Monday, September 2, 2019

End of the Line

9/2 0800 position 22-13N 159-30W.  At anchor in Hanalei Bay in 30 feet, sand bottom.

As the mighty Starr entered Hanalei Bay yesterday morning we could see pal Mitch Haynie tow in surfing on his foiling board on the reef at the entrance to the bay.  Lori told me by email that he'd be out there this morning, taking advantage of the season's first big north swell.  Fortunately, the swell wasn't big enough to ruin the Hanalei anchorage, but it will ruin our plans to head down to some of my favorite anchorages on the Napali coast and on Niihau.

We've adjusted our plans accordingly.  Don and Sharry have decided to hang out on Starr in Hanalei for the time being, and the rest of the crew is flying home to Honolulu this afternoon.

This crossing is in the running for smoothest passage from the west coast to Hawaii ever. We were extremely lucky with weather.

No glass balls though, and we didn't see as much garbage as we expected.  Clay says he saw a lot more junk on the passage from Seattle to Hawaii on his boat a few years ago, but he took a more southerly route.   He thinks we passed to the north of the highest concentration of garbage.  We'll likely never know.  I suspect the garbage patch grows and shrinks and moves around the ocean much like the North Pacific High Pressure Area does, but not as fast and perhaps not as far.

We all piled into Starr's new dinghy yesterday evening and powered up the Hanalei River to a dinner hosted by Don and Sharry at the Dolphin Restaurant.  The Dolphin overlooks the river about a mile upstream from the bay.  We found a place in the Hau bushes there to moor the dinghy.  It was a great farewell meal after a great passage.  To  make it more memorable, it started pouring during dinner and continued as we made our way back to Starr later.  We were all soaked to the bone!  You know it was a drama free passage when the worst weather we saw and most drama we had occurred on the Hanalei River!

It was great to cruise with Clay, Don, and Sharry again, and enjoy voyaging with a new shipmate, Donna.


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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Land Ho!

9/1 0600 position 22-28N 159-12W. Wind NE@9 knots. Seas 3 feet. 21 miles from Hanalei.

When I came on watch at 1AM this morning I could just see the loom of Honolulu's lights off to the south. We never did see any lights on Kauai. Dawn broke this morning when we were still thirty miles from Hanalei, too far offshore to see lights on shore there.

We get a bit stir crazy during the night watches aboard Starr, staring at the instruments with nothing else happening. Clay noticed that our log, the instrument that tells us the miles travelled since it was reset, was approaching a special number, and we got a picture of it. Simple things for simple minds....

At 3AM a ship popped up on the AIS, our first in five days or so. It was the English flagged 250 foot "Petrel" heading for "Project Area Midway" at ten knots. It must have been some kind of research vessel.

At 6AM Kauai appeared on the radar, and a few minutes later we could see it ahead of us in the growing light. We should have the anchor down in Hanalei Bay before 9AM.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Meteor!

8/31 0600 position 25-17N 156-31W. Wind E@4kts. Seas 2 feet. 245 miles to Hanalei.

I'm sure Fred's advice on the lures was correct, but when the ocean is full of mahi mahi, and not ahi, mahi is what you catch. We put an ahi lure out and caught three more mahi in quick succession, just keeping the last and largest one. We hooked up the second fish before the lure was even all the way out again after releasing the first one. The second was probably one of the first fish's buddies that followed her into the boat as we reeled her in. Interestingly, all the mahi we have caught have been females. After the third mahi we put the fishing gear away. I never thought I would write these words, but we are tired of catching mahi. It is a first world problem.

We had yet another windless day with flat seas yesterday, and the forecast into Hanalei continues to improve. We have been incredibly lucky with the weather on this crossing. The good weather the first week (except the sloppy seas on the first night out) was expected, but beyond seven days forecast reliability falls apart and it becomes a roll of the dice. The mighty Starr has rolled well.

Last night was an excellent one for star gazing with a cloudless sky and no moon. The Milky Way sat like a lighted arch above us all night. Clay and Sharry were on watch just before midnight when a huge meteor entered the atmosphere in front of Starr, arced across the sky, and exploded in a burst of light. Clay couldn't determine if it exploded in the atmosphere or upon contact with the ocean. We see the coolest things out here.

There was no sign of other human life on the planet again yesterday. No ships, no planes, and almost no rubbish. With all the fish we are catching, I am surprised that we haven't seen any fishing boats. The area south of Hawaii outside the US economic exclusion zone is full of fishing boats. I've seen them on all my passages south. I wonder why they aren't up here north of the islands?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Green Flash

8/30 0600 position 27-55N 153-50W. Wind E@4kts. Seas flat. 457 miles from Hanalei.

Yesterday morning we decided it was time to bust out the fishing gear again and snag something for dinner. Within an hour we had landed two mahi mahi. The first went into the freezer. We threw the second one back and put away the rod and reel. Not bad. We've fished for just over an hour total and landed three mahi mahi.

The skipper declared that we've caught enough mahi. It was time to catch some ahi. How do we do that? I texted my daughter Kendra's boyfriend Fred, a legendary offshore fisherman, for some advice. He responded, "7-9 inch, green lure, bullet shaped... and Kendra is gonna be jealous that I got a text and she didn't! Haha."

It was glassy all day yesterday, and once again there was relatively little rubbish in the water, just a few floats and the occasional smaller stuff just below the surface. We didn't see any ships. I did see a contrail above us parallel to our course. Must have been a HNL-SEA flight.

A couple of us saw a green flash at sunset. The air was exceptionally clear with clouds disappearing over the horizon. That's the second time I've seen it this summer!

We are in just about the same location where I've had to make some hard decisions during multiple Transpac races to Hawaii. After six days on starboard tack, the decision on when to make that final jybe to port tack is critical and often determines the winner of the race. Jybe too soon, and you'll have to jybe back to starboard, the lifted tack, at the end of the race. That means more miles sailed and a slower race. Same thing if you wait too long to jybe - wasted miles. It is difficult to pick a lay line from 400+ miles out but it sure feels good when you get it right.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Headwinds

8/29 0600 position 30-26N 151-05W. Wind NW@3kts. Seas 2 feet and confused.

The forecast showed that the southwesterly headwinds we experienced yesterday morning would be light and short lived. They were neither. The wind slowly increased as the day progressed, and after dark last night it was up near twenty knots with a good sized wind chop. It got a bit uncomfortable aboard the mighty Starr heading directly into it at nine knots, but at least we were dry in our climate controlled wheel house. I'm glad I wasn't aboard Keith's Cal 20. I'm sure his evening was worse than ours. The wind started to clock and die off just before I came on watch at 1AM. There is still some left over slop this morning, but it is disappearing quickly.

Surprisingly, the updated forecast models missed the strong southwesterly completely. It showed light northerly winds and small seas. That's the first time in a long time that we've seen the models get it wrong. The models are calling for a flat calm day today. We hope they are correct.

The rougher weather yesterday made it harder to see rubbish in the water, but we saw a lot less than we expected. It was pretty clear that we were passing through an area of far lower garbage density than the day before. We haven't seen any garbage in the past hour since it got light this morning. Perhaps the worst is behind us.

