StoneHead

The week before we pushed off, Colt spent two hundred fifty nine dollars to add the Navionics charts to his sailboat’s plotter. Big Ben bought the hard copy for that chunk of sub-tropic sea. And the night before we got on the boat I spent hours zoomed in, doing fruitless, fuzzy laps on Google Earth.
We compared notes on the handful of small islands. A few of them have the names of old chiefs and tribes from that western archipelago. A couple are named for Catholic Saints. One C-shaped atoll, sitting alone out there, is named for a WWII general known for his silver monobrow and a crooked glass eye.
According to the store-bought map, a day’s steady sail NW from those other small islands, in the swath of blue where CK told us we were going, there would be nothing.
The low hill of bone that we invested a week of our lives sailing to, racing towards, hoping we’d beat the swell… on the nautical charts; that spot shows deep, empty ocean.
The deepwater wave- StoneHead, and the creepy little pile of white rocks next to it cannot be found on any of the available maps.
But I assure you— both of them are out there.
We didn’t have a name for the island, and after we left, none of us wanted to do the deed. None of us wanted to tie ourselves to that place. Next time… if we go back, I doubt any of us will even paddle ashore. I’ll never camp on that island again, and looking back… that’s the only thing I know for sure about the place.
If we go back, we’ll set the hook in the same safe anchorage that the Nomad told CK about. The one that the Nomad marked on his old map. We’ll sleep safely on the boat at night. And, next time, maybe, we’ll surf StoneHead clean and clear in the morning. Hopefully, we’ll sail home feeling good. Hopefully, we’ll be able to remember.
The island out there is not on the maps, and I don’t suggest for one moment that any of you try and get there.
The Nomad is the one who named the wave.
According to CK, Birk found StoneHead three decades back. He was working his own boat, commercial fishing, or crabbing, or smuggling. Who knows? All that matters is that he found an amazing wave, and during at least one real winter he surfed it. CK says the guy’s legit. A little weird, but legit. Either Aussie or Saffa- with one of those twisted wilderness accents a young Seppo can’t be sure about.
CK said that all through his sabbatical in Indo, he never once saw the Nomad surf. Never saw him touch the ocean. The two of them drank beers together. They swapped stories. The old guy wearing the same camo jacket day in and day out. Sweating and slurring, stumbling through the jungle. Him and CK hit it off perfectly. They each recognized themselves in the other, and naturally they became afternoon drinking buddies. For whatever reason, the Nomad chose CK to give his map to. And CK brought it home to us.
There was another migrant surfer who CK did share some good waves while he was in Papua.  Another character who was living and working in Madang. And that guy swore that the leathery old Nomad was the real deal.

Years earlier that guy had witnessed, firsthand, the Nomad paddle into the heaviest waves that he had ever seen.
“I don’t know,” shrugged CK, just back from three months exploring the zone north of Arafura, “The guy Birk, the Nomad… when he drew me this map, he was dead serious. I believe him. I trust him. He said that this wave, StoneHead, it’s the most beautiful big wave in the world. Untouched. It’s like his baby. He wants someone to get back there and surf his wave. He’s getting old and I guess, maybe, it’s beyond him now. ‘Seems like it hurts him thinking that the wave is there, at this moment, just waking up for the winter, and no one’s around. No one’s trying. No one knows. For the Nomad, he said it’s like a sin. He swore that StoneHead was that good. He swore that this winter, this would be the year. He told me that for his wave to work proper, it has got to be huge.”

The four of us listened. We sat there quietly. I looked away. Ben stared down into his drink. Liam looked skeptically again at the dirty hand-drawn map.
I looked intently at young CK first, and then looked to Colt.

Colt was focused on the youngest in our crew, the only one who still ran long-hair and feral. CK. Looking at him steady. Not doubting him, just digesting and respecting the info.

“We’ll wait,” said Colt. “Maybe everything will line up- and we take a crack at it.” His tone was neutral. Like he didn’t really want to take his boat that far. Like he didn’t want to commit so much energy to something that might not pan out. Something that might be a fluke or bullshit.
But the slim chance of StoneHead being true- the gamble, apparently was worth it. And when the day came we had to give it a try.

Colt called me at work less than two weeks later. It was a Tuesday. “You remember that wave CK told us about?”
    “Uh… yeah,” I answered.
      “We’re going. 4am tomorrow morning.”
Click.
Done. That was it. He called each of us, like a challenge. The North Pacific was full of energy. The weather forecast was good. His boat was solid. We had the big boards for it. We had the gear. Hell, for the last ten years we’d been complaining and bitching about lackluster winters. And then, all of the sudden… here it was.
This was what you say you’ve been waiting for.

