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  • 06/25/14--13:52: June 25- Honolulu
  • MONGO racing hard for position in a Waikiki Friday night beer can race. I was in Waikiki for 3 Fridays and raced every week, usually with a crew of about 5. When Bill Lapworth penned the Cal 2-27, it was as a racer/ cruiser, so it only makes sense to race and cruise the yacht. Bruce anchor on the bow and Navik wind vane on the transom, MONGO represented hard while in Oahu. :) Photo thanks to Ted from HYC.

    After nearly a month in Honolulu, MONGO is ready to sail to Kauai and then onto the South Pacific... After putting the new rig up in Maui and then sailing to Oahu, i've been busy at work on MONGO knocking out big projects, little ones and lots of little maintenance items. At the end of the day, the 27-foot pocket cruiser is looking more dialed than ever. Aside from losing the rig on a lee shore in Maui, the Hawaiian Islands have been good to us. Leaving Hawaii is always bitterwsweet for me, but after sailng here five times (and back four times), I am excited beyond belief to finally sail BEYOND Hawaii! I have felt like a ping-pong ball going back and forth between Cali and Hawaii (and Mexico), and finally seeing the fabled islands of the South Pacific is a major motivation for this trip. As always, I have very much enjoyed my time here at Hawaii Yacht Club in the Ala Wai Harbor. I've spent lots of quality time with several awesome freinds, both new and old, and cherish this special little cruiser's paradise that is HYC. Rebekah and I plan to set sail for Hanalei Bay, Kauai in the next 1-2 days. I plan to set sail for American Samoa on Monday June 30. I will update the blog and provide a tracker link before I leave Kauai.


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  • 06/29/14--02:26: June 28 - Hanalei Bay, Kauai
  • MONGO Tracker going live around July 1 or 2 for passage to American Samoa. Click here for link.

    MONGO anchored in Hanalei Bay, Kauai after escaping the time vortex that is Hawaii Yacht Club and Honolulu. Absolutely epic.

    Just like Maui, and San Diego and Santa Barbara before that, MONGO spent more time in Honolulu than I had planned on. Such is life on a cruising sailboat on a constantly evolving adventure; time seems to stop in some places that you visit while you simply breeze through other ports of call. Honolulu was great to me, as it always is. For the fifth year in a row I sailed a boat into the Ala Wai Harbor. I love the place. Nealry one month there. 3 Friday night Beer Can races on MONGO. Lots of good surf at Waikiki on both my 6'7 single fin and 7'6 Mini Mal. My surfing is constantly evolving and while I haven't written about it enough in these pages, it has given me some of the greatest fulfillment of this voyage thus far. I hope this love affair lasts forever. Much needed re-fitting and constant dialing in of my ship and a few productive weeks of writing, boat work and sailing journalism work at the cruiser's oasis that is Hawaii Yacht Club. And I shared my time with a brillant group of people. From two visist from Rebekah to almost nightly parties and social gatherings, to quiet evenings, waterfall hikes and the first place of extensive day sailing since San Diego. MONGO left her slip, under sail, and went sailing more than 10 times in 26 days. It was epic in every sense of the word and time could easily stop in Honolulu, just as it could have had in Maui.


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    Watching the sun rise over the island of Viti Levu on the final morning of a month at sea and one of the most hectic passages of my life. Incredible. More photos to come.

    After 28 days at sea and more than 3,000 miles sailed, s/v MONGO has arrived in Fiji! With windy trades to Palmyra, I anchored there for one night to recoup and do some boat work before continuing on towards American Samoa. Leaving Palmyra the breeze went southerly and built to 25 knots, which had me beating south towards Samoa and pushed me west of rhumbline. At about 5° south, once the breeze abated, I discovered two vertical cracks at the base of my mast and that the rig was now moving on the mast step; a chilling discovery to say the least. I made temporar repairs at sea and then conservatively continued sailing towards Samoa. 200 miles north of American Samoa, the forecast called for the SE trades to go lighter and back to the east; perfect for me and MONGO. Unfortunately, the breeze re-established itself out of the southwest and then built to 40 knots out of the south and then settled at 30-35 out of the southeast. With a damaged rig and a 27-foot sailboat, it became clear that I would not reach Samoa, which was now dead upwind. You can't fight the universe, so I cracked off and changed course for Fiji, some 700 miles further away. Putting in back-to-back 130+ mile days under storm jib alone, we made relatively quick and consistent work of this additional Fiji passage and sailed into the Navalu Passage on Fiji's west side on August 5 and anchored in Nadi for the night before clearing Customs the next day at Lautoka, a further 12 miles up the coast of Viti Levu (one of Fiji's two main islands.)

