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Noodle’s Notes Nocks It Out of the Park

Unlike Mexico, many of the anchorages in Hawaii are tricky. Aerial photos in Noodle’s Notes, such as this one at Haena, Kauai, can be helpful in avoiding disaster.

© 2017 Noodle’s Notes

If you’d like to have your expectations exceeded, we suggest you take a look at Bill Leary’s Noodle’s Notes, which is a free online cruising guide to the Hawaiian Islands. Subtitled 50 Years of Sailing In the Hawaiian Islands, we think it’s arguably the best cruising guide to the Hawaiian Islands going.

"There are other Hawaii cruising guides available," Leary wrote in a cover letter to Latitude, "but they don’t include most of my favorite anchorages and harbors, yet do include places that I wouldn’t consider stopping because there are better spots nearby. My guide also includes URL links to the state regulations that affect many of the anchorages, as well as links to 360° videos that were shot in most of the anchorages."

Each of the descriptions of the 37 anchorages includes an aerial photo, with the important features identified, and local knowledge imparted.

Lono Harbor is a secure place to spend a night or two. Bees can be a problem, however, but Leary has advice on how to make friends with them. 

© 2017 Noodle’s Notes

Noodle’s Notes includes an all important section on sailing conditions in Hawaii, which vary drastically depending on whether you are sailing in a channel between the islands or in the lee of an island. Leary also provides an informative overall view of cruising in the Islands: "When I was a teenager, we would go cruising every chance we got, no matter what month it was. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break in April, it didn’t matter to us. As my experience grew though, I realized that we were having to forego many of the best anchorages unless we went there during the summer. June, July, and August are the best months for extended cruising in Hawaii because anchorages exposed to North swells, which include most of the best anchorages in the state, are safest from North swells during this period. As the section on wind indicates, it is likely to be windier during these months, but being able to utilize the many great anchorages during that period is more important."

Leary notes, however, that you "can have great cruises any month of the year in Hawaii."

Even from just skimming though Noodle’s Notes, we could tell that Leary knows what he’s talking about. For example, as most sailors know, the ‘Forbidden Island’ of Niihau is privately owned and thus off-limits. Except that it isn’t, although "thugs" — Leary’s description — will try to make you believe it. Read Leary’s guide for the important details.

While Noodle’s Notes is intended to be an online guide, the PDF file for it can also be downloaded to your computer, or printed so you can keep a hard copy on the boat. As we mentioned before, it’s free, and available here.


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Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key not only placed first in the J/111 division for the second consecutive year, but the crew was recognized on Thursday with the Marine Partners’ Day award.