First Mate: Bernd
Swabbies: Julien and Marie
Day 1, 08/22/2015 (24 hour sail):
After Friday night races, Bernd and I met to go shopping for a two-handed sail to Maui and back. Well, two-handed was the plan. But that morning a young couple was walking the docks next to Siren and we got to talking. They had just flown in that morning from Quebec to crew a sailboat to Australia. Unfortunately, the boat they expected to crew on was an old cement hull, cracked and falling to pieces, no fore-stay, no kitchen, no engine and basically just a live-aboard 50 footer, good for little else. The Australian owner was crazy, living in his own fantasy world when he hired a captain to reposition it to Australia. The captain then hired on the couple from crewfinder.com to help him in the crossing. They had zero crossings, limited sailing experience and no idea what they were signing up for. Meet Julien and Marie!They seemed nice and were stranded without a ship with a strong desire to sail. Well? “Hop on! Let’s go to Maui! We leave in 4 hours. We’ll be back in 4 or 5 or 6 days.”We departed despite Hurricane Kilo forecast to increase in power as it approached the islands to the south east, moving west at 12 knots. Current max winds: 165 mph. Our plan was to start the crossing and keep an eye on the storm. If it continued as forecast we would still have time to return before it hit. If it remains calm and we make it to Maui before it makes the turn north and blows up, there’s a good sandy-bottomed harbor at Kahului. We could even ask permission to tie up if it looks too bad. With that plan in mind, we set off to Maui.
Day 2, 08/23/2015:
Kilo is continuing on it’s path and deteriorating quickly. Winds at the center have dropped to 30 mph, but forecast to turn north and increase in power to produce hurricane force winds again the next day. I dunno…Our turnaround point is passed, but we can easily make it to Kahului before the “hurricane” hits. All it is doing so far is turning the winds around and even completely becalming us! After starting out with good winds for a few hours yesterday, the tropical low opposed the trades requiring us to motor all night. Boring and loud, but mid-Kaiwi-channel was like a swimming pool. There is also lightening flashing over the islands, but so far it’s clear overhead, stars shining bright.We continued motoring all day today at 4.5 knots until finally some wind picked up north of Molokai. We were actually able to sail in light winds abeam under the amazing cliffs of Molokai, across the Pailolo Channel and into Kahului Harbor with quartering winds. Total time from Oahu to Maui was 24 slooooow hours and plenty motoring.
The crossing was a wakeup call to our new sailors, Julien and Marie. 20 hours of seasickness in small seas, unable to eat, lips swollen from sunburn and completely worn out! They were helpful in taking shifts and steering, learned a lot, and overall were still a pleasure to have aboard. After more practice, better sun protection, zinc patches and a bigger boat, maybe they can make it to Australia.
That night we anchored in the Kahului Harbor after hours expecting to call into the harbor master the next morning. We didn’t have any rain in the crossing, but it DUUUUMPED rain all night with 20+ knots winds pushing torrents of water past our cabin windows. I was slightly nervous about our ground tackle and slept fitfully between position checks to confirm we weren’t dragging.
Day 3, 08/24/2015 (At Anchor):
The rain continued to fall steadily the next morning with a drop in wind speed. I called the harbor master promtly at 8am and they were nice enough to let us park the boat in the turning basin by the office so we didn’t have to walk a mile in the rain. After a quick $27 payment for 3 days of anchor rights and showing proof of registration, insurance and IDs (so official!) we motored back to anchor and started to prepare breakfast. Ach! No propane!!! My tanks are old and rusty and must have leaked after swapping out the standby a few days previous. So we all piled into the dinghy bringing the tanks with us for a day on land.
Bernd and I rented a car, re-filled the good propane tank and explored the island making stops for a coffee and/or a beer at Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, and Lahaina before heading back to the boat. The Quebecois found a hotel to recover for the night while Bernd and I paddled back to the boat for a calm night at anchor.
Day 4, 08/25/2015 (At Anchor):
The next day we woke up for a spam n eggs n potatos breakfast (Yayyyy, propane!) and drove up Haleakala. Curtains of rain would wash over us, then clear, then rain as we drank Umeshu and ate dried squid and chips. Finally, the rain started coming down with purpose, so we took a quick nap in the car before driving back, visiting Paia on the way. Bernd dropped the rental car off and walked back to the boat as I cooked steak and the Quebecois cooked rice and veggies. By the time Bernd was back, dinner was ready and we stuffed ourselves before passing out for another night at anchor with calm seas and light winds.
Day 5-6, 08/26-27/2015 (35 hour sail):
The trip home to Oahu took foreeeeever!! We motored out of the harbor and out of the way of an incoming large ship then set main and jib with light winds on the beam and completely flat seas. Kilo never did make it’s turn north and just dissappated into a low to the west of the islands. We kept the motor off all day and all night. The night had zero winds, but we kept the sails up since the seas were so flat. The boat didn’t even rock, so the sails were quiet. We just rode the 0.2 knot current along the north shore of Molokai to wake up under the 2000 foot cliffs in the morning after 12 hours of “sailing.” Fine! Engine on! We’ll never get home at this rate!
So we motored past Molokai until the wind finally picked up in the channel enough to deploy the spinnaker with quartering winds. We flew towards Makapu’u and as the wind slowly backed we matched the turning winds with the spinnaker pole until as hard up on the wind as possible. We held on as long as possible, but within a mile of shore the winds backed 90 degrees and we had to bring the spinnaker down. The main and jib kept us going in 15 knots of good wind for a half hour before we hit the lee and had to motor into the sunset, up the Ala Wai Channel and to the dock.
Total time from Maui to Oahu: 35 hours!!! Longest crossing ever. It seemed especially long since the last Maui trip took only NINE hours! I’d guess the trip back would have taken 4 or 5 days without that engine. Overall, the weather wasn’t that nice, the winds sucked and it was a very fatiguing trip. But still totally worth it. Every trip builds experience and it feels good :)