I have sailed on SeaSmoke a lot, many crossings of the Alenuihaha channel and countless whale watch and snorkel cruises. However my favorite SeaSmoke adventure took place on July 11 1991 when SeaSmoke was a young twenty-four year old. This particular cruise did not go very far. We were not looking for whales or fishes in the sea, but had our heads up, looking at clouds. We had boarded SeaSmoke the evening before, after sunset, maybe eight or ten of us, Jeff McConnel was the captain. After a barbecue and a fun evening we settled into whatever berths could be found for a nights sleep. My wife and I were up over the starboard engine where the tools are now stowed. Dawn came early and everyone was up and excited…until we went on deck…clouds, clouds everywhere..’Oh no, we blew it, we should have stayed at home’. Jeff, always cool and calculating, suggested we move. The mooring was dropped and we headed for the horizon, full speed. Time was getting short, nearly seven already. Ten knots for over half an hour put us well offshore..and then we saw it..a hole in the clouds. A change of direction and ten more minutes and we were directly under the hole with the sun shining down at an angle…But not for long. Slowly the sun was disappearing behind an invisible moon. The sky got darker and darker until it was as black as night, seven long minutes of just a thin shinny ring where the sun had been. Slowly the light came back as the sun reappeared. We had just witnessed a total eclipse of the sun.
An Adventure Eclipsing All Others
You might ask why we were on the SeaSmoke that morning and not at home. Well..we overthought the problem,… most of the Kona side of Hawaii is cloudy in the early morning, except up north near Waikoloa. We did not want to risk missing the eclipse due to clouds, so we chose the SeaSmoke option at Anaehoomalu. As it happened, Kailua was crystal clear that morning, not a cloud in the sky.
We slowly motored back to ‘the bay’ excitedly sharing the experience with each other, a day to remember for a very long time to come. I should be able to dig out some photos, hard copies, since we did not have computers back then. If not me I am sure Jeff McConnel has some….
Aloha, David Hume.