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Monday, April 14, 2014

Maui waypoints

The day after my aunt and uncle departed Hilo on the Star Princess we had a short weather window to get to Maui - with none to come in the foreseeable future. We spent the day doing last minute shopping and taking on water in the small boat basin at the Suisan fish market. We motored out of Hilo at 4:30 PM for the uneventful overnight to Maui. In our admittedly limited experience with anchoring at Maui, we have yet to become fans of the island as a cruising destination. This has only been further reinforced by our current visit, which has been during a period of strong trade winds.

We initially tried an anchorage north of Pu'u Ola'i Point off a black sand beach next to a golf course:

{GMST}20|38.436|N|156|27.008|W|Maui|Puu Olai north{GEND}

This became very unprotected as the afternoon wind picked up, and we moved around to the south to Oneloa, or Mckenna, Beach:

{GMST}20|37.858|N|156|27.024|W|Maui|Big Mckenna Beach{GEND}

After a rolly night in the swell we thought we'd better move up the coast towards Lahaina. Even though we got an early start just after sunrise we had a nasty motor sail into the wind to get across Ma'alaea Bay where the wind was honking. We were covered in salt spray by the time we anchored east of Olowalu three hours later:

{GMST}20|47.913|N|156|35.635|W|Maui|Olowalu east{GEND}

We had a nice day catching up on our sleep and watching rainbows come and go over the mountain before sunset. But mid-way into our evening the wind came up and we spent the rest of the night listening to more wind than we've experienced in a long time. It only seemed to be getting worse by morning so we decided to make a break for it. Getting the anchor off the bottom was a team effort as I had to drive the boat into the wind while John brought in the chain. As the chain piled up I'd run down below to knock over the pile and race back out to the cockpit to do some more driving. Fortunately we got out of there without injury or breakage.

We motored close to the beach to stay out of the fetch and searching for anything that seemed calmer. Four miles closer to Lahaina we thought we had a spot, but it became windier after only an hour so we pulled up and moved on towards Lahaina again. We are now south of Lahaina at what our cruising guide calls Waianukole or Lahaina East. It's basically an open roadstead like Lahaina itself but we aren't in a pack of moored boats or off the noisy city. Although it is right in front of the noisy road:

{GMST}20|50.805|N|156|39.568|W|Maui|Lahaina east{GEND}

Worried that the wind would come up as fiercely as it had the night before, John didn't deploy our rocker stopper last night. But when the wind doesn't blow steadily the swell rolls us from side to side, and we had another night of poor sleep. Today we've had some gusts but nothing like the past couple of days. Even with the rocker stopper we're rolling heavily in the swell. The winds are supposed to die down later in the week and we'll try to get to Molokai then. In the meantime we haven't been off the boat since we left Hilo five days ago. Oh well, at least the water is clear blue and warmer!

Ziggy sees a honu

Hilo waypoints

Our passage from Molokai to Hilo was one long motor trip but the monotony of motoring was relieved by the sight of whales everywhere we looked until we cleared the far end of Maui just before sunset on March 6. We had an uneventful night with more whale sightings as we were about to enter Hilo harbor. We were anchored four nights to the west of Coconut Island:

{GMST}19|43.708|N|155|04.322|W|Hilo|Coconut Island{GEND}

On March 11 we went into Radio Bay and tied up to the wall there as usual. Unfortunately when John went into the DOT office to check in with the harbor master he was told that boats which have been in the State of Hawaii for more than 90 days are no longer considered "transient" and are not allowed berthing in Radio Bay. This was news to us since it's never been a problem when we've made multiple visits in past years, but they are now enforcing the heretofore ignored rule.

{GMST}19|43.883|N|155|03.147|W|Hilo|Radio Bay{GEND}

When they insisted we leave immediately we moved to Reed's Bay where we dropped the hooked in 33' over a rocky shelf, and backed towards shore ending up in about 10' of water. John sighted down the red channel markers to do our best to keep out of the channel when the wind shifted because you don't want to be in the way of the cruise ships or tugs and tows.

