#66 Kauai Reconnaissance

We want to move Eliana to Kauai in June. It's not far, about 100 nautical miles, but our preferred Kauai base anchorage is on the north shore at Hanalei Bay. To prepare for the trip, we thought it would be a good idea to go there for a couple of days to check things out.

Our nephew Kyle and his wife Stephanie were already vacationing on the big island with plans to spend a few days on Kauai, so this looked like the perfect opportunity. We worked out a plan to have them join us for an overnight on Eliana anchored off Makua and in exchange we would go with them to Kauai for a look around.

I had no idea how incredible Kauai, the Garden Isle really is. I'll be able to report a lot more in depth once we get Eliana there, but for now I would like to whet your appetite by simply sharing a few pictures from our two day activities with Kyle and Stephanie. Click to enlarge.

Hiking the Na Pali coastline.

Kalalau Trail. One of the most beautiful, and top 10 dangerous hikes in the world.

Hiking up the Hanakapi'ai River. Two miles up this river brought us to the 160' Hanakapi'ai Falls. It was difficult, but worth it.

Kyle and Stephanie at a park in Hanalei

Beautiful Hanalei Valley. The bay where we intend to anchor is in the distance.

Hiking toward Wailua Falls with a guide.

On the way, we saw this overgrowth of Morning Glory. It's prolific with over 300 inches of rain per year.

Wailua Falls. Waterfalls are so hard to photograph.


You may recall we spotted Makua Bay while hiking to Ka'ena Point a couple weeks ago. Looked like a nice spot, out of the way and almost nobody there. Since Kyle and Stephanie were on Oahu for one night, we thought having them aboard was the perfect reason to go up there. The weather looked perfect with a 10 to 15 knot breeze and ocean swells less than 6 feet. Here are some photos...

I often question the fly bridge, but today it was all worth it. Man was it gorgeous.

Stephanie up front. Just that kind of day.

Coming up on Makua Valley.

Sunset on Kyle's camera. It's one of the new Sony's and does a beautiful job.

Then back to Ko Olina for brunch.

The Lost Anchor

My projects don't always go as planned. In fact, this one went horribly wrong. I'll tell the whole story so you'll have maximum sympathy for me.

Much like Mexico's west coast, most Hawaiian anchorages are exposed to ocean swell. We have found if Eliana is oriented bow or stern toward the swell, it is barely noticeable. If, however, our beam is facing the swell it causes an uncomfortable roll. Unfortunately, in most normal conditions, when wind is less than 20 knots, we tend to weather vane slowly. That is, she slowly turns to port and then starboard crossing through just about every orientation to the swell.

Now flopper stoppers help immensely. We've gotten good at putting them out and will always put them out in Hawaii regardless. But I decided to experiment with a strategically placed anchor off the stern which would still allow some normal rotation around the main anchor, but arrest the lazy turn before she goes beam on. Trade winds are directionally consistent here, so if the concept works anywhere, it would be here.

I purchased a 21 pound Fortress anchor, 12' of 3/8" chain and 250' of nylon rode to conduct this experiment. Then came time to test the theory. We decided to try it off Kahe Point in about 40' of water. We set the main anchor with the bow directly in the wind. We backed into the swell paying out 400' of anchor chain in front. At that point, we set the Fortress off the stern, then retrieved chain forward again until we had about 200' forward and 200' abaft, loosely tied. There we set, eager to see how she worked.

Here's the good news. The stern anchor worked like a charm. Before Eliana could turn beam to the swell, the stern anchor "caught" the stern and started the rotation the other way. She still weather vaned normally, but just not as far. And it was easy to set. Debbie and I were high fiving at what a great discovery we had made and decided to just stay the night. Our celebration was premature.

Suddenly, just as the sun was setting, the wind shifted 70 degrees and increased to a steady 35 knots. I was taken completely by surprise. How could this be happening? For a couple minutes, I thought it would switch back and calm down given it was getting dark. But, no, it kept going. I shifted my attention to the stern anchor. The nylon line was groaning with strain and I did not have a marker buoy attached to it. Didn't matter, there was no time to rig one now. I had to release it into the water while we rode out a gale force wind from the northeast.

The next morning we returned to Ko Olina and immediately got Sweet Charlotte rigged for diving. I was certain I could find the anchor, but day after day, dive after dive, tank after tank, the search area kept growing to no avail.

I was near giving up, when it occurred to me the anchor may have drug some before I released it. While diving, I noticed that what looked like a sand bottom was really only about 1" of sand on a flat plane of rock. Might hold on a rock irregularity, but when pulled hard may release and slide. So I plotted a possible new target position based on wind direction, the heading I remember at the time of the release, and the angle off the stern the line was going.

Then I solicited the help of Michael Cornell, our dear friend on the dock whom I've mentioned before in this journal to help search. He brought out his dingy and hookah to help scan the bottom in my newly theorized target area. Sure enough, we found the anchor and all the rode. It was beat up, but Fortress has a lifetime warranty and is replacing the flukes at no charge.

Lessons? Just a few. The stern anchor works great, but requires close tending if there is any chance the wind may change dramatically. I wouldn't leave one tied without being there. Second, leave plenty of bitter end to release slack should the wind change. The more slack, the greater wind change we can manage. Third, tie a marker buoy on the line. It's a good idea anyway to keep other boaters from snagging. Best of all, it allows us to release the line if needed, then quickly retrieve it again.

