Thursday, July 2, 2015

Kauai - June 18 to July 2

(We've just added photos to this earlier posting)
How to leave the idyllic setting of Kaneohe Bay? Each setting seems prettier than the previous. With that in mind and with extra time while waiting for the Pacific high to develop, we set our sails for Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai for a few days' stay and one very spectacular place.
Sailing into Hanalei Bay on Kauai
Kaneohe Bay to Hanalei Bay is an overnight passage, 120 nm. With good wind of 10 to 20 kts and a current assisting, we made such great time that we had to take down the jib to slow us in order to arrive during daylight. It had been a dark, cloudy night and Hawaiian shores are lined with reefs. First views of the bay are off the beauty charts! The tall mountains are carpeted with emerald green trees which lead down to the small tourist town Hanalei (which means where leis are made) and then to the two mile white sandy beach surrounding the clear, turquoise water in a crescent. We found a soft rain a few times each day with a full rainbow arching over the mountains in the afternoons. The bay is large, accommodating many boats. Twelve were there on arrival; two more anchored the following day and eventually there were 22. There is a variety of water sports in the bay which makes it a fun place to sit on deck and soak in our surroundings. Then, a jump in the water and we are participating.
Hanalei Bay, looking toward the south beach
Hanalei Bay, looking toward the estuary and Hanalei Beach Park
We received disappointing news from Commander's Weather (CW). It's a no-go on the 24th because there still isn't enough wind. Just when logistics had been settled - our crew was to arrive on the 23rd. After sending him news of the delay...lemons to lemonade! We invited him to keep his flight and join us for a sail around Kauai for the next week, with a few stops along the rugged Na Pali coast where pristine anchorages offer great snorkeling. Planned departure is now 7/3.