    This passage was quite difficult and very stressful with the mast damage, but we made it. Fully stoked to be in Fiji!!! Lautoka has been great so far, i've met lots of cool people, both locals and cruisers alike, and I really truly like Fiji a lot! This place is rad! This weekend I will sail for the island of Malolo, where I will be conveniently posting up near some of the world's most renowned surf breaks, including "Cloud Break". This is what i'm here for. I will also need to side-tie to a bigger boat and pull my mast back out and make repairs. The plan is to pull the rig, chop two inches off the bottom, modify the mast step, shorten my shrouds and re-step the rig. Should be as good as new and cost very very little money to do at anchor. The adventure continues...

    The full passage log, which is un-edited and very long is below:

    Kauai - American Samoa passage
     
    July 5, 2014 - 2115 - I've just left Kauai 

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    After nearly four weeks in Fiji have passed by much too quickly, my time here has come to an end. I must set sail and resume my journey to Australia if I wish to stay on "schedule" and leave the South Pacific before cyclone season, as I now have non-MONGO obligations from late September -  early November...

    MONGO in Cal 2-27 paradise... Fiji, and not in a hurry to leave. So she won't Perhaps not now, perhaps never. MONGO will be offered for sale in Fiji instead of Australia. Photo thanks to Kurt Roll of "Low Altitude Films". That is Tavarua Island in the back ground; home of Cloud Break.

    I don't wish to stay on schedule however. I've elected to mix things up a bit. The mast has been pulled and fixed, i'm loving Fiji and don't want to leave, i've lined up a delivery from Fiji to New Zealand in September and am now planning on spending 'the season' in Fiji and also placing MONGO for sale in Fji, instead of Ausralia as originally planned.

    Rig of MONGO - A never ending saga


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    The Elliott 10.5-meter Squealer comfortably resting back in her slip in Tauranga,
    New Zealand after a challenging yet very rewarding delivery from Fiji. 
    Cool boat, good people, great adventure, nice couple of places. Stoked!
     
    I rolled up my mat after some 8 am yoga and headed over to the coffee shack for a flat white. The air was warm, the conditions were calm and the surf was forecast to be up. A good start to another beautiful day in Fiji. As I walked back to my kayak to paddle back out to MONGO, two young boys chased each other around the dock in an endless display of youth and energy. “Life must never be boring”, I said to the woman walking next to me. She laughed in reply, sparking a conversation in which she casually mentioned that her family needs their 35-foot race boat delivered back to New Zealand. 
     
    “I deliver boats”, I replied in a knee-jerk reaction with no thought applied before speaking. In a matter of minutes, i’m down below with the woman and her husband going over the boat. After dismasting while leading the Auckland to Fiji race overall in 2013, she got a brand-new carbon fiber mast, and in 2011 was the benefactor of a massive re-fit overseen by designer Greg Elliott himself. The lime green boat with the big black rig was undeniably cool and seemed, to me at least, to be inherently seaworthy. We talked business.
     
    The Elliott 10.5-meter Squealer had just finished fourth overall in the Auckland to Fiji race, nipping the J/111 Django over the line by an incredible 10 seconds after a week and 1,400 miles of racing. I had read the story months before on Sailing Anarchy. The story I hadn’t heard however, as a result of being at sea while en route to Fiji, was that Django was abandoned in very severe weather on the way home to New Zealand when her rudder shaft failed, leaving the rudder and half it’s post to begin ripping a hole in the bottom. The entire crew was rescued at sea. The delivery skipper that the boat owners had previously arranged backed out and they were in a bind.
     
    “After telling me the story of your boat dismasting in Fiji and then your closest competitors likely sinking on the way home to New Zealand and being rescued at sea, you’re now asking me to deliver your 35-foot tiller boat with no dodger and a 20-year old tiller pilot back to New Zealand in what is admittedly pretty early in the season?”, I asked. “Yeah pretty much”, the man replied. 

