Base Camp Hawaii

Island Hopping
By Carol Greenhouse
Yacht at sunset
Mobile base camp at sundown (Photo courtesy Honolulu Sailing)

GPS Adventure Coordinates:
The blue waters off Oahu, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai

Primary Objective:
Getting certified as a bareboat charter captain on an idyllic weeklong interisland sail with Honolulu Sailing Company (; 800-829-0114). The cost, with stateroom, provisions, books, and materials, is a slim $1,360.

Secondary Objectives:
Snorkeling the best marine landscapes east of Tahiti—Molokini Island, Maui's Honolua Bay, Lanai's Hulopoe Bay. Performing docking drills in a high-traffic harbor. Hiking the rainforest or surfing the breaks off Maui's west coast, board and lessons courtesy the captain. Learning when to fly a spinnaker. Going deep-sea fishing from the boat's stern. Scrubbing up for a big night out on Maui dry land. Counting whales, dolphins, and turtles rather than license plates like plebian vacationers.

Base Camp:
The stateroom of a 50-foot sloop bobbing somewhere in the Pacific blue yonder. Most nights you'll anchor out rather than docking, in places like Maui's Honolua Bay, a prime snorkeling spot, and off Molokai's Kalaupapa Peninsula.

Practical Knowledge:
The journey begins and ends at Honolulu Harbor and includes a 24-mile channel crossing to Molokai and anchorages, moorings, and dockings at out-of-the-way places like Maui's Makena Beach and Manele Bay on Lanai. Captains are U.S.C.G. certified, classes American Sailing Association approved. Passengers receive signed logbooks, enabling them to charter worldwide. On whether or not guests usually pass, owner Mike Mickelwait says: "Most do, unless they get to having too much fun."

Gear List:
Cruising Guide to the Hawaiian Islands by Carolyn and Bob Mehaffy (Bluewater Books & Charts, $29.95), and a toothbrush. Everything else—snorkel gear, surfboard, rod and reel—comes gratis.

Published: 25 Aug 2003 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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