As I mentioned here some weeks back, I volunteered to help my boat systems mentor in La Paz
get his boat back home to Seattle
. His crew jumped ship in La Paz
to sort out personal difficulties at home. My maintenance
guru, Dr. Capt. Brian, had friends from Alaska
who could crew for the second half. So, being grateful for all his help I agreed to crew for the first half, put my boat on the hard
and moved aboard.
A few weeks before departure, a third crew popped up, a friend of a friend recently laid off with some Caribbean charter
experience. So after he interviewed her, they agreed she would come and she arrived a week before departure date. She didn't have all that much hand's on experience as a sailor as it turned out, but having 3 crew did allow us to have a 4 on, 8 off watch schedule, making it much easier, at least for me. Brian had to stand part or all of about 2/3 of her watches during rougher conditions, which left him pretty exhausted at one point and I did extra watch time to ensure he got some rest. More than anyone, the skipper
needs a clear head
New crew Dr. Wallis (Brian and Wallis are both geophysicists, he retired, she laid off), did, however, contribute very good skills in making meals
from our just sufficient provisions, managing stores like a pro. I know, ladies, don't jump all over this with neo-feminist clubs. After all, each crew needs to contribute what they have in terms of skills to any voyage, n'est pas? And it was her choice not to eat our simpleminded rations of beans, sandwiches and canned meals
and to seize control of the galley
. She wanted better fare and for that I am grateful.
The three of us left La Paz for Hilo, Hawaii
on April 13, spent the night in Los Muertos anchorage 55 nm around the headland and our last touch of the land, and proceeded to Hilo on the 14th. About 2800 miles and 23 days later we arrived in Hilo on the big island on May 6th.
Passing Cabo San Lucas, we had a close reach SW with northwesterlies in 10-15kt range. 3rd day out was windlass
and calm seas where water
temp rose to 80 F., so while in irons we had a swim and a wash. 4th day the wind
came back soft at 12-16 from nnw and we had several days of beam reach w/ swells on the stbd quarter. We were still making southing but were determined to hold latitude 20, with Hilo being at 19 deg.44'. It turns out, Lat/Long positions are actual places and not just lines on a planning chart. Who knew?
Here I'd like to offer a Razzberry
to the folks at NOAA. NOAA's grib files kept showing 10 deg. more wind
shift to the east than we were getting, but their direction was generally ok for the crossing. However, be warned if using their data, we found their “satellite measured” wind speeds and sea states consistently
underestimated actual conditions. If they forecast
15 kts we began to realize we could count on 25-35 kts. If they had current
winds at 20, we would be seeing 35-45, and on one occasion, 52 kts!
Geez, what are they doing with all those assets?? If they forecast
3-4 meter seas, we got 6-8 meter seas. Stands to reason, if the wind is higher the sea states will be too. The biggest seas we had on the heaviest day was probably 35 foot peak to trough.
Speaking to Capt. Don of Klondike
Bay at Hilo, who's cruised for 25 yrs +, he said grib files have been that way since their inception. Brian, who built this boat (his second), who'd gone around in his first build in 3 years in the last 90's, said he had never
seen conditions this rough during his circumnavigation
From day 10 to day 22, we saw half a dozen days of 25-35 kts, 4-5 days of 32-45 kts, and one 8 hour period of 40-52 kts. While keeping as much north as we could, after the first 6 days or so, we pulled down the main and ran a twin jib
rig that would allow us to hold the wind up to about 50 degrees off the stern. I liked it quite a lot and am thinking about using my twin tracks for a similar downwind sail set. He has twin furlers which makes it much simpler tho', not having to take down one sail on occasion if the wind goes too far forward. The boat is 47', 20 ton steel sloop
with unique features, like radio
, struts, and boom, and steps across the stern with rollers in the center to haul up and secure the dink. I'll add some pics.
Before departure almost everyone said, “Hawaii, great! Shorts and t-shirts and a downwind sleigh ride, never having to touch a brace or sheet.
” That was totally a fantasy from my experience. (It's funny
how some conventional wisdom is just the opinion by someone who has never been, that gets repeated until it's taken as fact.) Water
temp stayed in the low 70's with windchill often in the 40's. Night watches needed layers of clothing
, a cashmere turtle neck and foulies if you wanted to stay warm and dry in the squalls.
Brian didn't like the passage
, feeling it was on the edge of dangerous much too often. I, on the other hand, having made no previous ocean crossings and having a residual taste for adrenalin from a misspent youth, loved it all and found it very instructive. For instance, each of the first 3 or 4 times Brian decided to reef, I felt it was too early, but then, each time the wind built and I saw it had been the correct time to take some in. I learned how to see the wind increase coming, studying the whitecaps and realized the value of PREcaution. On perhaps the second reef, the first time during the trip the wind had built to a bit over 30, Brian said, “When I see 30, I think 40.” A little bell rang in my head
and I said hmmm.
We spent 5 days in Hilo, where the sun did finally come out after 36 hours. We hiked up to 800' waterfalls and a 9 mile trek through the Kilauea volcano and stocked up from the lovely local farmer's market.
We then sailed on to Lahaina in a night crossing of the channel. Water temp didn't begin to warm until maybe 500 miles out of Hilo and didn't get above 81 even there. It hit 86 pulling into Lahaina. We jumped in the water there as soon as we got the hook down. Yippee! Finally the Hawaii
of our imaginations. Maui is pretty but Lahaina waterfront appears to be an overpriced jet-in tourist trap near as I could tell from my one foray down the main drag. All the boats there were either in the tiny harbor (sorry full) or on moorings. We were the only boat on the hook. I would like to go back and see Hana some time, on the windward side.
We left at noon the next day and did an 18 hour NOAA blue wave special
crossing to Oahu
of the channel between Lanai and Molokai, with 10-15 kts from SE turning East forecast, and actually got 30-45 kts from NE instead. A good deal of local knowledge is needed to sail Hawaii it seems to me. We got into Ko Olina Marina at Barbers Point at 2 am, after a dazzling light show of Honolulu, and found our slip by feel and fell dead asleep as soon as we got tied up.
And here we are on our second day scrounging net access from a fellow cruiser w/our router (there's no wifi
in the marina or close enough to use, tho' I just found out there are cable outlets on the dock
so full cable tv/internet is possible thru your local monopoly). Ko Olina's not really geared to liveaboards, especially those without cars. I think we may have the bus schedule figured out and the pick up point about 1.5 miles away. Shopping
is about 5 miles away for all but convenience store stuff which is about 1.5 miles away. Perhaps we should have looked harder into the Ala Wai options, but Brian says he couldn't get anyone to talk to him or answer his emails in advance. So we suffer and make the best of our poor lot in paradise. Lol. Aloha, Jon
ps. Johnny Depp left his boat here. see pics.
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - speakeasy's Album: Hawaii xing