Thursday, August 6, 2020

Drone Videos from the North Shore of Molokai

If you enjoyed my recent "Around the State" cruise blog, I'm confident you will like the drone videos Jonathan Hutchinson's shot in the Keawanui and Waikolu anchorages.  Check them out at:

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


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


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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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Kua Bay

Bo was staring intently at our lures off of Kailua, and a fish streaked towards one of them and.... nothing.  That's the closest we've come to catching a fish around here.

Honokahau Harbor went smoothly.  Water filled, garbage dropped, beer and ice purchased, Steve Halsey, pal of Clay's, taken aboard, and we were off.

The local knowledge brain trust aboard Puanani had a couple of potential anchorages queued up, but the first one we poked into, Kua Bay, looked good so we stopped there.

Kua Bay is a small but beautiful inlet a few miles north of Keahole Point.  White sand abounds from the beach out into the anchorage so the holding was great.  A light thermal onshore breeze was blowing when we arrived, so the anchors went down well offshore.  All was tranquil and beautiful.

At about 530PM the trade winds filled in from the opposite direction with a vengeance.  The boats swung 180 degrees which put them well offshore, outside the protection of the little bay, and into the trade wind chop from the Alenuihaha Channel.  It was rock and roll all night long.

All of the anchorages between Keahole Point and Kawaihae suffer from this potential exposure to the trade winds.  If you want to stop along the way, you may have to deal with this discomfort.

The wind and waves didn't stop  the squadron officers from gathering to enjoy cocktails and pupu aboard Maka'oi'oi at sunset.

At sunrise this morning we were visited by a couple of pods of spinner dolphin.  Dolphin go great with coffee.

We got an early start this morning and as I write this we are pounding along upwind with sails reefed heading for the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor.  We should arrive before noon.

And finally, today's haiku submissions:

Blessed to have this wife!
Married above my station
I am a reacher!

Why no catch fishes
It is battle of wishes
Maybe fish too smart

Constantly trying

Hand lines, course and depth correct

Fish just will not bite

Bo learning cribbage

Drops the first three games and then

Kicks Noodle's butt twice


Hualalai, Kohala

Watching over fleet

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Red Hill Anchorage

The anchorage in front of Clay's pal Bob's house was tight and it it was difficult to find sand to drop the anchor into, but once we got secured it turned out to be a lovely spot. 

Bob paddled a SUP out for cocktails aboard Puanani.  He departed at sunset and the Puanani officers dinghied over for dinner aboard Maka'oi'oi.  Marcy put out a 4th of July dinner - ribs, baked beans, grilled Teri beef and grilled egpgplant.  Awesome.

We agreed that all of last night's haikus were great, so I thought I'd share them.  In no particular order and authors to remain anonymous:

Maka'oi'oi on hook
Green flash no show tonight
Life with boys is goo!

He stands on the beach
Minding our own bidness ya'll
Get fuck outta here!

Upcoast power done
Maka'oi'oi anchor snug
Under red hill cliff

COVID staycation
Cruising Hawaii with friends
As good as it gets

Mauna Loa views
Healthy coral strewn bottom
Tranquil Okoe Bay

This morning Clay and Mark got up before first light to take Puanani out trolling for Ono.  The theory was that Ono feed at dawn, and it they went fishing at that time they'd have a better chance of catching one.  

No luck though.  They came back empty handed so we pulled Maka'oi'oi's anchor and the fleet moseyed north to Honokahau Harbor where we filled water and fuel, got rid of trash, and replenished our beer and ice supply.  Puanani also picked up a new crew member, Steve Halsey, a pal of Clay's.

As I write this we are poking along north of Keahole Point looking for an anchorage for the night.  This is Clay and Steve's stomping ground, so they are in charge of selecting a good one.


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Monday, July 6, 2020

Moseying Up the Kona Coast

Underway, heading north.

Yesterday afternoon's experiment with the "Skorkle" was a success.  Marcy and Clay gave it a try and it functioned just fine.  It was a lot of work to pump air into the tank with the hand pump though.  The crews of both boats pumped like maniacs for about fifteen minutes and got about two minutes of skorkeling out of it.  Not very efficient.  The group decided that it would be a great tool in an emergency, but might not be too practical for recreational use.

