Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In Lahaina

My last post had left me in Nishimura Bay, on the northern tip of the Big Island.  Since then I've crossed the Alenuihaha Channel, stayed anchored off of Big Beach for three nights and moved along to Lahaina.

The crossing of the Alenuihaha Channel was about what I expected - there was lots of wind and waves.  Leaving the lee of the Big Island I saw wind in the 15-20 knot range a little forward of my beam.  This veered around to end up on my starboard quarter after strengthening to 25-33 knots.  The waves were 10-12 feet.  I started the crossing at 5:30am and had crossed the channel by noon - it was a nice sail, my first for a while.  Once I had crossed the channel I started to head north along the coast with my destination being three miles north of the southern tip, off of Big Beach (Oneloa.)  The wind died as expected and by the time I was in the anchorage area there was roughly 10 knots of variable wind around.

Oneloa "Big Beach", Maui
There are large sand patches scattered around this anchorage.  Its a beautiful spot, although its completely open to the waves and swell.  Being so close to the Alenuihaha Channel, there is some wind and waves generated which make their way here.  The anchorage is subject to strong variable winds.  There were times when I would see a wind line approaching from the south and soon after be hit by 25 knots of wind/waves.  Then after a bit it would calm down, become variable, and then switch to a strong north wind.  It was a little wild.  I was anchored in 32' of water with 160' of chain out - and there were times when I would be lying to my anchor all the way in one direction followed a little while later by lying to my anchor all the way in some other.  Remarkably my Rocna anchor held in these conditions. The winds were strong and reversing multiple times a day, but diving on my anchor I could see it well set in the sand bottom without any trace of it having reset or dragged.  Nice.

Big Beach
I ended up being here for three nights.  I had expected to arrive at Big Beach and quickly make my way up the coast to a second anchorage I had found.  But the cruising guide mentioned my second pick wasn't as good an anchorage in strong winds and this in an area the wind is meant to whip through when the trades are blowing.  I had two other anchorages selected beyond that one, but again they were both open roadstead anchorages recommended for light conditions.  So I decided to move along from Big Beach to Lahaina, and wanted to arrive on Monday.  So I spent three nights at Big Beach, swimming in the water around the boat but not making it into shore.

Molokini from Big Beach
On Monday I left the anchorage off Big Beach in a light south wind.  Motoring north I encountered first variable light wind, then stronger variable wind, then steady north wind, then 25-30 knots, gusting higher, from the north (where I was heading.)  This was pretty much a repeat of my trip across the bay north of Kona, and was about as miserable although for less time.  Eventually I reached the northern shore of the bay, turned west and followed it toward Lahaina 10 miles away and after a while the wind moderated and then fell off.

Some of the Maui coastline, south of Lahaina
I picked up a Lahaina Yacht Club mooring.  LYC has 8 moorings which they keep open for transient cruisers.  (LYC is one of the yacht club which organizes the Vic-Maui yacht race, the race ends here.)  If you're a member of a yacht club there is no charge for the mooring.  I'm not a yacht club member so the charge is $10/day which I am happy to pay.  I dove on the mooring and it is in good shape and has beefy hardware.  It feels like I can start to relax here.  The mooring field is a roadstead and is so fully open to swell and waves, and there is some swell scheduled to arrive over the next few days (south 3', then mixed south 3'  + north 3', then north 3' for a while) but the town seems interesting, its a beautiful area, its sunny!  The maximum stay on a LYC mooring is normally 14 days, but as this is the low season the folks at the LYC have agreed to allow me to stay longer.  Sweet!  The folks at the LYC seem very friendly and its nice to be among sailors again.  They have a bar/lounge which serves food and drinks and they've provided me with a visiting yachtsmen membership which allows me full use of their facilities.

Making power in sunny Lahaina.
I think I'm going to like this place!

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