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    MONGO in the land of giants at Port Denarau Marina.

    Only one thing is certain on the good ship MONGO, and that's that nothing is certain. After 10 days in New Zealand, I caught a red-eye back to Fiji and have been on the boat for the last couple of weeks;  surfing, sailing, sick for a few days and now prepping for the journey to Australia. My sailing journalism work in France fell through and I declined a delivery as I wasn't wild with the terms. Unexpectedly, I was looking at another hole in my schedule and the decision was in front of me again. Should I stay or should I go? For a variety of reasons I have decided to go. Fiji has been absolutley spectacular and I have found in these islands a place where I could happily live and play, either short-term or long, but this journey on MONGO is exactly that... a journey. And all journeys must come to an end at some point. If I wish to sell the boat and return back to California before the northern-hemi spring like I had originally planned, then I must set sail around November 1 and get this Australia passage knocked out before the cyclone season starts. MONGO is currently in Port Denarau Marina where I am taking care of three months of deferred maintenance and making my preparations for what will likely be MONGO's final long ocean passage.


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    Fiji to New Zealand crossing on MONGO

     

    3 NOV 2014 - Departed Musket Cove at 0930 on 1 NOV in a light NW’ly breeze. Said good bye to several friends on the way out and sailed out the reef channel into Musket Cove and towards Namotu Island. Pumping SSW swell was due to arrive that day, yet I decided to embark for New Zealand and forego surfing. Boards were stowed and final preparations were made before leaving Musket Cove. Raced the South African-flagged Leopard 45 catamaran Amphitreete towards Namotu. They were slightly faster but could not point as high; it was a draw. They gave in, dropped the jib and motored towards Tavarua Island to go surfing at ‘Restaurants’. Tony and Steve on Knot Tide Down motored past me with no sails set and motored towards the pass between Namotu and Tavarua. That is the deepest and widest pass, yet as I became more and more headed in SW’ly breeze, I was able to tack to port and effectively lay Wilkes Pass. Wilkes is more shallow at just 12-15 meters minimum depth and not as wide but it looked do-able. A quick tack back to starboard near Namotu and then back to port and I was lined up for the pass, able to put the bow down and really power the boat up under full main and working jib. Sailed 20 meters to leeward of a moored surf-transport boat at Namotu Lefts. Sailed up and over several big set waves, none of which were breaking in the pass, and sailed out between Namotu Lefts surf break and Wilkes Pass surf break. Received a nice salute from the six surfers in the water at Namotu Lefts. No one ever claimed that sailing an engineless boat wasn’t dodgy at times. Another solid adrenaline rush on MONGO.


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    This is how much of the passage to New Zealand looked. Deeply-reefed sailing upwind on port tack in 20-25 knots. There are truly no free sailboat rides to New Zealand, but the little boat straight rocked it out. Long live Bill Lapworth, the famed Cal Yachts designer.

    I've written in these pages about many "changes in plans" before and i'm sure I will do so again... As you can tell from my last blog entry to this blog entry, there has been a big change in my crusing and voyaging plans. Namely sailing MONGO to New Zealand instead of Australia. And for that, I will say 'mission accomplished'!!! This was by far the most challenging and daunting passage and test that MONGO has ever under taken and without a doubt the sweetest feeling upon completion.

    It all started the moment I got to Fiji. Pretty much everyone that I met was headed to New Zealand and when I told them that I was headed to Australia, I would oftentimes get the question "why?". I would expain my motives; good market to sell the boat, great place to cruise, surfing, doing the Sydney to Hobart, etc. The more I talked to other cruisers (many of whom have 'been there, done that'), the more that I learned and began to change opinions and beliefs on the matter. It turns out that New Zealand is arguably as good a place to sell the boat, it is 100 times better of a cruising destination (at least compared to the east coast of Australia where I would have taken MONGO...) and the surf is as good or better and imminently less crowded. With no good Sydney to Hobart ride sorted out (I turned down a couple of potential offers on slow shitters), the motivation to head to Sydney was waning. As I continud hearing and reading horror stories about the Aussie bureaucracy and making friends in Fiji that were all headed to New Zealand, I became a bit upset that I was headed to Australia, even though I had a great time there last year and I love the country.

