Two weeks in Ala Wai Harbor

It’s been two weeks now since Beetle has arrived, and all is going well.  Kristen has flown over from California and was here in time for Thanksgiving dinner; we did this at the Mac 24/7 restaurant nearby that sets up a buffet with all kinds of good stuff – eat as much as you’d enjoy while choosing from a wide variety of foods – worked out great.

Kristen comes bearing Yacht Club membership (Island YC, in Alameda) and armed with her card we walked the short distance over to the Hawaii YC to see Giovani Soldini’s Maserati – and immediately ran into Nate, the fellow who has the boat tied up to the dock ahead of me.  Turns out it’s an entirely different environment when meeting people in the yacht club as opposed to meeting them out on the docks.  On the docks you’re wary of whom you’re talking to and do not share information, primarily because petty theft is reported to be rampant in Oahu and therefore you simply keep to yourself.  In the yacht club it’s quite different, we’re all boaters and lots of stories flowed.


Maserati hanging out on the aloha dock at HYC, awaiting arrival of the crew to sail to Hong Kong. They are planning to depart on Sunday. These boats are wicked-fast, and this one has foils to go even faster.

Kristen then ran into another SSS TransPac veteran, Ronnie Simpson – he had just come in from the Friday night races where he crewed on a Hobie 33 and they had a great race, he was quite happy with how he did and it was super to run into him there at a table out on the surrounding veranda of the club’s upstairs.  He typically crews on the TransPac 52 Locomotion, but they didn’t sail this Friday and apparently a bunch of that crew went out on the Hobie and had lots of fun.


Ronnie – a Marine injured in the Iraq War where he was blown up – he’s an amazing guy that’s been there done that, and there he was at Hawaii YC, most fun!

We met the Matteo from Italy, he’s part of the Soldini campaign looked quite elegant in his fancy Maserati shirt; he’s onboard for moving the MOD 70 to Hong Kong but wont’ be on board for the record attempt back to England.  Fun guy, lots to do for getting out of here and zipping across to there.

Today (Saturday) we went over to Pearl Harbor and got to see the US Navy submarine Bowfin – a decomissioned World War II boat that is now moored in Pearl Harbor as as museum – a very interesting tour through a tiny space.  There’s an adjacent rather large building that houses a submariner museum dedicated to the underwater boats, this houses the bulk of the display as the submarine itself, while big at 311 feet long is super narrow and teeny tiny insde, stuffed with equipment and therefore no room to house a museum – that’s what the external building is for.  Kristen’s brother Billy spent five years in the US Navy and served on the USS Ray attack submarine, and his submarine’s logo & patch was there in the Bowfin museum in Pearl Harbor – pretty neat!


The Bowfin bow torpedo tubes, the entire boat is stuffed with gear, much of it polished to a mirror-finish by the Park Service crew that mans the boat today so the public can see what it was like in World War II.


Included on-board are instructions on the care and feeding of your torpedos. Should one be concerned that the torpedo might not be quite up to snuff, definitely reference to this posted information would be helpful.


The Bowfin at rest in Pearl Harbor. This is a particularly well-done exhibit, with an audio headset soundtrack to go along with the artifacts that you are observing while moving through the boat.


This is the submariner patch from Billy’s boat, SSN 653, right there uner the display case in the museum – a nuclear powered attack sub (Sturgeon Class) – that he served on. Pretty amazing boat, he’s had some great stories that I probably can’t repeat, you’ll just have to ask him.

Kristen has a rental Prius car, so we’ve also been able to get out and around and explore more of Oahu than I am able to by bicycle, we’ve been out to Waimea Beach (think of the Beach Boy’s song), and also over to Sunset Beach down from the Pipeline to see them preparing for the Van’s surfing contest – lots of trailers, power generators, big television cameras, all that was interesting.  Also checked out a Zippy’s diner restaurant for the down-home Hawaiian experience though it wouldn’t be out of place in any city in the world, they have good food at good prices… and speaking of prices, there is a local large Japanese market/store called Don Quixote that remind me a lot of a smaller Walmart built around Japanese products, only it is located here in Ala Wai.  Lots of things imported from Japan that I could not figure out what they were, and their beer buyer is particularly excellent as he (or she) has brought in an enormous variety of goodies from around the world.  And I now have two Don Quixote plastic shopping bags.  Turns out that in Hawaii they discourage you from single-use plastic bags and instead you get solid sturdy plastic bags for 10 cents each and re-use them, only I am informed that never be seen carrying around an ABC store bag – those are for tourists!