We got two dinners out of our mahi mahi. Don made an excellent lemon/butter/caper sautéed mahi the first night and a tasty fish soup the second with onions, potatoes, shrimp, ham hocks, and clam broth. We've had a couple of days of no fish. Perhaps it is time to put the line out again?

Don and Sharry had a flying fish come in through their open cabin window the night before last. It got stuck on the window sill and didn't make it into bed with them. There would be a better story if it had.

We haven't seen any ships for more than a day now forcing the crew to create its own entertainment. Books are being finished and sudokus completed. We've solved most of the world's problems during our night watch discussions so we're spending more time listening to podcasts. Hidden Brain is a favorite.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Net Dodging

8/28 0600 position 32-59N 148-05W. Wind SW@7kts. Seas flat.

It was another glorious day yesterday spent piloting Starr from the flying bridge. The wind was still from the NE, directly behind us, basically blowing the same speed we were going so it was like a calm day at the beach. There was a lot of lounging, napping, and reading up there by the off watch crew.

Visibility is much better from Starr's flying bridge, ten feet higher than the wheelhouse. As a result, we could see a lot more of the rubbish that sits just at or below the sea surface. It was everywhere, and we were never out of sight of small pieces of plastic. We passed a few nets as well. They weren't huge nets, but might have been large enough to foul Starr's prop had we hit them head on.

It was stressful looking for nets ahead of the boat, particularly during the late afternoon when the sun ahead of Starr created a glare that prevented the watch stander from seeing submerged items until the boat was nearly on top of them. That tug boat captain we spoke to a few days ago was right about nets after dark. There is no way we'd see them, even with our infrared camera. We are depending on luck to avoid those, and so far luck has been with us.

This morning it is looking like garbage density is less. Perhaps we are through the worst of it? We shall see.

The wind shifted overnight and is now coming from ahead of us. The seven knot breeze combined with our speed through the water makes an apparent wind of fifteen knots over the deck. That might be too windy to enjoy life on the flying bridge today.

I tried to contact Keith on his Cal 20 by text via his Spot Tracker system but never got a response from him. We are now past his probable position so it doesn't look like we will see him out here.

We did pass a 750 foot cargo ship yesterday headed from somewhere in Asia to Peru. She looked like an empty grain carrier heading for South America to pick up a load to take back to Asia. Do the Chinese eat quinoa?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Into the Tropics

0600 position 35-24N 145-00W. Wind NE@6. Seas almost flat.

Yesterday it felt like we were in the tropics. The wind was from the Northeast, directly behind us, and blowing at the same speed Starr was powering, about nine knots. That made the apparent wind close to calm, and it was glorious on deck.

Don dug out the flying bridge cushions from the lockers, and all of the crew spent time up there during the day. Sharry read her book for a few hours in the shade of the bimini and Donna spent her entire three hour afternoon watch scanning for nets from the upper level control station. It was easier to spot rubbish from that higher elevation, and debris density increased to the point that there was always some pieces of plastic in sight. Interestingly, it was almost all smaller than a dinner plate in size. We continued to see the occasional plastic fishing float, but haven't seen any other large pieces of garbage, We've only seen two nets so far.

I sighted my first malolo, or flying fish, during my afternoon watch. Yep, you're in the tropics when the malolo are around.

The barometer is telling us that the high, or one of them, is behind us. After steadily climbing for a few days, it started dropping a day ago. Barometric pressure is down from a high of 1024 to 1015mb. Usually a significant amount of wind accompanies a pressure gradient that steep, but we haven't seen it.

We reached the halfway point of the passage yesterday afternoon. The forecast shows that the high is starting to get better organized behind us, and the North Pacific is moving back into a more typical summer weather pattern. Fortunately for Starr, the trades won't return to normal until we are just two days out of Hanalei. Until then we should be enjoying flat water and light winds.

Last night we could see squalls filling in all around us on the radar, and dawn revealed what will likely be a wetter day than yesterday. Starr can use the rinse.

Our new watch system has a problem we need to sort out. We have been allowing the nighttime standby watch stander to nap in the wheel house day bunk. The current watch stander rotates into the standby position at the 10PM, 1AM, and 4AM change of watch. We don't want to rouse the soundly sleeping former standby person, ("Wake up, it's time to go to sleep"), but there is no place for the new standby watch stander to nap unless we do. If we don't deal with this quickly, Don may come up to the wheelhouse for his 7AM watch to find Donna at the wheel and Clay, Sharry, and I spooning in the day bunk!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Traffic

8/26 0600 position 37-44N 141-42W. Wind NE@8kts. Seas 2 feet.

Shortly after posting yesterday's blog we got a radar contact. The "Ever Lyric", an 1,100 foot container ship heading from Taiwan to Los Angeles at 21 knots, was on a near collision course with the mighty Starr. Don called them on the radio, "Do you see us?", he asked.

"Yes, we see you," the female on the other end of the radio call answered in Chinese accented English.

"Would you mind altering course a bit to pass green to green?", requested Don.

"OK. Green to green," she replied.

We watched nervously as the behemoth bore down on us, slowly altering course to port. She passed us about a mile away.

We saw a few other large ships during the day and evening at a greater distance from us on similar or reciprocal courses heading to and from Asia.

Speaking of other vessels in the area, Kaneohe Yacht Club member Keith Letzky, who is out cruising around the North Pacific on his Cal 20, is about a day ahead of us on this heading. That was not a typo. He is indeed out here on a Cal 20. We will be keeping track of his position as we get closer. It would be fun to run into him (figuratively, of course) out here. "Pardon me, Do you have any Grey Poupon?"

The volume of floating rubbish sighted increased significantly yesterday. We probably saw a couple of dozen bits of junk before it got dark last night. Most prevalent were black plastic fishing floats, chunks of styrofoam, and plastic bottles. No more nets, and no glass balls.

We are keeping a close watch ahead of us for nets that might foul Starr's propeller. We have confidence that we can see and take evasive action in time during the day, but not so at night. Don decided that we should have two watch standers during the hours of darkness so there is always someone standing next to the engine controls just in case we do suck a net into the prop. Quick action to put the engine in neutral should save the transmission, prop, and shaft and make it easier to get rid of the net. Our new watch system has each of us on for a six hour watch at night and a three hour watch during the day. While on watch in the dark we are staring at the TV screen for the infrared camera pointed at the water in front of Starr's bow. It's not very exciting, akin to studying a television test pattern for hours on end. Nobody saw anything of note last night. We also didn't suck a net, so Life is Goo aboard the mighty Starr.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Into the Bubble

8/25 0800 position 39-59N 138-12W. Seas flat. Wind NE@3kts.

We are definitely in The High now. The barometer has steadily climbing up from 1014mb a few days ago to 1023mb today. Water temperature is up to 76 degrees, seas are almost Kaneohe Bay smooth, and last night the skies were perfectly clear. The Milky Way was directly overhead during my midnight to 3AM watch pointing the way to Kauai.