The squadron's officers enjoyed cocktails and dinner aboard Puanani last evening.  The itinerary going forward was discussed, and we decided to try out a new anchorage in front of a house owned by one of Clay's pals next.  It is located just a couple of miles past Kealakekua Bay.  Kealakekua is beautiful and historic, but we have to sneak in and sneak out during non-business hours to avoid getting cited by DLNR for being there.  I've always gotten away with it, but it's better to avoid the risk if we can find a place nearly as good nearby.

I think Clay has decided that the motley group of officers that command the squadron need a bit of culturing.  He has proposed "poetry night" a couple of times and received something less than an enthusiastic response from us heathens.  To prod us along, he has read a Robert Service poem at two of our squadron dinners.  It was "The Killing of Sam McGrew" a few nights ago on Niihau, and last night "The Cremation of Sam McGee".  The group had decided on a compromise, and going forward each squadron officer will recite a haiku they have written especially for the occasion at dinner every evening.

We had time for a snorkel this morning before getting underway.  The water was warm, super clear, and full of fish and coral.

As I write this, we are moseying along up the Kona coast under power with two fishing lines out.  Puanani is guarding our port quarter from any pirate activity that might come from that direction.  It is a beautiful sunny Kona day with a barely perceptible sea breeze blowing.  Life is goo.

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Photos from Okoe Bay

Ancient Hawaiian house ruins

Playing with Bo's new "skorkle"
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Okoe Bay

At anchor in Okoe Bay, Big Island

At 230PM yesterday I awoke from my nap, went up on deck, and saw Puanani powering into Okoe Bay about 2 miles away.  A few minutes later Bo and I pulled Maka'oi'oi's anchor and powered the mile to Milolii where he waited offshore in the big boat while I took the dinghy in to get Marcy.  Our timing was perfect.  She and I arrived at the small boat landing simultaneously.  Being 4th of July, and a beautiful day, there were about fifty people swimming and jumping off the concrete pier.  I couldn't power into the pier without risking chopping some little kid up, so I killed the engine fifty feet out and paddled in.  The transfer of Marcy, bags of gear, ice, and provisions from concrete pier to dinghy and dingy to Maka'oi'oi went seamlessly.  Nothing and nobody dropped overboard - a minor miracle, and we were quickly on our way to Okoe.  Maka'oi'oi arrived there at 330 to find Clay and Mark still screwing around with Puanani's anchor.  We got lucky on Maka'oi'oi and had a good set on the first go.

Team Covid Staycation Cruise had cocktails aboard Puanani to celebrate a successful enjoyable passage and returned to Maka'oi'oi for an outstanding chili dinner.

The water here in Okoe is the clearest I've ever seen, the corals vibrant, and there are lots of fish.  This morning found the crews of both boats swimming and snorkeling around the bay.  Clay found a mooring chain on the bottom closer to the beach so they moved Puanani to it.

Some of the gems of this area are the ancient Hawaiian ruins that abound.  These relics haven't been destroyed because there is no road access and it is private property.  Right off the beach is a stone lined brackish water well that was unfortunately destroyed by the 2011 Fukushima tsunami.  I was lucky enough to see and photograph the well when it was in good shape.  A mile to the south lies a 50 yard long rock slide and a number of stone house foundations and rock walls.  The area is so well preserved that it looks as if the residents just disappeared recently.  There are also a couple of rock lined brackish waters wells that are in good condition.

Late this morning the Maka'oi'oi crew hiked down to have a look at the ruins.  I've seen them a dozen times, and never tire of them.  It was Bo and Marcy's first visit.

This afternoon the squadron's officers are playing with Bo's new "Skorkle", an underwater breathing apparatus.  One can't dive as deep or as long as with a typical scuba tank, but the draw is the ability to refill the air tanks on board the boat with a hand pump.  "Skorkle" and I have become quite close as we have been sharing a bunk for the past couple of weeks.
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Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Smoothest Crossing Ever

The trade winds slowly filled in the Alenuihaha Channel, but they never got above nine knots, and the seas were almost Kaneohe Bay smooth.  Maka'oi'oi charged across the channel on a close reach in unbelievably stunning conditions.  This channel is one of the roughest in the world, but we caught it on one of its best days ever.

