We made it!!!
21 June 2011 | Lahaina, Maui
It was real, and it was fun...but it wasn't really fun!! At 0330 today Jim and I motored into Lahaina harbor after 3,400 nm of sailing, motoring, motorsailing, heaving to, and just about everything else that the good Lord threw at us!
In terms of passages, this one was 'average'. It was much worse than I expected, but still had some incredible moments. I think being without any sunny days for 90% of the 24.5 days it took us to cross was the hardest part. Every day we had sun it seemed our spirits were up. The rest of the days it was "just another day". And indeed those 24 days started to run together after awhile!
In terms of incredible moments, we had one spectacular ride dead down a soft, rolling sea with the moon and moonglow dead ahead of us under a near full moon. We had several sunrises and sunsets that were so electric orange that you were just struck with awe at the majesty and grace of the moment. We had some days with some incredible breezes that were easy and fun -- usually associated with sunshine.
But the trip will also be remembered for the difficulties we were forced to endure, overcome, and subdue. Three different times we had sail repair issues. Once we chose to heave to just to wait out the voilence of the ocean and give our bodies a rest. The last half of the trip we were forced to constantly be on the lookout for squalls sneaking up on us and hurtling the boat down awesome seas under too much sail. And always it seemed we had to contend with the constant rolling of the boat.
This latter item -- the rolling -- wasn't as pronounced as it could have been if we had chosen to sail directly downwind (and, presumably, directly down the face of the waves). But the ocean is not for the timid -- particularly when you have 3,000 nm of fetch, or room for waves to form and build. In this case, the waves we encounted in the trades were not just in one direction as I had expected. Instead they often came from two or more directions. And when two waves would meet at the boat the result was an often violent rounding up of the boat as the waves colluded to throw the little ship about.
But it isn't always what you get from it, but what you become through it. And I think Jim and I both have a distinct respect not only for the sea, but also for our own abilities to overcome adversity. We have learned to work together as a team. We have learned to trust each other. We have to out there!
But our arrival was not without its own incidences. At dusk last night we were running before the breeze on the southeast side of Maui taking in breathtaking scenes of 100' waterfalls down galacial canyons, monolithic lava flows thousands of years old representing megatons of energy, and micro climates being formed by the huge, leftover caldera.
We were enjoying it....perhaps too much. Because no sooner were the dinner dishes put away than the wind piped up. I forfeited the nap I had planned as a prelude to the evening's watches to come up onto deck and hand steer the boat. The wind was up to about 25k by this point and both Jim and Otto were unprepared to hold the boat on course.
But the wind kept building, eventually reaching somewhere around 35k. We put a 3rd reef in the main, but that still wasn't enough. So we furled the jib beyond the 2nd reef so it was just a small hankie out there. To gybe, we had to furl the jib, start the engine, and ever-so-gingerly swing the boom over without breaking it or anything else.
Fortunately we did not have too many gybes to do and we were still relatively fresh. So we performed the boat maneuvers without incident. But hand steering in those conditions takes both a physical and emotional toll. And by the time the wind subsided around 2130, I was spent.
We got in side the lee of the island and were able to motor and motorsail the rest of the way to the marina. We entered the harbor at dark, which isn't something I normally like to do. But after 3,400 nm and 24 days, I was willing to take that chance!
Hats off to Jim for a job well done!!!