A TRIP FULL OF FIRSTS  
 BY TOM GEBHARDT

 

     As the clock slipped past midnight on Friday I made my way down the dock to climb aboard Xanadu.  There, asleep, was my crew Rick.  We went about making final preparations for sea.  After re-wiring the compass light with a stronger LED we slipped our moorings and headed out to sea.

     The winds were light, maybe 10 knots, and steady from the North East as we sailed along the coast toward Diamond Head buoy where we would set our course for Molokai, East to 107 degrees.  We sailed into the inky black moonless night, passing a few distant inter-island tugs with tow.  The trip was pretty uneventful.  One strange looking ship with a lot of white lights seemed to be right on our course, so we avoided him and he later slipped off to the north.  I suppose it was a fishing boat with her aft deck awash in flood lights.  With the dawn the winds fell off even more so we cranked up our little Honda 5 HP outboard and motor sailed across the channel to the western end of Molokai.  The swells were building to 10-15 ft before we hit the lee side.  We continued along until about 11 AM when we arrived at the harbor entrance.  After heeding the warnings to give a wide berth to the south shore we made the range markers and easily slipped into the small harbor.  While setting the anchor the engine died as if on cue and did not want to start again.  "How odd," I thought, "after running for 5 hours straight without complaint, it died dead!"  A quick check found that the spark plug wire had come off.  The wire was quickly re-attached and the engine was fired up.   We set the anchor on 100 ft. of chain and then swam over to see Leon Fedenczuk and his crew on Alchemy.

We set about the day's routine with a BBQ on Xanadu and hiking, swimming and picture taking.  In the evening we all gathered on Alchemy for chatting and dinner of BBQ and tacos with some sweet red wine.  Later, when a fin pierced the water's surface several times near the boat, most of us thought it was a shark until a closer examination determined it to be a big sting ray with his wingtips coming out of the water.  We had a laugh about that and carried on chatting into the night.  After a good night of conversation and great dinner Rick and I headed back to our boat in the dinghy for a good night's sleep, with cool breezes, millions of stars, and peace and quiet.
     Other boats sharing the anchorage included the local trimaran, a fishing boat at the wharf and 2 fishermen at anchor, and another sailing vessel Cope
from Alaska.  We never got to meet the skipper on Cope, but dubbed him "Black Beard" for obvious reasons.
     With the sunrise Sunday morning the wind again died down.  After two pots of coffee and some breakfast we stowed the dinghy and awning.  Rick pulled the anchor, we threw a wave to Alchemy
and motor-sailed out of the harbor, followed by "Black Beard" on Cope.  We only sailed 1 hour of the 8 hour return trip, the winds off our stern were just too light to make any way without the motor.  We sighted our first whale of the season a few miles off Molokai and otherwise had a good motor-sail back.
     It was a trip full of firsts and the memories will last forever; my first night sail, my first channel crossing, my first extended motor-sail, my first time using GPS and a compass, my first time to a neighbor island, and no mosquitoes!  What a blast!                          Tom Gebhardt