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.