Sunday, November 6, 2011

A “quick” visit to the rainbow capital, Oahu??

Tuesday, October 25th, and yet another channel crossing; this time the Kaiwi Channel with destination Honolulu, Oahu. In an attempt to balance making some miles before the winds got too strong and having enough wind to mostly sail, we set the alarm for 0330. At 0500 with no winds and in complete darkness, we exited Lono Harbor utilizing the GPS track we had collected when entering. As it was the day prior to a completely New Moon, a tiny sliver of moon rose above the horizon heralding the waking sun soon after exiting the harbor. We motored until almost 0800 until we were nearly off Penguin Bank, a shallow area running SW off the edge of Moloka’i, when a slight breeze filled in. Over the next two hours we encountered light winds everywhere from WSW to NW, and rolling uncomfortable seas caused by opposing currents rushing along the shallow bank (see map below). Finally, just after 1000 a squall passed over head bringing comfortable winds from the expected E direction.

Another hour later we started to pull reefs in the mains’l and by noon, as we approached the western edge of the channel, the winds were up to 20 knots and we had lashed the entire main down. Having heard motors all morning only to discover time and again that they were planes, we finally spotted our first real traffic- a cargo ship speeding down the channel toward Honolulu. Why wasn’t it up on the AIS yet? This was a good reminder that there is no substitute for standing watch and using your eyes. As it turns out, we (Shawn) had mixed up the early morning cable connections which left us without actually receiving signals (oops!). Many thanks to the ocean gods for allowing us safe crossing, as traffic is one of the big concerns over the nearly 40-nm crossing. Once in the protection of Makapu’u Point (the easternmost point of Oahu), the sea state suddenly settled and sailing conditions became very SF Bay-like. We had a beautiful hour of sailing during which we watched first Koko Head and then Diamond Head Crater come into focus. It was Shawn’s first time to Oahu and she was amazed at the huge quantity of houses clinging to the foothills. Whereas on the Big Island there were fresh-looking lava flows, here on Oahu, it looked like there were flows of houses covering any surface flat enough. Then we rounded Diamond Head, and Waikiki and Honolulu’s skyscrapers came into view. It was quite a culture shock to have left Moloka'i, the least populous of the main Hawaiian Islands, and arrive in Honolulu the largest city on Oahu, the most densely populated island of the archipelago.

Immediately we picked out all the normal big-city-on-the-water things; parasailers, submarine glass bottom tours, tourist filled catamarans, cruise ships, etc… We were able to sail directly to the entrance of Kewalo Basin Harbor, one of the few spaces we’d been able to find in our attempts to call/e-mail from Lono Harbor. We are grateful that the Kewalo Basin harbormaster, Charles Barclay, welcomes cruisers in spite of our transient schedules. Once Yannie was cranked up, we pulled down the sails, and Shawn ran around like crazy attaching lines and fenders. Chris steered us into the harbor channel, and watched surfers carving up waves both to port and starboard. We pulled alongside a tire-lined temporary dock to check in. After some slow paperwork, we made our way into slip “107” whose owner is absent until mid-November. Our first “dock” tie-up since Mexico, we both realized that each harbor experience in Hawaii has been unique. Honolulu is its own universe. Originally serving the fishing fleet of Honolulu, Kewalo Basin is now open for commercial and private use. Despite the change in use, no upgrades have been made to the docks; therefore, the fixed dock that we were assigned is more appropriate for a 100-ft vessel with much more freeboard than Tao. Still, we’ve made it home, tying dock lines from all four corners of Tao and adding chafe gear where necessary. We are especially grateful to have found space just days prior to the beginning of APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation). This meeting of economic leaders from 21 Pacific Rim countries, including President Obama, will lock the city down with everyone on high alert and several maritime closures.

We hoped to accomplish only a few things while in Honolulu. At the top of the list was to visit Chris’ grandmother, Margie. Since here, we have been visiting her near daily at Arcadia, the retirement home that she and Chris’ grandfather moved to in 1997. As an added bonus, our surprise visit overlapped with Chris’ uncle Peter and his wife Andrea’s. We enjoyed visiting with them (tours of Punahou School, Manoa Valley, Lyon Arboretum, and the Outrigger Canoe Club), and with their help, we managed to get Grandma down to Kewalo Basin Harbor for a pleasant visit to Tao! Although we planned the visit for high tide, the distance from the dock to the boat and negotiating our life-lines required too much acrobatics for her 93-yr old body. Andrea cleverly found a 5-gal bucket for a seat on the thin dock finger and we supplied one of our Hilo-purchased umbrellas to ward off the alternatively beating sun and “liquid sunshine” that arrived in waves. Margie and John had been avid sailors over the years and it was very special to share the boat that we sailed across the Pacific to get here.

We also visited Chris’ grandfather a few times at the Punchbowl, a national cemetery and now the resting place for thousands that is an amazing memorial to the sacrifices of those who have served in the Pacific. In addition, family friend Lynden (Dave's best friend from Punahou School) and wife Jackie took us on a tour of some Honolulu sites including the windy and historically significant Nuuanu Pali (cliff) overlooking Kaneohe Bay on the north side of the island and out for a nice dinner. We have taken classes at all 3 recognized Bikram Yoga studios on the island of Oahu; Honolulu, Nimitz, and North Shore. The first two are about a half hour bus ride from our boat, though unfortunately neither of them honor Shawn’s teaching certification. Therefore, frequent yoga classes for both of us get quite expensive unless we’re here long enough to get on the teaching schedule. The third was a 2-hr bus ride through the center of the island to the North Shore, an area renowned for its legendary big-wave surfing. We also checked out SW Oahu by bus and Chris has only to hop to the other side of the Kewalo Basin Park to catch some surf.

Chris managed to catch a cold here in populated paradise and the trade wind pattern is conspiring to keep us here a bit longer- neither favorable for us to leave in a timely fashion as we had planned. Sometimes we wonder why we try to plan. Our island exploration and visiting activities halted for the past few days for Chris to get better and we are currently making new plans as we watch the weather. The strong trade wind activity is forecasted for at least the next week. APEC is here next week so Waikiki and Kahe Point (two of the three real anchorages on the south side of Oahu) are closed to vessel traffic. Although we had planned to make a “quick” trip to Oahu, we are a bit boxed in. We might attempt to brave our way around the E edge of Oahu and up to Kaneohe Bay, or alternatively spend a few more days here and then work our way along the protected SW edge of Oahu (a bit reminiscent of the Kona coast on the Big Island), or maybe just stay in this safe harbor until the weather is favorable for a comfortable eastward Kaiwi Channel crossing. We hope to at least round the island via the amazing bus system here, possibly teach some yoga, and definitely continue to visit Chris’ grandmother to name a few ideas. There is always plenty of interest to do, just don’t expect a straight or short answer when you ask us what our plans are.
(thanks for the nice photo Andrea!)

1 comment:

  1. It sure looks like a fantastic place to visit. Do let me know when you're heading back to the big island so I can do my worry thing!