{GMST}19|43.841|N|155|03.721|W|Hilo|Reed's Bay{GEND}

We experienced high winds and huge swells coming over the breakwater during a few stormy days, so on March 16 we moved out to the protection of the breakwater to get out of the wind fetch which was very bad in Reed's.


We were very happy to be in Hilo for two important reasons. In March our good friends Frank and Lynn of M/V Nova came out for their first visit to the Big Island and treated us to two fun-filled days of sightseeing. It had been about eight years since we'd seen them but we picked up our friendship again as if it were still Fourth of July on the Delta. Then on April 9 we actually got to wave to people we know when the Star Princess brought my aunt and uncle to Hilo! They too treated us to a full day of island time while we acted as their unofficial tour guides. We had last seen them eight years ago when we drove John's truck from Oregon to San Carlos, Mexico. We felt very fortunate that we could be in Hilo for both visits since we so rarely get to see old friends and family.

Oahu waypoints

It's hard to believe it's been four and a half months since I last wrote a blog, but time passes quickly even when we're not cruising. John insists we're still in cruising mode. I on the other hand, look at it as simply living aboard in the U.S., even if the State we're in happens to be as exotic as Hawaii.

In January we celebrated John's 50th birthday with the help of many friends. In February I flew to Portland and John did a weekend haulout at Keehi boat yard with Chris from Privateer as his hired help. I returned to Honolulu at the end of the month where John had Nakia tied up at the Kaneohe Yacht Club, a very beautiful and welcoming facility.

We rented a Smart car for three days and covered Oahu from coast to coast.

We returned the rental car and departed the yacht club dock on February 23 to anchor in 42' at the "sand spit" in Kaneohe Bay. All the tour boats take Sunday off and the spit was crowded with locals enjoying the sun and shallow water. It reminded us very much of the California Delta scene with a backdrop reminiscent of the Marquesas!

{GMST}21|27.510|N|157|48.304|W|Kaneohe Bay|Sand Spit{GEND}

After two nights on the spit we motored a few miles to the far northern end of the bay, to the "secret beach" anchorage off of Kualoa Beach Park. On our way into the channel (leave the markers - topped by decoy owls - to the west to stay off the reef) we saw five turtles before dropping the hook in about 15 feet.

{GMST}21|30.080|N|157|50.710|W|Kaneohe Bay|Secret Beach{GEND}

From the park we rode our bicycles north past the Polynesian Cultural Center to the Hukilau Cafe for some ono loco moco and Teriyaki beef.

On March 3 we departed Oahu for a long day trip to Molokai. We motored all morning and saw red-footed boobies, an albatross (I swear!), and whales showing off everywhere. We made a three night stop in Molokai where we did laundry and another bike ride out to Mile 16 (me) and beyond to the end of the road (John). One night we had dinner at Paddler's and stayed in town late enough to get "hot bread" from the Kanemitsu Bakery. This is an interesting, if not particularly gourmet, experience that I can now check off my list.

We departed Molokai for the overnight passage to Hilo on March 6.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Ala Wai Harbor, Oahu

We were misled by a forecast that indicated lighter winds for our Sunday sail from Molokai to Oahu across the Kaiwi channel. Instead of 15 knots down from 20, we had 20 knots and more in the gusts. It wasn't dangerous but it was wetter and more boisterous than we find enjoyable. Ziggy had a hard time settling down and he had to try several different sleeping places before he was finally able to relax in his bed. Fortunately no one threw up. We saw a few whale spouts and passed near one when we were off Diamond Head. We later learned that it's fairly rare to see them in so close to Waikiki.

