Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Leg 3-1999 Tahiti to Hawaii

July 5, 1999 0600 6.06S, 148.28W (nearly 1/3 of way to Hawaii)
Log: 24,254 Baro: 1010 Air: 83 Water: 77F Winds: ENE @ 16kts
Close reaching at 7kts w/3' seas

Getting ready to leave our favorite anchorage on Moorea.

What sailing we're having! With winds rarely under 15 or over 25, Mahina Tiare is flying towards Hilo, urged on by eager crew.

Our plans of an quick departure from Tahiti to allow more time to explore Tikehau, our newly-found favorite island were thwarted upon discovering that Monday & Tuesday were Tahitian holidays, preventing us from clearing out. So we sailed to Moorea Monday, starting our teaching program by sending each of the crew up the mast for a rig check, then time off for snorkeling and exploring before sailing back to Tahiti to catch the fireworks and opening festivities of the month long Heiva festival of celebrating everything Tahitian.

Juha and Eugene winching Jane up the mast.

Early Wednesday we completed our outbound clearance and set sail for Tikehau. The easterly trades had returned and we had 25 knots out of Papeete's pass which meant that we covered the 167 miles in under 24 hours. Since we had gotten a later start from Tahiti, we only spent the afternoon anchored off the pass to Tikehau, snorkeling, resting and finding our sea legs. Even though we've experienced tropical 40 knot squalls and bouncy conditions no one has been seasick since we left Tikehau!

Sailing into Cooks Bay, Moorea.

Leg 3 crew is by far our most diverse crew ever, and what an eager and fun-loving group they are:

Michael Robinson, 58 joins us from Muscat, Oman, where he is a professor of desert ecology and biology. His wife, Patrician is an artist who just had a show in London and is now designing the artwork for a new Holiday Inn in Oman. Michael sails his 18' Cornish Crabber on the Arabian Sea.

Juha Niemisto, 37 is from Finland but has been working for Microsoft in the Seattle area for a few years. His German wife Nikki completed an Atlantic cruise with her family when she was 4 years old and is anticipating sharing ocean cruising with their three sons who are now enrolled in a summer sailing program. Juha and Nikki own a Nauticat 35 which they enjoy sailing out of Anacortes and eventually plan to ship to Finland and sail back to the US.

Heikki Kanerva, 35 also from Finland and also at Microsoft. A former member of the Finnish Olympic cross-country ski team, Heikki was recruited by U of Alaska-Anchorage and went through college on a skiing scholarship. Sounds tough! He keeps his 40' Nauticat near Blaine, WA and dreams of ocean cruising in the future. The Finns (as Juha and Heikki are affectionately referred to onboard) are the original eager-beavers when it comes to sailing! Yesterday morning Heikki said, "If there's ever a watch that no one wants or any job to be done, just let me know, because I'm loving every minute of this!"

Jane Cave, 55, originally from London, now lives in Washington, DC where she works as a Polish and Russian translator and previously worked for human rights organizations dealing with Eastern Europe. She sails a C&C 35 on the Chesapeake Bay every possible chance with her husband,

Eugene Versluysen, 60, of Belgium. Eugene has worked all over the world for the World Bank and has just had his first book published, an important documentation of how small, non-commercial banks lending very small amounts of money have allowed women in Pakistan, Peru, Indonesia and other impoverished countries to start their own small businesses, transforming their lives. Eugene and Jane are looking for a larger boat to cruise the Caribbean on.

Elliot Finkle, 57 may look like a mild-mannered radiologist from Los Gatos, CA, but this guy is hooked on adventure! Skydiving, river rafting, mountain climbing, flying - he loves it all! Elliot and his wife Betty joined me 17 years ago on one of my first Advanced Offshore Seminars, a week-long intensive and exciting sailing school in Tahiti, using the Moorings boats. Since then, he has joined Mahina Tiare in Fiji, Cape Horn and a few other exotic spots, making this his fifth (we think) expedition with us.

Now that we've been at sea five days, everyone is settled into the rhythm of the passage. As we are sailing north, 2,300 miles, each day is getting longer due to the sun being near Hawaii. When the 0600 watch comes ondeck it's been light for more than 40 minutes, where as in Tahiti the sun was just getting up.

At the 0800 change of watch, I have breakfast ready; french toast, eggs, or cereal and toast and often fresh fruit. At 1000 Amanda takes the watch and for 1 - 2 hours we study a subject. Yesterday it was liferaft survival and we completely unpacked our three abandon ship containers and talked about priorities of survival. This morning we will cover where to find weather information worldwide and how to avoid storms at sea. This is prompted by necessity as we are leaving New Zealand's area of forecast responsibility and entering Hawaii's, so we need to de-program the kiwi weatherfax charts and program in the Honolulu charts. It's fun to have the crew do this and for them to discover how they can receive the same charts at home using a shortwave receiver, special modem and their computer.