    Cruising friends upon arrival in Opua. They had all made the crossing to NZ at the same time as I did. L to R: Tony and Steve (Knot Tide Down), me (MONGO), Joe and Heidi (s/v Huck) and Debbie (Buena Vista). Great to arrive to friendly familiar faces after a challenging crossing and swp stories!

    The final nail in the coffin came on the day before I cleared out of Fiji. After sending my pre-notice of arrival to Australia, I received two very dickish (at least in my interpretation) emails with a lot of bold-print, underlined words such as you' MUST NOT' do this and you 'MUST' do that, followed by a table of fees, potential fees and other expenses that could have, at the whim of a single customs agent, literally bankrupted me.


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    The original plan was to sail MONGO to Australia and sell up before returning home to California. Australia ended up being New Zealand, and for the time being, it has become home as well. It took me a long time to get here and now that i'm here i'm in no rush to leave, especailly as we're coming into summer down under. California still lays on the horizon for me, but I have everything that I need in Opua, New Zealand and plan to explore that for a while; with Rebekah, through part-time work, sailing on MONGO and with new Kiwi friends. Home is the sailor.

    I have settled right into feeling at home here in Opua, New Zealand. I've found part-time work, am loving cruising New Zealand, have company on MONGO and am happy to explore a daily life in Opua for a while. Picture is of MONGO anchored at Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands.


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  • 03/28/15--11:58: March 28 - San Francisco
  • As soon as one chapter closes, another one opens.... Truly the end of an era, but my beloved s/v MONGO has been sold in Opua, New Zealand and I have flown back to California and purchased the Cal 2-29 "Sleepy II", which is to be renamed. Total transition time? 2 weeks from final sale of MONGO in Opua to signing of papers on Sleepy II in Alameda. Had a killer four months in New Zealand, but ultra-stoked to be back in the Bay and pursuing all that life has to offer on the left coast. Stay tuned, a lot more to come as I prepare this Cal for it's first journey to Mexico this fall and update the blog with more from my time in New Zealand, the Moth Worlds in Australia in January and upcoming adventures including this summer's "TransAtlantic Race", another Hawaii return delivery, September's Big Boat Series and probably the Baja Ha-Ha in October. Much more soon.

    The new whip - Another fine Bill Lapworth-design built by Cal Yachts. 1975 Cal 2-29 "Sleepy II", lying Alameda, CA. Lovingly owned by the same couple since she was nearly new, Sleepy II has spent most of her life under a full cover, only seeing the light of day on weekend sails. As a result, she looks almost like new inside and out and runs like new with her low-hour Universal 3-cylinder diesel. Once again, California provides and i've scooped up another clean small cruising boat well capable of going places. This little boat has absolutely no idea what is about to happen to it...


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    Cal 2-29 #744 'Loophole', (ex-Sleepy II) sailing in Alaemda, CA April 2015.

    It's been six weeks since i've been home, and five weeks since i've written in the blog... Geez, has it really been that long? What can I say, time flies when you're having fun! San Francisco sailing is truly world class and I am beyond thrilled to be back here for a while. I've been sailing a lot, racing a lot, working on some other boats and generally getting back into the scene, while 'Loophole' has begun it's transformation from 1970's weekend condo to bluewater cruiser and possibly ocean racer. I'm still transitioning back to life after my journey across the Pacific on 'MONGO' and getting re-established in California, yet I am already getting itchy feet as I live on, and love, my cool little Cal 2-29 'Loophole'. 

    Birds of a feather.... 'Loophole' and the turbo Volvo 70 'Maserati' rafted up together in Oakland before 'Maserati' goes out to smash the SF - Shanghai record. Thanks to 'Timo' for the hospitality and boat tour!

    In between idyllic day sails in the Alameda estuary, cocktail parties and entertaining friends on board and beginning a re-fit, I have found myself perving on Google Maps at night and planning a journey. It's my nature, and part of the reason I live on sailboats. The route looks something like a gentleman's run at the 2016 Singlehanded Transpac and then quick cruise to Asia and back or a longer cruise to Mexico, central America, then French Polynesia, South Pacific, New Zealand and onto Asia and back. Or Mexico, Central America, Panama Canal, Carribbean, East Coast and over to Europe. I digress.... While my brain, empowered by ownership of another fine Lapworth-designed sloop, has begun to conjure up vivid dreams of knocking out tradewind miles to distant lands, I have become a bit more focused in my goal to do this year's Baja Ha-Ha.


