Plenty of Aloha

Up in the cockpit this morning in Nawiliwili Harbor, a local woman paddling an outrigger canoe swooped in next to the boat to say hello and chat us up, friendly smile at the ready.

“Hola!” Mike shouted, with the glee we feel of late whenever we get an opportunity to talk to another human being face to face.

“Um, Michael, we are not in Mexico anymore. It’s ‘Aloha’ in Hawaii, not Hola.”, I gently corrected him.

“Hola, Aloha, they’re all the same. Just switch the letters around and add a vowel.” he replied, pushing past me to get to the edge of the cockpit. We chatted with the woman for a few minutes and she asked about our travels and welcomed us to Kaua’i, waving with another Aloha as she paddled of to practice her form on the canoe.

Redtail Trigger fish on San Benedicto Island. He was very curious and swam along with us.

Michael’s kind of right. A broad smiled ‘hello’ in any language is interpreted in just the right way, although maybe lately our smiles have been just a little too bright and big, just a little too much; maybe we are exuding just a small bit of over excitement. You know, we have become those people that make others move further away when approached because they feel our desperation for human contact and are afraid once we grab them they will be trapped by us. We are overly glad to see people and perhaps we give off a certain ‘desperate for social interaction of any kind’ vibe. Yes, I realize we have an entire world that has been socially isolated for awhile, but being isolated at sea is the next level up. There is no one to stand 6 feet away from out there.  The amount of aloneness that this realization engenders is astounding.

Yesterday we were resting in the cockpit, catching up on emails, and checking into the country using the ROAM app when a Coast Guard boat toodled up next to us. I put down the Android tablet and went to stand at the lifelines, smiling and waving. Let’s just say I was glad to see them.

“Hi Guys!! How’s it going? Want to pull your nice boat right up next to us? Huh? Do you? Thanks for stopping by to say hello! We’ve been at sea for a long time. Sure is nice to see friendly faces and understand what you’re saying. We called you guys on the radio to let you know we were coming into the harbor and everyone was so nice. Is there a limit to how long we can anchor here? We are checking in using our APP and waiting to hear from Customs and Border Patrol. It’s sure great to be in Hawaii. We sailed over from Mexico and wow what fun it was and what a cool experience to be out there at sea!…. blah blah blah”.

I hadn’t got three words out before Michael weaseled his head out of the companionway and, in a single excited leap, was beside me and also talking. We talked over each other for awhile, vying for who could say things the fastest. Had we been less mature, elbows would have been put into play and someone would have probably been hurt. It was pitiful. We both could feel this happening and were powerless to stop it. It’s bad when you realize how you appear to others and yet you cannot seem to stop the stream of consciousness coming out of your mouth. In the end we did a kind half humorous, self-deprecating “I’ll bet you guys can tell we are glad to see you. We haven’t talked to another human being in about a month. You are our first people.”  They smiled and laughed and were extremely good natured souls about it. They were just checking to see if we needed anything (and also profiling the hell out of us but that’s ok. We would have invited them on board but we probably scared them.) Once they realized we had been in contact with the Dept. of Natural Resources already, were using the ROAM app, and had our ducks in a row, they motored off into the harbor to deal with other, less pitiful people. We watched them motor away, single tears running down our cheeks. Pathetic.

Blue Cravalle jack. These got very large and they were curious about us, swimming next to us and close enough we could have touched them. An extremely beautiful fish. San Benedicto Island

Scrawled Filefish. He was so friendly and curious and followed us around. That kind of thing used to give me the spook, but I like it now and think it’s cute. San Benedicto Island

So we’re here and we still haven’t been off the boat yet. It’s the weekend so we cannot complete our checking in process until tomorrow. And this is fine because we are dog tired. I slept 12 hours without a pee break last night in my own bunk on a calm sea. My god. What a treat that was. Tomorrow we will drop the dinghy and go to shore for the first time since May 2. I believe we can just manage walking on land still. We have to get fuel by jerrycan here, so that’s the first order of events after we sign a paper certifying we have been on the boat, isolated at sea, for longer than 2 weeks. No problem. Hawaii is smart enough to know that if we have been at sea for over two weeks, we have been quarantined very well so we don’t need to do the extra two weeks on board.

By the way, we used about 80 gallons of our fuel on the trip. That’s less than half what we carry in our big tank. Thanks to our light wind sail and our willingness to sail slowly, we are in good shape fuel wise. We didn’t touch what we have in the extra tank.  I’m pleased as all heck about that. It’s that much less we have to buy and transport to the boat. There is no fuel dock here.

We will be thinking about and processing this experience of making this passage for a very long time and I know I will be writing some more about it. But what strikes me the most about it as I sit here right now is how extraordinarily lucky we have been to have accomplished it at all. I’m not denying that we have worked hard to do this because that’s a given. But many, many people work hard, and even harder than we did, and never get this opportunity. I think of all the folks who had to give up plans to sail to the South Pacific this year, of all the boats stuck in places they didn’t plan to be in, those still stuck at the docks all over the world. My heart is filled with sorrow for them. Every single one of those sailors worked just as hard as we did, some even harder. They saved money for years, they planned. They did the right things. And it was just bad luck, the luck of the draw, that they found themselves having to abandon plans that were sometimes years in the making. It fills us with gratitude that we have stayed ahead of the Covid-19 shut downs and that we currently find ourselves having completed a passage to the exact destination we wanted to come to at the exact time we planned it. And that we are welcomed with open arms and plenty of Aloha? Wow. It’s extraordinarily humbling, I tell you. We do not take this for granted and feel the gratitude deeply.

