A few words of introduction and explanation -
I've been sailing short boards for 8 or 9 years now, although not as
regularly as I'd like. Until this trip, my /ne plus ultra/ was sailing
my 3.9m^2 sail on my 2.67m (8'9") Open Ocean glass board, on a big swell day
at Rufus. This was my first trip to Hawaii, and my first time out in the
ocean (although I've sailed salt water in Bayeria, and the Olympic
peninsula). I'm 5'8" (1.73m) and 145# (65.9kg).
This report is excerpted from the journal I kept, and since it's rather
long, I'm going to post it in 4 parts (with the first part attached to
this post). The trip was Oct 3rd-13th. We were 3 sailors (Tom, Tom and
Steve), and one non-sailor (my wife Jeanette).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Maui journal, part 1 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Morning on Tuesday, 20 55'N 156 25'W
Yes, it's warm here, and the water is warm. Tom picked us up, as planned,
gave us a quick tour of the beach at Kanaha, we got Steve at the surf shop,
and drove to... paradise. 2 bedrooms, a huge living room/kitchen, deck on
2 sides, rigging and storage space on the lower level, a barbecue, a
beautiful outdoor shower, and 2 pineapples waiting for us.
Steve was rigged and gone, then Tom, and I pulled up the rear, struggling to
get the sale rigged right, sweating in the afternoon sun, readjusting. It's
a short walk through a narrow slot to a tiny launch (especially at high
tide) in a lovely little bay. I got on, and in spite of maladjustment,
planed easily on the 2.56m (8'5") Mistral Ecstasy... until I powered into
the reef. Ouch. Hey, when you see that black water, stop! (or be
stopped!) The little, swept-back wave fin had a rather bluff and gnarly
leading edge, but it was still attached, and I couldn't tell for sure which
of the sore spots on my leg was from the reef, and which were from soccer.
No problem, it's a rental, right? After the reef, I didn't have a problem
joining the rest of the crowd sailing off the Sprecklesville beach, just
down wind from our cove. I couldn't point for diddley, though, especially
with the remodeled fin, and a higher propensity for spinning out. The stuff
I put in the FAQ helped, actually, that "jerk the tail" move. Easier to do
on this board then mine (an 8'9" glass board, which I've only sailed in
I made a lot of "reach out, squeak a jibe in the waves, get back to the
beach and adjust" cycles. The mast and luff were such that I had to extend
the base 4 inches, leaving the booms high. Even at the bottom of the luff
window, it was way too high with my Da Kine "Speed seat" harness.
Warm water! Warm air! What a world!
Next act - 8.2 earthquake in Japan and a tsunami headed this way. Except
after the fire drill of derigging and moving everything up to the porch,
when we heard that the wave amounted to a couple inches at Wake island, we
decided not to go for the full evacuation, and drove to Ho'okipa. The surf
was good, way too big for me, but not spectacular. The surfers stayed out
until two surf cops on jet skis corralled them all off the water. We
learned later that they were loath to leave the first good waves of the
season, and the invisible tsunami was not just cause.
After the morning shower, a rainbow over the West Maui mountains. Next,
smoke and ashes from a nearby burning field.
Paradise is in the mind. Yesterday, I saw and felt that. I watched Tom
sail out of the tiny launch here in Coconut Cove, slogging on a 5.2, then
watched Steve. He tried to walk along the shore, which was coincident with
the break zone at high tide. At one spot his sail tip caught on a stump,
and before he could free it, a good size wave came in and swatted him down.
A gnarly stump rolled and tumbled between his board and rig, he bounced off
a rock or two, and when he dragged himself and his rig up onto the steep
bank, his sail was - literally - shredded, his mast in 3 pieces and *** on
his face from a scrape with the board. Just like that - no sailing, just a
tumble in the surf.
He was intact, albeit with a sore shoulder, but I took it as a clue that I
should walk over to the (Sprecklesville) beach downwind. I did that, and
launched in spite of the fact that the wind didn't look strong enough for
the 5.1 I rigged. Same old story - the booms were too high, the harness
lines impossibly far away.
I tried to slog a jibe, but had nowhere near enough power, so I just did a
body drag in from there. That worked fine until the impact zone; the waves
weren't big, but it doesn't take much. Between getting the clew buried, and
getting on the wrong side of this big wave catcher and getting pushed
around, I musta looked the perfect kook.