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  • 07/13/15--00:09: Transformation of 'Loophole'
  • The transofrmation has begun! While the name on the back still says "Sleepy II", (though that will change very soon), Cal 2-29 #744 has officially become 'Loophole' at heart. From grandpa's weekend condo to performance racer/ cruiser, I have converted the boat from wheel to tiller steering, assembled an inventory of sails and have pulled the mast and fully re-rigged the boat to reflect her new ambitions. With any luck, I will sail my house in her first beer can race this week in Oakland and possibly do a 27-mile in-the-Bay race with a few friends next week. After anoter re-fit in September, the boat should be fully ready for our first big adventure: cruising Southern California and the Channel Islands for the winter and chasing surf. 

    First off, I have spent way more at this point than I initially planned. Having said that, I have ended up doing a lot more than I originally planned on and feel that all of the money was well spent, so i'm generally pretty stoked. Just very broke. When I entered this re-rig, I wanted to achieve a few major things: get rid of the stock wooden spreaders, install all new standing rigging, internalize my halyards, and generally bring the rig up to date (new VHF antenna, tri-color light, etc). In typical me fashion, I didn't really come up with a super thorough game plan, I just pulled the rig out of the boat and tackled things one by one until I felt it was ready to step. Having dismasted boats is a pain in the ass and having a mast or a boat in a boat yard is equally a pain in the ass, so time was of the essence.

    'Loophole' dismasted. My Cal 2-29 dismasting was much smoother than my Cal 2-27 dismasting :)

    Step 1: Chop the top of the rig off with a large and powerful saw. No, seriously.

     When I went into this project, one of my main goals was to make the halyards run internal in the mast. My mast was the ultra-stock shitty cruising version which was equipped with just two wire-to-rope external halyards


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    Track Loophole here

    (I have had problems viewing the tracker, especially on older browsers.)

    Loophole posted up at the Morro Bay Yacht Club in Morro Bay, CA. The plan is to leave for Hawaii from here.

    Between MONGO and now Loophole, I have had a lot of light-air struggles on the California coast. Compare this with a couple of potential alternatives, and this doesn't sound so bad. Though I don't plan to use it much when sailing to Hawaii, having an engine was key in making both Monterey and Morro Bay by night fall, if at all. Rolling out of Monterey just before day break on a Tuesday and arriving 35 hours later at sunset on Wedneseday in Morro bay, this leg of the journey was a race against time, set in the slow-motion setting that is Loophole. In very light-air with a lot of swell in the water, light-air sailing - especially downwind - was very slow and challenging, and motoring wasn't much better. I don't know how much I have complained about it in these pages, but Loophole's achilles heel at this point is her 3-bladed fixed prop. I had hoped to remedy this problem before leaving, but that isn't the case so I suppose i'll just deal with it. While we struggled to make just 3 knots average VMG over the course of the trip from Monterey to Morro bay, I can take solace in two things: a) I should have much stronger, more consistent breeze on passage and b) I won't be doing much motoring while on passage.

    The Navik wind vane "Jean le Cam" steering Loophole brilliantly well in light air, after a few small repairs in Monterey.

    Also on the plus side, Jean le Cam performed brilliantly after the repairs that I made in Monterey, and the boat arrived in Morro Bay ready to throw on final provisions and head back to sea. This leg gained me some valuable experience in sailing the boat dead downwind under main and poled out genoa. This will likely be a very common sail plan on this trip to Hawaii, as it's looking pretty dead downwind for much of the way. The long-term forecast looks pretty good for having enough breeze to make decent average speeds, though i'll have to sail very far south to get that breeze, at a cost of several hundred extra miles and extra days at sea. This passage could likely be the longest that i've ever been at sea, as my current personal record is 23 days while en route from Kauai to Seattle in 2012. With any luck, my next update to these pages will be sometime around Christmas from the Hawaiian Islands. Aloha

    -Ronnie Simpson

    s/v Loophole

    There is likely to be a lot of this on the way to Hawaii... dead downwind sailing


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    The 10,023 foot peak of Mount Haleakala emerging from the horizon as the sun slowly dips below it. After nearly three weeks at sea, this was my first sight of land. Behind me, a full moon rose high in the sky as Loophole glided along in warm tradewind breeze. I arrived in Lahaina the following morning, on Christmas Eve. There have been worse moments in life.