The boobies seem to like Maka'oi'oi.  Just before sunset we had two of them land on the bow pulpit for the night.  They were gone at dawn this morning, and fortunately they didn't make any deposits while in residence.

At 8PM we sailed out of the Alenuihaha and into the lee of the Big Island.  It is usually a big void of air behind 14,000 foot Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, but sometimes there is wind there, and this was one of those times.  After  a couple of hours of powering the wind filled in from the southwest at 14 knots, and we screamed toward Okoe for six hours.  The wind died again, then filled from the north.  That breeze didn't die off until we were just 5 miles from the coast.

I came on watch at 6AM this morning to find Mauna Loa looming large ahead of us.  I spoke to Lori as soon as we got in cellphone range.  It was great to talk to her.  She has been following Puanani's progress on their tracking page, and she told me that they are 30 miles directly behind us.  

At 815 this morning Bo came up on deck and noticed something floating behind Maka'oi'oi.  I spun the boat around thinking it might be a glass ball.  It turned out to be a hawksbill turtle lounging on the surface.   He had a grotesque hump on his back.  I've seen that before at the turtle rescue center in Marathon, Florida.  Some turtles get a bubble of gas trapped in their shells which causes the hump, makes them more buoyant than normal, and prevents them from diving.  Poor guy, he seemed fine but didn't dive when we approached.

Shortly thereafter we discovered a personal fish aggregation device (FAD) buoy about seven miles off of the coast.  We could see fish below it as we passed but we didn't hook up.  We also passed the official FAD buoy three miles outside of Milolii.  Once again, no hook up.  It looks like we will need to count on Puanani if we want fresh fish for dinner.

We anchored in Honomalino Bay at 1030AM.  This is a lovely anchorage about a mile south of Milolii.  We chose to anchor here because we will be picking Bo's wife Marcy up at Milolii Landing this afternoon.  After we gather Marcy we will head the three miles south to meet up with Puanani in Okoe Bay.

It took just over two days to complete the 300 mile passage from Niihau to the Big Island.  I've made that trip more than ten times now, and this was the most pleasant weather, and smooth sailing, I've ever seen.

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Boobies on Bo’s Boat

1100 position 20-21N 157-58W. 135 miles from Okoe Bay

We got lifted as expected and by 4pm were headed directly towards our destination at Okoe Bay. Kauai and Niihau disappeared behind us and Puanani sailed over the horizon to the west. We were all alone on the open sea.

Our heading takes us far enough west of the Hawaiian Island chain that we won't see any other islands until the Big Island comes into view tomorrow.

We are using the Swedish watch system of 6-6-4-4-4 hour watches each day. With an odd number of watches every 24 hour period, we end up on a different schedule each day. Bo took yesterday's afternoon watch, I was on from 6-10PM, he was on from 10-2AM, and so it goes.

During my early evening watch a flock of boobies decided that Maka'oi'oi would be a good place to spend the night. One tried landing on the top of the mast, bent the Windex wind direction indicator so it doesn't work anymore, and departed. One successfully landed on the bow pulpit and spent the night. The third decided that the wind generator would be a good place to land.

That turned out to be a bad decision. I heard him make contact with the spinning carbon fiber blades and splash into the sea behind the boat. I don't think the poor guy made it. The wind generator survived, but it is vibrating a bit now.

It was beautiful night sailing in 15 knots, smooth seas, and a full moon.

At the 10PM watch change it started pouring as we entered the lee of Oahu. We powered for two hours until we got into the Molokai Channel and the skies cleared for the rest of the night. The engine just went on again as we are dealing with the lee of Maui. We should be well into the Alenuihaha Channel during my afternoon watch.

We expect to make landfall in Kona tomorrow morning.

No word from Puanani. We've tried the VHF radio, but perhaps we are too far apart.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Big Island or Bust!

1400 position 21 24N 159 51W. Close hauled, port tack. 256 miles to go to Okoe Bay

The officers aboard Puanani were piped aboard Maka'oi'oi for cocktails and dinner as the sun neared the horizon. Bo decided to entertain two nights in a row since all of our food is chilled and might spoil sooner than Puanani's frozen cuisine.

