Hello Friends and Family,

1983 - Trilogy Cruise to Lana’i

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

1983 found me on Maui again — a tradition that was to be repeated often. As one would expect, there are lots of activities for folks visiting the islands. One that had intrigued me in previous visits was the Trilogy Cruise to the island of Lana’i. All the boats operated by Trilogy are trimarans — a multihull boat comprised of a main hull and two smaller outrigger hulls (or "floats") attached to the main hull with lateral beams. This design is perfect for the inexperienced sailor such as myself since they are more stable on the open ocean.

Not only did the cruise itself appeal to me, but I also very much wanted to visit Lana’i, that island that you see on the horizon whenever you are in Lahaina with a view of the ocean. Lana’i was known as "The Pineapple Isle" — at that time, the island was essentially a pineapple plantation established in the 1920s — most of the island was owned by Dole.

I made my way to Lahaina Harbor, where our boat was moored — welcome aboard and let's go sailing!

Mornings are generally calm with insufficient wind to cruise under sail — but the Trilogy boats also are equiped with motors that will take us over in a timely fashion. While we were cruising, I was able to chat with Captain Jeff (the gentleman with the hat) who is part of the Coon family. He gave me a bit of history of the family and the business.

(Here is the version from the current website.) In the 1920’s, two brothers, Eldon and Afton Coon, built a fishing boat in Port Townsend, WA, and set sail for Alaska. They eventually settled in the towns of Sitka and Ketchikan. Both married, raised families, and continued the Coon Brother tradition. But it was Eldon who carried on the family’s wanderlust.

Even though they operated a successful charter-boat business in Southeast Alaska, a fateful shipwreck in 1969 forced Capt. Eldon and wife, Jeannette, to sell their home, move south to Seattle, and, with the help of their adult sons, Jim and Rand, and daughter Pattie, build another boat.

Christened Trilogy in 1971, their new 50′ sailing trimaran carried them for two years from Alaska to Mexico, Central & South America, the Galapagos Islands, and eventually, the South Pacific. It was there they decided, because of limited funds, to sail north to Hawai‘i and work until ship stores were replenished, before continuing their “around the world” Odyssey. But, as Jim and Rand are fond of recounting, they not only fell in love with the islands, they fell in love with a couple of island girls as well and settled instead on the island of Maui.

I can certainly understand how they fell in love with Maui. Midway across the channel, you can see the other islands of the Hawaiian archipelago — all within easy sailing distance. Looking in this direction, we see the island of Hawai’i also known as "The Big Island".

If I had won the recent huge MegaMillions lottery, I would be planning my new house at Kapalua, buying a decent-sized boat with which to sail among the islands of Hawai’i, and taking sailing lessons. And you all would have been invited to visit me there. 😎

Eventually, we approached Manele Harbor, a fine little harbor where we landed our boat.

Later, I discovered that Trilogy had a second boat also transporting a second group to Lana’i. I had not noticed the boat when we were sailing but could not miss the fact that two trimarans were tied up together in the harbor.

Also, looking at these photos now, I am reminded that more recently the harbor was expanded and improved — making these images look a bit dated.

My fellow sailors and I were escorted over to Hulopo’e (the neighboring white sand beach) which offers seafarers one of the most beautiful natural scenes in Hawai’i. The Trilogy crew provided snorkel gear and lessons in the tidepools for anyone interested in seeing the magnificent underwater ecosystem. They even brought fish food to attract a huge variety of fish for our viewing pleasure. Incidentally, on both this and subsequent trips to Hulopo’e, I have seen a bigger variety of tropical fish here than I have seen anywhere else.

While we were snorkeling, a crew from Lana’i were preparing lunch at a spot overlooking the harbor. The smell of barbeque chicken wafted all the way to the beach — and no one wanted to miss out on this treat. Incidentally, if you take a Trilogy cruise to Lana’i now, you will note that they have constructed a pavillion overlooking the harbor. Things just keep getting better and better.

After lunch, we were given a choice — more snorkeling or taking a sightseeing trip into Lana’i City. I chose the latter. We passed huge fields of pineapple. I apologize that the pineapple plants closest to the van are blurred in the photo — the driver did not stop or even slow down anywhere so we could get a better photo. Then and there I decided I would return on a future trip to conduct my own tour — and I did, of course.

Note that on your future trip, you will no longer see pineapple fields like this — pineapple is no longer cultivated except for a small area near the airport — and that is for consumption only on Lana’i. You'll be able to tell your traveling companions that you remember a photo of what it used to look like — pineapple plants as far as the eye could see.

This building really caught my eye — it serves as the police station, district court and jail. We were told that no one had been in the jail for years so they stored little league equipment there. The crime rate on Lana’i is very low because everyone knows everyone. With only 3,367 residents (as of 2020) — you cannot get away with much. Most folks do not lock their doors and even leave their keys in the ignition of their vehicles.

Here we see the Hotel Lana’i, a quaint little establishment that was originally used by Dole Pineapple for guests coming to the plantation. It later became the primary lodging available on the island until the 1990s when two deluxe hotels were built to provide employment for residents as pineapple was being phased out on the island.

Years later, I visited Lana’i for a longer stay and, of course, chose to stay at the Hotel Lana’i. I really liked it, and would compare the accomodations to what you might expect in a National Park — modest but comfortable. The prices were modest too — as best I recall I paid something like $125 to $150 per night. Curious, I checked the current rates and found $350 to $389 per night. Incidentally, Hotel Lana’i also boasted of the best chef on Lana’i — a fact to which I can attest (so I guess it's an honest boast).

Becoming more curious, I checked the rates at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai (which overlooks Hulopo’e Beach) and found prices from $1,955 to $8,975 per night (plus a few rooms for which no price was stated — you have to call). It looks like you really do have to win the lottery to visit Lana’i now.

Not much of Lana’i is developed so it is common to see beautiful stretches of green hills and valleys. Lovely.

Well, eventually we all had to climb back onto our boat and head back to Maui. The winds had come up, as they typically do in the afternoon so we were under sail for most of the return home. Here we see Lahaina back in 1983. It has grown a bit since then.

If you are lucky enough to schedule a visit to Maui one of these days, I strongly recommend booking a cruise to Lana’i on Trilogy. One important note, it used to be the case that Hulopo’e Beach was closed to non-residents on the weekend. On those days, Trilogy would put in at a different location on Lana’i. Ask when you are booking your trip — I would recommend visiting Hulopo’e if you have a choice.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com