Crew Blog | Tamiko Fernelius: A Hurricane and Sail Plan

Crew Blog by Tamiko Fernelius

As we wait for hurricane Hector to pass Hawaiʻi, the crew of Leg 1 of Alahula Kai o Maleka Hikianalia’s Voyage to California are continuing to work on preparing the waʻa and continuing with crew training. Last Friday, while patiently waiting for our departure, our leg’s navigation team – Hye Jung, Kalani and I had a meeting to go over our sail plan and navigation plan with Captain Lehua.

This is our sail plan as of Tues, Aug 7:
When the weather permits, we will depart from PVS headquarters at the Marine Education and Training Center located in Sand island. Our escort boat the Tern Cat will tow Hikianalia east along the south shore, then up to Makapuʻu on the windward side of Oʻahu. Once we get up to Makapuʻu, we will release the tow line, open sails, and start sailing with traditional navigation from there.

Makapuʻu’s latitude is about 21o30′ N and from that position our reference course is ʻĀkau (direct north). With tradewinds off the starboard side, we will be holding that course until around 41oN to get above the ridge of the high pressure system. This should get us favorable winds to allow us to tack east toward the continental United States.

We will be sailing approximately 1200 nautical miles with an average of 5 knots, so it will take us 10 days to get up to 41oN. Our reference course will then change to ʻĀina Malanai which means 2 houses south from the east. We will be sailing 1620 nautical miles down to 38oN – the latitude of San Francisco.

The beginning 2/3 of that distance (1080 nautical miles), we are expecting less wind because we will be crossing middle of the high pressure, canoe speed will average 3 knots for 15 days but we might have to use our electric motor, or combination of sailing and motor to get more speed if we are going less than 3 knots. The last 1/3 of that distance (540 nautical miles), we are expecting stronger winds hopefully to get canoe speed up to 6 knots for 4 days.

We are expecting colder weather, wetter conditions, and mostly cloudy skies in this area high above the tropic zone. When we were out on a training sail with Nainoa last week, he told us how important it is for us to understand and feel the wind, swell, and motion of the canoe. If we can’t see the stars, sun, or any celestial bodies, we can only rely on the wind and the ocean swells. We will have to pay attention and observe nature as closely as possible.

Although our reference course is north, we will try to sail as close to the wind as possible to get easting towards San Francisco if conditions allow. Currently hurricane Hector is approaching the islands of Hawaiʻi and the unfavorable winds from north to northeast make it difficult to sail up the current plan. Hikianalia can’t sail in the direction of wind or in the direction of 6 houses (67.5 degrees) on either side of the wind direction. We are standing by until the hurricane passes Hawaiʻi and hopefully we will get more easterly winds in a few days.

I’m sure there are a lot of challenges waiting for us, but all crewmembers of leg one of the Alahula Kai o Maleka are working together as one ʻohana, I believe we can get through all the challenges that we will face and I’m very honored and humbled to be included with this amazing crew.

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