Trilogy’s cat cruise gives views of 3 isles
Mark Twain called the Hawaiian Islands "the most beautiful fleet of islands anchored in any ocean" -- a description Rand Coon asserts you'll find is especially true when you're sailing off West Maui.
"It's the only place in Hawaii where you are surrounded by three islands at one time," says Coon, president of Trilogy Excursions, which has been offering sailing tours from Maui for 33 years.
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white onions
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 jalapeño pepper
1 pound tomatoes, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Finely mince first 4 ingredients (a food processor works great). Add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice. Enjoy with chips or crackers. Serves 6.
Kaanapali Sunset Sail
Meet at: Trilogy Excursions' kiosk on the ocean side of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, Kaanapali Resort, Maui
Offered: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. From April through September, check-in is at 4:15 p.m. (tour runs 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.); from October through March check-in is at 3:45 p.m. (tour runs 4 to 6 p.m.).
Cost: $59 per person; $29.50 for ages 3 through 15. Kids under 3 go free. Kamaaina receive a 25 percent discount.
Call: 808-661-4743 or toll-free 888-225-MAUI (6284) from the other islands
Web site: www.sailtrilogy.com
Notes: If you're prone to seasickness, take proper medication beforehand. Marezine is an over-the-counter option that won't make you sleepy. Others swear candied ginger and ginger pills work.
Passengers board and leave the catamaran barefooted on the beach; according to Rand Coon, "Nature provides the best anti-slip footwear." It's also best to go barefoot on the boat, but if you'd rather not, tennis shoes are the safest choice.
Chances are you'll get splashed a bit on this trip, so dress accordingly. Bring a hat and windbreaker, apply sunscreen and keep your camera in a zipper bag when not in use. Free validated parking is available in the Kaanapali Beach Hotel's lot. Trilogy Excursions offers seven other tours, including an all-day sail between Lanai and Maui. Call or visit the Web site for details.
"On our Kaanapali Sunset Sail, which goes in the Pailolo and Auau channels, you'll see Maui, Molokai and Lanai from an amazing perspective that's only possible from the ocean."
Offered three times per week, the two-hour cruise usually is scheduled on 51-foot Trilogy III or 50-foot Trilogy IV, two classy cats equipped with twin-turbo diesel engines, custom spinnakers, cushioned seats and netting between the hulls that provides a great place for guests to hang out.
Both vessels are certified to carry 49 passengers, but capacity for the Kaanapali Sunset Sail usually is limited to 30 for Trilogy III and 34 for Trilogy IV, meaning there's always plenty of room to roam.
As soon as you board, the boat is yours. Pick a spot on deck for sightseeing, relax on the forward netting or load up a plate at the bountiful pupu (appetizer) buffet. There's shrimp with cocktail sauce, sushi, spinach wraps, crackers with cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese, fresh veggies and dip, chips and an incredible salsa, a Coon family favorite (the recipe appears with this story).
The crew grills garlic bread and beef kebobs (skewers that include mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and peppers) on board, and serves them piping hot. Ice chests are filled with chilled sodas, juices and filtered water, but take note: Trilogy doesn't offer alcohol.
"We started this trip as an alternative to the traditional 'booze cruise' and wanted to create a family-friendly environment," Coon said. "Consequently, we don't serve alcohol, but our guests are welcome to bring the adult beverage of their choice."
Savor the views as you savor the refreshments. Under engine power, the sleek catamaran glides west from Kaanapali Beach for about four miles, with Lanai off the port side, Maui on the starboard side and Molokai straight ahead. Rainbows crown the West Maui Mountains while the sun winks behind a caravan of clouds.
The captain makes a wide, graceful turn before cutting the engines and helping the crew hoist the cat's sails. They snap briskly as wind power takes over, propelling the boat toward Lanai.
"If the channel is really calm we'll keep going toward Molokai another three to four miles and then sail directly back to Kaanapali Beach," says Coon. "Either way, it's an incredible ride!"
Indeed. Salt-laden breezes caress your face, rays of sunlight create dazzling patterns on the surface of the water, and your body sways to the hypnotic rhythm of the waves. You feel like you're part of the ocean, completely detached from land and everything that anchors you there.
"We cover about 10 to 15 miles on the sunset cruise, mostly under sail," Coon notes. "Going 8 to 10 knots, we tend to take it a little easier than during the middle of the day when passengers don't mind getting wet."
As the sun drops to the horizon, the bright blue of the sky fades, the moon rises over the West Maui Mountains and torches are lit on Black Rock, the distinctive promontory that anchors the northern end of Kaanapali Resort.
"The best thing about being at sea on a sailboat is that you can get a magnificent 360-degree view anywhere on board," Coon says. "Polynesian mariners first discovered Hawaii, and sailing gives you an idea of how they saw the islands. Back then, of course, the coastlines were free of roads and buildings, but whenever I'm sailing I always feel connected to those nomadic sailors of old and feel a responsibility to carry on their seafaring tradition."
COURTESY OF TRILOGY EXCURSIONS
Trilogy's Kaanapali Sunset Sail offers vistas of Maui, Molokai and Lanai, in the only place in Hawaii where you can be surrounded by three islands at once.
COON INHERITED his love for the ocean from his parents. In 1971 the family of five (Coon, dad Eldon, mom Jeannette and siblings Jim and Pattie) set sail from Alaska on a 48-foot sailing trimaran named Trilogy, which carried them for the next two years to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, the Marquesas and, finally, Hawaii.
Because of limited funds, they decided to work in Hawaii until they could replenish their supplies and continue their round-the-world adventure. But, as Coon is fond of saying, he and his brother, Jim, not only fell in love with Hawaii, they fell in love with a couple of island girls and settled instead on Maui.
The rest of the family followed suit, and in 1973 they joined forces to launch Trilogy Excursions with an all-day cruise to Lanai booked by six passengers. Today, the company operates eight different tours using a fleet of six Trilogy catamarans and one rigid aluminum inflatable vessel.
Introduced five years ago, the Kaanapali Sunset Sail is one of Coon's favorites. He says, "There's a special magic that seems to only occur in the late afternoon as the sun nears the horizon. Shadows lengthen, the sun and the moon are vying for attention and the vibrant colors of paradise take on an added brilliance. The magic may last only for a few moments, but I think that is what guests on this tour remember the most."
COURTESY OF TRILOGY EXCURSIONS
To avoid slipping, passengers board and leave the catamaran with bare feet. Bare feet are also recommended on deck.
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.