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Kauai to Oahu with a note on groceries and baseball

March 17, 2012

A casual reading of current posts may suggest I am simultaneously in Saudi Arabia and Hawaii. So warns my wife. Knowing my gifts as she does, she flatly insists this is impossible. One time it so happened I reported I was at the Safeway at Market and Dubose when in fact I was at the Lucky on Masonic and Lyon. She had told me to go to the Safeway at Market and Dubose for the soy milk (light) and toasted squares of seaweed in a box (teriyaki) for her and the week’s coffee for me. When I called and said it wasn’t there she said, “Where are you?”

“At Safeway,” I said.

And she said, “No you’re not. Safeway has what I want.”

And I said, “OK.”

And she said, “What’s the sign say?”

And I said… Well, for a moment I said nothing. What did she mean by sign? I looked up and sure enough the sign above the vegetable section declared in big, friendly letters, “Lucky. Your Low Price Leader.”

So I said, “Lucky. Your Low Price Leader.”

And she said, “See. If you were at Safeway it would have read ‘Safeway. We have what Jo Jo wants.'”

So I went to Safeway, and it had what Jo Jo wanted. But the sign said something different.

Point being one of clarity. I’m in Hawaii now. Sadly, the Saudi trip is in the past, though I will continue to report on it in the coming weeks.


We (Murre and I) are on the move again. Are anchored at Pokai Bay, South Oahu, to be specific. A cruise of the Hawaiian islands has commenced with a near-term goal of reaching Kona on the Big Island in the next week or so.


March 14

2:15am. Departed Nawiliwili for a crossing of the Kauai Channel for Oahu. This was my only break between early week moderate to strong trades and forecasted late week strong trades. A lull. Grab it. Hawaii’s channels can be nasty places for a small boat.

I planned one long tack SE as close on the wind as could be born. Simple, in concept.

But I have not sailed for months now. In the boisterous seaway of a moonless night I kept fumbling the lines, missing my grab, tripping on stays. At the main mast I pulled hard at what I thought was a halyard, and the spinnaker pole came tumbling down on my head.
With sunup, winds NE and steady at 20 knots with prolonged gusts to 25. Steep, crashing chop. Murre straining under a too-heavy press of sail. A reefed jib and a reefed main. But this was necessary in order to power her nose out of the swell, I reasoned.

Murre complained anyway. Her bowsprit spent more time underwater than above it. The main cabin ports on starboard were constantly seeing blue. My new cuddy did a wonderful job of keeping water from coming in under the companionway hatch and its hood kept my head dry (I typically sit in the hatch while underway), but every time we took a big splasher over the top, all the water that landed on the hood funneled into my lap and then below. I’d built the spillway wrong–not directed far enough aft.

And such a jarring motion. Holding on below took all fours. I couldn’t cook, could barely bring myself to eat. I felt seasick for the first time since leaving San Francisco.

Murre could not hold her course. By mid channel we were six miles to lee of the mark. Then eight. By sundown we were abeam Pokai Bay, but ten miles below it. A man of courage would have kept sailing–he would have climbed to the island tack upon tack–but that same man would not have made port at all that night.

I started the engine and for another three hours we motored at three and four knots into the wind, engine lugging and smoking, to my great concern.

Anchor down at 8:30pm. I went right to sleep. The passage of 72 miles had taken 18 hours.

And woke with a splitting headache. I’d had no coffee the day before.

But a blissful dawn at Pokai (and a cup of coffee) erased my head’s concern. I spent the sunny morning overhauling the seized anchor windlass and the sunny afternoon in the clear water cleaning Murre’s bum. The engine lugging, I found, was due to Kauai barnacles that had encrusted the propeller. Now scraped away.

In the evening I tuned the radio to a local college baseball game. A no hit yawner left the announcer extolling the virtues of the pitchers, the same virtues, inning after inning.

Then in the sixth the UCLA Dons scored on a base hit followed by a double play ball that the University of Hawaii Rainbows short stop threw into the stands.

When the ‘Bows came to bat, they answered with a lead-off base hit. Two perfect bunts, both botched by the pitcher, loaded the bases and a bobbled then dropped sac fly sent two men home.

The announcer for the ‘Bows, suddenly awake, exclaimed, “Oh my, this game can turn on you like a dime!”

I’ve heard tell of sportscaster mixed metaphors but had never fished one fresh from the sea, all shiny and still beating. The crowd continued to make its noise; the sportscaster continued to exclaim. It seemed only I had caught this small prize.

A dinner of pasta, red wine, and a book, Ben Finney’s SAILING IN THE WAKE OF THE ANCESTORS, ended a perfect day.


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