The islanders returned to check on us just before sunset as we were enjoying our rum and tonics. We made it an early evening as we planned a dawn departure the next day.

We all awoke at sunrise after a peaceful evening, pulled our hooks, and headed south along Niihau's western coast. I sailed close to the shore along this coast in each of the seven "Around the State" races I participated in, and realized then that this would be a great cruising destination. It hasn't disappointed during any of my five visits since.

The trade winds fills in just before we made it to Niihau's southernmost point, and we punched out into the channel with full sail set. It was blowing about fifteen knots from the east, with bumpy seas. Close hauled we were still thirty degrees below our course to Okoe Bay on the Big Island, but this is what typically happens. The wind backs as we get deeper into the Kauai channel allowing us to come up to our desired heading. We are already getting lifted. As I write this we are just ten degrees below our course to the mark.

We put a reef in the jib when the wind picked up about 11AM, and Maka'oi'oi is barreling along in her element. The seas have flattened out, and there is very little water on deck.

We couldn't have asked for better conditions, and are hoping it stays like this all the way to the Big Island.

Puanani is paralleling our course about a mile to the west. We've been speaking with them periodically on the radio, and they are loving the conditions too. They landed a fish off of Niihau and are preparing it for dinner.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


At anchor in Keawanui Bay, Niihau.

At 4PM yesterday it had cooled off to the point that we could venture ashore without being scorched by the sun. Looking like the invasion of Normandy on D-day, the crews of the squadron made a simultaneous dinghy landing on the sand beach directly inshore of the armada.

We started wandering north along the rocky shore, and just fifty yards from the dinghies Bo nearly stepped on a napping monk seal. Bo was far more startled than the seal was, and we quickly retreated to give the animal some space. Monk seals are amazingly camouflaged when lying on the basaltic rocks along the shore, and it is easy to walk right by them without noticing their presence. We counted a total of nine seals yesterday, and there were probably a few more that we missed.

The other form of wildlife abundant on this end of the island is pigs. We counted eight up on the open plain above the beach. They must be hunted, because the herd took off when they saw us.

No glass balls, but we collected some beautiful shells and had a pleasant hour long hike along the shore. Clay found what we think might be the bone structure from a monk seal flipper.

The fleet's officers were enjoying pre-dinner pupu and cocktails aboard Maka'oi'oi when we noticed a Jeep ashore. We've been spotted, and our forays ashore may be over. No matter, this has been a spectacular anchorage, and the boys have loved it.

Bo served up a magnificent competition quality chili last night, raising the bar once again. What will happen next?

Niihau lies in the lee of Kauai when the trade winds are blowing, and the local wind can come from every direction. That's exactly what happened last night, and the fleet was glad that our anchors were well set in an area with 360 degree swinging room. The shifting winds got up to nearly fifteen knots after dark, more than I would have expected.

After sunrise today Clay noticed a huge ulua under Puanani, and we were treated to a monk seal diving and feeding at a coral head behind the boats for most of the morning.

At 11AM the squadron got underway to do some exploring. The crew of Puanani spent about half an hour screwing around getting their anchor unwrapped from the rock outcroppings. I think perhaps Puanani liked the Pu'ukole Point anchorage and didn't want to leave.

At 1230 the fleet anchored off of Keawanui Bay where, 36 years ago, I collected sixty glass balls on the beach. Shortly after the squadron was secured a school of spinner dolphin came by to pay their respects, followed by a large Jeep ashore. It is nice to know the local residents are concerned for our safety.

We'll depart in the morning for the Big Island, and the next couple of days could be tough as we work our way through the channels between and the lees below the other islands. The weather is looking good with moderate trade winds forecast, but we will be busy with only two of us aboard each boat. I hope to be blogging daily, but I won't if I am too busy or too tired.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Pu’ukole Point

At anchor under Pu'ukole Point, Niihau

Communications with the rest of the world requires careful consideration on a cruising boat. Cell phone voice and data is the most convenient method when in the US and close to civilization. When that isn't an option, more elegant solutions must be found.

