Part 2: A range as far as 1,500 miles in search of anything from billfish to wahoo.
By Richard Thiel — October 2002
Our auspicious beginning is enhanced by the fact that we've got a crew caring for us that's as entertaining as they are competent. Capt. Rick Medenwald has spent 27 years in Hawaii and delivered yachts through the Panama Canal and as far as Palau, southeast of the Philippines. Our stewardess and Mendenwald's wife, Patti, is an Alaskan native who has a 100-ton license and is a certified dive instructor. Mate Craig Miller, a native South African, has been working on yachts for 18 years. Cook Dave Myers mixes superb cuisine with yarns derived from 31 years of fishing in Alaska. For me his culinary regimen is perfect: a breakfast buffet of cereal, bagels, and fruit--and, of course, Kona coffee. Brunch/lunch, served anywhere from 11 to 1, can be anything from quiche to pasta, and dinner is a production, although freshly caught fish served "simply, so as not to hide the taste," trumps any meal plan.
Joining us are Kakela’s owners, Johnny Baldwin and his wife Debby, who own the largest yacht, charter or not, in Hawaiian waters. Kakela can pick up and drop her guests anywhere in the islands, and as you’d expect, she’s equipped with toys like kayaks and a scuba compressor and gear and is rigged for fishing. But the Baldwins offer a twist: Kakela can be chartered in conjunction with Piper, their 43-foot Bertram. Since Kakela carries 7,000 gallons of fuel, she can operate as a mothership, allowing the duo to range as far as 1,500 miles in search of anything from billfish to wahoo.
After lunch we troll a couple of flat lines for wahoo as we skirt the 70-fathom line on our way south to Puako Bay, the evening’s anchorage. Less than a mile west, the water drops to more than 2,000 fathoms, although granders have been caught not far from here. Devoid of our own thousand-pounder, we anchor in Kiholo around 4 p.m. and explore a small bay while Myers prepares dinner: hot and sour soup, Caesar salad, and scallops and halibut cheeks in luau sauce. (Luau leaves are the tops of taro plants, from which poi is made. Cooked right, they taste like mild spinach.)
My first night at anchor I sleep soundly, thanks to a gentle swell and comfortable accommodations (I have one of the two twin-bed staterooms, both with en suite heads; there’s also a master forward of them but abaft the engine room). In the morning Gaffney, Foster, Cindy, and I head out in the two double kayaks to explore Kiholo Bay, which is also a turtle refuge. And with good reason, as we see lots of Green Sea turtles (and more breaching whales) on our way in. Surrounded by a relatively recent lava flow, the shoreline is a lunar landscape. As we skirt the shore we spook an auku’u (night heron), then happen upon a small antenna embedded in the rocks. Curiosity getting the better of me, I go ashore, where I also find a small video camera and a sign identifying this as a monitored “turtle basking area” and warning all to stay 20 feet from any turtle. We spot one sunning herself a few feet away, apparently digesting her meal, and aware of how sensitive turtle are to intrusion, we beat a hasty retreat.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.