Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kailua Bay (Kona)

I arrived in Kailua Bay at 11:30am after motoring over from Kealakekua.  I have two cruising guides: Charlies Charts and the guide by Carolyn and Bob Mehaffy.  Charlies Charts only describes Kailua briely, saying that anchoring here is not recommended.  The Mehaffy guide mentions two anchoring spots, one I didn't like and one I never found.  While I was there, there were several moorings which appeared to be free however the harbormaster was unable to allow me to tie up to either of them which is fair enough.  I ended up anchoring here six times, and there were people complaining about where I was after every attempt.

The harbormasters phone number is different from the one given in both cruising guides, I understand they changed their phone numbers recently and the change isn't yet reflected by the web sites I found via google as I was searching for it.  Their new number is (808) 327-3692.

This post is a little negative and whiny.  If you only want to hear about the good aspects of cruising, come back in a few days and I'll probably have a positive feel good post you can read (as where I am at the moment is awesome.)

I've been trying hard to avoid dropping my anchor on coral and also trying to find a large enough sand patch so that as the boat moved around at anchor the rode won't hit adjacent coral.  I found a great sand patch in the bay 600' away from the pier where this was possible.  This is probably the best sand patch in the bay - the sand is deep so the holding is good and its also large.  The spot is 600' feet SSW of the pier and 300' west of the northernmost mooring.  None of the commercial operators of the larger boats complained about my being here.  One person, who ended up being the harbor masters agent (agent of the agent, AA) mentioned that he though I was in the way of the other commercial operators although personally he had no problem with where I was.  None of the other operators had said anything and would wave as they went by.  After finally finding the harbor masters phone number, we spoke and he wanted me to move but gave me conflicting advice.  He said I could move 100' further south (into the coral as it turned out) and also to follow the advice the AA gave me.  The AA advised that I move much farther away, but also gave me conflicting advice.  There was a cruise ship arriving on Wednesday and they both felt that the tenders which serve the ship would have trouble getting around me.  I've been in harbors where these tenders operate and they are much smaller than other boats which had been successfully operating at the pier without any problem.  So I ended up moving.  I found another smaller but large enough sand patch further from the pier, farther east and south.  Lots of space between me and anything else around - at least 400' to the nearest mooring and 800' to the pier.  The AA came by again and asked me to move again and clarified his earlier advice.  So I moved again, finding a small 'sand bunker' as the AA called it, which is basically a small sand patch where you can drop your anchor while your rode drapes over the neighboring coral.  The AA liked the spot I ended up in, although he felt it was too close to the swim lane.  At this point I was getting fed up, not liking where I was at all.  It was 3pm on Tuesday and I decided to go to shore to eat, provision, and then move along the next morning.

The next morning (Wednesday) the harbor agent called at 5:50am and asked me to move as he felt I was too close to a lane the cruise ship might use for their tenders.  There was over 800' SW from me to the mooring field, it was ridiculous.  The agent described a location where he thought I could move which was between two boats in the mooring field.  I asked if there was a sand bottom in that area as there is dense coral throughout most of the bay - he had no idea what the bottom was like.  I spoke with him longer and he admitted that basically his goal was to move me out of the bay to Honokohau, about three miles north.

One more aspect to the bay of interest to cruisers is the dinghy dock. The only space I found for landing my dinghy was to moor it bow/stern to a mooring ball and a cleat on the dock - there were two spare mooring balls when I was there that were available.  The rest of the area is reserved for commercial operators.  This worked out fine once I realized what the solution was.

The anchorage is rolly.  I experienced the worst rolling here at anchor that I found on the leeward side of the island.  This isn't just during the day when boats are moving around, its at night as well.  There were several times when I found myself laughing out loud at the motion the boat just took, thinking "that was ridiculous!"

One last point, the harbor agent mentioned that boats which anchor here need to apply for a temporary mooring permit and pay a daily fee.  This is normally done personally at their office in Honokohau (three miles away.)  Both cruising guides mention the first 72 hours are free and a different agent I spoke with at the office mentioned that the state changed their procedures recently and she had basically stopped issuing temporary mooring permits as the money they generated wasn't worth her trouble - she said I wouldn't need one.  When I spoke with the agent as I was getting ready to leave he waived the money I owed, along with the 5 pages of permit he had wanted me to fill out.

The Kona pier from my final anchoring spot
My view of the cruise ship  from the same spot as above.  Its stern is pointed at the pier.
The final complaint from the harbor master was that the tenders between the cruise ship and the pier would have trouble with where I was anchored.  In the photo above, note the distance from myself to the nearest row of moorings.   Also note that the tenders would being going back and forth in a line from the cruise ship to the pier behind it.  Its a straight line along the side of the ship's port side to the pier.

My conclusion is that they don't want sailboats here and will hassle you until you realize that.  Coming here was a frustrating experience.  I had plans to stay in the bay for a week, enjoying being in a city again.  In the end I was here for under 48 hours.

To other cruisers: you may have a totally different experience than I did.  If you could get onto a mooring, then everything would likely turn out just fine - but the harbor master wasn't really open to that idea when I spoke with him.  Or perhaps you can find a place to anchor which everybody likes and again have a good time here.  It looks like a visit to Kona would be worthwhile and I'm sorry I missed it.  If you can get into Honokohau it looks like it could be a good long term spot which would let you explore the area by land (assuming the bow/stern mooring you end up on is free for as long as you want it, as I believe there are no moorings reserved for transients.)

Next up: I move to the north side of the Big Island to stay briefly before moving along to Maui.

1 comment:

  1. Phooey! Where the better places and nicer folks?
    Mum with a hug.