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