I have a satellite telephone on Moku pe'a that we used for both voice and data on our 2011 and 2014 South Pacific cruises. That is vintage technology though, and most boats now, including Maka'oi'oi, use Iridium Go!, a satellite communication hotspot good for both voice and data. The Go! is about the size of a very small 500 page paperback book. Apple products, like the iPhone and iPad, communicate through the Go! to the Outside world via voice, text, and email.

We lost cell phone service yesterday on the Napali coast, so my previous blog was sent out this morning via Maka'oi'oi's Go! We don't have cell service here on Niihau either, and won't have it on the 3 day passage to the Big Island. We'll be using the Go! until we get cell service on the Kona coast.

After a peaceful night at anchor off Nualolo, the fleet rallied at 7AM and headed for Niihau. The wind was light, and seas were mild, so we powered all the way to Lehua Rock where we circled around over some fishing spots that looked promising and took pictures of each other's boats in front of the scenic keyhole in the crater. Maka'oi'oi caught a small kawakawa, and Puanani got skunked.

We arrived at the Pu'ukole Point anchorage and had our hooks down at 1230PM. It is as calm here today as I've ever seen it. As we powered in I could see a monk seal feeding at a coral head we passed, and there is a monster seal basking on the beach directly inshore of us. We will wait until it cools off later this afternoon to go ashore to hike down the beach and look for glass balls.

The squadron has been alternating hosting dinner service for the fleet's officers since we arrived in Hanalei. It has worked out spectacularly with first two nights of steak, and then Blossom's awesome beef stew last night. Tonight is Maka'oi'oi's turn, and Bo currently has his head buried in the ship's refer trying to figure out how to one-up the cuisine on Puanani.

Haena and Nualolo

At anchor off of Nualolo Kai State Park.

Mark had a dawn patrol surf session at the Hanalei bowl this morning while the rest of us were trying to wake up. After he returned we got the fleet ready for sea and pulled up our anchors at 8AM.

The trade winds were nonexistent last night, and quite light this morning so we powered three miles to the keyhole anchorage in the Haena reef, dropping our anchors there just after 9AM.

The DLNR regulations allow day anchoring only in Haena, so it was our plan to spend a few hours there and then sail down the Napali coast to Nualolo Kai. Clay, Bo and I got our swims in and at about 1030AM an irate local showed up on the beach and screamed at us to "Get the f*** out of here! The anchorage is closed!"

He continued yelling and acting aggressively for about half an hour. Every sentence included at least one F word and he was extremely aggressive and emotional, so I don't believe he was a government official. I have studied the anchoring regulations carefully for almost forty years, and have anchored in Haena four times previously without problems. Perhaps this is a Covid thing, and the locals are taking the law into their own hands. In any case, based on the way this guy was acting, we were afraid that he would go home and come back with a gun, so we departed Haena a bit ahead of schedule.

The light trade winds died completely just west of Haena, so we motor sailed slowly down the coast as close in as possible. The Napali coast cliffs, waterfalls, and caves were stunning. Bo and I even managed to land a two pound reef fish, which we tossed back because neither of us knew what it was. We dropped our anchors off of Nualolo about 1PM.

Nualollo Kai State Park is a real gem. Located at the western end of Kauai's Napali coast, the anchorage is protected from the trade wind swell by the only coral reef on this part of the island. The snorkeling is excellent, and Bo and I saw a huge school of convict tang as soon as we got into the water. We snorkeled ashore, where the remains of an ancient Hawaiian village can be found. Rock walls, terraces, house and animal pen remnants, and brackish water wells can be seen. I believe the village is in such good condition because it is so isolated. It is only accessible from the sea, so not many people visit. At the far end of the beach we found five huge turtles and a monk seal resting on the beach.

After returning to Maka'oi'oi, we started the process of turning Bo into a cribbage player. Now that he is retired, he needs to take up more of these leisurely pastimes.

Monday, June 29, 2020


At anchor in Hanalei Bay

Our intrepid crews enjoyed a long night of much needed sleep in a calm anchorage and awoke refreshed and ready to adventure.

