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Old 08-12-2010, 19:34   #1
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Cruising Hawaii

I would like information on cruising the islands of Hawaii. I have sailed South Florida, the Keys, and the Bahamas. I am going to Hawaii this summer to explore the possibilities of sailing and living aboard in Hawaii. I realize that dockage is an issue but what about anchorage. Also Hawaii has about 1300 islands stretched over 1500 miles. Has anyone on here experience sailing this area? Any and all information is welcome.
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Old 08-12-2010, 19:56   #2
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I'll chime in with a request for slightly different info. I have to go to Honolulu next April for a meeting. Is it possible to organize a weekend bareboat charter?

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Old 08-12-2010, 20:14   #3
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Hawaii is not a very good place for cruising - the government is hostile to cruisers, the ports are small and full, the weather can turn downright violent in minutes, anchorages turn into surf breaks, those islands out to the west are mostly closed and just big rocks anyway, the best ports have no wind etc etc. Ala Wai looks like a disaster zone subject to unbelievable demolition by neglect. It looks like Haiti. For years a wreck had laid untouched right beside (only 50 yards away) the entrance to Lahaina harbor. Is it still there ? That thing gave me nightmares. The shredded remains of the sails fluttered in the breeze like so much spanish moss and the ghosts of long dead sailors called out " you're next . . . . you're next " Brrrrrr ! I hated it. Spend a little time in Lahaina and you soon learn that all they want is cruise ships not cruisers. The port captain is a power drunk nazi. On the other hand the yacht club is the best bar in town and after 3 weeks at sea the showers are pure heaven.

The government of Hawaii just plain doesn't want you or your money and so the cruising facilities are minimal. There is usually room at Keehi lagoon if you want to liveaboard for a while. Ala Wai has some visitor slips with no land access. You have to paddle your dinghy ashore even though it is only 10 - 15 feet.

The best way to see Hawaii is to stop by for a month or two during summer and then keep going. You can get some fabulous days when it is quite safe to visit places like Waimea or Hanalei. Kona is almost always safe but you may be motoring a lot.

Yeah, I know I sound like a killjoy but that's how it is. There are so many fantastic places in the Pacific where the trade winds are constant, anchoring is free, food is cheap (groceries cost a bomb in Hawaii) and the locals are actually glad to see you. Find one and go there.

Connemara, unless someone has opened a business in the last year then the answer is "no". There are lots of tourist boats giving day long crewed charters from a harbor beside the road from downtown to Waikiki. You can see them easily from the road. There is a beer can race every Friday night from Ala Wai. Go to HYC or WYC around 4.30.
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Old 08-12-2010, 21:26   #4
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There is a whole lot of truth in what Savoir says, but he is laying it on a little thick. Back in 2003 I spent a few weeks cruising around Hawaii, and had a great time. There are decent anchorages just north of Lahaina near Mala Wharf, and if there is space the Lahaina Yacht Club will let you use one of their moorings. We even got a spot in the Lahaina marina, but from the looks of it the odds of there being a vacancy are pretty poor.

In Lanai, the marina is very small, but there is often room to stern-tie to the rocks and drop a bow anchor. We really enjoyed Lanai, and found the harbormistress, Sheri, to be very friendly.

Molokai has some anchorages and slips at Kaunakaka Harbor, but we didn't stay long enough to explore. It was quite windy and not too protected. Sailing past the north shore of Molokai is spectacular -- I believe these are the tallest sea-cliffs in the world. There's no safe place to anchor there as far as I know.

The Ala Wai is spectacularly run-down, but we were able to tie up at the Hawaii YC for a couple days and they were extremely friendly. On the other side of Oahu is Kaneohe Bay, which is a beautiful area. I've only been there at the end of the Pacific Cup races, so I don't know how a drop-in cruiser will be accommodated, but the folks at the Kaneohe YC are great.

And then there is Hanele Bay on Kauai -- good anchorage and well protected in the summer. Hanele Bay is probably worth the trip all by itself.

