SAILING FROM BIG ISLAND

Alinuihaha Channel, you lived up to your reputation and I shall never forget you. The crossing of the Channel was boisterous with tremendous winds and waves experienced just before arriving at the southern tip of Maui.  The trip is not to be taken lightly, the first part up to the tip of the big island is along a lee shore with no possible shelter available.  Then, when committed to crossing the channel there is little room for bailing out other than running south to the west coast of the Big Island.

Maalaea Harbour Entrance.Truce Anchored in Lono Harbour.PHOTO Ray Penson
Maalaea Harbour Entrance.Truce Anchored in Lono Harbour.PHOTO Ray Penson

We made the one-hundred-mile trip from Hilo to La Perouse Bay in seventeen hours.  It could have been much faster but I was trying to keep the speed down to reasonable levels, at one stage I had nine point five showing on the GPS, which is too much.

By one in the morning Truce was anchored in La Perouse Bay, gently pitching and rolling to the low southerly swell entering the bay.  When we arrived at La Perouse bay it was pitch dark and the shore line couldn’t be seen.  I could hear the breakers crashing on the rocks but couldn’t tell how far off they were.  It was a relief at daylight to see that we had found the right anchor spot.

Truce Anchored in Lono Harbour.PHOTO Ray Penson
Truce Anchored in Maalaea Bay. Truce Anchored in Lono Harbour.PHOTO Ray Penson

La Perouse Bay is quite scenic but not much happening there, unless you are into snorkelling.  The water is crystal clear, I could easily see the anchor on the bottom in ten meters.  The Bay is surrounded with volcanic basalt type rock, a bit like Rangitoto in New Zealand but on a bigger scale.  After breakfast, I decided to move on the Sugar Beach in Maalaea Bay.  I had good reports about the place, cafes, restaurants, farmers market, bus into town, nice beach etc.

Upon arrival at Sugar Beach, at two in the afternoon, the wind was howling, about twenty-five knots from onshore.  I anchored, the anchor held.  Now I am sitting on board listening to the wind howling in the rigging as Truce bobs around the anchor.  I can’t go ashore, it’s too windy to leave the boat and I am sure the rubber duck would be blown over the horizon in no time.  So, frustration has set in, I can see the shore, I can hear the shore, I can smell the shore but can’t get there at the moment.

The wind is expected to reduce as the sun goes down and the land cools.  By ten in the evening we can expect calm conditions and the cycle repeats itself the next day with wind building from ten in the morning.

During my time here I have only encountered two other cruising boats.  The lack of sheltered anchorages and ports means that cruisers mainly avoid the place.  Hawaii is a major crossroads on the cruising circuit but it seems most go the established marinas in Honolulu where there are full facilities and services before sailing onwards.

NO MORE BACK TO WALL

Strong winds and rain in the early hours is becoming a tiresome habit.  This morning at one the rain squalls came through the harbour and the anchor must have dragged through the soft mud, leaving Truce far too close for comfort off the harbour wall.  Fortunately, the wind decreased and everything remained safe until daylight.  Now I know how it feels to have your back to the wall.

After suffering interrupted sleep two nights in a row I decided that I had enough of Radio Bay and Hilo.  In the early morning I made preparations to leave.  The forecast is for strong North Westerly winds, twenty-five to thirty knots.  They will be aft of the beam so nothing too strenuous.

I have decided to make the jump across from the Big Island to Maui.  It’s one hundred miles to Maui and entails crossing the Alinuihaha Channel, a notoriously windy place where the trade wins are funnelled between ten thousand foot mountains on one side and five thousand foot mountains on the other.

By eight I was clear of Hilo harbour and motoring up the north coast of the Big Island, no wind but a lumpy sea and big swell.  By eleven the wind had set in and we were sailing in beautiful conditions along the coast.  What a lovely coastline, the vegetation is vivid green, houses dotted on the hillsides, some large houses with well-manicured gardens and lawns.  As the land rises back from the coast it is covered by clouds, nothing can be seen of the mountains beyond.  Further up the coast we passed the Waipio Valley, a spectacular stretch of high rugged coastline.

We are aiming for La Perouse Bay on the south side of Maui.  This is the first sheltered anchorage after crossing the Alinuihaha Channel from the Big Island.   All being well we should be there in the early hours of Saturday morning, safely anchored.  I am looking forward to Maui, everyone says it’s a beautiful place.

MORE WANDERING IN HILO

My wish for an uninterrupted sleep didn’t materialise.  In the early hours of the morning the wind woke me and I found the yacht alongside was coming a bit close.  I checked the moorings and all was OK and an hour later the wind had subsided.

Hanging out in Reeds Bay, Hilo Photo Ray Penson
Hanging out in Reeds Bay, Hilo Photo Ray Penson

Later in the morning I finished the mast work and headed ashore in the Rubber Duck.  I caught the local bus into town and had a good scout around.  The market had shrunk in size from yesterday – they have big market days and small market days, today was a small market day.  I bought some nice Papaya and some veggies.

The town is quite run down.  A few tourist shops along the front street and then a lot of vacant buildings in the streets behind.  A couple of miles up the road is a big shopping centre with Sears, Macey’s, Walmart, Safeway, Target – all the big brand stores.  The shops in the town obviously can’t compete and are closing.  Sad because the old town has a nice quirky feel to it.

I didn’t get my Hawaiian shirt today – just didn’t see the killer design I am after.  No hurry.  Lunch of spicy fish curry was taken at Pineapple restaurant.  Nice fresh food washed down with draft Castaway IPA.

This evening the American couple Nick and Taylor came over for sundowners.  Then a British guy, Ben, turned up from nowhere on a paddle board.  He has a boat anchored out in the bay.  All up I had a nice relaxing day.

Thoughts are turning to moving on towards Honolulu.  The winds around Hawaii are notoriously strong. Particularly in the channels between the islands so good planning is needed for an easy passage.  Saturday seems like a good time to head off towards Maui according to the local forecast.  I must leave Radio Bay tomorrow as my mooring runs out.  I will probably anchor around the corner in Reeds Bay which is closer to town – and free.