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Old 03-04-2010, 13:05   #1
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Oahu to Maui Cruise Help, Please

Dont have much knowledge of the area, just looking to find out any info i can get about making it from oahu to maui, my planned time to depart is may 5th. I have a 30 foot lancer fractional sloop. Just want to know any hazards with the channel, marinas to stay at while on maui, time it takes to get from oahu to maui, anything and everything you got will be much appreciated.

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Old 03-04-2010, 14:05   #2
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The Molokai channel can either be challenging or brutal depending on how strong the trades are blowing. If the recent winds hold, the trip would be tending to the brutal. Keep an eye on the weather. If small craft warnings are happening, you'll find every leak you didn't know you had in your boat and better have a strong stomach. You'll be looking at very steep seas, 10' or more and gusty 25-30 mph winds on the nose. If the trades settle down, it will still not be comfortable but any boat and crew shouldn't have a problem. You'll still be beating into 15mph plus winds but the seas will be lower than 5' and not as steep. With the flukey winds we have had, you might find southerly winds and the trip could be a sleighride but I wouldn't count on that. Winds are almost always north easterly even when the trades aren't happening. There is a significant lee off Molokai. If you want to sail all the way, stay close to Lanai. If you are heading to Kaunakakai or Hale'o Lono on Molokai, you'll probably end up doing a bit of motoring unless you really like to sail in flukey ghosting conditions. Kaunakakai is the 'Big' City on Molokai. It's a small laid back town worth visiting. Hale'o Lono is on the west end of Molokai and basicall just a commercial harbor without commerce. Otherwise, there isn't anything there except when the Molokai Channel Canoe races are getting ready to leave.

You can anchor off most of the lee shore of Maui except where you are exposed to the winds coming through the saddle. Lahaina Harbor is tiny and doubtful that you'd find a space. Maalea is a windy, surgy semi commerial harbor that has little to reccomend it other than it's a place to hide from the winds in that area.

Later on in the year, when the surf and trades settle down, you can anchor on the windward side of the islands. I plan on trying out the windward sides when I got my boat over here this summer. From the air, there are some really inviting looking bays and valleys to explore.

Manele Bay on Lanai is a nice anchorage, winds permitting, but the harbor is tiny and space very limited. The other harbor on Lanai is a commercial harbor and not very interesting. There are probably a lot of places to anchor around Lanai, once again, if the winds and waves cooperate.

So bring a dinghy as you'll be anchored out much of the time. I used to love to hang out in Kaunakakai but haven't be boat challenged and haven't been back in a number of years. It's a great sail back to Oahu, that is if you like surfing at 10 plus knots.
Peter O.
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Old 03-04-2010, 18:11   #3
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I lived in Lahaina for some years and would go to Honolulu several times a year as a change of pace.
Springtime can see 30 days in a row of small craft warnings to gale warnings and as Roverhi stated you'll be beating to windward for much of the trip possible beam reaching as you're headed out towards Molokai, usually a lee breeze in the windshadow of Molokai and on the nose as you're headed on towards Maui. Steep 10' seas are the norm, during gales 25' - 30' walls of water very short period.
Expect it to take at least 12 hrs and leave early in the morning before the wind builds.
You just have to wait for a quiet period to cross, sometimes 1 -2 weeks. Don't go out there and expect to do it on a set schedule, or you'll get in trouble.
Lahaina is the place to anchor it's 35' - 50' of sand and gentle afternoon breeze, you'll be at least 1/4 mi offshore so plan for that. There's another area on the north end of Lahaina called Mala wharf that offers an alternative anchorage.
Again you'll have a great time as long as you don't head out when it's too windy.
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:30   #4
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Watch your weather! The normal trades bring 4 days of high winds followed by 4 days of calmer weather. As soon as the 4th day of higher winds is almost over then it is time to depart. Hug the coast of Oahu up to Koko Head even if you need to tack a few times. After leaving Koko Head close reach (in normal trades) will put you in the lee of Molokai. Plan on making 4 knots to weather and once you get to the lee of Molokai you'll probably be doing lots of motoring unless you are lucky to catch some wind. If you are not lucky to find yourself a weather window remember that the winds pipe up more at between 0900 and 1000 so its best to be in the lee of Molokai by that time. Last time I did it, June of 09 we left Ala Wai at 2300 and saw the Molokai light about 13 miles on our port bow at dawn. We were going on to Manele that trip so didn't tack toward Molokai but continued on to Lanai.
Have a great sail!
Talk to some of the locals there in the marina that have made the journey and they'll give you more information. Just don't go on a time schedule if there are smallcraft warnings.
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Old 03-04-2010, 20:34   #5
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Thanks a lot for the info guys. Im pretty stoked for this sail, and i understand the perils of big wind/wave sailing, i will keep this in mind when planning. Again thanks for the info.

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