Waimea Bay has lots of breeze today, what with the reinforced tradewinds courtesy of a front just to the east and a High pressure system building to the northwest. The lifeguards had signs out saying NO SWIMMING (and apparently swimming means folks without dive fins)… lots of sideways undertow in the waves as they hit the beach.

On board Beetle the big project was cleaning out the water tanks.  The tankage has been producing sediment and small specks in the water that made me suspicious, and one of the projects while in Ala Wai is to empty and clean the tanks.  I suspect that by not using chlorinated city water in the tanks for the last four years has allowed critters to consider growing in the pure Spectra watermaker-produced water, so time to clean out tanks.  This involves pulling apart the port and starboard settee/dinette in the middle of the boat in order to access the tank ports, pull the ports and go into the tanks with nylon abrasive pads, 5% bleach, and lots of water to dilute everything.  I did a bit of research on bleach and the resulting free chlorine in the water that does the work for you.  At least in Honolulu, the water is chlorinated at 0.1 to 0.5 PPM; a swimming pool is chlorinated to 1-3ppm, and to sanitize a water tank you want 50 PPM for four hours – then dump the water and replace.  I went through four water exchanges following the 50 PPM chlorine application, and removed a bunch of aluminum oxide from the interior of the three tanks – seems the alluminum inspection port backing plates have definitely had some corrosion issues and dropped some material in to the tanks, and that was good to get rid of.  When that was all done, new water flushed through, the water on board is looking and tasting good again.  Next step is to install a Shurflo activated carbon water filter ahead of the pumps – this will filter all the water coming into the system and keep crud out, that will be a good thing.

So that’s what has been happening here.  I’ve spent three afternoons at the AT&T store using their nice upload speeds to move imagery to Zenfolio, each hour there I can move what would have taken 80 hours on the public library network – so far I’m ahead 280 hours, and that’s a lot of hours.  It is nice to move data at 30-40 Mbps (that’s bits, not bytes), and while not a fast network from a business perspective, it is freely available as long as you’re willing to sit in front of the AT&T store at hat Ala Moan shopping center – that’s very nice of AT&T to make that available.

All is well here tonight, Nate (the neighbor) is cooking up enchiladas at Hawaii YC tonight, Kristen and I will be there later tonight to partake.

– rob



Friday morning in Waikiki

Good morning –

It’s another very pleasant day here in Ala Wai Harbor, Waikiki, Oahu – the Hawaiian islands are a fine place to be during the winter months, particularly as they do not have typhoon or hurricanes at this time of year – though it may rain a bit.  Always check your typhoons and hurricanes forecast before purchasing airplane tickets to anywhere warm that is furthern than 10 degrees latitude from the equator, at least that would be my recommendation.


Every boat should have a small bicycle to go with it, especially if you can fold the bike in half and stick it down below where it is out of the way and protected from waves. Having wheels to get about sure expands the area one can easily explore.,

I have a new transport device, namely one Dahon Mariner D8  bicycle.  It has tiny little 20″ tires and looks somewhat reminiscent of a circus bike, with the handy feature that it can be folded in half and stored in  relatively small spaces, such as are found on board Tiger Beetle.  The convenience factor is significant, a bike makes most places within five miles a reasonable run, as compared to walking in which a 2.8 mile walk in the Hawaii heat, humidity, and sun something of a wish-you-had-taken-the-bus run by the time you reach the destination, and you still have the return route to traverse.  The bike is a game-changer for that circumstance as your feet aren’t sore from walking on concrete when you arrive and it didn’t take an hour to get there.  Which leads to the my visit to US Customs at Pier 1 to complete my yacht check-in to the USA.