The Honolulu National Weather Service charts are showing winds of 10-15 knots, ESE thru ENE all of the way to Hilo. The stronger 25 knot NE trades are absent, and if are winds stay in the current range, we are going to have an exceptionally smooth (and fast) passage to Hilo! I'll mail one of the weatherfax charts to Suzy, our webmistress and ask her to post it here so you can see what excellent information is available free to cruisers. This is such a far cry from trying to decipher static-filled shortwave radio weather broadcasts and then drawing them out on a plastic overlay over the chart.

July 7, 1999 2030 00.44S, 148.55W

Log: 24,699 Baro: 1011 Air: 86 Water: 75 Winds: E @ 15

Beam reaching @ 8 knots

At sunset tonight everyone was in the cockpit, watching dolphins on the bow and the boat effortlessly surging along at 8 knots with slight seas on the beam. It's been a magical day - we had our equator crossing party and swim at 1300. Just two hours later we passed our half-way point with only 1200 miles to go. Amanda baked a double batch of brownies and fish taco dinner. Now two hours later, everyone is still in the cockpit, listening to music and watching the stars.

"The equator crossing ceremony"

Our winds have been incredibly consistent, never less than 10 knots (which keeps our boat speed above 7 kts) and only once over 25 in a squall. This morning everyone accomplished both three-strand and double braid splices and are eagerly awaiting tomorrows celestial navigation practice. We're ahead of our teaching objectives and wish to arrive in Hilo with only winch servicing to cover, a class we never intend to try at sea.


Leg 3-1999 Tahiti to Hawaii

July 14, 1999 2030 19.17N, 154.35W

Log: 25,848 Baro: 1015 Air: 84 Water: 74

Winds: ENE @ 19kts Close reaching @ 8.3 kts, single reef in main and jib


For the past seven days we're "pedal to the metal" carrying all the sail we can with safety while Hurricane Beatriz is making a beeline for Hawaii. When we first heard of her over the INMARSAT-C weather forecasts she was only a tropical storm. The following day she was a named hurricane with 70 kt winds, gusts to 85kts, heading our way at 14 knots. Two days later she was packing 105 kts, gusting 130, but had slowed her westward movement to 10 knots. Although this is one of the best months for making the passage from Tahiti to Hawaii, the Pilot Charts do show the small chance of an early Mexican hurricane reaching Hawaii during July. Our planned evasive action, if necessary, would be to simply heave-to for a day or two to let the hurricane pass, before continuing on to Hilo.

Juha and Heiki, The Finns'

July 13, 1999 2020

We have outrun Beatriz! Juha and Heiki just sighted the glow of the lava flow 18 miles off our bow - the first sight of the Big Island of Hawaii. This has been a record fast passage for us, covering approximately 2300 miles in only 13 days and 3 hours! Our slowest noon-to-noon run was 153 miles, and we had two 174 mile days and one 177 mile day. What excellent tradewinds!

Although we don't advocate cruisers making landfall in the dark, tonight we have exceptionally good conditions, excellent visibility, and Amanda and I have been in and out of Hilo harbor at least a dozen times before, a couple of those in the dark.

Eugene very carefully laid out our course and waypoints on the paper charts, then Heikki showed me several tricks for entering the identical waypoints and naming them on the Maptech CD electronic charts. We are going to have a teaching session on electronic charting once we are anchored in the morning.

This passage has had some of the most consistent sailing conditions, rarely under 15 or over 25 knots, and the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical-Convergence-Zone, previously known as "The Doldrums") let us through lightly without any thunderstorms and only a couple of mildly squally days.

Amanda's goal for the passage was to catch one of each of the major types of ocean fish to photograph for her cookbook, and she did! First was her favorite, a 4' wahoo, then a gorgeous tuna which turned into sashimi, sushi and seared Cajun, while next her "piece de resistance, two mahi mahi, caught at the same time!

Once again we've had a first class crew - lots of discussions into the night on everything from what it's like living in the Middle East, or working for Microsoft, to plans of each crew for buying their next cruising boats. I have especially enjoyed Juha's questions and planning for his trip in a couple of years from Europe to the Canaries, Panama, Marquesas and home to Seattle. This is the same voyage that Amanada and I have been researching details and landfalls on for 2001 after our expedition to Spitzbergen and toward the North Pole. Watch this site for some very exciting passages in 2001 & 2002!