After seeing no garbage all day long, we saw a plastic buoy and a few minutes later some styrofoam just before sunset yesterday. A ship passed behind us on the radar screen during Donna's night watch, our first since leaving the coast four days ago.

Don and I were chatting just after the end of my night watch when a ship appeared on the radar ahead of us heading in the opposite direction. As we converged its details appeared on the AIS. It was a 250 foot tug powering at thirteen knots, too fast to be towing anything. Curiosity and boredom took over. We called him on the radio to find out what he was doing out here.

The watch stander aboard replied that he was working in The Garbage Patch, and was on his way home. He didn't tell us what he'd been doing, but said we could find out more at "Ocean Cleanup". Perhaps he was pulling that long boom thing we have been reading about?

We asked him where the largest concentration of garbage was located. "Southwest of our current position," he replied. Let's see we are heading..... Southwest. Ok, then.

We got into a long discussion with him about seeing and avoiding garbage, particularly fishing nets that can foul our propeller. "You might see them in time during the day, but there is no way to avoid them at night," he stated confidently. Don has some experience with nets and propellers. On the 2016 crossing from Hawaii to Seattle, Starr twice got nets tangled in her prop at night. Fortunately, Don was able to get the nets off without damage to the propulsion system with only a couple of hours delay.

This morning we are passing a piece of floating garbage every few minutes. Styrofoam, black plastic fishing floats, a mess of cork floats probably with a submerged net below them... No glass balls yet. We have modified the watch system going forward so there will always be two people on watch during the hours of darkness. Hopefully if we keep a constant eye on our forward looking infrared camera, we can keep nets out of the propeller at night.

A huge pod of perhaps fifty spinner dolphin stopped by for a visit at 9AM this morning. We never get tired of watching these beautiful animals frolic in Starr's bow wave.

As I was getting ready to post the blog, Don spotted a net floating ahead of us. "Quick, get the fish line out!", he yelled. I rushed to Starr's stern and got our already rigged lure in the water. I was letting the line out as a mahi hit the lure next to the net.

"Fish on!", I yelled, and Don stopped Starr. As I reeled the fish in I could see dozens of mahi following their hooked companion toward Starr's swim step. Somehow the brand new hook broke off of the lure just as the fish was getting close, and the whole school disappeared. No problem. We rigged a new lure, circled around to the net again, and hooked another one. This time we landed a nice ten pound female. Fish for dinner!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Cleaning Up the Mess

8/24 0900 position 42-06N 134-29W. Wind N@4kts. Seas 2 ft.

Yesterday morning at 11AM we passed our first bit of floating debris. I couldn't tell what it was, but it looked like plastic. Sharry and I saw another, a piece of styrofoam, this morning as I was typing this. Nothing else sighted. We also haven't seen any ships in a couple of days. At some point we will be crossing the California - Asia shipping lanes so we are remaining vigilant.

The seas were flat calm and the winds were light during the morning. The swim step was damp, but seas were not washing over it anymore so we decided the time was ripe to open it up for a look see. It was full of water and everything stored there was sloshing around.

We got out Starr's emergency diesel pump, which is stored on the upper dinghy deck, set it up, and started pumping out the swim step. After clearing 80% of the water we stopped, pulled out all the gear stored in there, and attempted to pump out the remaining 20% of water. The diesel ran fine but the pump wouldn't suck water. We tried new hose gaskets, moving the pump down to the main deck, and switching suction hoses. Nothing worked. After an hour of screwing around, Don took the pump apart to discover that the impeller had decided that this was a good time to disintegrate.

Clay got the last of the water out with a bucket and cleaned out the remaining muck that was clogging the swim step bilge pump. Donna was washing all of the stuff that came out of the swim step while Don and I were messing with the diesel pump.

Once the swim step was clean and empty, we tried to determine how the water was getting into it. Clay lay on his back below the shut hatches while Don and I poured buckets of water on it. Clay should have worn a snorkel - both hatches leaked significantly in two places. Don also lay on his back in the swim step with both hatches shut, and he could see light coming in through the seals. It's fair to say that the skipper is less than pleased with the workmanship in replacing and adjusting the swim step hatch seals last week.

We put the gear that wouldn't be affected by flooding back into the swim step and shut the hatches. We are hoping it stays calm enough for the swim step deck to dry. If it does dry, we can seal it closed with duct tape. We found places for the rest of the gear on the upper deck and in the lazarette.

Four hours later everything was put away and we were back to reading and listening to podcasts. I hope we don't need that diesel pump for the rest of the crossing.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Pacific High

0900 position 44-03N 130-35W. Wind NW 4kts. Seas calm.

The North Pacific High is an area of high atmospheric pressure located between Hawaii and the west coast of North America. It shrinks during the winter and grows in size and intensity during the summer when most boats are making their crossings to and from Hawaii.

I spent hundreds of hours studying The High before and during numerous Transpac races to Hawaii in an attempt to predict its next sinister move. Sailors heading west need to avoid The High's center, an area of zero wind, if they don't want to park. The further they sail from The High's center, the safer they are, but that takes them south of the direct course to Hawaii, adding miles to the distance sailed. Into the mix, add the fact that The High moves often and quickly, sometimes splits into two or more systems, grows or shrinks. This usually happens faster than sailors can react to its changes. Navigators try to find the sweet spot of compressed isobars south of The High where the breeze that circles it in a clockwise direction is the strongest but the minimum number of additional miles are sailed. It is basically a game of chess against The High. Win, and you feel like a king. Lose, and you spend extra time out there and get to watch someone else collect the trophies.

At the moment The High is a navigator's nightmare. It is poorly organized, spread over a vast area, and forecast to move and surge randomly. Fortunately, the mighty Starr doesn't mind. In fact, the less wind the better as we steam across the Pacific at a steady eight knots. Yesterday's swell has died away to nothing and we have altered course to head directly for Hanalei Bay. It is looking like this will get us there experincing the least wind and smallest seas, just what we want.

Surface currents heading east from Japan roughly follow the wind direction and strength on the north, east, and south sides of The High before they head west towards Hawaii. The High's center and area of least current are roughly colocated. It's an area of no wind and no current and is reported to be the location of the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Our present heading should take us right through The Garbage Patch. Other than a single log on the first afternoon, we haven't seen any floating debris.... yet.... stay tuned.

We are trying a watch system where each watch stander is on for three hours and off for five. That's nine hours on and fifteen off each day, plenty of time to sleep. There are one hour overlaps with the previous and next watch stander at the beginning and end of each watch. This morning when I came on at 8AM, Donna had one hour left. At 9AM I am alone for an hour, and at 10AM Don will come on watch during my last hour. I like it. I can socialize with Donna while I get my coffee and breakfast. I have an hour later to write the blog and stand watch by myself, and then get an hour to talk with Don about his projects for the day. He has already been up to the wheel house this morning, and as I write this he is down in the engine room trying to get the water maker, which was doused with salt water in the lazarette two nights ago, working. Salt water and electric motors don't usually get along well, so we are not optimistic.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Swimstep Issue

0900 position 46-03N 126-22W. Wind N at 12, seas confused.

