"Around Oahu, Trippin"
Memorial Day Cruise, 2010
by Tom Gebhardt

 Ah, the weather is fine and the summer is here.  It’s Memorial Day Weekend and time for another trip around the island.  The captain and crew of Alchemy have made plans and everyone moved toward getting everything ready.


We climbed aboard Alchemy and the food, boxes, cans and bottles got quickly stowed below.  The sail covers, awnings and sheet bags were pulled off and safely stored as well.  “But wait folks, we have a broken slide on the main!”  We pulled the mainsail off of the mast and quickly replaced the slide, then reassembled the mast gate.  Lines were soon set free and we slowly motored off down the short Ala Wai channel into the gentle roll.

We decided to set the full main, but sailed only a half mile and decided it was better to reef the main again.  The boat was rolling in the swell but we were determined to reef and sail on.  Between the crashing waves breaking on the fore deck we dropped the main, inserted the reef hooks, and reset the main.  Alchemy rode better and off we sped toward the east and KoKo Head.

The hours passed, the day was nice and bright.  As we rounded the lighthouse at Makapuu Point the continuing 4-6 ft swell lifted the stern and gave us a noticeable twist as we headed toward Kaneohe Bay.  I felt the effects of the quartering sea and found myself over the rail and green.

Author, Tom Gebhardt on watch

As we sailed up the windward coast towards the entrance to the main ship channel we noticed a few sails on the horizon ahead, but could raise no one from the cruising group on VHF channel 16.  At last we entered the channel, fired up the motor and dropped a sail. 

We found the fleet of Cruising Society boats – Millie D, Seaquel, Swan Song and Moonshadow – safely anchored at the Sand Bar.  We found a comfortable spot to splash our hook and shut down.  We had arrived!  Next thing was to locate our crew member Rick Tudeur, who was to meet up with us here.  We found him on Millie D where they were apparently waiting to send him over.  The dinghy shot over immediately on our arrival.  Rick hopped aboard, grinning like a school boy and regaling us with their sighting of hammerhead sharks – 24 of them – off the side of the Millie D, just before our arrival.  With the first leg complete we had a cold beer and relaxed and joked a bit, in anticipation of the pot luck dinner to be held aboard Swan Song a little later.

Dave Cooper ferried most of the parties over to Swan Song for dinner and it was awesome, lots of good food, nice folks and adult beverages.  We all laughed and talked of sea stories and more into the evening.  The last boat in our group, Symphoon, slipped into the anchorage about sunset.  Scott dropped his hook, got a dinghy ride over, and we happily consumed the pies he brought and another drink or two.  Someone said “the dinghy is ready” and we jumped aboard and headed back to our boats.  Bedtime was early for our crew, we planned to get up at sunrise.

aaaah! Nuttin' better after a day of sailing!

Morning came with a strong breeze and the coffee flowed freely.  A quick swim woke up tired bodies; I was on the lookout for hammerheads every second as I quickly finished my swim.  Soon we had eaten a small breakfast and prepared to get underway to Pokai Bay.  Moonshadow had fallen back but remained at anchor.  We watched, confused.  “What are you doing?” we yelled.  “Lost our steering” was the reply.  “You need help?” we offered.  “No, go ahead, we’ll get it” Jeff waved, as we slipped by and out the channel toward a rolling sea.

We left the channel and made good speed toward the sail ahead of us.  All went well through the morning.  We rounded the corner at Kahuku around 11 am and tracked along Oahu’s North Shore.  The motion of the boat in the waves improved, and so did my seasickness.  We enjoyed the rest of the sail along the coast and turned the corner of Kaena Point into the calmer lee side, where the wind dropped off and the motor sail began.  There were a few boats anchored at Makua.  We hailed them by radio; no one answered so we hele’d on to Pokai Bay

As we approached Pokai we learned via Patti on Seaquel that the inner anchorage was nearly full, but if we hurry a few slots are still available.  We found a place but left our tail hanging out into the channel.  Many of our cruising group chose to lay outside and seemed to enjoy a safe night.  After the long day of travel we all pretty much stayed aboard and dined on our own.  As the sun dropped we made the somber observation that there was no green flash (again) and drank our wine and ate into the evening.

  Rick Tudeur

Morning:  coffee, swim, trash and ice run, breakfast, cleanup, and we weighed anchor.  Once underway we set sails and had a nice run up to Barbers Point.  At the deep water channel the Interisland Barge wanted his way…he got it.  We ended up heading well off to the outside of the fuel moorings, while watching the racing fleet slip through on the inside.  (We gotta learn our way through the inside passage, I thought to myself.)

As we sailed back toward the city and  Diamond Head we noticed that the corner of the sail was ripping in the 30+ HEADWINDS.  We quickly rolled the little furling headsail and continued on our track under reduced sail, motor on and heading home ASAP. 

We arrived in the slip around 5 pm, and after putting the boat away and drinking a few, we got a call…”Jeff is in trouble, he lost his steering again!”  We were shocked into action and started to contact people who might help out.  After much checking around we found the number for “Vessel Assist” and eventually they came on scene.  Darkness had fallen when finally Moonshadow slipped into the harbor under tow.  With “Vessel Assist” and another small boat to help steer they got Moonshadow safely into his slip.

So it all worked out and I am comforted the know that the fleet was there to help until the end.  What a great group of boaters this Cruising & Voyaging Society has.  You guys are awesome.

Tom Gebhardt, Skipper
S/V Giant Turtle