No voyage to Hanalei is complete without a foray into the darkest interiors of Kauai via the Hanalei river.  After breakfast the crews of both boats boarded their dinghies vowing to delve deeper into Kauai's unexplored wilderness than any before us.  Feeling as Lewis and Clark must have, we pushed in over the bar, around Black Pots beach, past the Dolphin restaurant, under the one lane Hanalei Bridge, and deep into the hau forest.  After proceeding a couple of miles upstream the waterway was narrowed by dense forest to the point that our small inflatable boats could proceed no further.  We claimed this wild and untamed wilderness in the name of Kaneohe Yacht Club, dedicated the journey to our lovely wives who are undoubtedly pining away for us at home, and turned around.

Shortly thereafter Bo's new outboard engine sputtered to a stop, and we discovered that the gas tank was empty.  If I recall 7th grade history correctly, the same thing happened to Lewis and Clark!  Fortunately for us, Puanani's dinghy had plenty of gas and they were able to tow us back to civilization.

The squadron stopped on the way back to the anchorage for shaved ice at Jojo's to make up for the humiliation of being towed out of the wilderness.

We all decided that a quiet afternoon aboard was just what was needed after all that excitement.

At 5PM I looked up to see The Mighty Starr powering into Hanalei Bay!  Frequent readers of this blog will recall that Starr was the 78 foot power boat that Clay and I voyaged on to Alaska in 2018 and back to Hawaii on in 2019.

Don and Sharry, Starr's owners, wasted no time in getting anchored, launching their dinghy, and coming over to say hello and invite us all over for sunset cocktails.

The crews of Puanani, Maka'oi'oi, and Pazzo converged on Starr shortly thereafter where we all enjoyed catching up with Don and Sharry and watching the day end.  No green flash tonight, but it was magical anyway.  

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Kauai Channel

Kara prepared an outstanding kale salad and grilled vegis dinner for the four of us aboard Maka'oi'oi in Waimea Bay.  It was an early meal so we could get cleaned up and underway for Kauai before dark.

The fleet raised their anchors at 630PM, and we powered in next to the beach so Marcy would have an easy swim to shore.  Single reefed mainsails were the unanimous call for the crossing.  Once clear of the land the fifteen knot trades filled in and stayed with us most of the night.

Maka'oi'oi and Puanani are amazingly similar in speed, and we could see each other's lights close by all night long.  It was a broad reach across the channel, and we poled out the jib on Maka'oi'oi just before midnight to allow us to sail deeper.  At sunrise we were about ten miles from Kauai, and just 1/4 mile apart.

The fishing lines went out at first light on both boats, but neither had any luck. 

The squadron skimmed along the coast next to Kilauea Light and into Hanalei dropping the anchor at 830AM.   It was great to see pals Willy and Cindy aboard the Oyster 48 Pazzo as we entered the anchorage.  We last saw the Cape Horn veteran cruisers when they were visiting Kaneohe Yacht Club a couple of weeks ago.

After breakfast, a nap to catch up on sleep, and a quick cribbage game with Kara, it was time to get her in to catch a bus to Lihue for her flight back to Oahu.  This morning's cribbage game was for the championship.  We had been tied at a game apiece but Kara prevailed and eked out a win.  I will get her next time.

Mark went surfing, Bo played with his new outboard engine, and I went to visit friends Mitch and Jenna Haynie who live just off of the beach here in the bay.

Tonight the crews of both boats enjoyed a lovely steak, mushroom, asparagus, and salad dinner aboard Puanani.    The bar has been set pretty high, and the Maka'oi'oi crew will be hard pressed to top it tomorrow.
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Friday, June 26, 2020

The squadron in Waimea Bay

Bruce Fleming found this webcam photo of Puanani and Maka'oi'oi on the internet
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Waimea Bay

At anchor in Waimea Bay, Oahu

Our mirror smooth anchorage disappeared during the night when a small north swell came up.  It is nothing to be concerned about, but the waves reflecting off of the beach and surrounding headlands create a chop that makes the boat rock and roll a bit. This is more like the Waimea I remember.

The faulty PV system proved to be a loose plug, so that is resolved.