Starr's short stay in Neah Bay worked to perfection. We got the last of our engine maintenance done, the entire crew had a nap, and we had a pre-ocean lunch of vegi pizza prepared by Donna. All this occurred while a front was passing overhead heading east, and by 130PM when we weighed anchor, the wind was calm and the sky was sunny.

We powered out of The Strait of Juan de Fuca, around Tatoosh Island, and into the Pacific. There was some swell left over from the wind ahead of the front, but nothing serious.

At 330PM the swim step bilge flooding alarm activated. Swimstep watertight integrity has been a challenge aboard Starr for some time. Like most swim steps, it is only a few inches above sea level in flat water. In any kind of seaway, water washes over it. The four foot long by fifteen foot wide swim step has two large hatches in the deck for access to the void below it for storing gear like barbecues and fenders. Keeping those hatches watertight has been a challenge for Don, who just had the hatch manufacturer replace the sealing gaskets a few days before our departure. It looked like the new seals were leaking, so Don and Clay spent an hour sealing the shut hatches with surgical tubing jammed in the gap between the hatches and the deck.

It got quite a bit rougher last night after dark. The sea state wasn't caused by the local wind, which was moderate and on the beam, but left over from weather that had occurred earlier elsewhere. The problem was that waves were coming from many directions at once. There were swells from ahead of us, from the port bow, and the port beam. Starr was being thrown all over the place, so we altered course to the south of our desired SW heading for an easier ride. It was tough anyway and many of the crew were seasick.

The rougher conditions increased the amount of water on top of both the swim step and aft deck. The temporary hatch repair job apparently wasn't working because the swim step continued to flood, and the lazarette, the area between the swim step and engine room was also flooding from water coming down its deck hatch as well. The lazarette is supposed to gravity drain into the engine room where any leakage would be removed by the engine room bilge pump, but the limber hole between the two compartments was apparently clogged. We started draining that compartment with a siphon. It was a busy night with flood alarms sounding at all hours, sick crew, etc.

Don went aft to look around this morning after first light to discover one of the swim step hatches wide open! It's locking latch had apparently come undone and the compressed air opening assist cylinder had pushed the hatch open. Well, that explained the leak....

Clay and Don got the swim step hatch shut and sealed the hatch into the lazarette with surgical tubing to stop that leak.

I came on watch at 8AM this morning to find a beautiful day and no alarms sounding. The seas have moderated a bit, nobody's sick, and the crew is catching up on sleep after a busy night. It is still too bumpy to come up to our desired heading, but we will be fine heading south towards the tropics for a while. We expect the seas to continue to moderate.

The repair to the lazarette hatch worked and no water is coming in there anymore. The swim step bilge pump is running continuously to remove the 500+ gallons of water that filled it. Unfortunately, there were some cardboard boxes in the swim step storage area and they have dissolved into muck which is clogging the bilge pump strainer. We are clearing the muck out of the strainer every hour so the pump can keep doing its job.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Underway

After completing Starr's inclining test we moved her back across the canal to her slip at SBMC. The last minute loading and unloading was completed and we cast off at 4PM for Hawaii.

It took about an hour to get through the locks connecting the Ballard Ship Canal with Puget Sound. I'd never been through a lock before, but it wasn't much different than the dry docks I worked on for twenty years as an engineer for the Navy. There were lots of tourists watching us as Starr was lowered the ten feet from the canal elevation to sea level.

Once out in Puget Sound we were on our way. The crew secured the fenders and dock lines and tidied the deck up for sea. It was a stunning evening with calm winds and clear skies as the sun set over the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula.

There is a lot of ship traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, our route to the ocean, so Don decided that it would be prudent to stand two person watches until we were well offshore. Clay and I were on watch at midnight when a 1000+ foot container ship passed us going in the other direction at fifteen knots. We were off Port Angeles at the time, and even though the ship passed two miles from us he blocked out a large portion of the lights on shore. Five minutes after he went by a strange bold line appeared on the radar that was approaching us rapidly from the direction of the ship. "Clay, I think that's his wake!" We had the infrared camera on to warn us away from any logs that might pop up ahead of us, and although it was pitch black outside, the infrared camera screen made it look like daylight. Sure enough, as the bold line approached Starr the screen showed a four foot breaking wave bearing down on us in the otherwise glassy calm. We held on as it hit our bow at an angle. Starr pitched, waking up the rest of the crew, but the stabilizers kept us from rolling. It reminded me of "The Poseidon Adventure" where a tsunami wave suddenly appeared on a calm sea to capsize an ocean liner. Our wave wasn't THAT big, and it didn't damage Starr, but a small sailboat lazing along on a flat calm evening without radar and infrared camera would likely have been caught unaware by the approaching wave with more dire consequences. Good thing we have all these tools on the bridge!

Our departure timing turned out to be perfect with respect to tides. We had an average two knots of push as we rode the ebb tide out of Puget Sound. Starr arrived at Neah Bay, a small protected hidey hole where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean just after 5AM. We anchored in the dark, and as the dawn broke found ourselves surrounded by sail and fishing boats also swinging to anchors in the bay.

Our nasty offshore weather is still there, but should be gone by noon today. We are taking the opportunity to finish up some last minute engine maintenance and catch up on sleep. We will likely weigh anchor at noon and be on our way.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Starr’s Stability Test

One of the last items on Starr's pre-departure checklist was an inclining test to determine the boat's stability.  Even though Starr has successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean once and the Pacific Ocean multiple times, Don has always wondered just how stable she really is.  How far can Starr heel over before she doesn't come back up?  This is something the naval architects can calculate by doing an inclining test.  They move known amounts of weight across the deck, measure how the boat heels as a result, and from that data, the boat's displacement, and the shape of the water plane can calculate Starr's vertical center of gravity.  They've got Starr's exterior hull shape modeled in their computer, and the computer can then calculate the vertical and horizontal center of buoyancy for any angle of heel.  The computer calculates the boat's righting moment, the tendency to return to vertical, for any angle of heel.  At some point the righting moment goes negative.  That's the point of no return - when the boat becomes more stable upside down than right side up.  You don't want to go there....

This morning we powered Starr across the canal to Pacific Fisherman Shipyard where the naval architects came aboard.  We loaded thousand pound test weights onto the upper deck and constructed a ten foot long pendulum that hung off of Starr's mast to measure our angle of heel.  The pendulum construction took the most time.  We had to find a wooden 4x4 in the yard, put a nail in the end of it, and tie it to the mast.  At the lower end of the pendulum ten feet below, the naval architects constructed a soap bath to dampen the movement of the weight hanging at the bottom......  All this was done to accurately measure the change in the boat's angle of heel as a result of moving the weights.  The whole process took about four hours, and then the naval architects went back to their office to work their magic.

I was a Naval Architecture major at UC Berkeley forty plus years ago, and I participated in a few inclining experiments on vessels.  We always used a water level to measure the change in heel, and it worked just fine.  We'd take a long length of clear PVC tubing, fill it with water, run it across the boat, tape the ends vertically to the bulkhead on either side of the boat, measure the horizontal distance between the ends of the tube, and the change in the levels of the water in the tube as the boat's heel changed due to moving the weights.  It takes five minutes to set up.  Calculating the boat's change in heel angle was the same simpIe trigonometry as using a pendulum.  This morning I asked one of the naval architects on Starr why we weren't measuring heel the easy way with a water level instead of doing it the hard way with a pendulum.  "That's not how they taught us to do it in school," was the answer.  

