April 23 – In the past 24 hours we have experienced extreme discomfort and are now enjoying the best life has to offer. Allow me to explain…
We bid our farewells to friends dockside at 0900 and put out to sea into a lumpy steep sea state with little wind. We were bouncing and heaving side to side over 12-14 foot mixed seas as we cleared the lee of Oahu. We dosed on Meclizine the night before and the morning of our departure but despite our preventative measures we both were feeling terribly sick as Ellie got tossed around violently in the big washing machine seas with no sail to stabilize us. We’ll have you know that we have sailed over 9,000 miles together and have yet to throw up – although we have come close many times. In case you were wondering – the streak still stands.
Once we cleared the island the wind filled in from the NE at 22 knots and we sailed 50 degrees off the wind under double reef and half a jib on a heading for the lee of Lanai. A few hours of brisk sailing later the wind died but inconveniently the seas decided to seriously mess with us – hard. Once again we found ourselves in huge, steep, short-period swells from what seemed like all directions…..and no wind. Every monohull sailor out there knows how horrible it is to motor through steep washing machine seas with no wind to stabilize you – it’s the worst, most uncomfortable, barftastic motion you can experience on a boat. We were miserable. To compound matters we were forced to motor directly into the wind for 7 hours in this mess because we had to clear Penguin Bank, which was to the north by only a mile and fishing boats operating to our south. It seemed like an eternity to clear that bank and head north towards Lanai.
Once we reached the edge of the bank we started our slow turn north….and so did our headwinds. That’s right, they stayed directly on the nose, and then started increasing in speed to 20+ knots as the sea state got steeper and steeper. It was so short and so steep that if the sets hit us just right it would slow us to less than 2 kts. We were sailing close on the wind with a double reef main and engine cranking hard. This went on for another 6-8 hours.
Once we reached the channel between Lanai and Molokai we were hoping to finally find this lee that was forecast and the dead air that windy.ty promised. Instead we were hit with 35 knots on the nose, short steep seas, squalls and lightning. The Mermaid was hissing at me and we were both miserable. Ellie was pissed as well and was only making about 2 knots towards Maui so I spun us around and ran for the lee of Lanai. It was 0200 (am). And the AIS was showing two tugs with tows coming right at us and a fishing boat thrown into the mix just for kicks. I woke up the Princess who had only laid her head down 30 minutes prior. “Lyss Get Up! Sorry! But the autopilot is busted, I’m hand-steering down huge seas running from 35 knots and we have three ships on a collision course steaming right at us.” At 0215 our autopilot conveniently bit the dust for good. Murphy’s law right?
I should mention here that in the midst of all the fun we were having we decided to bag the Big Island for now and go hang out in Maui until favorable weather is forecast for our crossing. So the night was spent trying our best to reach Lahaina. Hence why we found ourselves between Lanai and Molokai..
.Back to the passage from hell.. We motor-sailed around the south of Lanai in big lumpy seas while the sea tried it’s best to test our provision-stowing skills (Lyss was awesome and it all stayed in place). We rounded the SE point of Lanai around 0400 and found some dead air. One crappy element down, one to go (sea state). Once Manele Bay, Lanai was to port the sea state started to finally moderate. It felt amazing to be back in a reasonable sea state (it was a bumpy 5-7 feet at this point).
The seas kept calming down as we neared the lee of Maui and I was treated to a most spectacular sunrise. The sun started peeking out from behind both peaks of Maui and I saw it slowly creeping up from the valley in the middle. It was glorious. As I snapped photos, I forgot, for a moment, just how miserable the past 18 hours had been. I also remembered how sailing throws life at you in its extremes. I had not been that uncomfortable – ok, let’s call it miserable – since sailing between these islands last. I had also not had a moment as serene and welcoming as that sunrise. The misery was necessary to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of that sunrise over calmer seas. I always say, “The sweet would never be so sweet without the bitter.” That statement was certainly true of this passage.
We motored up the coast of Maui and dropped the hook in the beautiful Honolua Bay. The charter cat moored in the bay was cool enough to help us grab a sunken mooring pennant and even offer us some leftover grub – we swam the dry bag over to meet them and snag some fresh grilled chicken.
Inside of 12 hours we went from wet, cold, seasick, and frustrated – to – relieved, elated, welcomed and refreshed. We’re still exhausted but we’re smiling. We’ll take that over flat-lined any day.
We plan to spend a couple of days here and then we’ll have to go to Lahaina to find some diesel and a cheeseburger in paradise. In the meantime, wish us some rain to wash all the salt off our newly polished stainless.
Aloha from Honolua Bay, Maui.
Lewis & The Tired Princess Lyss