But I have to agree with savoir, the Islands aren't really well-suited for cruising. The shoreline is generally dangerous, the conditions can get quite violent, and the gov't-run infrastructure is a sad joke. There are certainly many places in the south pacific that provide better cruising. But that said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to Hawaii.

It's definitely not the best place for living aboard for an extended period.
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Old 08-12-2010, 22:08   #5
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Well I agree on a few things. Hanalei Bay is stunning but only in summer. Through winter it gets pretty rough. The North Shore of Molokai is spectacularrrrrr and should be on every sailor's bucket list, but you can't stop there. Same for the area near Lahaina - it is only safe to anchor if the trades are in. Unfortunately, I have never been near Lanai in under 30 knots and wasn't brave enough to head in to check it out.

There is only one visitor slip in Lahaina Harbor but the yacht club has moorings which are free if you join. The yacht club is well worth the visit. " Funky" is an understatement. Then there's the Sly Mongoose . . . . . aaaaahhh !
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Old 08-12-2010, 22:23   #6
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Originally Posted by Connemara View Post
I'll chime in with a request for slightly different info. I have to go to Honolulu next April for a meeting. Is it possible to organize a weekend bareboat charter?

Connemara
For bareboat or skippered charter, contact Honolulu Sailing--I think they can be reached at Honolulu Sailing Company.

They have a few Beneteau"s for charter and are an ASA Facility.

No, I have no connection with Hon. Sailing.
Cheers,
Rick
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Old 09-12-2010, 00:23   #7
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There is only one visitor slip in Lahaina Harbor but the yacht club has moorings which are free if you join.
When I was in Lahaina Harbor they gave me a temporarily-vacant spot where a resident normally has their boat. It wasn't a slip, but a mooring ball and a tie-up to the dock. We were right next to "Maui Jim's" big sportfisher (by the way, his name isn't really Jim).

When we used the Lahaina YC mooring we didn't have to join, our reciprocal privilege was good enough (one of our crew had a San Francisco-area YC membership). We did pay some very nominal mooring fee.

This was in 2003. Things may have changed.
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:47   #8
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Ala Wai has some visitor slips with no land access. You have to paddle your dinghy ashore even though it is only 10 - 15 feet.
That is not true. Ala Wai is perhaps the best place to start your Hawaii cruising from. Visitor slips are nearly always available (call in advance and let them know your arrival date), though they are med-style mooring for the most part. But you will be docked right next to Waikiki beach and in the center of all the action on Oahu.

The yacht harbor itself houses two yacht clubs, which offer reciprocal privileges, and has undergone a massive renovation in recent years (looks much nicer, though unfortunately most of the improvements benefit locals, not visitors). Regretfully, I must therefore concur with others' comments that Hawaii is not a cruiser-friendly destination. There are however, many sights to see and the islands remain a stepping-stone across the Pacific.

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Old 09-12-2010, 01:57   #9
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Thanks for the info I always wondered why it did not get much coverage from cruisers nets etc.
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Old 09-12-2010, 05:34   #10
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That is not true. Ala Wai is perhaps the best place to start your Hawaii cruising from. Visitor slips are nearly always available (call in advance and let them know your arrival date), though they are med-style mooring for the most part. But you will be docked right next to Waikiki beach and in the center of all the action on Oahu.

The yacht harbor itself houses two yacht clubs, which offer reciprocal privileges, and has undergone a massive renovation in recent years (looks much nicer, though unfortunately most of the improvements benefit locals, not visitors). Regretfully, I must therefore concur with others' comments that Hawaii is not a cruiser-friendly destination. There are however, many sights to see and the islands remain a stepping-stone across the Pacific.

