We were ready to leave with Tide Roller after dinner for Race #2, but pushing the engine start button resulted in nothing! No sound, no click, nothing. We spent a while in the hell hole tracing wires and testing connections with the multi-meter and finally figured out the engine switch was faulty. So we then spent a long, frustrating, sweaty period of time squeezing our hands up an arm-length space to re-connect the switch. Finally, four hours later… Got it!
We departed well after dark for South Point, cruising well until we hit bad winds where the east shore winds joined the south shore winds. It was all over the place, from zero nothingness to crazy gusts to 180 degree wind shifts. We caught Tide Roller on the radio well ahead of us saying, “Reef! Reef now! I am NOT kidding!” Mean while we had calm winds and full sails hardly moving.
The others went to bed while Natalie and I took the first shift alone and broke through to the solid wind on the other side. We were triple reefed with a partially furled jib trying to beat our way up the coast. But after a bit we realized we were making absolutely no progress! Every tack we would end up at the same point along the shoreline. With the seas bashing our bow, the adverse current pushing us back, and the inefficiently rolled jib we couldn’t make any headway. So we tried a 3 hour tack out to sea to try to get out of the funneling winds and strong current, but after tacking back we found ourselves in exactly the same spot! David woke up as we came back in view of the shore to say, “We haven’t gone anywhere!” Time to try another tactic.
So as the sun came up we tried sucking in as close to the shore as possible without grounding. Waves were crashing against the black lava cliffs as we tried to make use of the eddies and back flows in the shore’s indentations. We made some progress over the next hour or so, but it was too slow so we tried some engine. We made more progress, but not much and it was looking like we’d be at it for another day to clear South Point at the rate we were going. With it being so slow and so much work and so hard on the boat we decided to turn around. We turned off the wind and immediately the howling noise through the rigging stopped along with the rough slamming into choppy waves. Everything smoothed out, quieted down, the speed picked up tremendously and we flew back towards Kona.
Back on Tide Roller, we heard later they had motored so much they ran out of fuel! They made it all the way to Hilo with only one equipment failure. They’re steering cables broke and lost all steering! Luckily, they were able to make repairs and continue on. I would have loved to make it around the island, too, but it would have been no fun at all. Looking back, I’m glad we turned around and kept the voyage fun the entire time.