The US Customs lady that visited Beetle on Saturday (the day I arrived) checked me in and told me I needed to telephone the main Customs office at Pier 1 to arrange a time to go there and complete my check-in.  I had no idea what I hadn’t done nor why the agent in front of me standing on the dock in Ala Wai couldn’t complete my check-in, but apparently you’re not done until you go to Pier 1 and do whatever it is they ask you to do.  So I telephone Pier 1.  I need to be there before 2:30PM as that’s when they stop dealing with small boats, bring funds to pay for my $27.50 US Customs CBP Decal that I’m supposed to affix to my boat adjacent to the entry way.  I ask about directions from Ala Wai, she thinks a moment and says it’s a long way, take a cab.

I decide to check out Google Maps and see how far this place really is.  I also decide to pull the AquaSignal Series 40 bicolor bow nav light that has died and take it with me as West Marine might have one, never know, and West Marine is out that direction somewhere.  Google Maps declares it is 2.8 miles from Ala Wai to Customs.  I compare this to my stroll over to the Ala Moana Center to visit AT&T, that was 1.4 miles – I can easily double that distance and hit Customs, plus see the waterfront I haven’t been along before.

Turns out that 2.8 miles isn’t quite accurate, and more importantly Google Maps doesn’t account for heat index.  I have a nice reasonably brisk walk, it’s an interesting waterfront.  And I don’t seem to be getting any closer, despite passing the shopping center a while back.  I check directions on the smartphone, it’s still a long way off.  The dark asphalt street is hot, reflecting heat back up at me.  I forgot to bring a water bottle – hmm…  I eventually appear in front of a sign stating US Department of Homeland Security, walk up to the enormous barred iron gates painted green that span the entire front of a mid-size building… and they’re locked.  I can hear someone speaking on the other side through the bars, so I call out, “Is US Customs inside?  Can you let me in?”  A fellow in a uniform pokes his nose out and says, “Uh… Customs is around the side towards this rear.  This is Deporation, I can’t let you in.”  Ah… that would explain the few people speaking on their cellular telephones in various foreign languages while hanging around in front of the giant green gates – perhaps they know someone on the other side of that gate.  I decide I prefer being on the outside of this particular gate.  I walk around back.

Around back turns out to be a half mile walk out over more hot black asphalt to the commercial port Pier 1, to talk with a guard at the container truck entry, he points out where Customs is (the white one-story building back there, he points), takes my Washington state drivers license and signs me in on his clipboard, and off I go, though I’m asked to walk on the other side of the green fence within the yellow painted lines so I don’t get run over by a truck.  There isn’t a lot of truck traffic at the moment, I feel fairly safe doing this.

Inside the small structure structure through the blue door to your left is a little desk with a small silver bell on it, the sign says, “Hit bell twice if you are small vessel reporting…” so I do.  A lady pops up and I asked her, “Do you have a  glass of water I can have?”  I explain who I am and why I am there, turns out I spoke with her on the phone, and she brings to me a fancy bottled water straight from the fridge.  I fill out several forms intended for merchant marine cargo ships that want to know whether or not my cargo was hazardous, where I picked it up, lists of all crew on board, it’s a full-on commercial cargo ship entry that I’ve walked into.  She crosses off (or writes ‘NIL’ in several spaces) and I start filling out forms between drinks of nice cold water.  She wanders off.  A while later I’m done, I consider pressing the  bell again (twice) when another person wearing a blue Customs uniform and a gun (but not a bullet proof vest, that would cook these people) walks in and asks why I am there?  I point at the forms.  He rings the bell twice and walks off into the interior of the office and my friend re-emerges.  “All done?”  Indeedy do.  She proceeds to stamp things, make copies, send faxes, record things in computers, send email… and I’m done!  Wow!  That completes Beetle’s entry into the USA, and CBP will send (first class) my Decal to Washington state within 5-6 weeks.  Maybe it will actually show up?  She asks if I’m taking a cab back to Ala Wai (hint, hint, it’s hot outside) and she points out there is a bus that goes that way directly in front of their place.  I decide to try the bus.