BWS

Not true ? Have all those slips behind the fuel dock with no land access been rebuilt ?
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Old 09-12-2010, 06:59   #11
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Bob and Carol Mehaffy have written an extensive cruising guide to the Hawaiian Islands.
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Old 09-12-2010, 11:57   #12
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Aloha,
If you want more comments about Hawaii sailing then just use the search engine after my signature line and type in Hawaii. There have been lots of discussions on the topic.
kind regards,
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Old 09-12-2010, 13:07   #13
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The State Marinas in the Islands offer guest slips on a space available basis. You can stay for three months in a marina in any calendar year. Honokohau in Kona, Big Island has vacant slips at the moment. If you can find a vacant slip, you can move from Marina to Marina every three months. We stayed at Radio Bay in Hilo for a month and then moved to Honokohau where we're getting six month stay because of the change in the calendar year. Facilities suck, no electricity and the heads are just bathrooms, no showers. What the hell it's paradise and why do you need a shower when it's 80 degrees every day.

Kailua Bay, Kona is a safe but rolly anchorage for much of the year. It's not a set the hook and forget place as 15+ swells can roll in during the winter. Usually plenty of warning but you have to be ready to head to sea or duck into Honokohau harbor with a couple hours notice.

You can anchor in Hilo Harbor which is a pretty calm anchorage but you have to stay out by the breakwater and well away from the commercial traffic. Don't know how long they'd let you stay out there. The moorings on the shoreside of the bay are all taken though it looked like there might have been some that were temporarily vacant. Side tie ups were available at Suisan inlet in Hilo as well. It's right next to a busy street and is a sometime local hang out with no security. We thought of getting a temporary their but were discouraged by the locals because of theft problems. We weren't going to be living aboard and would be away from the boat on the other side of the Island during the week.

Lahaina area is an open roadsted but safe for most of the year. Once again, not a place to leave your boat unattended but a decent anchorage for at least 300 days a year. Maalea is the marina in the south side of the valley but has limited availability and is really windy. Facilities are zilch and it's a long way away from civilization if you are walking.

The AlaWai is much improved. They are slowly replacing the sunken or threatening to sink floating docks. Still a ways to go but lightyears ahead of what it was 2-3 years ago. You can get a 3 month temporary, space avalable, in the marina. Hawaii Yacht club used to offer med tie moorings for two weeks but haven't been there recently to check it out. Waikiki Yacht Club across the fairway may have guest moorings on a reciprocal basis but have never tried there.

Keehi lagoon out by the airport may have slips and/or the possiblity of a mooring. Used to be a high theft area as a number of the derelicts moored there were home to meth addicts. Hear they've cleaned out the ne'er do wells and things are much improved but no first hand knowledge. It's right under the takeoff path for the most used runway at the airport so wear ear plugs and don't plan on sleeping in.

Haven't tried Haleiwa or Waianae State Harbors on Oahu so don't know if they often have available slips.

You can Anchor in Kaneohe Bay year round but don't know what the restrictions might be. All the Marinas are private and quite expensive. Don't know if you'd have any luck getting a slip there.

Over all, things are slightly improved for cruising the islands. Still not a cruiser's paradise however. Very few anchorages in the winter and always the danger of large, 20' plus, swells rolling in in the winter. Weather will mostly be benign with strong trades between the islands and lumpy channels. Great for heading west but a challenge going east. We do get occasional storms but they aren't anything like a strong NorEaster or the West Coast in winter. Fortunately, hurricanes are very far between. Iniki, the last to hit the islands, was Iniki in '92 and the one before that, Iwa in '82. They are well plotted and you'd be able to sail out of there way if you should be so unfortunate as to be here when one hit. Iniki was bad because it was a Force 4 hurricane that drew a bulls eye on Kauai. There was was little warning. The satellite that normally monitors Hawaii Weather had been shifted to the East to cover for another ailing satellite. The storm was off the scope till it was very close to the Islands. Hurricanes primarily effect Kauai. The last to hit the Big Island was more than a century and a half ago.
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Old 09-12-2010, 20:30   #14
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Hawaii

Thanks for the information. I am flying to Hawaii to check things out. Iím thinking of buying a boat there, sailing around for a few months, and then sailing it back to the mainland. If I canít find dockage or anchorage, then I will go to Florida and forget Hawaii. I havenít given up on the idea, but my plans are flexible. Thanks again.
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Old 09-12-2010, 21:15   #15
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If you buy a boat locally you want to check the possibility of taking the slip. I don't know the slip transfer rules but the broker should.
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