(Note the waypoint given in the cruising guide is wrong.)
The distance from Kona to my first stop on Maui, which is near the southern point of the island, is roughly 70 miles. The channel between the two islands is called Alenuihaha and the trade winds funnel between the two islands in this channel creating more wind and seas than normal. According to my cruising guide: "The Alenuihaha Channel has the reputation of being one of the world's worst channels." (I'm already across it as I write by the way...don't worry.) By breaking up the journey you are able to choose your crossing time more flexibly. The cruising guide has a couple of spots which could be used as an intermediate point, I choose Nishimura Bay and think I lucked out in my choice - its a beautiful spot with great anchoring. Nishimura is 30 miles away from Kona, as the crow flies.
The sailing on the leeward side of the Big Island had been difficult as there has been so little wind, and what wind there is is often highly variable. On the journey between Kona and Nishimura there was often some wind, but it was still highly variable. Leaving Kailua you head north west until you round Keahole Point which is maybe 8 miles away. From there the coast line heads back north east to Kawaihae (20 miles) and then heads back north west and then north to the tip of the island. Nishimura is, oh, say 3 miles south of the northern tip of the island, on the leeward side.
For the initial leg out to Keahole Point, there was little wind, and so I motored. After rounding the point some wind arrived so I raised the sails and started to sail. After a 1/2 hour the wind quickly veered 90 degrees so I was heading back toward where I had come, I tacked and held that for a few minutes when the wind changed again and dropped to near zero. Then the wind came back from the opposite direction. I realized this might not be a good sailing day after all, and so got pointed back to my destination (to the opposite side of the bay, 8 miles south of my destination) and started motorsailing. Having the sails up helped, I gained a little speed and the boat motion was better without the sails slatting or chafing. The waves in this area were a constant 3 or 4 foot short period wind waves. As the wind was so variable and generally light, I was curious how these wind waves were being generated - as they were coming from the shoreline ahead of me, they weren't trade wind waves wrapping around the tip of the island. Of course, if there are wind waves which are of a constant height and they are coming from a constant direction (exactly from where I was heading to) then there is likely to be wind ahead. It took a while but once I was within 10 miles of the opposite shore the wind started to become steady and strengthen. It ended up being E - NE 25 to 30 knots, steady, on the nose. I wanted to be at the anchorage early enough to be able to evaluate the holding and be able to change my destination if required, so I continued to motor. I ended up motoring 8 hours this day, which was unfortunate, but I arrived by 2:30pm which was good timing.
When I arrived at the anchorage it corresponded closely to the description from the guide book. There are two large patches of sand, with the one in the middle of the bay being larger. I choose to anchor in the larger patch and was able to let out 160' of chain without coming close to any coral. The winds ripping through the anchorage were 25 to 30 knots but the anchor was firmly set and as I dove the anchor I saw that the sand was deep and extensive. Score one major point for this anchorage.
Nishimura Bay is a beautiful spot. There is no sand beach anywhere on the shore which is too bad in terms of landing on shore but works out well for the clarity of the water. The water here was extremely clear. Swimming around the bay gave great views of the bottom - while I didn't approach shore very closely it was still good exercise and its always nice to be in the water in this area.
|Me! Happy to be here!|
The next morning, friday, I got up at 4:40am, saw the wind was east 10 knots. I used the computer to check the two forecast areas (the channel and Maui's leeward side) as well as the grib data for the area - and decided to leave. I was out of this anchorage by 5:45am having stayed two nights.
If you find yourself heading from the Big Island to Maui, I can recommend this as a stopover. Based on my one whole time being here...so of course use your own judgement given the weather etc. But its a nice anchorage and the sand patch here provides good holding.