Once back outside, no need to sign out the with guard at the road gate, which is odd as he wrote down the time-in but didn’t write down the time-out, I hit the bench in front of the Deportation and telephone West Marine, they are only 0.8 miles further up Ala Moana Blvd.  Yes, the girl on the telephone determines that they should have FIVE of the AquaSignal Series 40 bicolor nav lights, she hits the shelves and returns with one in hand.  I tell her to look for the person with a bright green SSS t-shirt, that’s me.  She tells me that she thinks it’s a lot further than 0.8 miles from US Customs to their store.  I decide to walk anyway.  She’s correct.   My feet are defintely getting a work-out, I purchase the complete new lens & bulb & bulb mount & bracket AquaSignal nav light and depart the store with instructions on how to find the bus (go around back, cross the park with the homeless people in it, look for the China-type architecture and you’re in Chinatown, first road is King Street, every bus going there will probably go towards Ala Wai Harbor).

I depart the store and promptly get lost, wander around for a couple of blocks and find the homeless people, then find Chinatown beyond them, but I missed the all-important feature of the bus stop.  I can’t find one.  I decide to walk towards Ala Wai in search of a bus-stop, this was probably a mistake as the bus stop was one block behind me.  I walked 8 blocks the other direction.  Chinatown is an interesting place, lots of signs in Chinese, tons of food markets, they clearly like Chinese food here.  Eventually I find a bus stop and I have no idea which bus I want; the first two that stop say, “Nope – don’t go there” and depart.  Third or fourth bus says, “We get close.  Step in!”  Off we go.  Past Ala Moana Center (now walking needed, very cool), over the Ala Wai river, and start to head east (!) away from the Marina.  I’ve had 25 minutes on the bus to observe this and have been tracking our progress on my Google Maps feature of my phone, and figure out I want the next stop.  The drive, amazingly enough, has remember that I want this stop also, he pulls the bus over, looks at me, points, and says, “You want off – Ala Wai is that way!”  Super nice guy.

I’ll skip ahead, the next morning I swapped out light fixtures in the bow pulpit, which involved trimming back 12vDC Ancor wire, removing corrosion from the stripped copper with the Dremel tool and a wire wheel brush, Nav lights are all up again and running – I’ll want that for my marina inspection in the morning.   I do my own inspection based on the marina’s check-list, find that I have in-date flares (three SOLAS parachutes), and put an oil-absorbent pad under the engine ’cause the checklist says they’re going to look for one.


The security guys at WalMart wouldn’t let me bring the bicycle in, and theft is a significant concern on Oahu. They were amazed when I folded the bicycle up and put it in the shopping cart. Limits the quantity of groceries that fit in the cart, limits the ability of anyone else to borrow your bicycle without asking permission.

Since that’s all done, I call up Eki Cyclery – they are a family-owned and operated for 106 yeras now, all started by their grandfather Toichi, and the grand kids continue to operate the store – most amazing.  Eki is a Dahon dealer and has the Dahon Mariner D8 bicycle, a folding bicycle that is supposed to be ‘marinized’ or at least not rust as fast as the average bike.  People seem to really like them (or have the exact opposite feeling about the bikes), I rode one 12 years previously in Oakland and it was shakey and I didn’t like it, so I didn’t purchase one.  I decide to try one today, Dahon is up to the D8 (meaning it now has an eighth gear, one up from the D7), and indeed the grandkid at Eki says they have one on the floor, come on over.  This time I take the bus, it is a lot further than West Marine – I’m not walking that far.  Bus is pretty neat, quick, clean, and Eki does have the D8.  The lady and I (I can’t really call her a grand kid as she’s significantly older than I am) go through the bike, she explains how it all works, demonstrates the folding mechanism, I go ride it around the parking lot.  The bicycle behaves entirely unlike as it did 12 years ago – this is now a solid machine without wobbly hinges and soft bendy handle bars – this is a real bicycle that is solid, fits my frame (slide seat back 1/2″, lower handle bars slightly) and it’s great.  I purchase it.  I ride home to Beetle on it.  This is very cool.  So now I have shore-side wheels as-needed, and the machine folds up quite nicely into a fairly large package but it will fit down below.  Next step is to figure out where and how to stow it.  There are several places it could go, I’m just working on which is the best spot.