We were warmly welcomed by our friends on Sarana, Pura Vida, and Privateer. We passed a safety inspection required by the DLNR before being assigned a slip. We were very well prepared except for our navigation running lights, which we hadn't thought to test after John did some rewiring up in the bow. When those failed to light I kept the inspector occupied with checking off items like PFDs, flares, signal horns, fire extinguishers, ship's papers, etc. while John pulled out his tools and fixed the wiring and a burned out bulb. We sure didn't want to have to make another appointment to return to the DLNR dock later!

We are now settled in at the transient end of the 800 dock. I wish we'd put our names on the waiting list for a permanent slip here years ago, but we hear that slips are awarded based more on who you know than what your actual position on the list is. We like moving around more than staying in one spot anyway, so maybe we'll play the island hopping game until we think of something we'd rather do instead. For now at least, we can't beat sunrise over Diamond Head, surfers just on the other side of the breakwater, friends to play with, cool nights, warm days, and fireworks every Friday night courtesy of the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort.

We are very grateful for the life we're living, and we wish all our friends and family the same sort of satisfaction for 2014. Happy New Year!

{GMST}21|17.033|N|157|50.603|W|Oahu|Ala Wai Harbor{GEND}

Hale o Lono Harbor, Molokai

Saturday, December 28

It was easy enough to motor the dozen or so early morning miles from Kaunakakai to Lono on the 24th. But getting the anchor set was a different story. Three times in three different places John dropped the anchor in the silty water and each time it dragged through what must be only dirt and sand on the bottom. Since we weren't getting anywhere with our primary anchor (a 45 lb. Delta) John decided to add a Fortress anchor in tandem. While we appear to have slipped back about 20' in the past few days, we are secure enough. The big wooden schooner that arrived a few hours after us has put out a line to shore in an attempt to keep in place. We're closest to the entrance where the effects of the swell are more noticeable, but our rocker stopper keeps us comfortable.

After putting another coat of varnish on the companionway doors (and realizing that meant we couldn't lock up the boat - oh well) we went out Christmas morning to hike up the hill (and through a gate posted Private Property) to the bluff overlooking the anchorage. From there we retraced our route and walked past the boats to the eastern beach. An older couple who had passed us on the dirt road earlier were set up for a day of fishing using their truck for shade. After seeing us gazing over the top of a locked gate to a road beyond, the man beckoned us over to tell us that we could access it more easily if we continued a bit farther along the beach. We appreciated his friendly assistance very much and found the road without any trouble.

This was a quiet walk through a forest of scrubby trees, but without any beach access until we reached an old camp of some sort. The largest building (which I had thought was a house when saw it from a distance in the boat) turned out to be an open kitchen and dining area. Half a dozen small sleeping sheds were scattered to either side of the main building. Constructed of wood, abandoned, and damaged by termites, it appears to have been a nice place for a hunting or fishing vacation long ago. Two large water cisterns are visible on the bluff across the dirt road, but plumbing, and even a septic tank, are now in ruins. Sadly we also found the bones and even some hide remaining on what were clearly a doe and small fawn laying next to each other by one of the sheds. A third skeleton was outside another shed.

Friday we struck out in the opposite direction towards the western point, walking the beach for awhile and then switching to a dirt road paralleling the beach. This was another mostly shady morning walk through a monotone of scrubby thorn trees, catching the briefest of glimpses at quail and cardinals. It was quiet, surprisingly free of trash, and the dried up mud was covered in deer tracks, with more bones along the side of the road. We counted three feral cats on this walk which made a total of four counting the one John saw earlier near the quay. Fresh paw prints ran the entire length of the beach as one of them must have made an early morning search for something to scavenge. From up on a bluff overlooking a cove we saw a sea turtle fighting the swell as it fed among the rocks.

The harbor was a very popular place for locals and tourists alike over the holiday but they were usually gone by mid-afternoon for the long drive back to Kaunakakai. It's a very peaceful place but after a few days there we were ready for the bright lights of the big city.

{GMST}21|05.174|N|157|14.918|W|Molokai|Lono Harbor{GEND}