"Where did you go to school?" I asked.  

"Alexandria, Egypt", he replied.  Hmmmm.



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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pacific High

A couple of months ago I received a text from Don Stabbert, "Are you interested in helping bring Starr from Seattle to Honolulu in August?"  A quick check of the calendar and a consultation with Lori revealed no conflicts.  Don was thinking about a direct route home, right through the North Pacific high pressure area.  This is where the infamous Pacific garbage patch we are all reading about is supposed to be located.  I have been dying to know if it is real.  In my dozens of Pacific crossings I have hardly seen any significant garbage, and here is an opportunity to sail right through the reported location of its highest concentration.  I responded to Don with a short "Absolutely", and the die was cast.

Clay Hutchinson and Don's wife Sharry will also be aboard for the crossing, so it will be a reunion of the crew from last summer's passage from Hawaii to Dutch Harbor in Alaska.  Rounding out the crew is Donna Lee, a friend of the Stabberts from Waikiki Yacht Club.

I'm writing this from Starr's fly bridge on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  We are moored at the Salmon Bay Marine Center, a state of the art super yacht marina Don and Sharry built a few years ago on the Union Canal in Seattle.  Dozens of pleasure boats are passing behind us as they head up into Lakes Union and Washington or out into Puget Sound for the day. 

We've spent the last six days getting Starr ready for the passage.  New dinghy, new Bimini, fill fuel and provision, repair the air conditioning system, install new deck monitoring cameras, install new flopper stoppers, install storm windows, etc....  It was a long list and we are down to the last few items.  We hope to depart Tuesday.

There has been some time for fun too. Yesterday Ken Hilliard, one of my pre-2011 retirement Navy Drydock coworkers and his team, came over for beers and a boat ride up to Lake Union in Don's Duffy boat.  I had breakfast this morning with pal Wendell Gregory who lives on a boat just up the canal from Starr.  This afternoon Matt and Vicki Dyer are coming up from Gig Harbor for a visit.  Tomorrow we are back to work.

The weather forecast is looking pretty good. There will be a short lived southerly blowing for a few hours Wednesday just outside the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  That would be uncomfortable and impossible to avoid so I am hoping that part of the forecast changes.  Otherwise  it is looking like smooth sailing all the way to Hawaii.  Keep your fingers crossed!



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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dear Margo Vaughan

Dear Margo Vaughan,

I regret to inform you that your husband, Michael, will not be returning to Tasmania as planned to be reunited with you and your family.

Rest assured, this has nothing to do with his growing affection for "Heidi", the "Dutch Wife" he shares his cabin with aboard Moku pe'a.  He assures me it is a casual affair that means nothing to him.

You see, I have become addicted to his skill and creativity in the galley, his sophomoric sense of humor, his eternal optimism, and good cheer.  I have therefore decided to prevent his return home.  I have hidden his cell phone, passport, and credit cards so he will have no choice but to remain here in paradise.  Not to worry;  He has comfortable accommodations at the Coconut Island Brewery.

Sincerely, 

Noodle
Chief Brewer
Coconut Island Brewery

P.S.  Michael has been looking at some promising real estate on the Big Island.  Pack your bags.



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Monday, June 24, 2019

Homeward Bound

Monday, 4PM.  Tied to the bulkhead, Kaneohe Yacht Club

Late yesterday afternoon we were visited by three swimmers from Kawakiu.  Two were friendly ladies with fins and masks out for a snorkel, and the third was a guy without gear who swam over to say hello.  He'd swum about a quarter mile to get to us, and hung on the boarding ladder for a while as we talked.  He appeared to be drunk, or stoned, or both, so I was reluctant to invite him aboard.  "Can this boat make it to Mexico, man?" He asked.  Hmm.  Interesting question.  He was too exhausted to swim all the way back to Kawakiu, so he breast stroked into the beach at Kawakiu Iki and walked back from there.

Moku pe'a departed at 730 this morning headed for home.  With the wind well south of east we sailed across the Molokai Channel with the jib poled out and fishing lines out.  We caught a small aku mid channel, threw it back hoping for something better, and never caught anything else.  Sigh....

The wind died off of the Mokuluas, and we powered the last two hours into Kaneohe, arriving at 230PM.

So ends another Moku pe'a adventure.  Lori has been on Kauai with family and arrives home in the morning.  My daughter Kara is coming over tonight for "Meatless Monday" and we look forward to the stories of her victory last weekend in the Kaneohe to Kauai Race, washed down by some Poi Pounder Hawaiian Ale, of course.


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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Pictures of Waikolu



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Waikolu and Pelekunu

Sunday, 330PM.  At anchor in Kawakiu Iki, Molokai

The mighty Moku pe'a charged up around Molokai's southeast shore with sheets just eased in the Pailolo Channel.  We had our second strike of the day, but alas it too didn't hook up.  We passed between Mokuho'oniki Rock and Molokai, and bore away off Cape Halawa.  Michael made us bacon and avocado sandwiches using the bread he had baked earlier in the day.  After lunch we poled out the jib and sped down the north shore for the second time.

Halfway down the coast we were joined by a couple of large dolphin. They stayed with us for a long time, surfing on the swells next to us and inspecting our lures. Most interesting was when we would scare a flying fish into the air.  The dolphin would take off after the glider and follow it for fifty yards before returning to their escort position on Moku pea'a's quarter.   Our flyers all got away, but they would have been lunch had they muffed the takeoff. 

I had not been into Waikolu since Palani Ashford, Dave Schaefer, and I swam into the bay forty seven years ago.  We had spent three days hiking and swimming the twelve miles from Halawa Valley on the east end of the island, and still had five miles of walking remaining to cross the Kalaupapa Peninsula and climb the switchback trail to the top of the cliffs.  It was one of the longest hardest days of my life.  Good times!

The anchorage in Waikolu is probably the best and most protected on Molokai's north coast.  The views are spectacular, but there aren't any sea caves or waterfalls like you find in Keawanui.  Michael and I dinghied ashore and hiked around the boulder beach for a while.  Fortunately, we had a steady thermal land breeze blowing all night that held our stern facing the small wrap around wind chop so there wasn't any rocking and rolling.  No stern anchor necessary.

This morning we decided that the north shore needed more exploring, so up came the anchor and we powered three miles east to Pelekunu Valley.  I had never been in the bay there before, so we felt our way in and anchored in sand at the southeast corner of the inlet off a small waterfall at 830AM.  Pelekunu is not quite as protected as Waikolu, but it would be a fine anchorage when there is no swell running.  The surf breaking on the beach looked a bit more challenging than our adventure appetites were up to.  We opted to stay on the boat, read our books, and enjoy "Morning Tea", a Commonweath custom Michael practices and that I am quickly getting used to.  Our tea was accompanied by chocolate chip biscuits that Michael baked, of course.

