Hawaii 2011

Molokai to Honolulu - Molokai Road Trips

Next we drove out to the west end of the island, a relatively unpopulated area, with a long gorgeous beach. Much of the west end of the island is owned by Molokai Ranch, an entity with a somewhat checkered and much-reviled history. Some time ago, it was planned to be a huge development, and there are miles of road with installed utilities (including fire hydrants), concrete paving, and bare land. There are some enclaves of luxury homes, but it’s mostly just kiawe brush. The cracks in the road have grass growing up through them, and sometimes the road is encroached by the brush and grasses down to one lane. The developers have floated a number of plans, but the island residents seem to hate them. The current plan, which we read about in the local paper, is to install giant wind turbines on the Molokai Ranch property, to create electricity for Honolulu. According to the paper, 92 percent of the residents are against this plan. The huge cost of the undersea electrical cable would reportedly be borne by ratepayers, including Molokai residents.

Our last drive in the rental car was out to Halawa Bay on the northeast corner of the island. This 27 mile road narrows down to one lane for the last 7 miles or so, and passes over a windswept ridge before dropping down into a quintessential tropical valley. There’s a sacred waterfall at the head of the valley, with beach, palm trees and snorkeling at the seaward end. Along the road, we saw ancient Hawaiian fish ponds, constructed by pre-contact Hawaiians from heavy lava boulders. The walls are placed so that the small fish can swim in, and when they get bigger, they’re too big to swim out. Many of the fish ponds are still maintained functioning today. We also saw two charming little churches built by Father Damien (apparently his duties encompassed more than the leprosy colony.) And we stopped and had a Hawaiian plate lunch which was much tastier (and somewhat cheaper) than the one we’d had in Kaunakakai.

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Two of the other sailboats in the Kaunakakai harbor are worth mentioning: Libertatia (Lowell, Jenine and Emmett) came in the day after us. It’s a 1935-era boat which we had first seen in Honolua Bay. Their engine is somewhat questionable – we watched them leave the next day, sailing out of the harbor (straight into the wind), and having difficulty rounding the buoys. We watched as they lowered a dinghy, attached a tow rope, and attempted to move the boat forward under oar-power. They did finally make it, but they had a difficult upwind passage ahead of them. Lowell reported that he had found a job in Alaska, so they were taking the boat back to Lahaina. We don’t know if Emmett and Jenine will be continuing on alone.

The other sailboat of note is Doubloon. Its owner, “Stretch,” gave all sorts of helpful advice during the anchoring process. At his suggestion, we put out the stern anchor, and he told us all about local conditions. Stretch, and his dog, Honey Girl, are long term residents there. When we were ready to move on to the next anchorage, Lono Harbor, he advised us to give it a miss because of the (according to him) undesirable resident there, “Chuck.” “He’ll steal things off your boat in the middle of the night.” We chose to ignore that particular advice (other cruisers had positive things to say about Chuck). In the end, I figure there must be some sort of feud going between Stretch and Chuck.