Dream Delivery to Hawaii
A sailboat transfer to remember on a Hanse 458
Tor Johnson lives and works in Hawaii and is a sailor through and through. The islands he calls home are best experienced by sailboat. When his friend and client Michael called from San Diego, California to ask for Tor’s expertise as a skipper to deliver his new boat to Hawaii, he could not just say no. Tor has grown up sailing all over the world and is now delivering yachts to their future owners when not busy with his actual job as a photographer.
Preparing the Yacht for Pacific Ocean sailing
It was a barely used Hanse 458 by the name of Yo-Lyla that awaited Tor in San Diego, California. The yacht had never sailed offshore before and needed to be well-prepared for its first big journey across the Northern Pacific towards Maui. It wasn’t Tor’s first long distance sailing trip, so the big job of stocking up on safety gear, bedsheets, boxes for storage, and groceries went smoothly. The 458’s storage spaces were now fully stocked even for stormy weather. Every new purchase found its best spot on board – the fresh apples ended up at the perfect place with an ocean view in front of the large saloon windows.
Final sea trial for the last sailboat check
In order to be prepared as well as possible for the two-week-long crossing, Tor found a crew of three to accompany him and the adventure could begin. Navy veteran Tracy, very experienced sailor Donna, and sailing greenhorn Lydia joined Tor on board and were very eager for the journey to start. Before setting the sails for real, however, the newly collected crew took off for a sea trial off Point Loma, California. Getting to know the boat you are sailing is essential to be prepared for all eventualities. Tor and his crew checked the entire rig, the steering, the engine and all fittings, in order to be able to know by heart all that might need to be done in case of a storm or during the night. All chafing points in the rig could thus be eliminated before the delivery to Hawaii, as well as all onsets of seasickness among the crew. The first bruises were also collected, which is an occupational hazard when setting off before everybody could cultivate their “sea legs”.
“After this we acclimated to the rhythm of life at sea, taking care of the many things that need doing”, says Tor. A well-thought-out watch plan helped keep everybody busy and gave Tor the opportunity to keep everything in order, as was his job as captain. He had to monitor whatever was happening on board while constantly being alert and available for whatever issue might arise.
Life on board
The 16 days it took to set eyes on the first Hawaiian island of Maui were filled energetically with quick dips into the ocean whenever weather permitted and with building practical equipment to help keep things in place. The Yo-Lyla had never set sail as a blue-water yacht. Only using the equipment he had at hand, such as ropes, elastics, and bungee cords. Tor invented practical helpers to keep coffee mugs from flying off the table and to offer his crew some more options to hold on in rough weather. Tracy took a leaf out of his book and used ropes and zip ties to make a bucket capable of withstanding all the waves and wind. Despite being at sail on the big waves of the Pacific, Lydia still managed to bake fresh bread on board. She used the large cockpit bench as a worktop for kneading dough. The skipper and crew caught all the fish they could eat. Tor’s most interesting fishing experience happened more than 1,000 miles (ca. 1,609 km) from the coast: A large Mahi Mahi jumped out from the waves and attacked their fishing lure. Lunch and dinner for the upcoming days was secure, Tor’s favourite being Poisson Cru - a traditional Tahitian dish including fish pickled in lime juice and served with vegetables and coconut milk.
Staying alert at any time
But of course delivering a yacht across an ocean is not all fish, fun and feasts. Tor had to be careful from the beginning when sailing around Cortes Bank, a shallow reef only 100 miles (ca. 161 km) from the Californian coast, where giant waves have meant the end of many sailing journeys, even during perfect calm. The spinnaker sail needs constant monitoring, only being connected to the boat by its corners. The whole crew has to be on the constant lookout for any issues that might arise and be able to take care of them immediately.
After some 2,500 nautical miles, the first peaks of Hawaii’s Maui island came into view. The eventful journey across the Northern Pacific came to an end below the famous Diamond Head rock formation on O’ahu island. Tor’s wife Kyoko arrived with flower leis for all, owner Michael accompanied by his wife also helped welcome the voyagers with bottles of champagne. The skipper and crew were elated after 16 days at sea.
Find out more about the adventures of SY Kāholo and her Captain Tor Johnson at the links below.
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