We departed Pelekunu at 1030 and headed west wing and wing down the Molokai coast.  We caught another kawakawa in the same spot we got one a few days ago.  Maybe it was the same one?  We let him go, again.  

We had another strike as well, but generally fishing has sucked.  We've been changing out our lures every day and will do so again tomorrow.

Moku pe'a's destination was Kawakiu, a small bay tucked under Ilio Point on the northwest corner of Molokai.  When we got there we found a dozen trucks parked above the beach, a couple of power boats at anchor, and lots of people milling around.  Too much civilization for Moku pe'a's motley crew, so we anchored instead in the small inlet 1/4 mile to the west.  I'll call it Kawakiu Iki.  We have it all to ourselves and it is a nice calm spot.

Tomorrow marks the final chapter of this summer's cruise as we sail home to Kaneohe.  Pray for fish.



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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Lori Bay

Saturday, noon.  In the Pailolo Channel between Maui and Molokai.

As my good friend and frequent shipmate Clay Hutchinson likes to say, "Indecision is the key to flexibility."  We've embraced that philosophy here aboard the mighty Moku pe'a, and put it into action yesterday.  On the way back to Lono, we decided to mosey up to Lanai's Kaena Point and have a look at the anchorages there.  They were around the corner of the island and protected from the wind chop coming from the south, so we decided to give it a go and anchor.

There are two good anchorages, one I've called Kaena Point in the past, and one just further north that Lori and I anchored in once a few years ago.  Lori and I had just settled in for the night when I decided to listen to the VHF weather before going to sleep.  It forecast an 18 foot north swell arriving during the night.  Yikes!  We departed just after sunset and entered Lono Harbor on Molokai in the pitch black of night using flashlights to find the range markers..  Very exciting!

Michael and I decided to try the northern anchorage where Lori and I had so much fun, and put down bow and stern hooks to keep us centered in the small inlet. I've decided this beautiful spot should be called "Lori Bay" in honor of my beautiful wife and the exciting time we had there.

We launched the dinghy and went ashore to find the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian village with stone house foundations in tiers running up the hillside.  We also dinghied over to our usual anchorage at Kaena Point, only a few hundred yards to the south, and climbed around the heiau on the cliff there.

The forecast called for zero swell and southeast winds last night.  It looked safe being on the northwest corner of the island so we stayed the night and had a calm and pleasant evening.

Michael finally beat me at cribbage last night. He is still gloating today, and it is wearing a bit thin.

Michael liked the north shore of Molokai so much we decided to go back.  This morning we pulled the hook and headed east up the Kolohe Channel in flat seas and light easterlies.  We motorsailed up past Shipwreck Beach on Lanai until the wind filled in.  We are sailing upwind, but the seas are flat and the decks are dry.  We should round Cape Halawa on Molokai at about 1PM where we can slack sheets and head west.  Perhaps we will anchor in Waikolu tonight?



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Friday, June 21, 2019

Lono

Friday, 2PM.  Off Kaena Point, Lanai

Moku pe'a had a glorious sail yesterday past Ilio Point and the west shore of Molokai.  The trade winds died at Laau Point, as they usually do, and we motorsailed the rest of the way to Lolo Harbor on Molokai's southwest corner, arriving at 2PM.

We found the harbor nearly deserted; no other boats and only a single group picnicking at the beach on the western end of the breakwater.  The harbor was as calm as I've ever seen it, just a small swell and no surge in the basin.  I normally anchor out and dinghy in to shore, but with no surge it felt save to put an anchor down and tie the stern to a bollard out on the breakwater at the eastern end of the harbor.

At 330 Michael and I went for a hike to the top of the cliff overlooking Lono - a must do when visiting there.  It is a long, hot hike with frequent stops to remove kiawe thorns from our slippers.  A few photos of the boat, quick chat with loved ones because that's the only place nearby with cell phone connectivity, then back down the hill.  We also walked up the beach east of the harbor in search of glass balls.  We need to find one to make this voyage complete.  Tired and empty handed, we strolled back to the boat at 530 to find that four teen aged girls had parked their SUV right at our bollard and were grilling dinner 20 feet from Moku pe'a.

It was very strange.  We said hello politely as we passed them and boarded the boat, but they didn't engage in conversation.  The six of us were the only people within perhaps five miles in any direction, and they chose to set up their party spot right next to Moku pe'a.

Michael made a fantastic pizza for dinner.  We sat there eating our dinner and the girls sat there eating their dinner, each group trying to ignore the other.  After dinner they decided to do some jumping into the harbor off of the bollard.  We could tell that they had been doing this before we returned from our hike by the water splashed up on Moku pe'a and water on the bollard.  Rather than get the boat wet, I went ashore, told the girls getting ready to jump that, "I'll untie the boat so you gals can have some privacy."  They ignored me.  I let the boat drift out and swing to her anchor in the harbor, and they did their jumping thing from the bollard.

There were a dozen bollards around the harbor to jump from.  Why these kids picked the one next to Moku pe'a yet had no interest in communicating with the people they knew would be aboard is a mystery.  They packed up and left just after sunset.

This morning we sailed over to The Needles on Lanai's west coast.  The trades filled in like they normally do just outside Lono, but halfway across the Kolohe Channel a line of clouds passed over the boat and the wind shifted to the southwest.  Moku pe'a beam reached on starboard tack all the way to Needles where we found a lee shore and the conditions too rough to anchor.  Just after noon we turned around and are now headed back to Lono.  The trades are supposed to be south of east, but southwest?  We have seen the strangest weather this trip.  Global warming?  Climate change?




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Thursday, June 20, 2019

More Photos from the North Shore of Molokai





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Keawanui

Thursday10AM.  2 miles east of Ilio Pt., Molokai

Moku pe'a departed Honolua Bay just after dawn Wednesday after another calm night at anchor.  It was great to have a day relaxing in such a beautiful spot.

With a double reefed mainsail and reefed jib we charged across the Pailolo Channel and eased sheets as we bore off down Molokai's north shore.

There hasn't been much rain, so the waterfalls weren't putting out as much as I've seen them in the past.  Michael was stunned at the beauty and immensity of the cliffs.  

We jybed in and out of all of the valleys, Haka'ano, Wailau, and Pelekunu, before arriving at our destination for the day, Keawanui.  I regaled Michael with stories of my previous visits here, including the time Dave Schaefer, Palani Ashford, and I swam down the coast from Halawa to Kalaupapa with only an inner tube and an air matress for buoyancy.  We were seventeen years old and immortal, so we got away with it.  We hiked out the switchbacks behind Kalaupapa after three days, exhausted and starving.  It was fantastic.

Moku pe'a entered Keawanui Bay to find a small powerboat moored down by the waterfall that empties on the beach 1/4 mile west of the anchorage.  After we got settled in with bow anchor in 60' and stern anchor in the shallows next to shore, a father/son team in a tandem kayak paddled over for a chat.  They were up from Hawaii Kai on Oahu on their open whaleboat, were staying in Pelekunu Valley, and were just down at the waterfall for the day.