    20 days out of Morro Bay, California, Loophole has arrived in Lahaina, Maui. We saw 40+ knots of breeze, massive breaking seas from multiple directions and generally the roughest conditions i've ever seen when crossing to Hawaii. When the dust settled however, I arrived in Lahaina literally within hours of my original estimate with virtually no damage to the boat. To say that I am relieved, happy, humbled, grateful... would be an understatement. At thirty years old,  I took off on this passage with very little cash in reserve, no life raft and literally my whole life wrapped up inside of a 29-foot sailboat. If things hadn't gone according to plan, it could have been a very bad situation for me. Fortunately, Loophole performed brilliantly and we arrived in Maui on a very high note.

    A full rainbow from horizon to horizon appeared. As the picture shows, the trade winds were extremely strong with breaking seas. My Navik wind vane Jean le Cam steered the entire passage, and Loophole burned a total of 1 gallon of diesel fuel since departing Morro Bay. #winning

    More to come soon.


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    The sunset view on Christmas from Lahaina Harbor. In the back ground is the island of Lanai, and in the fore ground is a crew of surfers on long boards, catching waves until dark. A full moon rose behind me, in perfect view of the surfers in the water. I enjoyed my first-ever few SUP sessions in the surf and also a couple of fun sessions on my 7'6" when a modest SSW swell filled in. After 20 days of looking at the ocean, it was a fitting Christmas present that I was able to play in it for a few days. <3 Lahaina :)

    After a couple of brilliant days in one of my favorite places on earth - Lahaina - it has come time for Loophole to move to her new home and complete thie journey. There's no breeze today, but tomorrow a north to northeasterly should fill in and I will set sail for Honolulu with an intended arrival less than 24 hours later on New Year's Eve. Lahaina has been a phenomenal place to relax and recuperate after a long and tiring passage. The weather has been great, a fun little SSW swell rolled in and I was able to catch up with my Maui 'ohana' and enjoy this little paradise that is Lahaina.

    Morro Bay, California to Lahaina, Maui vital statistics

    20 days

    Average speed 5.04 knots

    Passage length - 2,418 nautical miles

    Slowest 24-hour run- 101 nautical miles

    Fastest 24- hour run - 133 nautical miles

    Total diesel fuel burned: approximately 1 gallon

     

    Loophole Hawaii log

     

    Dec 3 - 1930 - Departed dock at Morro Bay Yacht Club

     

    35* 19 N, 120* 52 W - 651 to waypoint 

     

    Dec 4 - 1345 - 40 miles west of Point Conception

     

    34* 20 N, 121* 15 W, sog 5 kts, cog 190, 592.8 to waypoint

     

    Last night was a memorable beginning to an ocean crossing. Memorable in it’s spontaneity, as I made an almost instantaneous decision to change my plan and leave in the dark on Thursday night, instead of departing on Friday morning as originally planned. I had come to Morro Bay to wait out a front, complete final provisioning, and then set sail for Hawaii. So when I saw the potential for all of those goals being accomplished and had an opportunity to sneak out even earlier than planned and make additional miles, I jumped on it, and that meant changing plans. 


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    The mighty Cal 29 'Loophole' leaving Lahaina in her wake on December 30. Thanks for the memories, Maui! Departing in a SW sea breeze, we genoa-reached northwest before hitting a light-air transition zone and motoring for a few minutes. Stiff NE trades quickly built and 'Loophole' was off to the races heading west under headsail alone. After a light spot and some motoring 5 miles south of Kaunakakai, Moloka'i we were back under sail and cruised all the way until an early morning arrival at Waikiki. About 15 hours from Lahaina to Honolulu and a half gallon of fuel burned, avergaing more than 5 knofs. A perfect first island passage with a lot of wild life as well!

    5 weeks, 4 ports, 2,700 miles and 6 gallons of diesel fuel since leaving San Francisco, s/v 'Loophole' has arrived in her new home port of Honolulu. It was a bit dodgy at times, but the boat is in better shape than when I left San Francisco. Incredibly happy to be here. Out of season south swells have been creating fun surf in Waikiki, and New Year's Day brought a surf/ sail combo with a great afternoon surf and a Friday night Beer Can race trimming head sails on the J/120 "Malia Kai".


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