Sep 182014
 

Even my mom guessed it. Bodhran’s in Hawaii for the Winter. Normally late August/early September are a good time to sail back from Hawaii to the West Coast, but El Nino threw a hitch in that giddy-up. The storms started marching across Alaska two weeks ago and there’s no sign of them abating until Spring. Even if there had been wind north of the islands, I’d have been hit by two low pressures systems a week the whole way home. That and the prospect of a long cold Winter in Seattle makes this an easy decision to make.

I now have decide on one or a combination of three options:
1. Find a place to leave Bodhran and come home and work for the Winter
2. Find a place to live aboard Bodhran and find a job in Hawaii for the Winter
3. Cruise Hawaii for the Winter

The problem with Hawaii is the lack of boating facilities paired with a lack of all weather anchorages. It adds complications to any of the above options. Ala Wai marina is well located, allows liveaboards and cheap by Hawaiian standards, but transient boats are only allowed to stay for 120 days a year. I’ve already used up 100 of them. I can go back in January if they have room, but for now I have to find someplace else.

La Mariana Sailing Club in Keehi Lagoon has berth space for me, but they don’t allow liveaboards. They’re actually cheaper than Ala Wai. The plan here would be to leave Bodhran and go home and work/spend the holidays with family before being able to come back and stay in Ala Wai until Spring. Of course I could still come and go and get some cruising in around the islands. This is my preferred option.

Another option in Keehi Marine Center right next door to La Mariana. It’s a nicer marina and allows liveaboards, but require work history, letters from your bank and a survey before you can get moorage. It’s also $900 a month. If I was working, I could stick around a place like that, but it seems like such a hassle and living under the runway at the airport/air force base isn’t worth spending the premium.

I don’t really like the idea of sailing around Hawaii by myself for 6 months. I could probably get some folks from the mainland to fly out and visit, but I’d have to find some buddy boats to hang out with. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a cruising community in Hawaii, but who know I might find something.

In the meantime, I’ve left Oahu in search of more peaceful climes. I left yesterday morning and took advantage of a northeasterly wind to get across the Kaiwi channel to Molokai. It started out light, but turned into a ripping good sail beating into 15-20 knot winds by the time I reached the lee of Molokai and motored the last few miles into Haleolono.

The wind was from the NE but there’d been a big swell from the south for a few days. The surfers in Waikiki were loving it, but in made for an intimidating entrance to Haleolono. The anchorage is inside a jetty from an abandoned quarry. Coming from the West, it looked like surf was breaking across the entire breakwater. I began to think that the big swell had closed out the entrance, but once I got the very prominent range marks lined up it was clear that there were no breaking waves in the channel. Still it was an intense ride in with no buoys, a 6+ foot following swell and lots of surge making it tricky to stay in the middle of the 150′ wide entrance.

I tucked into the far east corner where the big swell caused quite a surge, but the water was Calm. I hadn’t dropped the hook since Christmas Island. I probably should have checked it before I left. As I went to drop my chain immediately hung up somewhere down in the chain locker. The wind was blowing and there was lots of surge, so I had to hurry. I ran down to find that the chain had shifted pounding into 10’+ waves for days before I reached Hawaii and had ended up a tangled mess. I quickly decided that I’d need time to clean it up, so I popped up to the cockpit, motored back into the center of the anchorage and dropped the stern hook for only the 4th time in 8 years. It took a good 20 minutes to clean up the anchor chain. With the stern hook already down and the limited room for swinging, it seemed like a good idea to let some slack out and motor up to the skinny part of the bay and drop my primary Bruce anchor.

As I was getting my anchor situation figured out, a truck came and started setting up porta-potties which seemed a bit odd in this uninhabited, remote corner of Molokai. I rowed ashore and started exploring and ran into Moku, who was running security for the boats that were already staged on the beach for the weekends 6 person canoe races from Molokai to Waikiki. Moku was cool enough to give me the lay of the land as well as a ride up to the viewpoint overlooking the abandoned wharf. I’m going to be in the way of the 100 or so escort boats for the race if I stick around till Thrusday, so I’ll probably only spend two nights in this sweet little spot before I head off to points further East on Molokai or South to Lanai. I think that I’ll try and get back to Oahu in a week or so and see about figuring out what the next 6 months have in store. In the meantime it’s damn nice being away from the hustle and bustle of my old slip in Ala Wai.

Sep 092014
 
The Hilton lighting off fireworks for my return to Hawaii

The Hilton lighting off fireworks for my return to Hawaii

I don’t know why I thought it might have been different this time. I waited for a month in Fiji for a decent weather window to get to American Samoa. I was “stuck” in Pago Pago for 3 weeks and Christmas Island for 2 waiting for parts. I’ve now been in Hawaii for almost 3 weeks. I hadn’t been ready for the first two, but for a week now I’ve been all provisioned up and ready to go. Patience is almost as import as skill for an offshore sailor, but mine is starting to wear thin.

The North Pacific High, which I need to be as far south as possible, has been hanging out all the way up in Alaska meaning that I’d have to sail nearly to Juneau before heading back down to Seattle. Now the high has disappeared all together with 5 different lows surrounding Hawaii. Two are tropical storms, but they pale in comparison to the big systems that are already steaming up the Aleutians to Alaska. I could just get out there and see what I get, but there’s been a big wind hole 500 miles across just north of here, which would have me spending half my fuel in the supposed trade wind belt. All I can do is wait.

That's a whole lot of no wind north of here surrounded by certain unpleasantness on all sides.

That’s a whole lot of no wind north of here surrounded by certain unpleasantness on all sides.

On the bright side, I’m docked right at the beginning of Waikiki. I’m getting a little tired of all the noise from the restaurant band across the street and the endless parade of passers by. Still it’s an epic spot to be docked in with some world class people watching.

Mainly I’ve been hanging out with the crew at the old fuel dock. The dock itself has been sold to a Japanese firm that wants to turn it into a wedding chapel. In the meantime, there’s about 8 boats that have their own little private marina in the middle of Ala Wai. They have to use their own anchors and med-moor to the wall, but it’s a sweet setup. Garrett has a Downeaster 32 named Mary Jane. He plays guitar and is fully into paragliding. Chris and Leyla live have cruised the South Pacific on their Hans Christian 33 Privateer and Chris just happens to play guitar and banjo. You can see where we might have hit it off.

The Fuel Dock Compound

The Fuel Dock Compound

The most epic moment of the last 3 weeks came last Friday. Garrett asked if I’d wanted to go with him to the other side of the island where he’d be doing some paragliding. I grabbed my camera rig and jumped at the opportunity to get out of town for a bit. Little did I know that I’d meet Maui Doug over there and get in a 90 minute long tandem flight over Makapu’u Head. Truly one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done.


So now I’m looking at the North Pacific High not forming back up for at least a week. In the meantime, I’m going to try and get a little cruising in. I’m not sure where, but I’m definitely ready to get out of the city.