And finally yesterday (Wednesday) it worked out that my Uncle Richard and is lovely daughter Megan are on the island at the moment, and they were able to make the time to come over and visit Beetle and me.  It was super to see them, I suspect it has been a long time since I’ve seen either (I believe Megan was a baby girl when last I saw her).  Mucho fun.  They got to see the boat and then Uncle Richard treated us to hamburgers up the road at a great brew pub with a fine Aloha Amber on tap.  (And this place actually brews the beer right there on premises.)  Good stuff!


Uncle Richard happened to be in town, he was able to stop by and visit Beetle. That’s his grand daughter, she was not too sure what to make of the boat. And there are large hotels in the background – they are good lightning protection for boats in the marina.

That brings us up to more or less current affairs.  More things have happened that can wiat for another day, finished the marina check-in and buoy run out to No. 1 Green Mark and back, insurance papers have arrived and were given to the marina, all is good.

Enjoy the afternoon!

– rob


Getting organized in Ala Wai, Honolulu

Good morning –

it’s been a busy two days now that I’ve landed in Ala Wai Harbor, Oahu.

First stop was at the AT&T store to get SIM cards for my telephone and Sierra Wireless air card, and sign up for service – that’s done, I have a telephone again along with internet access. In theory my setup with Google Voice will allow people to dial my original phone number and that person’s call will ring through to the handset I have – haven’t tested this yet, that will be coming shortly. I ported by original long time phone number from AT&T to Google Voice, and then shut down my AT&T account. The telephone SIM card I picked up yesterday has a different phone number attached to it, I brought up my Google Voice account, entered the new phone number, and ticked the box for ‘forward calls to’ – that ought to do the trick.

Then I walked over to WalMart and found some Fat Tire amber ale (awesome!) and some Dr. Pepper (great!) thten promptly retired to the boat and went to sleep. I’m still on a goofy sleep pattern which is slowly sorting itself out, so tend to go to sleep super early and wake up super early. The first night in the harbor I woke up at 4AM and went topside to check the sail trim and make sure we were on course… and realized Beetle was tied to the dock.

This morning I bound the Hawaii-required liability insurance with Boat US, that’s taken care of. I also visited the Harbor Master’s office and met Keri, very nice person, I’ve now got a shower key and a temporary mooring permit good for a week. On Wednesday we’re having a boat inspection and will do the required buoy run to demonstrate that Tiger Beetle is operational. After that I should get a mooring permit good for longer. Very nice people at the office, most helpful. There isn’t an on-site laundry machine or facility, but there is a laundromat three blocks away next to the 7-11, or so I am told. I will walk by there on my way to Customs to check it out.

Next thing up this morning is to telephone US Customs over at the main Port and sort out what I need to do with them to complete my Customs stuff. The US Customs lady on Saturday told me I needed to call the Port and go visit them today (Monday). Now that I have a telephone, I can!

I’m still working off the sleep-deprivation and getting oriented to a wholly different environment, which is kind of fun. There’s lots to see here, the people are nice, I’m impressed.

Time to call US Customs and see what I can do for them.

– rob

Beetle has arrived in Ala Wai Harbor, Oahu

It’s a good trip that finishes without a lot of broken gear, and this has been a good trip in that regard. Damages underway consist of: masthead tricolor bulb or fixture went out, and mini-bilge pump is not properly sucking water up out of the bilge. Not bad at all. I’ll take it.

Today was another exercise in getting run over by squalls right up to the very end – at which time it was simply raining and I became wet through and through. The morning started well, a calm patch where the two winds coming in from the two channels meet, ok, so motor on – and in a short while I had the breeze for the channel south of Oahu. The forecast said 15 knots from the east, that was actually 25-35 knots from the east with 10-14′ seas as the squalls did their best to make sure it was as unpleasant as possible out there. Engine off, sails out, sails in, egad – it’s blowing 35 knots, sails in more. At that point I punted, rolled up the jib, left the main at third reef, and turned the engine on again – I could simply motor in and the squalls could do whatever they felt like, I didn’t care.

With all the moisture in the air there was very little visibility and in fact I didn’t see Diamond Head, the big tall point to the east of Ala Wai and which is a major landmark from offshore, I didn’t see it until 3 miles out. So that was landfall, a dark grey blob looming up out of the misty white rain. Not particularly impressive, but it was useful to have it visually to confirm that what I had been tracking for 10 miles on the radar and 30 miles on the chart plotter was actually the thing in front of the boat – and it was.

