Alchemy's InterIsland Cruise
DAY 1 Saturday, June 30
Alchemy departed Keehi Marine Center at 9:15 AM, with skipper Leon Fedenczuk and crew members Mitch Kahle, Dotty Bates and Ginny Newell aboard. After raising the main sail in the turning basin, Alchemy motor-sailed out of Keehi Lagoon and the crew unfurled the jib just beyond the channel buoy. With the engine off and sails close hauled, the crew settled in to enjoy the view and cool breeze.
Dotty, Leon, Rick & Mitch
Trade winds blowing 10 to 15 knots allowed for an initial course of 130 degrees. Off Diamond Head the wind in the Kaiwi Channel increased to 25 knots with rolling seas. Under these ideal conditions Alchemy was making 7 knots and holding a 115 deg. course. Soon Oahu began to fade off the stern and Molokai grew slowly on the horizon. Alchemy crossed the Kaiwi Channel in about 5 hours, with Mitch at the helm most of the time.
Approaching southwest Molokai the seas became confused, like a washing machine, tossing Alchemy back and forth as the winds and waters of the Kalohi Channel merged with the Kaiwi Channel several miles off La'au Point. To avoid unnecessary crew discomfort the skipper started the engine, we furled the jib, and Alchemy motored east. Within an hour the seas settled down and Haleolono Harbor was within sight off the port bow. With range markers aligned we dropped the mainsail and motored into the harbor, with 6 to 8 ft. waves breaking on either side of the channel.
Safely inside the breakwater Alchemy dropped anchor in 20 ft. of water, where the crew took a cooling swim. Dotty and Ginny prepared the evening meal which was enjoyed by all. With the wine flowing the skipper toasted the crew and thanked everyone for a successful crossing and anchorage. A beautiful sunset over Haleolono bid the crew to fitful sleep.
Ginny, Leon, Dotti and Rick
DAY 2 Sunday, July 1
By sunrise everyone was on deck for a quick dip and refreshing shower on the transom. For breakfast Ginny made coffee while Dotty set out fresh fruit. We raised anchor before 7:30 AM, in spite of some problems with the windlass and mudcovered ground tackle, and motored out of Haleolono. The sea was flat and winds were light near shore, so we raised a full main, unfurled the jib and set a course of 150 degrees just off the west coast of Lanai. Less then a mile out of the harbor the wind quickly increased to 30 knots, whipping up white caps and waves in the channel.
Alchemy began to heel to 30 degrees. Mitch was at the helm, enjoying the challenge of holding the course and keeping the boat as flat as possible. In all this, Dotty brought up the fishing pole and tied on a small green lure. Leon was skeptical, remarking "We've never caught a fish."
With such strong wind on the beam Alchemy made 7 to 8 knots. Approaching Lanai we hoped for some relief in the lee of the island. But instead we found the down slope accelerating the wind to 38 knots with full sails! Alchemy heeled at 40 degrees, heading 120 deg. with the coast closing fast. Needing to fall off the wind to avoid the rocks off Kaumalapau, we let out the main sheet as far as possible and quickly hauled in the jib. The boat settled down immediately and we changed course, running downwind at 150 degrees.
Manele Bay Cliffs
Now safely behind Mamaki Point on south Lanai, the wind diminished to calm. We dropped sail and began motoring east toward Manale Bay. Here we could see a larger ship maneuvering off the coast. Soon our radio crackled when the ship hailed Alchemy with a warning to hold our course close to shore as the "Golden Bear" made a close pass to our starboard.
Swimming at Lanai
With little wind and the mid-day sun bearing down, the skipper decided to stop the boat and everyone took a refreshing swim in the deep, crystal clear water. Ah, what a treat! By 2:00 PM we could see the buoy at Manele Bay tucked back within a rocky bluff. With the south swell increasing, waves were breaking on the rocks and shore of the bay. A breakwater protects the small harbor, but Leon was worried about the depth (Alchemy draws 7 ft) and decided we'd anchor outside in the lee of the cliffs.
