Approaching the Big Island

Day 169/48

Noon Position:20 08N 154 50W

Course/Speed: NW6-7

Wind: ExN15-20

Bar: 1020, steady

Sea: E4

Sky: Clear, then light Squalls

Cabin Temperature: 83

Water Temperature: 78

Sail: All plain sail

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good: 152

Miles this leg: 6,250

Avg. Miles this leg: 130

Miles since departure: 23,354

The overnight ritual of calls to the deck every half hour continued. Squalls blew 20 at their leading edge and 10 behind and from NNE to a little south of E. A tiring business pulling on Monte’s sleeve so often, but at least we had a goal, The Big Island of Hawaii’s Kapoho Point, which we rounded at 6am. Now we could take the wind on a reach and then a broad reach. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Curious to know how far away the Big Island might possibly be seen on the horizon, I did a Distance Off calculation based on Mauna Kea’s amazing height of 13,679 feet. The result: one should be able to bob the island at 137 miles, assuming it had a whopping big white light on the summit. Interestingly, and by accident, I did this calculation at 130 miles off and noticed the VHF started chirping with Coast Guard announcements almost immediately thereafter. Apparently the antenna is on the summit.

It was all theoretical though, given the squalls, and even at 30 miles there was no island. Only cloud where the island should have been.

In the late morning, I noticed two plumes in the SW rising from the sea, these from the volcano that’s been so active this last month. The land was still well sunk and the site of the eruption at least 60 miles away.

Only in the afternoon did the summit of Hawaii come out of the gloom, literally a dark conical mass rising above the diminishing squalls. Then later, to the right, the island’s northern flank, describing a perfect angle of repose all the way from mountaintop to sea.

It is hard to grok the size of the Big Island. Even from this far offshore it seems a massive hulk…because it is. All of the other islands in this chain could fit inside it with room to spare. All of the islands of French Polynesia could also fit within its land mass. It is large enough to have distinct climate regions; lush and jungly on the Hilo side; dessert on the Kona side. It’s mountains are so high that during certain seasons, one could be snow skiing in the morning and snorkeling with the tropical fishes of Kealakekua Bay in the afternoon. And this has all grown up from a (still active) volcano.

I’ve stayed so far out because the island tends to eat the wind, and I’m tying to avoid a big calm projecting to the NE. Not working. Wind has been easing all afternoon. To 6 knots now.

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