The winds veering around the island were suppose to have decreased down to five knots in the evening. As I laid in my bunk in Nishimura anchorage at midnight the wind generator was still howling, a good sign the wind hadn’t decreased. By 0100 I was worried the wind generator would take off, taking the back half of the boat with it. The wind was seriously blowing now. Well, at least the batteries were charging. Maybe we wouldn’t be heading across the Alenuihaha Channel tonight; or for the next week. There was suppose to have been a break in the weather for a few hours tonight. At 0130 the wind died completely, almost ominously. Looking through the hatch it was eerie. Pitch black and I could hear the breaking waves on the rocks 75 feet away. Is the wind gone for the next few hours? Can I make a break for it? Never mind. Stupid wind generator; there it goes again, threatening to disintegrate again from the howling trade winds funneling through the channel. 0230, the wind has dropped to a faint breeze for at least the last 1/2 hour. The wind generator’s motionless blades tell me it’s time to raise anchor and make a run for it.
At 0330, Camanoe and I were on a beam reach three miles into the Alenuihaha channel with a 12-15 knot breeze cruising along at six knots. We had a 6-7 foot swell every five seconds hitting us on the beam causing us to roll a bit. As the sun rose around 0630 it was easy to see how the trade winds could funnel through this channel creating havoc on any poor soul caught in the middle. It was even easier to understand this was one of the worst feared channels in the world. It has been the death of many people and more ships, including Captain Cook’s ship, during his sixth circumnavigation. Apparently, as the day progresses, the wind builds in strength through the channel. By noon, on average, it is an unsafe place to be. Fortunately, the wind remained steady as it clocked around to our stern pushing us to within five miles of Kihei, Maui, before it changed 180 degrees onto the nose.
What is that? Yup, it’s what I think it is. As I was dropping the main sail and rolling the head sail in preparation to motor the last five miles to Kihei I spied me a nude beach 100 feet off my starboard side. Unfortunately, the water was full of coral, not a great place to drop the hook. This would have made for a perfect blog photo!
Less than an hour later I was anchored in Kihei in front of the Mana Kai resort. What a difference from the big island. This was paradise; beaches on either side of me for five miles, full of people swimming and boating. Camanoe was anchored less than 100 feet from shore; an easy swim. After swimming ashore with my gear in a dry bag, I walked five miles down the main strip. It’s a beautiful place lined with beaches, parks and people smiling. It was great chatting it up with the locals after being confined on the boat for the last few days.
Even though Kihei was beautiful, my real reason for stopping there was Molokini crater. Molokini Crater, easily visible from Camanoe’s anchorage, is considered one of the top 10 places to dive in the world. Essentially, it is the remains of a volcano crater that has been sinking/erroding back into the ocean. The land, coral and wildlife are protected, so it makes for fantastic diving. Anchoring is not allowed, so the state has installed first come, first served day-use mooring buoys. Unfortunately, the top of the buoy is 15 feet underwater, so you must dive down and tie up to it. Not so easy when you are by yourself and it’s blowing 15 knots towards shore and you’re only 75 feet from it. Unless you’re a fast swimmer, you really only get one chance. Unfortunately, the local dive charter boats consider these moorings their personal property. By 0900 every morning the moorings are pretty much full until 1500. These are day-use moorings only. But, because the charter boats hog them all day, it was easier for me to sail out to Molokini at 1600, grab a mooring and make a dive, then leave for Lahaina, the next anchorage, by nightfall. Instead, I ended up spending the night on the mooring. The wind had really picked up by nightfall. It was coming from the direction I wanted to go. No sense beating into it for 20 miles. This worked out perfectly. Only exception being the chains holding the mooring to the sea floor were banging into the sea floor every couple seconds. Loudly, I might add. I had weird dreams that night of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas past.
The dive itself was beautiful, very peaceful, especially since there was no one else around for at least five miles. Tons of coral, fish and a few reef sharks. None of the sharks were over five feet, so I followed a few. It always amazes me how confident they appear as they swim around the reef with power and attitude. Initially I descended down to 80 feet and did a drift dive towards the edge of the crater working my way up to 30 feet. Perfect!
By 0830 the next morning charter boats were circling the mooring giving me the stink eye. By 0900 I departed Molokini for Lahaina 20 miles away. The wind was light to non-existant, so we drifted the first five miles in three hours. Then, all of a sudden, before I could put a reef in the main, the wind picked up to thirty knots on the nose. By the time I put up the stay sail, running back stays, and reefed the main, the wind started to peter out. The last 10 miles was a perfect close reach into Lahaina. The Vic-Maui Race had just finished so the Harbor and Yacht Club mooring balls were full, so I was forced to drop the hook way out in Mala anchorage. As I was weaving my way through all the derelict boats I noticed a trimaran sailboat motoring in circles really close to the breaking waves on the reef. A second later, a guy frantically ran up to the bow and threw over an anchor while he made a cross with his fingers over his chest, praying the anchor would hold. I motored over only to find his steering was stuck and he could only go in circles. To make matters worse, something was wrong with his boat’s electrical system. He had no juice to run the anchor windlass or the blender for an Oh Shit margarita. Fortunately, he had some friends with him to help with the praying. It worked! By the time his anchor caught he was in only 10 feet of water and 30 feet from the reef and it’s breaking waves. After circling for an hour, he couldn’t repair his stuck rudder. He claimed his boat was too large to kedge (use a series of anchors to pull the boat into deeper water) without the windlass. It was also too close to the reef for Camanoe to side tie to him and use my engine to over power his stuck rudder and pull the boat into deeper water. Eventually, one of his religious friends onboard swam a line out to Camanoe so I could help pull him into deeper water and hopefully over-power his frozen rudder. No luck. A stuck rudder on a trimaran can’t be over-powered with Camanoe’s single rudder and 44 h.p. engine. After an hour of pulling, we finally gave up. He stayed there close to the reef for three days, until one morning I awoke to find he was anchored behind me here in Mala (trimaran in pic shown below). He hasn’t been on his boat since he dropped the anchor three days ago, so I don’t know the full story yet.