Mark Denzer Circumnavigates Oahu By An El Toro. The Log of Cowabunga 2.

Dinghy sailors do know a thing or two about sailing.

Mark Denzer circumnavigated the island of Oahu this month aboard his El Toro dinghy. Kudos Mark on your achievment!

From Mark:

Dear Friends,

Our family is humbled by the many, generous donations to the National Parkinson Foundation in memory of my Dad, Jim Denzer. As promised, I have sailed an El Toro sailboat completely around the coast of Oahu!! I hope Dad is having a good chuckle. You can read the details of the journey below. A surprising number of contributors mentioned a family member or friend afflicted with Parkinson’s, and we share your pain and appreciate your words of compassion. Thanks to Gavin and Betsy, and the chase boat skippers: Bill Myers, Lou & Kim Ickler, and Dan Nichols.

Enjoy your time on the water, and treat your loved ones well, none of us will be here forever…

Leg 1:  Ala Wai Harbor to Kaneohe Yacht Club. Saturday, October 25. Elapsed Time: 11 hours. Wind speed: 0-12 knots. Depart HYC at 0530 hours. Rowed to Black Point, sailed past Sandy Beach under main and jib, then rowed around the tip of Mokapuu Point. Sailed from Rabbit Island to KYC with Main and Jib. Approximate distance: 30 miles. Top Speed, about eight knots surfing the reverb off Koko Head. Escort Boat from Rabbit Island to KYC: Bill Myers on Cyrus. Stopped at KYC due to no wind, thunderstorms, darkness.


Leg 2:  Pokai Bay to Ala Wai Harbor. Saturday, 11/1. 12.5 hours. Wind: 0-18 knots. Depart Pokai 0700 hours. 50% rowing in currents until Koolina, then short tacking for hours around Barbers Point in .8 knot counter-current. Short tacking in shallow water to avoid the current around Ewa Beach and the reef runway. Big wind shifts and variability. Jib up and down several times. Some breaking waves in the shallows. Lots of wind in town near sundown, then dropped off at sunset. Pulled into HYC at 730pm. Approximate distance: 25 miles. Top Speed, about four knots. Escort Boat: none


Leg 3:  Haleiwa to Pokai Bay. Tuesday, 11/4.  9.5 hours. Wind: 0-8 knots. Depart Haleiwa at 0700 hours. Rowed and sailed in light conditions and small swell to Kaena Point in about 3.5 hours. Main and jib up all the time. 1 knot counter current on far side of Kaena Point. Hard to round the point. Once around the point, the wind died, so I rowed the next four miles against a one knot current: hot, sweaty, humping it for at least two hours. Finally a west wind kicked in about 8 knots and pushed me the last miles to Pokai Bay.   Top Speed, about 4 knots. Approx distance:19 miles. Escort boat Haleiwa to Kaena Point: Dan Nichols on Southern Cross out of Haleiwa Harbor.


Leg 4:  KYC to Haleiwa. Wednesday, November 5.  12 hours. The best voyage of all: the classic Haleiwa run. Wind: 0-16 knots.  Depart KYC 0515 hours. Sailed in a 4-7 knot SW land breeze ‘til past Chinaman’s Hat Island. Rowed in sloppy conditions against .8 knot current to Kahana Bay. Took four hours to reach Kahana, averaging barely over two knots. SE wind slowly filled in and reached 12-15 knots by Laie Point. Rendezvous with Ghost and the Icklers at Kahuku Point. Sailed at 5-8 knots on port jibe, surfing the chop, flying around Kahuku Point, main and jib up. ShiftyWest sea-breeze after Sunset Beach, short-tacking to Haleiwa at 515 pm.  Approximate distance: 32 miles. Top Speed, eight knots off Kahuku Point. Escort Boat to Kahuku: Ghost.


General Comments:

1)      Had to break the trip into legs due to weather (no wind, large waves, too much wind, no moon), short window, and work-schedule problems. I was not confident of being able to handle every possible scenario in the dark with no moon, no chase boat, complicated control lines, oars, safety gear, etc. Resolved to sail 90% in daytime or full moon. Total distance covered with tacking: over 130 miles.

2)      Self Bailing, foam filled cockpit and foam filled chambers were necessary for safety and convenience of not bailing.

3)      Too little wind was more of a threat than too much. I rowed or row/sailed a total of 25 miles, sometimes against 1 knot currents, and lost 10 pounds. I would do this trip with more wind next time.

4)      The El Toro performs better on all points of sail with the jib, in light to medium winds.

5)      It is very difficult to raise and lower sails, eat food, communicate, do repairs, re-rig, and do navigation while steering an El Toro, even in the daylight let alone darkness. Boat does not heave-to or self steer well. Do not attempt this trip unless you are an experienced offshore and dinghy sailor, and have conducted extensive practice in similar conditions with the boat fully rigged and prepared for the ocean, and fully loaded with all gear, PFD, VHF radio, etc. Do not think about doing this without oars. If the wind dies in a current, or if you break your rig, there will be disastrous or fatal consequences for you.

6)      Safety Gear: Oars, Oar locks, foam flotation, VHF, Cell Phone, Flares/whistle, PFD, water, food, jib, running backs/stays, anchor, ditch bag with mask and fins, and for all risky areas: a chase boat.

You've got to love a family that sails and fishes together.

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