I was more than annoyed at that point, as the entire morning had been spent trying to get in some sleep, feeling the boat heel way over, reduce sail, boat stopped, get up to add sail, repeat. At least the trip would be over, that would be a positive.

Another annoying thing has been trying to find a schematic of Ala Wai Harbor – the Ala Wai Harbormaster certainly doesn’t list one, and in I came to their marina with no assistance from Ala Wai despite repeated questions via email as to what I was walking into. The best information I had was from Cinnabar after I mentioned that US Customs had told me to try for the Aloha dock (located somewhere in Ala Wai, the person I was talking wasn’t certain where that dock was and they didn’t have a map, either); Cinnabar said they thought it was the second dock on the right as you go in and it belongs to Hawaii Yacht Club. In I went, definitely a narrow channel to be in reasonable light despite all the nav-aids, and the second dock on the right was filled up by… Soldini’s Maserati trimaran sticking way out into the fairway and looking like it going 35 knots while standing still.

[as an aside, we’re having major lightning and associated thunder going by Honolulu at the moment – I’m much happier in here in the marina than I would be outside on the water. The tall high-rise hotels adjacent to the marina provide some level of lightning protection as in theory Beetle is located within the high-rise’s “safe zone”]

There were two sets of cruising boats rafted up three deep in front of Maserati, and that was it for the Aloha dock. On my pass around a fellow poked his head up out of a catamaran on the dock and told me the best place to go was up ahead, turn right at the catamaran, take a second right, and there would be a long empty dock on my right – tie up there. And he was right. Tied up, walked up to the Harbormaster’s office to read a sign taped to the door saying they are closed Friday-Sunday for Armistice Day observance. Walked back to the boat and telephoned US Customs, that took perhaps a dozen satellite telephone calls to get the information across as Iridium dropped the calls after 30-40 seconds; perhaps the high-rise buildings interfere with satellite connections?

An hour later Customs and Agriculture were both here, Beetle passed, and I need to go to the Customs office in the commercial port on Monday to pay for my CBP Decal and affix it to my boat. The nice Agents departed, I walked up to the ABC store and bought a sandwich and a Sapporo beer, and now I’m sitting here half-asleep in a very nice, non-moving, extremely quiet, ultra-modern-dock marina. Fun part is I didn’t fall over or have any trouble walking around – I usually don’t after a long trip, and this was no exception.

20 days on the water, something like 2670 miles covered, and we’re here. The maximum I slept at any one time was one hour over the 20 days, and while I would sleep every chance I had I also know it’s not good quality sleep. I’m quite tired at this point, and going to go to bed soon and get in a full night’s sleep. It sure does feel like San Diego here, about the same temperature, about the same humidity, except here has squalls and there doesn’t.

Good night.

– rob

Saturday morning, almost there

Good morning –

this particular Saturday morning finds Beetle up and about and scurrying across the lee waters of Molokai-Maui (which includes the islands Lanai and Kahoolawe). We’re getting a positive push from behind as the wrap-around wind and swell coming in through the Alenuihaha Channel and through to Beetle.

The weather forecast speaks of ‘rain showers’, I believe that can be translated as ‘squalls’. The forecast has called for lots of rain showers today, I’ve detected that rain tends to come from clouds, clouds with rain falling tend to have wind as well, and clouds with rain and wind are squalls. The weather people should speak of ‘lots of squalls’, that would be more accurate in my opinion.

Right now I’ve got 53 miles remaining to the entry channel into Ala Wai Harbor and I hope there is room at the Hawaii Yacht Club Aloha dock – that’s where I’m intending to fetch up and telephone US Customs to come on over. I’d like to be in no later than 6PM and at the speed Beetle has managed to maintain we should be in before dark. I still have the Penguin Bank to cross, a shallow bank relative to the surrounding deep water (25 fathoms dropping to 290 fathoms) and the Coast Pilot didn’t say anything particularly bad about the bank provided you aren’t right up against Laau Point of Molokai (rip currents and breakers there from two currents meeting at that point). Penguin Bank drops off into the Kaiwi Channel, the body of water between Oahu and Molokai. Hopefully that channel is not as bad as the channel between Maui and Hawaii – then I can keep speed up.

