A week cruising and fishing aboard Hawaii’s dynamic charter duo.
By Richard Thiel — October 2002
I've been around boats long enough not to trust omens. I've seen too many cruises start in perfect weather and deteriorate into a week of bone-chilling drizzle, and fishing trips begin with multiple knockdowns and devolve into hours of ennui. But after my first day aboard Kakela, the 96-foot Broward cockpit motoryacht out of Oahu, things were looking pretty rosy.
I'm met at the Kona airport by photographer/journalist Rick Gaffney and his wife Jeanette Foster. Despite the fact that I've just spent the previous 22 hours in airplanes and airports, both awaken me about as effectively as the island's famous coffee by rattling off factoids about everything from culture to climate. After a stop for provisions (and three bags of Kona coffee for the folks back home), we're off to rendezvous with Kakela's 17-foot Nautica for the short run to the yacht, anchored in nearby Kailua Bay.
As we motor north aboard Kakela at a leisurely 9 knots, I receive a classic Kona postcard: breaching humpbacks on one side and verdant landscape intertwined with old lava flows on the other. And there's a special treat: simultaneous views of snow-capped, 13,784-foot Mauna Kea and 13,440-foot Mauna Loa. (We can't see Kilauea, the most infamous of the island's five volcanoes, because it's on the southeast shore.) One of the pair is usually swathed in clouds. Indeed, the day is strangely (to me) overcast, more what I'd expect of Puget Sound than proverbial sunny Hawaii.
Whales blow and breach as we make our way along the dry coastline bound for Anaehoomalu Bay and what Gaffney calls the "turtle-cleaning station." Four turtle species call these islands home, but only Hawksbill and Green Sea turtles inhabit inshore waters. On arrival we dive into the 78-degree water and soon spot our quarry, small blue-green Saddle Wrasses dining on the parasites attached to the turtles' shells. Like a quarter of all fish in these waters, they're endemic to Hawaii, placing it on a par with such exotic locales as Easter Island, the Galapagos, and the Red Sea. Since we're on the lee side (Kona means lee in Hawaiian), the water is calm, although cloudy from recent heavy rains.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.