Sunday, February 15, 2015

Humpback Heaven

It’s been an unusually stormy winter here in Maui, with southerly Kona storms ripping repeatedly through the Hawaiian islands, forcing Namaste to find refuge in marinas. The high winds and big swells have made most anchorages untenable. Although we prefer to have the hook down in more remote areas, we’ve made the most of our glorified trailer park status.
The Freeman’s had an incredible stay in Maui, chocked full of big cliff jumps at Black Rock, lazy pool days, whale watching, sand mermaid making, and more. We had such a special time with some of our favorite family members, and it was awesome to share our unique lifestyle.
Haleakala sunrise
Mermaid in the making
Ka'anapali beach sunset selfie
Next generation

Our Cape Cod crew arrived at the tail end of our cousins visit. Sam had a dream fulfilled as he paddled into Honolua Bay, where we had anchored the big boat. On our trip there, we witnessed a rare sight – a very young, perhaps only days old, baby whale calf and her mother. We watched from a distance with binoculars as the mama gently helped her newborn to the surface, teaching it how to blow. The baby calf was practically lying on top of the mother as they rested and nursed. Isabel was delighted to see such a small tail and hump and excitedly talked about the baby for days afterwards.
With the arrival of our Tahoe family, Nichole and her sons Xane and Kai, we checked out of Maui again, headed for Lanai. It was a rough trip, with high winds and a very short interval between waves creating a nasty chop. Everyone quickly recovered and we enjoyed a few calm days at the idyllic Hulope Bay beach. Our Maui friends, Chris and son Arii, joined us in Lanai and Namaste was at full capacity with bodies covering almost every horizontal surface. The following morning, we had an incredible sail to Moloka’i, capped off with a whale breach that soaked our decks. Pretty scary in retrospect, but awe-inspiring nonetheless.
Nichole captured this amazingly close breach right off the bow
We anchored in Kamalo on the southern side of the remote island. It was the first time I felt like we were actually cruising since our November arrival in Hawaii. The anchorage is picture-perfect, protected by a large reef and very isolated with a black sand beach on shore and resident manta rays at the pass.
It was just like the good ole days on Namaste, well considerably tamer, but with just as much action-packed fun. The rope swing was swung. We wakeskated and tubed behind the dinghy. Built beach bonfires and caught cool little geckos. Explored the nearby creek. Invented new ways to have fun, like kitetubing. We SUPped, Chris kited.
It was so amazing to introduce the Namaste lifestyle to the next generation of our friends’ kids, and watch Isabel marvel at all the excitement. I really love sharing all this and to see the pure joy in their faces everyday was just awesome.
Kai doing his silly thing
Boat bath
The crew at Kamalo

Chris kiting, the kids tubing


Beach love

The handsome birthday boy

Kamalo sunset
We reluctantly returned to Lana’i a day early due to unfavorable sailing conditions predicted for the following day. However, just an hour into our passage from Kamelo the MOST AMAZING thing happened. We were slowly motorsailing, towing our dinghy in the glassy conditions, when suddenly we were in the middle of 10-12 whales. They were literally everywhere and within moments they were closing in on Namaste. The mostly adult male group seemed very interested in our dinghy and started making extremely close passes to it, perhaps curious about this floating thing with the bright white bottom.  For about an hour, 6-8 males cruised slowly with us, surrounding the boat in a leisurely fashion. They would approach and then do these incredible underwater twists, seeming to show off for their captive audience. It’s such a sight to see these massive mammals acrobatically swish through the water.
The approach

Close breath

Underwater dance
Whale photobomb
Whale gapers
Tails of Namaste

Going diving

It was an incredible end to an amazing time with some of our closest friends, and gave the kids something unforgettable to remember their adventure.
The fun continues here on Namaste as we prepare to return to French Polynesia in early April…