"Puff the Magic Dragon" - the hills above Hanalei Bay (snout of dragon on right)
We met Karsten's bus at the post office in Hanalei. We are lucky, first impressions are all good. He treated us to a smoothie from the fruit stand, then we stopped at the Hawaiian BBQ for lunch before proceeding to the boat. Later in the evening, we stopped in at Tahiti Nui's to celebrate with their famous Mai-Tais (delicious!) while a Hawaiian band sang and played their ukuleles.
Mai Tais at Tahiti Nui
Dinghy trip up the estuary at Hanalei
Saturday outrigger races in Hanalei Bay
One of our near-daily afternoon rainbows
The band at Tahiti Nui
Church and green growth, Hanalei
The very next day we received more disappointing news from CW. It doesn't even look good for a 7/3 departure because the wind is so weak. We contacted another router for comparison, Weather Guy. A few other boats are leaving on the weekend for the mainland. We cannot proceed until we top off our fuel which means getting to the south end of the island. We are now on the north shore! So, we left Hanalei Bay with an escort of four dolphins swimming along our bow. We motored to Ha'ena Beach, just 5.3 nm away. Breathtaking! The scenery is even more impressive than before. This mountainous backdrop and the romantic shoreline beaches were used as the Bali Hai scene in the movie South Pacific, and just around the corner lovely Kee Beach in the Thorn Birds. To get to the anchorage, which is in calm water behind the surf line, we had to weave our way in carefully, looking for the patch of sand in which to set the anchor while avoiding any coral. Once there we were looking out on the ocean with surf smashing over the nearby reef on one side of the boat with the sandy beach on the other! Snorkeling is all around the reef in clear water with 40' visibility. So refreshing! A grassy area beyond the sandy beach is partially filled with tent campers. We were the only boat in the anchorage. As the afternoon faded away, a full rainbow arched over the beach from the mountains to the ocean just as a small wedding was taking place. If only we were able to give them the photo we took but the surf had gotten too rough to make a shore landing.
Anchorage at Ha'ena Beach
True North at anchor off Ha'ena Beach
Karsten and Gregg having a beer break
Beach walk
Don't forget the Hawaiian Shave Ice
Back on the weather front, Weather Guy says leave; CW says don't leave! Keeping options open, we reluctantly left Ha'ena and sailed west along more spectacular coastline to Nu'alolo Anchorage, which is just past the waterfall marking the end of the 11 mile Na Pali coast Kalalau Trail. We were advised to arrive early before the commercial boats in order to anchor close to the reef which is protected from swells by Alapi'i Point. Crystal clear water! A large turtle swam with us as we made our way around the reef snorkeling. We saw all the usual Hawaiian reef fish: colorful varieties of butterfly fish, needle fish, black durgeon, three striped squirrel fish in a hole (or were they scorpionfish?), and many varieties of tangs. Surprisingly, the coral wasn't at all colorful. After the commercial boats left, we moved over to their spot, anchoring in sand. Later in the afternoon when the wind picked up we felt uneasy about being anchored in between these reefs so we left for Polihale Beach. It was a fast sail with really a good 20+ kt wind all the way and the beautiful coastline was disappearing too quickly! We took down the jib to slow down a bit, then saw the long sand beach ahead clearly marking our next stop. We anchored beside cliffs, the only boat there. A turtle swam by. We joined in for a refreshing swim. A little later a group of very tired kayakers stopped to talk with us as they paddled past our boat on the way to their beach campsite. Cliffs spill down to the ocean almost continuously for the 12 miles to Polihale. Gradually the terrain changes from deep green to lighter shades of green and brown, now on the dry side of Kaui.
Na Pali Coast, where we turned around on the trail years ago
Panorama of Na Pali Coast
Spectacular scenery, Na Pali Coast
Anchored at Treasure Cove, near Barking Sands Beach
Anchored near the cliff
The next stop: Port Allen. Gregg made several calls during the week to reserve a slip in the small boat harbor but received no return calls. Once underway we finally got a call from the dockmaster – no slips are available and the anchorage has too much surge for more than a short stay. So we sailed a little farther to little Wahiawa Bay with hopes of finding enough room for us. Along the way we passed the colorful red and green Waimea Canyon, and the neighboring hillsides covered with patchwork farmland. Great sailing day, an easy 6 kts much of the way. We lowered the sails just outside the well protected Wahiawa Bay. It is very small with a sandy beach at one end and rocky shores on two sides. One other small sailboat arrived just ahead of us, then left a short while later leaving us alone in the bay. We got ready to leave for a shore trip to walk a couple of miles to Hanapepe for dinner and a cold beverage but then took another measurement with our range instrument to find we were just 63 yards from one of the shores. Had we dragged? No, but discussion of dropping a stern anchor followed. In the end, we decided to just stay aboard as it was already getting late in the evening.
Swing bridge near Port Allen (during car trip)
Sunday, June 28 – We left early for Nawiliwili Harbor and marina. Because it is the weekend, we cannot get a slip so will anchor outside the marina until Monday. The bottom is thick mud which makes it difficult to dig in initially but our second try is successful. We dinghied to shore to meet the very friendly Commodore of the Nawiliwili YC, Doug, who was working on sail repair in a large grassy area. He invited us up to see the YC where we exchanged burgees with him. It was very official! In fact, by the next day he had posted a photo of us on the NYC website ( with a small summary which indicated that he had read up on our Sloop Tavern YC. From there, we proceeded to town for “best” mai-tais ever and a casual dinner out. Across the road is the Marriott Lagoon where our family joined Al and Holly to celebrate their wedding 27 years ago!
Exchange of Yacht Club burgees
Moonrise near the Marriott, Nawiliwili
Monday, June 29 – We moved from the anchorage to a slip in the marina. Today is a boat chore day. We organized, cleaned, made a laundry run, and topped off the fuel. Karsten bought fresh yellowfin tuna from a couple of fishermen and prepared our dinner later with a tasty mango-jalapeno-ginger topping. We used up the remaining vegetables to make space for final provisioning before leaving.
Waimea Canyon, car trip and hike
Waimea Canyon, car trip and hike
At the top of the falls, Waimea Canyon hike
Tuesday, June 30 – Commander's Weather now says GO Thursday! Today we will do some sightseeing to Waimea Canyon, having picked up a rental car yesterday, and try to find a couple of diesel containers to give us an additional 10 gallons of fuel “just in case”. Later we notice for the first time a wobbly shroud on the starboard side. Gregg tightened the turnbuckle six full turns which is a lot so we are concerned. Doug the Commodore recommended a rigger from Oahu (none on Kauai) and after a phone conversation where he sensed our urgency, he came the following day. We were prepared for the worst...big delay plus huge expense. Very fortunately, the skilled rigger John Coon carefully checked every single piece of rigging, made some good adjustments, and gave us the go-ahead. Now as long as we still get a confirmation from CW in the morning, we are ready to go!
John Koon tuning True North's rig
Thursday, July 2 - We left Nawiliwili Harbor at 0945 local time. We're on our way! 

Readying True North for the passage in Nawiliwili Harbor

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