We launched the dinghy and powered over to the waterfall where we stopped to chat with the folks on the whaleboat.  As we were chatting some of the kids who were ashore came back in their kayaks.  They were pretty upset because a large rock had fallen from the cliff above the waterfall and put a hole in one of the kayaks.  Yikes!  That rock could have killed somebody.

Michael and I went ashore, and quickly moved out of the rockfall zone.  We swam in the pool and took pictures before heading back out and into the cave beneath Joyce Kainoa's house.  This is one of the best sea caves ever.  The entrance channel is only about 20 feet wide, but it is 40 feet deep and it is long which knocks the waves down before they get into the cave.  Once inside, the cave is about 50 yards deep, twenty feet wide, and sixty feet tall..  Very cool.

We hiked up to the Kainoa home overlooking our anchorage to see if anybody was there.  The place was deserted and falling apart.  Joyce and her husband gave us a tour of the estate thirty years ago when they were living there raising their children.  They had a small hydroelectric plant, taro fields, banana, papaya, citrus, and the house was in good shape.   I have heard that Joyce and her husband have since passed away.  It doesn't look like the kids have much interest in the place anymore.

Last night Michael made an awesome beef stroganoff for dinner.  Can it get any better?

The anchorage was a bit rocky rolly last night, but it was safe.  We got underway at first light this morning, and as I write this we are a couple of miles east of Ilio Point at Molokai's west end.  We are headed for Lono Harbor on the southwest corner of the island.

I've already lost one lure to something big and landed a 5 pound kawakawa, which I threw back.  We are hoping for ono, mahi, or ahi.




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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Honolua Bay

Tuesday, 4PM.  At anchor in Honolua Bay

Moku pe'a and her crew has spent the last 24 hours relaxing in Honolua Bay, and what a great place to do it.

Seven different large catamarans full of tourists have come and gone today, with no more than three moored in the bay behind us at any one time.  The people watching has been a lot of fun.  They've all gone for the day now and we have the bay all to ourselves again.

This down time has allowed Michael to get even more creative than he usually is in the galley.  Last night it was a beautiful chicken salad with cole slaw for dinner.  For tea this morning he made fresh scones.  Lunch today was bacon and avocado sandwiches.  The specially made hamburgers with egg, fresh made bread crumbs, onion, green onion, soyu, catsup, and spices is chilling in the refer for tonight's barbecue....  I've been doing the dishes.

We did some snorkeling, I cleaned Moku pe'a's bottom, and we took turns hiking up to the top of the hill overlooking the anchorage.  The view from up there was fantastic.  There was even time for a nap this afternoon.

Tomorrow we are off to the north shore of Molokai.  If all goes as planned we will be anchored in Keawanui Bay, halfway down the coast, for at least one night.  I'm pretty sure there is no cell coverage there so I won't be able to blog again until we emerge from the shadow of the highest sea cliffs on planet earth.



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Monday, June 17, 2019

West Maui

Monday, 4PM.  At anchor in Honolua Bay, Maui.

It was a bit rocky rolly in Olowalu, but the wind died off during the night and Moku pe'a's crew slept peacefully.  This morning Michael looked over the stern and saw a submerged mooring, similar to the one in Kealakekua Bay, right under our stern.  We couldn't see it in the fading light when we arrived the day before.  The ball was about six feet under water so Moku pe'a wouldn't have hit it, but our anchor chain could have easily fouled on it.  We were lucky to have missed getting caught on it.  I'd rather be lucky than good.

I'm not sure I'd go back to Olowalu.  There wasn't anything special about it, but it did provide a safe anchorage for the night.

We departed at 8 this morning, and powered north past Lahaina to Mala Wharf.  We found an empty mooring right off the wharf at 10AM, and the crew on the adjacent charter boat said we'd be fine using it for and hour, so we grabbed it.  We launched the dinghy, powered in to the landing, and walked across the street to Safeway to do some provisioning.

I'd stocked Moku pe'a with enough non-perishable food to last for the entire month long trip around the state.  However, as I mentioned earlier, Michael has taken over management of the galley.  He prefers to work with fresher foods, which is fine with me if we can reprovision every few days.  We were able to find well stocked stores in Hanalei and Kona.  Today's shopping expedition would be our last chance to provision before we get back to Kaneohe.  Our refrigerator is now full and we will be eating like kings until Moku pe'a gets home.  Noodle won't be losing any weight this trip.

At 11AM we slipped our mooring and powered north to Honolua Bay, doing some sailing along the way.  At 2PM we entered the bay and anchored in the sand in 20 feet of water 100 yards off the beach in front of three tourist  catamarans.  The cats stayed just long enough for us to inspect them thoroughly for talent, and then they left.  We now have the bay all to ourselves except for the tourists snorkeling off of the beach.  It is as calm here as I've ever seen it.

Michael and I have already been for our first snorkel.  He mentioned his amazement at the diversity of sea life here.

We have been moving every day since leaving Hanalei more than a week ago, and feel like giving Moku pe'a a break.  The old girl will likely stay put here for a couple of nights.




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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Alenuihaha

Sunday, 530PM.  At anchor in 25 feet, sand bottom, Olowalu, Maui.

Last evening's revenge cribbage game was one for the books.  Both Michael and I ended up in "stink hole", just one point shy of victory after counting out our hands.  Who ever scored the first point pegging in the next hand would win.  It was epic.

The trade winds usually die off after dark in Nishimura Bay, but they didn't last night.  It gusted to almost thirty knots all night long.  Michael and I took turns going forward to check the anchor line for chafe and easing it out a few inches each time.

Moku pe'a's 33 pound Bruce anchor and 70 feet of 3/8" chain at the end of her nylon rode held her securely like they always do, and we awoke at sunrise ready to face the Alenuihaha Channel.

After pulling up the hook we put three reefs in the mainsail and deep reefed the jib in anticipation of heavy winds. The wind angle on course was perfect, deep broad reaching but high enough to keep the jib full all the time.

The GRIB files showed the strongest winds on the Maui side of the channel, but we found that the winds were heavier near Nishimura Bay.  They probably averaged 25+, and never dropped below 20.  Moku pe'a loves that stuff, and she scooted across the channel completing the 42 mile crossing in 5 hours.

Moku pe'a passed a tug pulling a barge heading in the other direction and I spoke to her skipper on the radio.  They see conditions like this all the time, but he commented on how rough it was.

We had hoped to anchor for the night in La Perouse Bay, our normal stopping point after crossing the channel, but high surf there nixed that.  We continued on checking out Makena, which was also too bumpy, and took off across Maalaea Bay, where we saw 30 knots of wind.  Moku pe'a finally found a satisfactory anchorage off Olowalu.  The hook went down at 5PM after a long and tiring day.  It's my first time anchoring here.

It was a bit tense aboard the mighty Moku pe'a today after last night's cribbage game.  Each crew member treated the other warily, but with respect.  At the moment the crew is still on speaking terms.... barely....  Fortuitously, I am currently reading "Mutiny on the Bounty", which should provide practical guidance if the situation gets out of hand.