Preparing the Fortress anchor on Eliana's swim step.

Debbie paying out rode on the stern while I take chain in forward.

Rigging stays on the rode to keep it from fouling in the swim step stanchions.

Stern tie working normally.

Preparing SC for search and rescue.

Me preparing to dive on a 'new' target area after a week of failed searching.

Michael Cornell (in the water) and I finally retrieving the lost anchor.

Before Closing

Recently, I realized one of my cameras needed cleaning. So for the benefit of you photographers, I made the discovery that Canon has a service office right in Waikiki!! Now that's perfect. They are so courteous and helpful.

What a luxury. A nearby service office!

I continue to be amazed and humbled at the number of people who have registered to get Eliana's Journal. We are most appreciative to have you along. It means a great deal to us to read the comments you post on our website at the end of each journal entry. You can click on the link below to go directly there. If you have questions, please post those too and I'll try to answer them as quickly as possible.

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Lying: Ko Olina Marina

Mileage: 11,250 Nautical Miles


Hi Rick Could you please contact me as i would like your thoughts on another boat. Kind Regards Les
Dick Qualsett 6/9/2012
Aloha, I look at Eliana from my house since she's been in Hanalei. Took some nice photos this morning from my lanai with canoe races in the foreground and Eliana. Great story of your adventure. I was born & raised in Nebraska. My home is in the middle of Hanalei Bay. Have a continuing wonderful adventure.
David 6/3/2012
Hi Rick and Debbie, Here is another off-the-wall question. How does the 7'8" draft of Eliana affect your future cruising plans? What limits does that place on you currently, in the South Pacific or the Caribbean? Thanks, David Hi David, So far our draft hasn't affected our destination planning. I figure if we need to be concerned with 8', then we would also be concerned if we had a 6' or 5' draft. That said, I believe we would be particularly cautious in places like the inter coastal passageways, US east coast, river passages and possibly some places like Belize where there are vast areas of very shallow water. Draft does affect our anchoring. We tend to stay in the deeper part of anchorages, staying away from the shoreline and other boats. Here in Hawaii there are many places we wouldn't anchor because of large rocky, reefy areas of highly variable depths. If we're interested in exploring those areas, we're likely to do it with Sweet Charlotte which has a 1' draft and park Eliana somewhere safe. Rick
John Maurer 5/26/2012
I love the journal entries and photographs! I have to question the logic behind the stern anchor, size not reason. To me, that was much too small of an anchor for the task at hand. I think that an anchor around a hundred pounds would be more suitable. The anchor I've used for the stern on a 24' Sea Ray was 15 pounds and that was only on Lake Huron. With your greater windage and weight, I think that anchor was severely over tasked. Enjoy the islands and please keep us informed with your journal entries. You certainly make it look so inviting!
Kris 5/21/2012
Rick and Deb, So sorry to hear that you are going to Kauai so soon; I was hopeful that you might be there in October. Enjoy your stay...it is a beautiful island, with a lot to do, a lot to eat and a lot to see. Have to's: JoJo's shave ice in Waimea. (faces the high school, not to be confused with the original JoJo's around the corner). Order Number 8 (I think) macademia ice cream, coconut, syrups, whipped cream.....unless you have a death wish, a medium is large enough. Scottie's BBQ located along the beach in Kapauu. Great beach front dining and great ribs. Small appetites: order the full rack of ribs and share between two people.
Pamela and Darren Miller 5/20/2012
Good Morning Rick, We both thoroughly enjoy hearing about your travels and as always we are filled with so many questions re how to do this. I will not harrass you about all of them but Darren and myself (pamela) are truly keen to purchase a Nordhavn and set off for our retirement. Our dilema is whether to buy motor or sail??? just wondering how far you get on a tank of diesel i.e. how much per month would you spend on this? we are trying to work all this out but really need to ask someone like you who is actually doing this right now. Hoping you can help with this and any other tips you might have would be greatly appreciated. Love all the photos, you both look extremely happy. Kind Regards Pamela and Darren Miller - Australia Hi Pamela and Darren! We can't imagine a more challenging, yet rewarding occupation for retirement than this. I'm so excited you are considering doing it. Would love to stay abreast of your progress. Sail and power are both excellent options. We prefer power because it gives us cruising and living flexibility we never get tired of. Supremely comfortable, and passage plans are less weather (wind) dependent. So, when it's not windy, or when the wind is in the wrong direction we can go anyway. We have a 3,800 gallon tank capacity for fuel. With reserve for the unexpected, we would have no problem planning a 3,000 mile crossing. It's easy to add temporary tankage on deck as well. This past year we have averaged about $4.50 per nautical mile for fuel which covers anchorage, generator, all in. So your budget is very much based on how many miles per year you travel. Fuel is, by the way, our largest budget item. Insurance and satellite Internet are our other main expenses. We do almost all our own maintenance including washing, bottom cleaning, etc. so our maintenance budget is barely touched. Good luck on your planning. Rick
Cedric 5/18/2012
Always a pleasure, Rick. The larger pics are quite nice too. My only request... Write more often! Well, OK, one other request... More techie stuff. (BTW, those darn waterfalls are truly difficult to photograph, but hey, they're so worth the effort!)