Last night was particularly nasty out here, primarily due to winds and seas coming in through the channel between Maui and Hawaii. The forecast was for 20 knots from the east *IN* the channel, and less out beyond the channel. Well, that was a failure to anticipate on the part of the forecaster. What actually happened was I motored out of the flat calm water to a hard-edged wind line with white caps just beyond it; I had found the wind poking in from the channel. Bang! – instant 18 knots of wind and a short sharp swell that felt a lot like a 4′ wake being thrown by a big heavy power boat going by at semi-planing speeds. A larger underlying swell at 6′ was rolling through, but it was the little swells that caused the banging and crashing.

OK, I can manage this, engine off, jib out a bit, wind fills in to a steady 25 knots topping out at 33, and sets up forward of the beam. I drop in the third reef and roll up the jib to slightly smaller than a storm jib and we start thumping along – at least we’re not hitting the big swell nose-on. The silly part is I’m 60 miles away from the channel – it must have been really bad for any boats in the channel. After perhaps an hour of this I had the sails and boat balanced out to where the autopilot wasn’t working hard, we had decent boat speed, and the sail plan could handle the higher wind gusts without straining. We just crashed along for 50 miles of this, white caps would strike the hull and fly up over the boat, took a lot water in the cockpit, and in general it was fairly icky. At least it completely black so you couldn’t see the squalls coming, you’d just hear the wind generator rev up as the wind built and you knew what was coming.

About 2AM I’d cleared the center of the channel and the winds were still up but shifted direction enough to ease sails and keep on trucking, now with the wind and seas slightly aft of the beam – that was a welcome relief as Beetle quieted down and sped up some. Still seeing 33-34 knots of wind, and that carried on for another 20 miles. Nice part was I woke up from one of my sleeps to discover the wind had dropped way off, the little swells had vanished, and I was going 5 knots down current even though boat speed was 4.5 knots – far out, we’re getting a push!

I looked at the distance to go, looked at the wind, looked at the squalls (on the radar), and decided to roll up the jib and put on the engine. We’re now powering along towards Ala Wai quite happily; assuming the Kaiwi Channel isn’t blowing 33 knots (ignoring the forecaster call for 15 from the east today), it looks good for arrival before dark this evening.

All right, time to check the deck to make sure everything , radio net is in an hour, I’ve already filled the day tank and pulled down morning weather. Oh, and it definitely looks like the GFS weather model is of no value around the islands – it doesn’t seem to understand channels and passes and islands. So I’m not downloading it as of this morning unless I’m interested in what the model thinks will be happening in the outer waters.

Will be nice to spot an island today, yesterday’s grey smudge wasn’t a particularly exciting landfall. Perhaps I will make landfall again today, this time with a real island that is green!

Enjoy the morning.

current position: 20 36’N x 157 22’W, course 326T @ 7.4 knots distance to go: 49 miles to Ala Wai Harbor, Oahu

– rob

Friday evening and working across Alenuihaha Channel outfall

Good evening –

it’s been a very pleasant day of motoring along in no wind in the lee of Hawaii (the Big Island). It’s been windy a bit further north in the Alenuihaha Channel, the 24 mile wide stretch of water that separates Hawaii from Haui. Right at the start up of the PolyMag radio net I motored out of the calms and into 20 knots of breeze coming in through that channel. The channel itself is 60 miles off to starboard, but the outfall of wind and waves is easily reaching all the way out to me. Sails are up, main back into third reef mode, small amount of jib unfurled, we’re moving along fine with AWA of about 70 – sufficient power to get up and over the swell and keep on moving without pressing the boat.

During the motor north in calm seas earlier today, some dolphins came over and played for a few minutes in the bow wave and that was fun to watch, then they moved off in the opposite direction. I also cleaned up the interior, put away things that have become stashed in various corners, and generally made Beetle tidy and organized. I have all night and tomorrow to undo the organization as I pull things out to use them, hopefully not too much comes out tonight.