We dropped anchor about 200 ft. behind the breakers and backed down until it was set. Unfortunately this put Alchemy abeam to the swells and she began to roll immediately. After briefly contemplating a late afternoon run to Lahaina, we decided to set a stern anchor to hold the bow into the swell. Mitch paddled the dinghy right to the edge of the breakers and dropped the anchor. Alchemy settled down so we decided to stay the night but post a diligent watch. After a dinner of grilled salmon, pesto pasta, asparagus and salad everyone relaxed on the deck, drinking wine and celebrating our second successful passage and anchorage. As the sun set over Lanai Leon, Dotty and Ginny turned in, leaving Mitch on deck for the first watch. The stars were incredible!!
DAY 3 Monday, July 2
At dawn, Leon was on deck having taken the final watch. Overnight Alchemy had dragged anchor toward shore, but was still holding okay in 12 ft. of water, about 50 ft behind the breaking waves. It was certainly not the best night's sleep we've had, as the boat did roll with increasing frequency. After breakfast we pulled both anchors, which came up with almost no resistance, and motored out of Manele Bay.
Alchemy at Lahaina
Today, with little wind to the lee of west Maui, we motor-sailed across the Auau Channel towards Lahaina. The channel was almost flat so midway out we stopped briefly for another cooling swim. Motoring on at about 5 knots, Alchemy made the crossing to Maui in less than 3 hours. Mitch called the Lahaina Harbor office and to our relief a slip was available! We motored into the harbor and tied up in slip # 78, on the outside facing Lanai. Our Lahaina slip did not have individual fingers so we had to put in bow first, with a line off the stern to a mooring ball. Surf was up outside the breakwater and the local kids were having a great time riding the 4 to 6 ft. waves.
After a quick visit to the harbormaster to register, we headed to the Lahaina Yacht Club where we received a warm welcome and courtesy privileges. On the LYC deck, with a spectacular view, we ordered lunch and a round of beers. Leon called Rick Tudeur, who had flown over from Honolulu, and within an hour he joined us for drinks at the club. After lunch everyone returned to Alchemy and made busy for the afternoon. At sunset we enjoyed another meal in the cockpit and retired for the night, with a 4:00 AM wake up call.
DAY 4 Tuesday, July 3
Rick woke everyone at 4:30 AM and we set about preparing for departure. With a faint glow in the eastern sky Alchemy cast off and motored out of the harbor. With no wind we motored north toward Ka'anapali and Honolua Bay. Bearing north east off Honokawai, the wind came up suddenly. We quickly hoisted the main and rolled out the jib. After a brief foray into Honolua Bay we turned and set a course of 350 degrees for Cape Halawa, at the easternmost point of Molokai.
Alchemy's First Fish
Dotty again brought up the fishing pole and we set the lure about 200 yds. back. The wind quickly jumped up to 25 knots in the Pailolo Channel with rising seas. After about an hour, Dotty yelled "We've got a fish!" and sure enough the line was full out and the pole was bent over. Mitch quickly untied the pole and began reeling in the line, while Leon and crew turned upwind and hove-to. Within a few minutes the tell-tale emerald green of a Mahi Mahi flashed the surface of the water. Reeling closer, the fish leapt out of the water several times. Rick volunteered to climb out on the transom with the gaff & net. All told, it took less than 15 minutes to land the 30-plus inch Mahi Mahi, officially the first fish caught aboard Alchemy (at least since Leon has owned the boat). Alchemy had drifted about a mile off course while hove-to, so we loosened the jib sheet, fell a bit off the wind, and tacked back on course for Cape Halawa.
Within an hour we could see the waterfall back in Halawa Valley as we began to turn west, running downwind along the breathtaking windward coast of Molokai. Here, the tallest sea cliffs in the world rise between three and four thousand feet above the water. This isolated and impenetrable coastline is legendary, both for Hawaiians and mariners lucky enough to witness its majesty. With following seas and fresh trades, we decided to drop the main and sail on jib only, to minimize roll on this downwind run along the coast.
After passing several cathedral-like valleys that cut deep into the mountains we set our sights on finding a suitable anchorage. On our first attempt, we sailed into the lee behind Lepau Point, at Wailua Valley, where two small fishing boats were anchored near a rocky beach. As we got in close the bottom rose quickly to less than 20 feet. It also started to rain and the wind swirled from all directions. Without hesitation, Leon turned around and headed back out. We set the jib and headed for Okala Island near Kalawao and Kalaupapa Peninsula. About a mile out we rolled up the jib and motored into the back of a large cove in the lee of a large volcanic rock wall on the eastern side of Waikolu Valley.
