puanani crew came over for grilled ribeye steaks by Chef Bo, potatoes, grilled veggies and salad.  This morning the squadron bid adieu to Marcy, who flew back to Oahu.


At 8AM the anchors came up and the fleet set out for its assault on the Alenuihaha Channel.  The wind kept increasing as we poked out into the maelstrom, 20,  30,  35 knots.  No problem though; the wind angle and sail combination made things comfortable..... on Maka'oi'oi.

Puanani had decided that two reefs in the mainsail was enough, and that proved to be inadequate.  We noticed that they kept rounding up, even with a handkerchief of a jib set.

About halfway across the channel we saw the Puanani crew roll up the jib, then drop the mainsail.  We tried calling them on the VHF radio and cell phone to see what the problem was.  Had they lost a man overboard?  We couldn't get a reply, so rolled up our jib, turned on the engine, and turned around into the storm.  Puanani was a half mile to windward of us by this time, and we made little progress back towards them in the blasting winds and huge seas.  Ten minutes later we saw them rehoist their mainsail, turn downwind, unfurl their jib, and resume their heading towards La Perouse Bay.  We got back on course to Maui as well and a few minutes later Clay called on the cell phone.  They had dropped their sails to put a third reef in the mainsail.  It turns out that Maka'oi'oi' had a problem receiving on both the built-in and hand held VHF radios.  Puanani could hear us calling clearly and responded each time, but we couldn't hear them.  Something else for the fixit list.  It was scary for a few minutes, but all's well that ends well.  The squadron has learned from this little incident, and in the future if one vessel is going to do something that might concern the other, we will communicate our plans in advance.

Otherwise, the crossing was uneventful for both boats.  We had two fish strikes aboard Maka'oi'oi.  The fish never even slowed down and took two of our lures as a donation to King Neptune for the fine weather.  Puanani saw as much as 40 knots of wind on their anemometer.


As I write this the squadron sits snugly at anchor tucked up under the cliffs on the eastern side of La Perouse Bay.  The wind continues to howl overhead and there are nothing but whitecaps offshore.
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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Kawaihae Haiku Creations

Sailing Kohala
Good redneck song sung by Clem
Life don't get better

 

Awesome sailing day

Five volcanoes peering down

We are truly small


Two nights rock and roll

Then Kawaihae, a calm spot

Life is goo again


Gracefully departure

It was definitely not

Mending well, thank you


(Marcy got injured in Honokahau, she is recovering nicely)


Chemistry between friends 

Some old and some new

Kona blue waters


Sailing bay to bay

Gems along this rugged coast

Sad to leave each one



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Kawaihae and Nishimura Bay

At anchor in Nishimura Bay, Kohala Coast, Big Island

We ended up sailing much of the way to Kawaihae with reefed main and jib in the strong trade winds.  Puanani reported a peak apparent wind speed of forty three knots.  It didn't blow that hard most of the time though, and we arrived at the small boat harbor just before noon.

The Kawaihae Small Boat harbor is a typical government construction project.  What is there is first class in every respect, but there is much that should be there that isn't.  There is room inside the magnificent breakwater for a couple of hundred boat slips, but only 24 slips were installed... without water or electricity...  That leaves an empty 150 yard diameter open basin with nothing in it - a perfect place to drop the hook and swing safely at anchor.


Clay lived here on the Big Island for many years, and a number of his close friends came down to visit him in Kawaihae.  Pete, the unofficial Mayor of Kawaihae came out followed by Clem, an architect by day and a self contained party in progress at night, who brought craft beer, pupu, and a guitar.  We rafted the boats up for the party, and the wind died off in cooperation.  A good time was had by all.


This morning we powered and sailed the ten miles north to Nishimura Bay where we anchored at 1040.  Moderate trades are blowing here, but the seas are the calmest I've ever seen.  We are looking forward to a lazy afternoon of snorkeling and napping.

Just before our arrival at Nishimura Bay the squadron powered right through the middle of a school of feeding tuna.  They were hitting the surface all around both boats, but they left our lures alone.

The crews are changing a bit going forward.  Steve got off Puanani in Kawaihae and Clay's son Johnathan will be joining them tomorrow morning.  Marcy is getting off Maka'oi'oi in the morning as well.

After the crew changes are made we will take off across the Alenuihaha Channel for the 37 mile sail to La Perouse Bay on Maui.  It should be a quick and exhilarating ride.  There are small craft warnings for the channel, but the wind will be far enough aft, and we will be well reefed down, so we don't anticipate any problems with the crossing.
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