Mike photographing a toothy friend at San Benedicto Island

So we will be posting photos we took during the passage and at the Revillagigedos Islands.  And we will be writing more of our thoughts and experiences on passage making. But help me out here! It would be helpful if readers would comment to this post with questions they would like answers to about the passage, or how we did things, or whatever you like. I’d like to write about what you want to know. So ask away and we’ll make those a priority.

Meanwhile, here are some sharks to go with that post we did via the Iridium. Oh, and other interesting fish. We had just the one day of excellent snorkeling on San Benedicto Island. I would go back there to again, just to do this day over. That was the very best day ever. Definitely a highlight of my entire life.

Silky shark, just passing under us.

This Silky does a flyby.


20 thoughts on “Plenty of Aloha

  1. Congratulations again. Did you get lonely out in the middle of the ocean?
    Did the day to day sailing occupy your whole day or did you find time to more enjoyable times compared to cleaning soup off the galley floor.
    What was the best and worse thing about being 1000 miles from land.
    I have a million other questions as well which will have to wait until we see you again.

    • Well, honestly we don’t believe we had any really bad weather. It’s hard to find big storms in this part of the Pacific this time of year. We did have a lot of small rain squalls that messed with the wind a bit, but I think overall our idea of ‘bad weather’ has been tempered a lot by our experiences in the Sea of Cortez, where 20 knots of wind will make you fear for your life. But your deeper question appears to be basically is the anticipation of what could happen worse than the events themselves. I’d say that generally that is true. I will be writing a post about anxiety and managing all of that during a crossing. I hope that will address the underlying questions for you.

  2. Hi Melissa,
    I’ve been following along on your retirement journey since the time you were still living on land! I’ve appreciated the candor of your posts and appreciate the insight into the realities of choosing a sailing home as your retirement “home”.

    I’d like to hear more about how you and Michael split the watches up during your “great crossing”. Anyway you could post a picture of what your sailing track looked like from Mexico to Hawaii?

    Thanks for sharing your adventures!

    • Hi Brian, thanks for being a long-time follower! That’s impressive. Here’s a link to our Predict wind tracking page. You may have to use the +/- buttons to scroll out to see the whole track. If that link doesn’t work, look at the bottom of our homepage and click on ‘follow us on Predict Wind’ and it should take you there. I will definitely talk about watches in a blog post soon.

      • That is a great site! I did not realize the course was almost due west. Glad you gig not encounter any shipping containers along the way. I have read about that myself and understand the concern since they are almost impossible to see.

        • It is nice to hit as few things as possible in a boat. My anxiety of running into a shipping container, like most fears, was out of proportion to the actual likelihood of such an event. So while we all think about the danger of a lightning strike, earthquake or any random hazard, the actual risk is very low and at the end of the day there is so little that you can do to avoid it. That means all that worry feels like wasted energy. I was glad to be able to let some of that go.

  3. How many days at sea after you actually started for Hawaii? I did that trip 17 times in the first 17 months we were married but it only took a week and there were 250 others on board. Good on you.

    • Ha! I read that and at first was like ‘a week?’… Ok yeah now I get it. Our trip from Isla Soccoro to Kaua’i was 27 days. Had we gone into Hilo on the Bib Island it would have been 24 days. We burned less than 80 gallons of fuel in that time because we will sail slowly as long as we are sailing. Dead pleased about that, we are.

      • I was in the Canadian Navy for 32 years, my first posting was to the Training Squadron that ran classes for new officers on ship handling, celestial navigation etc. To do this we did the triangle run, Esquimalt to San Francisco, SF to Hawaii, Hawaii to San Diego then home. To alleviate boredom the next run would exchange SF for SD. The whole works took just under a month. We would then take five days off and start again. I told my wife that she wouldn’t like Hawaii, it was boring. She later found out that I was bending the truth somewhat.

  4. As you may know, we have been to Kauai about 12 times, and it is still our favorite island. We love swimming in Kalapaki Bay at Nawiliwili Harbor. We would sometimes make our way over there for the Wednesday evening sailing races. I wonder if they still happen. I love the Hawaiian people like I love Mexican folks, most are glad to see us. What stage is Kauaia/Hawaii in regarding COVID19? At least you can get food from stores and swim and snorkle from your boat, but I bet they are at least in Stage 2 there.

    By the way, we have a healthy respect for reef sharks as they (and others I do not know the names of) have been aggressive in Hawaii. Be careful!

    I love hearing about your abundant glee over talking to another human. So glad you made it!

    • I’m not sure which stage they are in but our Uber driver today said they have only had 20 cases on the island and no deaths. This poor guy has a tour business and so of course he is not making any money right now. The Dept of Nat Resources guy warned us today that the folks at Hanalei were likely to not be too thrilled with our arrival. Between the rich people who think the bay belongs to them and the local Hawaiians who are suspicious of new boats, especially right now, he said he hopes we realize we will be watched closely. Oh goody. We have a healthy respect for all sharks with teeth, regardless of their reputation. Believe it.

  5. Congratulations! Quite an accomplishment. It was great fun to be able to follow your progress on Especially exciting as you got close enough to Hawai’i that I could start zooming in a little more each day. Hope your passage to the PNW goes as well as this leg did.

  6. Congratulations on a safe and successful passage. Galapagos, once known as Walhachin, sure has a lot of miles under her keel! So sorry the novel coronavirus has thwarted your long term plans and those of so many others. Have a safe trip home.
    Jan, former owner of Walhachin.

    • Thank you Jan. Your boat looks a little worse for the wear just now. If we ever meet again we will have her spruced up for you. We have a lot of ideas for improvements when we get back.

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