It has been very wet and moist in the air, producing hazy conditions with visibility in the 8-10 mile range. The only time I saw the Hawaii was coming in this morning with the island silhouetted by the sun – a low grey smudge on the horizon under the clouds, then the haze took over and I haven’t seen anything else so far. Nice to know I’m in the right place at least!

The goal for the night is to have a reasonably pleasant sail across the channel, then continue on to pass to leeward of Maui and Molokai. The forecast calls for rain showers through the night, mostly on the windward side of the islands – though I imagine the rain can go anywhere it feels like provided the island hasn’t scraped the rain out of the clouds.

I’ve got 124 miles to Ala Wai, it would be nice to be there by Saturday night but there’s no reason to push the boat at all, so I’ll be there when I get there. Hopefully this will be a nice, relaxing evening. It’s certainly nice to have the wind back as Beetle makes better progress reaching along under sail rather than motoring along, and I don’t miss the noise of the engine.

I got in a lot of sleep today, the idea to be rested up for tonight and tomorrow. Today was a Friday and the only traffic likely to be out here is the commercial stuff; tomorrow is the weekend and it would not surprise me to see a lot of traffic of Honolulu tomorrow afternoon.

Enjoy the evening, I’m going to go furl up the jib a bit more as we’re going faster than we need to, and then catch another sleep! Almost no traffic out here today, just one tour boat Kanoa 2 running along the coast (saw them on AIS).

current position: 19 36’N x 156 32’W, course 324T @ 6.7 knots distance to go: 124 miles to Ala Wai Harbor, Oahu

– rob

Friday morning and off South end of Hawaii (the Big Island)

Good morning –

We got somewhere! Believe it or not, there is real estate out here and I’m 15 miles offshore scooting along past the southern point of Hawaii (the Big Island, as the weather people write).

I’m going to move northwest in the lee of the islands between here and Oahu, hopefully that will tamp down the swell and wind, as there is definitely swell and wind to be had ’round these parts.

Last night was a good run with wind in the low 20s and when squalls came through wind would jump to low 30s. That went on for much of the night, and I stayed with my micro sail plan so I could get some sleep in and not keep hopping up and down to adjust the size of the headsail, and, sometimes, the angle of the mainsail to the wind. When I was up early this morning to inspect things, I found that what was a nice quiet calm boat interior was hiding a 30+ knot squall on deck, lots of flying water and wind. Bleah! Turned on the radar to try and find the extent of the squall and it was a lengthy one extending about 10 miles astern of Beetle, I was at the last rainy bit of the squall, so I went back to sleep and let the squall go its way while Beetle continue on in the other.

Dawn was fun, there was the island, a low grey smudge on the horizon that didn’t move, the squalls I’d been looking at earlier were off on the horizon now and new set of squalls were coming in – but they missed me and I’m not unhappy about that.

It’s also nice that the swell has dropped off to a single roller coming in from the east, the north stuff is blocked by the island. The inshore forecast is calling for what I have now, 20 knots east near South Point, variable <10 further on up. I will be crossing the waters west of the Alenuihaha Channel between Hawaii and Maui, the channel forecast is calling for east wind at 20 knots, I don’t now how far out that wind will extend to the west (my planned route has me 55 miles out in the ocean, well away from the channel). It will also be interesting to see if there are any counter-currents swirling around the islands; I bet there are.

All is well on board. The deck looks good and organized, I can find all the sheets and strings and lines in the dark mostly because every time one gets adjusted any left-over tail gets coiled up and put bag in the sheet bag – so no spaghetti mess in Beetle’s cockpit! With the sea state way down the boat’s motion is smooth, and I’ve been moving around below-deck to stow all the gear that’s been gradually extracted over the past 2-1/2 weeks. Found the roll of Gorilla duct tape and put that back in its spot, wiped down the sink, and putting clothes into the dirty laundry bag that need to go there.

And here’s a novel USCG Marine Safety Broadcast that just came in over the airwaves: all vessels are required to maintain a safety exclusion zone (I think he said 300 meters) that extends out 300 meters from the entry point of lava flow into the Pacific Ocean. I’ve not heard that kind of informational broadcast and warning before.

I’ve got 184 miles to go to Oahu, hopefully can be there before tomorrow night! I’ve got plenty of fuel to burn, and the sailing is good right now so onwards!

– rob