Friday, February 26, 2010

Really low tide.

Last night Ric and Maria-Lucia talked me into taking Cirrus out for a trial run even though the engine cover is still off and there are some pieces of the main sheet traveler missing. The occasion was an unusually low tide. Almost -1 ft. That's a lot for Hawaii. The normal tidal range here is only a foot or two, and negative tides are fairly rare.

It was still light when we pushed off at about 6:00 pm and the lowest point was not expected until 7:08. I think we dragged a little getting out of the harbor but kept going. For our first adventure I decided to check out the Kaneohe YC channel. So, we lined up on the range and took it straight in until we went hard aground about halfway to the bulkhead. Since we really hit pretty hard and the tide was still going out we put considerable energy into wiggling our way off the sand bar. We also checked the outside channel. It is very narrow but seems to be much deeper.

After that we headed out toward the main bay, with exposed coral reefs everywhere. At this point we decided to put out the jib and shut off the engine since we had about 10-12 knots of reaching wind. As we neared the Sampan Channel there were a lot more exposed reefs and large sandy areas. Finally, a couple miles further west, we turned out of the main channel and headed toward "the sandbar" just as it started to get really dark. The bar itself was spectacular. There were miles of sand and Kapapa Island was high and dry. Finding our way back to the main channel and then heading back to the main part of the bay in the pitch dark was a bit of a challenge. But fun. Not all of the familiar buoys and day markers are lighted. So we all kept a good lookout and compared notes from time to time. "Is that the next red buoy or a car stopping at a stop sign?"

Finally, around 9:00 we found the range for Makani Kai and headed back in to the dock. During the evening the weather had been really mixed with clouds and gusty winds and the threat of sprinkles, but we were lucky and only had a few drops here and there. All in all it was a great evening.

On a practical note, it is interesting how one's night sailing skills atrophy with lack of use. There were a few tense moments, and everyone was giving the navigation their undivided attention. Since learning stuff  (or re-learning) is so much fun, we'll have to go again soon.

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