Before I'd finished my adjustment, Tom came by and suggested we go to Kanaha
because the surf was too irregular and pounding here. Ok by me, so we
walked through the woods, unrigged everything, loaded up the car, drove to
the shop (bill for Steve's mast and sail: $312.50; the $33 insurance is
only for _repairable_ damage) for the 2nd time of the day, then around the
airport to Kanaha beach park. Beautiful spot, with lots of grassy rigging
space, fresh water showers, and a relatively tame beach. Tom said this
morning that the waves were the biggest he'd seen them there (although not
all that big), but the wind was no great shakes. I was marginally powered
with a 5.3, and when I got out to the reef where the waves were happening,
the white water scared me into the "chicken jibe," after which I had to
struggle through the confused waves, underpowered. More damn work. Go to
the beach, struggle through the surf, adjust something, commiserate with my
patient wife, try again.
Watching through the binoculars, it didn't look that tough - just go through
it, maybe catch some air. Maybe go down in the surf after, as at least one
person I watched did, and then struggle to get back up (but maybe
"beachstart" because it's not that deep there, but do it quick!)
I'd talked Tom and Steve into rigging the 5.6s, and they were well-advised.
They sailed long into the afternoon, into the shade of the W Maui cloud
pileup, no breaks, no complaints. I sat on the beach wondering if this
would be the finale of my windsurfing, how much of my rental money I could
get back, how soon I could go back to the wintry north where I apparently
I don't feel strong enough, I'm not having enough fun to justify the risk, I
feel guilty thinking these sacrilegious thoughts, and know I musn't speak
them out loud. I long for the quick, tropical night, and hide my face from
the day. Paradise - and hell - are here in the mind.
Afternoon, the Bailey missionary museum's gazebo. In the shade, a
pleasantly cool breeze wafts through, and that sense of paradise returns.
We went to Paia, a hippieville just up the coast from Sprecklesville,
shopped at the good co-op, talked to the folks at Cruiser Bob's, and then
Cathy at Windsurfing West. $100 to rent a bicycle for a week. Right about
twice that to rent a car, with 2 drivers, tax, etc. What a messed up world
when 2 bikes cost more than a car. Bob's business is downhill tourist
adventures on Haleakala, and he's used to free-spending tourists.
Must be Thursday now. Calm, clear morning got me out of bed, after sleeping
late. Last night we trekked over to Lahaina, and cruised the tourist drag,
looking at the fluorescent "art" and the other tourists. Destination: Hard
Rock Cafe. No souvenirs this time, no one to buy them for, but we actually
went inside the cafe for the first time. Nice sound system, nice high
prices, nice buxom and perky waitress, nothing special.
Yesterday, I made my peace with the ocean, on a good, windy afternoon,
finally got things adjusted well enough to sail without using my arms to
hold on the whole time. Got close to catching a wave or two, and a wave or
two got close to catching me, and I didn't last all that long, but I had
fun, and let go of some of that fear.
Jeanette and I went up to the Bailey mission museum after lunch, a lovely
spot partway up the W Maui mtns. It was windy, and I was thinking about
sailing. When we got back to the house, I had to go back to the sail shop
to swap a 4.6 with a tear in the film, and when I got back with that, Tom
said he was going to rerig, and since he'd taken "my" board, I could just
sail it off the beach. No rigging, no schlepping - now _that's_ paradise!
Thursday, after the Maui county fair. Jeanette spent the day off on her
own, with the car. I cleaned up around the house, watched the palm forest
go up next door, walked down the beach a couple of times. "Intoxicating"
was the word Steve used to describe the place; I agree.
The squall stood off the island, the sun was fine, and the wind came up, "as
usual" (although a little flaky at times) and I went off the beach next
door, sailing a 5.1 into the ocean.
Even without any "big" waves, the size and majesty of the water is amazing.
I missed my share of outside jibes, and bobbing in the ocean with my rig, in
the rolling waves made me feel... not _small_ really, more like
insignificant. But I'm getting comfortable with it, and the warm air and
water makes me feel like - it's OK that I'm there, and I revel in the beauty
of the sun and clouds and the broad, green flank of Haleakala below them. I
still haven't got the hang of surfing. I ask for advice. Tom and Steve
give some, and I'll try it tomorrow, if the wind comes up.
The parade and the fair were fun. Not all that different from others, but
they don't have "Orchidland" in Idaho. Sensory overload! The fruits and
vegetables were interesting, too - lots of stuff we'd never seen before.
Friday noon, windy again, warm and humid. Sails out on coconut grove.
Steve and Jeanette and I just pulling out of siesta torpor after our morning
on Haleakala. We didn't get there in time for the sunrise (which
read more »