We had been sailing since 9:00AM and the weather was more or less extreme. 25knots seemed to be on the low end of our wind spectrum that day, 40knots on the high end. The seas were whipped up the whole way. Our crossing of the Pailolo Channel, between Maui and Molokai was absolutely a white-knuckle ride. When needed, I found warmth and happiness by reflecting on the decision I had made that morning to keep the mizzen down and to begin the sail with a single reef in the main. I had the second reef in as soon as we were in the channel. With wind howling and waves stacking up, I kept a local friend’s words running through my head, “ you’ll be flying downwind until you hit Kaiwi, then it will be a little sloppy, expect combers to try and hang out with you”. Kaiwi, the channel between Molokai and Oahu, was still ahead. I was not looking forward to part 2 of our trip. As we sailed past Molokai, the wind and the waves did not subside in the lee until we were nearly 90 percent of the way past the shoreline of the island. It was beginning to seem that we would get any break at all. Finally, we had some reprieve in our final few miles of Molokai coastline; time to use the head, eat and prepare for what was to come. I also found time to throw a fishing line out.
As we cleared Laau Point, the South West end of Molokai, the wind picked back up and the swell was indeed confused. Luckily, however, the wind was a bit closer to what had been predicted that day, remaining relatively steady around 26 knots and gusting to the low 30s. As we sailed over Penguin Banks, about a quarter of the way through the channel crossing, we had a strike! While rising and falling through the swell, I pulled in a nice personal sized Mahi, the perfect amount of fish to feed me for a couple of days. That’s all I needed. I threw the line back in the water just to get it untangled. Before I could get the line out, we had another hit! This time a much larger Mahi. With the first fish on the cockpit sole, I hauled in our second catch. Enough was enough, now we were going to have dinner guests when we got to Honolulu. I unhooked the fish, our hand line now a tangled mess, and threw the lure back overboard to begin untangling. We had the line almost completely clear when “pop!”, another hit. Kiera began to pull it in, trying to keep the line from tangling. The fish fell off, just a spook. Not 10 seconds later… “pop!” fish on again! We pulled in a small tuna. We got the fish in the boat, got the line totally untangled and wrapped it up ASAP!
By now I have three bloody fish in the cockpit. We’re sailing at 7.5 knots to 10kts as we surf down following seas off our starboard quarter. The wind is blowing, we’re rocking around with the occasional wave spraying us down with salt water. I spent nearly the entire remainder of the channel crossing bent over with my head down by my hands and feet in the cockpit; a knife, bucket, cutting board and three bloody fish sliding around down there with me. Kiera, who was holding up remarkably well, kept a foot on my shoulder, keeping me from tumbling forward when the waves came. Cut after cut, I finally got all three fish cleaned up and bagged.
By the time I finished cleaning the fish and scrubbing the blood, skin and juices from the boat, I was exhausted. We were laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. What a whirlwind! Diamond Head was coming up quickly now. I knew that as soon as we passed the Head, we would be allowed to unwind and decompress. We were both cold, wet and ready to be in harbor. At roughly 20:00 our sails were down and we were passing through the channel into Honolulu…12 hours. 40knots. 3 fish. 2 wet and tired sailors dreaming of all things dry, warm and calm.