The word SPECTACULAR does not begin to describe the place. So without hesitation we dropped the anchor on the rocky bottom in 30 feet of water and let out a 7-to-1 scope. Unfortunately the CQR would not hold fast and continued to slip when Alchemy backed down on it. Fortunately the boat was sheltered from the wind and there was very little swell. We decided to put out another anchor off the bow, but it would not hold fast either. After more than an hour with no real movement toward shore, we decided to trust two anchors and 150 feet of chain to hold. Rick made a reconnaissance swim to verify that we had plenty of room and there were no hidden rocks in the vicinity.
Wow! Perhaps the most breathtaking anchorage in Hawaii and we had it all to ourselves. Mitch paddled the dinghy ashore to explore Waikolu Valley and stream. Although we didn't see any, there was ample evidence of a large goat population and a few pig ruts too. Mitch climbed the bluff to get some shots of Alchemy anchored in the cove. Below, a fair sized shark was cruising just beneath the surface near the mouth of the stream. This, just as Dotty and Ginny were snorkeling to shore along the wall.
Back aboard Alchemy, Dotty cleaned and cut the Mahi Mahi, while Ginny prepared a salad and heated some more pasta. Mitch grilled the Mahi Mahi steaks and Dotty's shrimp kabobs. We enjoyed the feast and several bottles of wine before retiring for a comfortable sleep.
DAY 5 Wednesday, July 4
Overcast skies and a light rain greeted the morning and everybody enjoyed hot coffee and fruit for breakfast. According to the GPS we were 59 miles from Oahu, so we decided to get underway as soon as possible. Alchemy had turned more than a dozen times on the anchor, so the two rodes were twisted together like a pretzel. Surprisingly, we pulled the first anchor with ease, then removed the chain from the anchor to free the other rode. This was too easy! The main anchor also pulled up easy with the windlass ( which Mitch fixed in Manele Bay). With fresh trades building we pulled out the jib and set sail for the northern end of Kalaupapa Peninsula.
Father Damien's Church
As we departed Okala we could see Father Damien's church above the rocks at Kalawoa. This is the place were the Catholic Missionaries abandoned Hawaiians (and others) who had exhibited signs of Leprosy (Hansen's disease). Many drowned or were killed on the rocks trying to make it to shore. The Kalaupapa Settlement was a virtual prison where thousands were exiled to die under miserable conditions. Father Damien, disobeying church authorities, dedicated his life to helping the victims, until he contracted the disease and died in 1889. Believe it or not, Kalaupapa remained a leper colony until 1969, and some survivors remain at the settlement.
On the north end of the peninsula stands the majestic 213 ft Molokai Light. After rounding the peninsula, Leon pointed Alchemy towards shore and we sailed to within a half mile of the beach before jibing, hoisting the main sail and setting course of 270 degrees for Ilio Point at the northwest end of Molokai. After jibing several times to maintain course, the fishing line became entangled beneath the boat. So we hauled in as much line as possible before cutting it loose. Unfortunately the lure and some remaining line were wrapped in the prop. Leon decided we'd wait until we arrived in Honolulu to address the problem.
After passing Ilio Point we could see Oahu in the distance. Koko Crater stood out first, then later Makapu'u, Koko Head, and finally Diamond Head. With a steady 25 knots on her stern, Alchemy was making a good 8 knots on a downwind run to Oahu. The following seas made steering a bit of a challenge, so Leon, Mitch and Rick took
Diamond Head Lighthouse
turns at the helm. We crossed Kaiwi Channel in 5 hours, reaching Diamond Head buoy by 6:00 PM with plenty of light for the remaining trip to the slip at Keehi Marine Center.
As the sun slipped low we could see a number of boats anchoring and rafting up off Waikiki Beach. After all, we were arriving on the 4th of July and the fireworks were scheduled for 8:30 PM. Normally we'd be there also, but after our splendid five day adventure, fireworks didn't really seem all that exciting! At the Kalihi Channel buoy we rolled in the jib for the last time, started the engine, and motored into the lagoon. With the main sail down all that remained was to tie up at the dock, rinse the salt off, and put Alchemy to rest.
We each consider ourselves lucky to have had this opportunity, to make new friends and share new experiences while cruising the Hawaiian Islands. ALOHA!!
contributed by Mitch Kahle