Maka'oi'oi's electrical system gremlins just won't leave her alone.  Bo discovered alarmingly low battery voltage during the night and we had to run the engine twice to charge the batteries.  The load (refrigerator and anchor light) was minimal, and we should have been able to go for a week without recharging.  This morning we isolated each of the three new house batteries in turn and ran the boat's systems off a single battery to test each one.  All proved to be fine.  The electrical system seems to be working fine today with the wind and solar chargers generating, so we are going to continue on our way and keep trying to figure out what's going on.

Clay and Kara had a long swim this morning. The water is a bit murkier than it was yesterday, and I just don't feel comfortable in deep murky water, so I opted to stay on the boat.

Bo and Kara are currently ashore with the inflatable SUP meeting Marcy who drove up with some additional supplies.  She will join us for an early dinner and head back to shore before the fleet departs at sunset for Kauai.

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Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Fleet Sets Sail

Emulating Columbus and Magellan before us, our small squadron set sail on its voyage of adventure early this morning with all systems functioning properly.  Bo had forgotten his cell phone at home, so Maka'oi'oi was about a half hour later than Puanani in casting off.

The trade winds were blowing with a vengeance, so we prudently tied a reef into the mainsail as we hoisted it, and only unrolled a scrap of jib to speed us along on the broad reach to Waimea Bay.  Puanani was similarly reefed and both boats had a quick, pleasant, and scenic sail down the coast.  The wind always peaks off of Kahuku (they put the windmills there for a reason), and Puanani reported seeing 37 knots.  Neither boat caught any fish.  We never caught Puanani, but we cut the corner on them during the jybe off of Kahuku and sailed a shorter distance.  We gained a little bit but it seemed like both boats were sailing at about the same speed.

Puanani and Maka'oi'oi are now anchored 200 feet apart right in the middle of Waimea Bay.  We are the only boats here, and it is as flat as I have ever seen it.  We will spend a day here and then depart tomorrow at sunset for Kauai.

Did I mention that all systems were working?  Never mind.  We've noticed the past couple of days while wrestling with the alternator that the recently installed photovoltaic system on Maka'oi'oi was spending more time in "sleep" mode than Rip Van Winkle.  I dug into it this afternoon, and the system is dead, not sleeping.  We will look into the problem tomorrow.

Both boats are settling quickly into to cruise mode.  We busted out some beers after the anchor went down to celebrate cheating death one more time.  Kara, Clay, and I have had a swim to the beach, and Kara has already kicked my okole at cribbage.

Puanani at anchor in Waimea Bay
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Staycation Voyage

My U.C Berkeley fraternity brother, Transpac race shipmate, and 40+year friend Bo Wheeler retired earlier this year with a short term goal of sailing his Sabre 38 sloop, Maka'oi'oi, south to French Polynesia.  Over a bottle of scotch one night, Bo's buddies Clay Hutchinson, Mark Logan, and I decided that we needed to help Bo get Maka'oi'oi to Tahiti, and Bo agreed.

The voyage south was supposed to take place in May, but Covid 19 shut down all international travel plans and we had to come up with an alternative adventure.  We decided that a three week sail around the State of Hawaii would fill the bill after the inter-island travel quarantine was lifted.  Two boats are more interesting than one, so Mark will be sailing his Beneteau 39, Puanani, in company with Maka'oi'oi.

The fleet was supposed to depart Kaneohe Yacht Club this morning, but Bo discovered a problem with the engine driven alternator aboard Maka'oi'oi yesterday, and we've been scrambling ever since to sort it out.  The problem has been resolved, and if nothing else breaks we will be departing tomorrow morning.

The squadron will head first to Waimea Bay on Oahu's north shore where we will spend a day before the overnight jump to Hanalei on Kauai.  My daughter Kara and I will sail on Maka'oi'oi with Bo.  Mark's son Kana will join Clay and Mark aboard Puanani.  Kara will jump ship in Hanalei and fly back to Oahu (she has to work).  We may switch up crew members somewhere along the way to keep things interesting.... or not.... we'll see.

Trash talking got an early start.  The crews of both boats promised each other that they would reserve an anchorage spot for the other boat in Waimea and have the sashimi ready when the slower boat arrives.

Planning Party
Bo, Noodle, Clay, Mark
Kara, Kendra, Blossom, Marcy
Bama and Raiatea