Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kawakiu Nui, Moloka’i

[Kyle]Climbing up the big hill at Kaluapapa turned out to be a lot harder than we had hoped. The National Park Service requires a permit to be obtained from the private company (Damien Tours) that runs donkey tours down to the village, even if not riding a donkey. No problem, but you have to sign up to get a permit months in advance, even if we weren’t going into the town, just walking from the beach to the top of the hill and back. So that was scrapped.

Instead, I did something almost as fun: I rebuilt the secondary fuel filter assembly on our starboard engine. The ring that tightens the filter bowl is hard to tighten because of its location. Since we changed the filter the last time, it has had an annoying leak. It really needed to be unbolted completely to get it tightened up. I figured I might as well just redo everything since it was now in my lap. Fun! No more leak, though.

So, having enjoyed the view, thus exhausting what we could get out of the anchorage, we set sail the next morning for the west coast of Moloka’i.

With the wind behind us, we had a quick sail in seas that grew the further we got from the protection of the Kaluapapa peninsula. As the waves got bigger, we started spending more of our time surfing down their faces. By the time we rounded Ilio Point and turned into the flat seas in the lee of Moloka’i, we were spending most of our time comfortably above ten knots flying only a single-reefed mainsail.

Kawakiu Nui: beach, rocks, and a cliff

We anchored along the beach at Kawakiu Nui behind the only bluff along the shore at a place the locals call Make Horse beach. The bottom composition is less than ideal, so it took us a while to find a spot that looked like sand. When I dove on it later, we discovered the bottom was just a huge slab of lava covered by about 3mm of sand. The tip of the anchor had a firm hold on a 3” hole. We both had long reconnaissance swims and could find nothing better. Well, the wind was forecast to be steady for a while, so we should be fine. Plus, if we dragged, we’d have a couple thousand miles to sort it out before we would hit anything.

We spent a full day and a half aboard in windy conditions before we decided to chance leaving Begonia unattended for a few hours while we went ashore to see what was around.

It seemed a little odd that this beach was so quiet

We started on the reddish/tan beach. The first thing we noticed was that the beach below the surf line was very steep and made up of very deep, soft sand. Dragging the pudgy above to the flat sand above was quite an effort. From our landing point, we wandered past tide pools in the a’a lava breaking up the beach. Some even formed natural salt flats, where crystals were accumulating.

After taking the dinghy ashore we spent some time scrambling about in the rocks and found plenty of natural salt pools - easy pickings

We scrambled along a little further. We were looking for a path to the top of the bluff at Make Horse beach. We couldn’t find one, but located a very rough four-wheel-drive road leading away from the shore into the countryside. We joined that and walked into hot grassland punctuated with stunted looking trees. It looked like the kind of place where we wouldn’t have been surprised to see an elephant picking through branches in the distance.

The road never even went off in the direction of the bluff. Instead, it went way around the back, taking maybe a mile and a half to deposit us just on the other side of the bluff from where we started. We continued on toward the only infrastructure in the area, referred to in our guidebooks and on Google Maps as the Kaluakoi Hotel and Golf Club.

Looking for the road to the hotel... Hmm, it doesn't look like we are on the right trail

We passed a few people on the beach, but not nearly as many as we would have expected from such a large complex. Perhaps golf really was the main focus of the clientele.

As we got closer, things started to seem definitely strange. There was almost no one around. We walked into a complex of mostly boarded windows, with a few others revealing rooms full of dusty furniture arranged willy-nilly. The place was closed down. Then we saw a couple sitting on their balcony eating breakfast, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the units on either side of theirs had their doors falling off. We were now in Scene 3 of a Stephen King movie.

We probed further and found a perfectly functioning pool with clean, bubbling water next to a clubhouse apparently owned and operated by an extended family of spiders, judging by the cobwebs visible through the grimy windows.

Further along, we found a well-stocked convenience store existing seemingly oblivious to an almost total lack of customers, apart from the breakfast couple. We couldn’t resist asking the friendly guy behind the counter what was going on. We got a whole history.

Those poor palm trees - an early sign that the hotel complex was no longer being cared for

The whole complex was built in the early ‘70s as a Sheraton. Ten years later, the Japanese bought it, just before their economy collapsed. It was shut down for a couple of years before the Moloka’i Ranch bought it. Their plans for the property raised the ire of the locals, who felt they were being denied access to important spiritual and cultural sites. The golf course was last maintained in 2008 and all but a small portion of the property was closed down. All that apparently remains is the convenience store and the unit of the one couple on earth determined to get the full value out of their time-share.

So, now we know we’re not going to be blowing all of our money on mai tais at the club.


Mommy Carla said...

You can't have "NO COMMENTS" here--it just isn't right. In case you think your voice echoes in the empty chasm out there, I can assure you that I read your posts and know many others who do too, even if there are no brilliant comments to make. By the time I get them read, all my brilliance (??) has drained out onto the floor and I'm simply hunting for a place to rest. But know I'm here, following along, sending hugs and kisses and all that mushy stuff.

SV-Footprint said...

Thanks Carla.. It is always wonderful to have a comment and to therefore know people are reading our posts. You are a saint for all you do to assure us that you've read our updates. A real saint! Love you lots.