July 15, 1999 0340

Log: 25,894

Anchor down in Radio Bay, Hilo Harbor! Our consistent winds carried us nearly to the breakwater entrance, with occasional Hilo drizzles. The lights of Hilo town and the earthy smells coming off this lush, tropical land were an exciting welcome for us. By using the radar which picked up the breakwater and buoys several miles off, the GPS waypoints, bearings on the light and the fascinating Maptech/Nobeltec electronic charts, plus several sets of eyes in the rigging with binoculars, we cautiously entered the harbor, without drama. I was already to drop a bow anchor and back stern-to the harbor wall, but Amanda said it would probably wake the cruisers on the few boats in the harbor, so we anchored out and came stern-to after clearing customs in the morning. The harbor is deserted with a maximum of only five visiting yachts where in the past many times we've been one of a dozen or more boats.

After a fun dinner together and lots of laundry, our crew headed off to do and see it all! Helicopter flights and hiking down the erupting volcano, jeep rides to the 13,700 peak of Mauna Loa, exploring tropical forests, body surfing and snorkeling in Kona- these guys did it all!

Farewell dinner. Hilo, Hawaii.

Now we're catching up on maintenance and getting Mahina Tiare into top shape for our Leg 4 crew and the passage to Prince Rupert, Canada.

Between Legs 3 & 4, 1999, Sailing around the Big Island of Hawaii

July 28, 1999 1630 20.12N, 155.54W
Log: 25,954 Baro: 1017 Air: 82 Water: 74
Winds: E @ 25 gusting 36, seas 1'

Navigating the coast of Hawaii using Maptec and enjoying the fun of it.

Broad reaching at 8 kts with triple reefed main & jib After nearly two weeks in Hilo, Amanda and I set sail this morning for Kona, on the lee or dry side of the Big Island. It was just three years ago exactly that we made this same passage with Mahina Tiare II after sailing up from Antarctica, heading for haulout, survey and seatrial in Kona with yacht broker Vickie Vance.

Similar to previous passages, the first part after leaving Hilo was bumpy, rolly and drizzly, but as we sailed past lovely Onomea Bay and along the lush Hamakua Coast, the sun shone, the trades filled in and by the time we passed spectacular Waipio Valley we were surfing, hitting 10 knots. Just past Waipio Amanda caught her first-ever yellowfin tuna.

As we sail towards the NW tip of the island, the coast becomes drier, waterfalls no longer plunge into the ocean, and lush tropical foliage gives way to an arid landscape dotted with cattle. As we round Upolu Point, it gets windy and on heading south toward Kailua Kona, the wind starts to switch to the bow becoming gusty.


August 2, 1999 0100 Tied up in Honokohau Harbor, Kona

In just 11 hours our Leg 4 crew arrive for the passage to Canada and I'm trying to tie up a million loose ends, so in between here's a small update on what's been going on aboard Mahina Tiare during our two week holiday.

Amanda's Galley Companion book is due to be mailed to the publisher tomorrow, so that has taken highest priority! I have discovered that cleaning, reprovisioning and preparing the boat for the next expedition is essentially a full time job for one person, or half-time for two. Since Amanda's book is top priority, I have really come to appreciate how much she does on board! In five wonderful years that we have shared this adventure of teaching and sailing, I have forgotten how incredibly difficult it was when I was running the boat alone.

Our real pleasure during the past two weeks has been just enjoying being in one place (mostly Hilo) and our daily early morning runs. We would leave at 0630 when it was still cool and most mornings run in a different place. Twice we drove the 32 miles up to Kiluea volcano and did long runs across and around the crater rim - those were unforgettable, but the combination of 4,000' elevation and lots of hills made us really stiff the next morning. Another favorite was from Rainbow Falls to Boiling Pots Falls, on the outskirts of Hilo, where we got to see dozens of immaculately maintained plantation-style homes with outrageous tropical flowers and trees.

My special treat was being able to anchor off Kaunoa Beach, in front of the Maunea Kea Beach Hotel. This isn't our normal cruising routine, but a brilliant crescent-shaped white sand beach, crystal clear water for snorkeling, many sea turtles and good holding make the anchorage one of the best on the Kona coast. The Mauna Kea Hotel was built in the mid-sixties by the Rockefeller family and is understated and exquisite. I first anchored there 20 years ago on Mahina Tiare I, and it is a place I'll always enjoy returning to.

I spent the days sanding and varnishing while Amanda typed, but we enjoyed sunset drinks on the hotel's lanai and some great live Hawaiian music.

All too soon our two weeks were up and Saturday we moved into this small sportfishing harbor, the perfect spot for last minute runs to Safeway and Costco and for Amanda to replenish her fishing gear at the shop in the marina.

We're looking forward to first sailing 80 miles to Lanai, my second favorite (after the Big Island) Hawaiian island for an initial shakedown passage with our new crew before the big jump-off, 2,600 miles to Prince Rupert, Canada. Stay tuned!


For more details on sailing and navigation experience check out our Sailing Schedule or contact Tracy in our Mahina Expeditions office: or tel 360-378-6131.

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