Kiele V goes where the wind blows

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KAANAPALI -- The Kiele V catamaran emerged from a four-month stint in dry dock with a new engine, transmission and steering mechanism.

"We literally took it apart and put it together again," said a spokeswoman for the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa on Kaanapali Beach, where the 49-passenger boat is based.

It also got new cushions and a shiny Burmese teak interior, making it one of the most delightful ways to experience the ocean on Maui.

My children and I sailed aboard Kiele V earlier this summer. A delicious continental breakfast lined the teak bar as we motored 30 minutes to our snorkeling site in Honolua Bay, a marine sanctuary where fish and turtle sightings are abundant.

Guided by the weather and currents, the captain determines the snorkeling destination. This differs each day. Some guests get a quick trip to Lanai, but the winds dictated our journey up the coast of Maui. The boat travels up to a brisk 25 knots (30 mph).

The crew moored the boat, then helped fit us with masks, snorkels and fins, and offered instruction to anybody who wanted it.

Beginners also have access to body boards with viewing holes in the middle and floatation devices to aid in their exploration of the reefs and 30-foot-deep water. These tools are also great for parents. My daughter and I were able to cover a lot more territory when I pulled her around on the body board.

One of the benefits of Kiele's association with the Hyatt is a full kitchen. This means better-quality food, such as salads rather than chips, and frequent menu changes. After an hour of ocean activity, nothing could have tasted better than the make-it-yourself deli sandwich lunch and potato salad.

Those who like to start drinking at noon will be pleased to know that beer and mixed drinks are included in the price.

The captain turned off the motor and raised the sails for a bumpy trip back to Kaanapali. Whenever I needed a break from the sun and wind, I hid in the well-protected, open-air cabin.

The four-hour lunch/snorkel cruise costs $85 for adults, $70 for teens and $50 for children under age 12.

A two-hour sunset cruise (from 5:30 to 7:30, depending on time of sunset) serves pupus and drinks for $55 for adults, $45 for teens and $35 for kids.

Charters for parties, weddings and other functions as well as full-day cruises to neighbor islands also are available.

For more information, call (800) 772-0011; visit www.maui.hyatt.com or www.hyattvacations.com for air-inclusive packages.

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