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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Honokahau Harbor

Saturday, 4PM.  At anchor in Nishimura Bay, North Kona coast.

It got a bit bumpier as the southwest swell picked up during the night, but we spent a pleasant evening on the mooring in Kealakekua Bay.  Early yesterday morning we dropped the ball and powered north to Honokahau Harbor, arriving about 10AM.

Our first stop was the fuel dock where we topped up our diesel and water.  From there we moved to the innermost end of the harbor and located our assigned slip.  We found Lei, the nice gal that runs the Harbor Master's office, in an air conditioned oasis close by.  We threatened to stay there with her all afternoon.  She typed rapidly for about 15 minutes to get us checked in.  It felt like we were applying for a mortgage.  When she was done she said, "That will be $26 please."  What a deal!  The typing effort alone was worth $50!

Greg Gillette, who lives in the hills above Kona, came down and picked us up at 1PM.  He was kind enough to invite us along on an excursion to his beach house in Puako, 20 miles up the coast.

Greg and I raced many miles together in the Atlantic and Pacific in the '70s and '80s.  Good times, and it was fun to reminisce and share the stories with Michael.  Greg's Puako home was beautiful, and we washed down the ocean view and sea stories with cold beer.

This morning we departed Honokahau at first light and headed north.  The wind filled in from the south off of Kiholo Bay, and we had a lovely sail up to Nishimura Bay.

This part of the coast can get interesting.  Sometimes the trade winds make it over the gaps between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, and between Mauna Kea and the Kohala Mountains.  One minute you are sailing along in a nice onshore thermal breeze, and the next you are getting blasted by wicked strong trade winds.

Up by Nishimura Bay it seems the trades like to fill in just before 2PM.  Today, right on schedule, they hit.  We were only about a mile from our anchorage at the time.  I saw them coming, and we got all of our sails down before we were blasted by 25+ knots.  We powered in and anchored in 34 feet of water over sand.  We are staying out where it is deep because the swell is supposed to come up again tonight.  






 
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Okoe Bay

Thursday.  2PM.  Motor sailing north along the Kona Coast.

We caught a nice ten pound aku yesterday just after I posted the blog.  Those lures Randy Reed gave us before Moku pe'a's 2014 trip south are still working!

Moku pe'a arrived at Okoe Bay at 630PM Wednesday while the sun was still up, and we anchored in 30 feet of water just off the beach.  Michael made a fantastic spaghetti bolognaise dinner, and we both slept like babies.

I was disappointed to awake to an empty anchorage.  In all of my previous visits to Okoe we have been surrounded by spinner dolphin at sunrise.  At least we were buzzed by a pod of them twenty miles offshore the day before.

After breakfast we launched the dinghy and went ashore for a hike.  The abandoned Hawaiian villages along this coast are spectacular.  Smooth stone paved walking paths in the A'a lava, house foundations, brackish water wells, even an old rock slide all appear like their ancient residents walked away yesterday.  We returned to the boat from our hike about noon.

A big south swell is forecast to arrive tonight.  I have consulted with local experts Greg Gillette and Clay Hutchinson, and have learned that the Kona coast is not where you want to be in a big south swell.  We are slowly moseying north, and plan to pick up the Fairwind's mooring in Kealakekua Bay after they depart for the day at 430PM.  We think we'll be ok there tonight when the swell comes up.  If it's too uncomfortable, we'll ditch the mooring and lay offshore.   We've organized a slip for tomorrow night in Honokahau Harbor north of Kailua Kona.



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Kealakekua Bay

Friday.  11AM.  In a slip in Honokahau Harbor, Kailua Kona.

We picked up the Fairwinds' mooring in Kealakekua Bay at 5PM after they left for the day yesterday.  We were relaxing, and Michael was below creating a culinary masterpiece when a two story tour boat complete with water slide came around the point and into the bay at 6PM.

We quickly dropped the mooring and powered out into the bay assuming they were coming in to pick up the ball.  Keep in mind we had no right to be on the mooring.  I just like to use it when its owners are gone.  It is the only legitimate mooring in Kealakekua Bay, and you are not allowed to anchor there.

It turned out to be a sunset dinner cruise, and they had no intention of picking up the mooring.  We stood off anyway, and watched them as the skipper described Captain Cook's demise directly ashore.  When he was done with his talk, he invited his 50 guests to have dinner at the buffet on the lower deck.  It was a feeding frenzy of epic proportions, rows of fat tourists shoveling food onto their plates and into their mouths. We haven't yet seen schooling fish in a frenzy like this so far, but at least we've seen the human equivalent.  They left after about an hour, we picked up the mooring again, and had a pleasant evening.

We played our first two games of cribbage after dinner.  I will say no more than Michael is now out for revenge.

Michael is the ultimate shipmate.  I discovered this when we were sailing together on Van Diemen in 2017.  His enthusiasm and positive attitude are boundless, and he is an excellent seaman.  He has assumed control of the galley and provisions, which is fine with me.  He is creative, organized, and fast.  We have been eating like kings.  I am lucky to have him aboard, and glad to share the experience with him.



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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Kona Landfall

Wednesday.  Powering in to Okoe Bay, Kona Coast, Big Island.  ETA 8PM

Moku pe'a departed Electric Beach at 6AM on Tuesday morning and headed south past Barbers Point.  The trade winds filled in as forecast, and with single reefed main and jib we close reached out into the Molokai Channel.  Surprisingly, the wind died off in the lee of Molokai just after noon, and we motor sailed until we entered the Alenuihaha Channel at midnight.

We saw half a dozen bright orange twenty foot long sailing drones spread out over Penguin Banks west of Molokai.  Does anybody know what they are doing out there?

The Alenuihaha Channel lived up to its reputation.  We had 25 knots of wind but soldiered through with double reefed main and jib.  A couple of waves made it under the dodger and down our shirts, but it wasn't as rough as I've seen it in the past.

At 6AM this morning we sailed out of the channel and into the notorious Kona flats where the engine came on and has been on ever since.  This is one area we knew we'd be powering.

At 9AM I looked up and saw a FAD buoy directly ahead of us 200 yards off.  We had to alter course to miss it.  Good thing I looked.  We were more than 30 miles off shore and didn't expect to have to avoid anything out here.  I had a fishing line out as we passed the buoy and we could see fish feeding on the surface, but nothing took the bait.

We are racing to get into Okoe before dark tonight, but no worries if we don't.  Matt Dyer and I anchored in Okoe in pitch blackness when we arrived there from Tahiti on Moku pe'a in 2011.  We can do it again if we need to.

Sorry I didn't provide details on the boom repair earlier.  Mike Malone built a 20" long custom aluminum sleeve that fit snugly inside the boom and overlapped 10" on each side of the break.  Then he put the boom back together and welded it at the break.  It looks great, and appears to be stronger than the original.  

I'm a little bit worried about Michael.  He has grown extremely fond of his "Dutch Wife", a four foot long pillow, that shares his bunk.  This morning he asked me, as the ship's captain, to officially marry the two of them.  I haven't heard him whispering sweet nothings to her/it yet, but I expect that will come with time.




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