And now, do you really wanna dance?

 

“There it is!” CK yelled over the wind. “That’s got to be it.”
I was tired of being on the boat, and though I didn’t see a huge, perfect wave… or any wave at all, and though the surface of the ocean was torn and sloppy, I was happy that we’d made it. Happy that there was something for us to find out there in the empty sea. And happy that we could finally take a swim, change up the routine of three days out on a rough ocean, move our legs and explore the tiny mystery island.
“Lucky we even found it,” mumbled Colt. “It looks like a dead whale.”
He throttled down and altered his course, East, motoring a half circle around the ghost island. He zoomed in on the GPS plotter.
There was a mark on the screen, a little x, forty minutes behind us that showed where we had caught a rat mahi. Colt craned his neck and looked around 360 degrees at the empty horizon. He squinted toward the white hill poking up from the ocean and looked back to the small screen.  Just blue, no mention of decent size rock hill jutting out of the water. And with the simple push of a button Colt marked the location of the wave and the island, and that whole strange week onto his computer.
We referred to the Nomad’s hand drawn map and found our anchorage just north past the tip of the island and then a half-mile east. We waited and watched. We guessed where the wave might break. Guessed when and if the swell would show.
Ben and Liam stood on the bow, and when Colt waved his finger forward and gave them a small nod, they went to work freeing the anchor, letting it softly down into the water and watching it sink. We had forty feet of good chain down there, and we put out a hundred and fifty feet of scope.
Colt waited another ten minutes before he shut down the engine.
CK pulled out five cold bottles, popped the tops, and passed them around. North wind scraped at us. Everyone quiet, nervous. The boat slapping against the chop, spinning a slow half circle around the anchor line.
We worked silently pulling out boards and some simple supplies. We packed a dry bag and looked in toward the small island.
CK was the one who suggested we cook the little mahi on the beach. He pulled it from the ice water, slid his board down into the sea, and jumped over the rail holding the fish’s tail in both hands.
I chuckled watching him wrestle the fish up onto his board and then scramble up after it.
I’m sure we all planned to come back to the boat by nightfall.

The sun was dropping in the west, and we didn’t have tents or sleeping bags with us as we paddled to shore. I think it was Colt who brought the twelvepack of cans. Liam brought a lighter, some crunchy snacks and jerky. Ben brought his good camera.
I put a bottle of water into the bag. CK, trouble-maker always, had packed his thermos, half a coconut shell and his little beaded Indonesian pouch.

We paddled in together, our spirits lightening with the movement and the relief of being off the boat.
The water didn’t feel sharky, but there’s definitely more life to be found out there than close to human civilization. I remember feeling like we were being watched, and I assumed that most of the fish life below us had never seen humans before.
The beach was made of round white stones, some coral, but most… they were like white cannon balls, volcanic rock, porous and light, weird. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
As soon as we’d climbed up… as soon as we set our boards down, and Colt tossed a cold beer to each of us, and CK started digging out his supplies, Liam collecting driftwood for a fire, Ben wandering off to find something to photograph… I think the island was already at work and we were already being altered.
CK carefully emptied some of the dried flower contents of his pouch into his coconut bowl. Colt and I sat down and watched him curiously. The little mahi was there next to us, and I thought about skinning and cleaning it, but we didn’t have a knife or a grill or anything, and so I shrugged it off, and watched as CK poured steaming water from his thermos into the bowl.
He grinned up at us, “We’ll let this sit for a bit, and then, when the fire’s going we can all have a drink.”
“What do you got there?” asked Colt.

“It looks questionable,” I said.

“Oh, just some healthy tea. Good for what ails ya,” CK smiled big at us, kolohe.
I decided that I’d take a fake, half-sip if the coconut came to me. 
Colt held out a hand, “Let me try some.”
Liam had the fire crackling ten minutes later. The sun was dropping lower. The coconut was empty before it got to me, but CK happily pulled out his pouch and mixed up another batch.
“Is that the Nomad’s secret recipe then?” asked Liam.
“No,” laughed CK, “I found this stuff on my own. But,” he held the coconut shell up to the sky, “this is his cup.”
Before long the sun was below the horizon. The mahi, still in one piece, was roasting on the embers of the fire. Sure, I took some small sips of the tea, but not enough for the strangeness of the night ahead. It was the island, I swear. Haunted or cursed. We got suckered into a night of monsters, female ghouls, and fear.
It was a twisted affair that somehow found us swimming out at Midnight, following strange shadowy women into black water. Howling at the moon. Screaming, surrounded by fanged mermaids. Moʻo Wahine. Hearing the deep rumble of an early set. Violence, the bass rhythm of rolling boulders, and splashing. Us, spinning in the dark water.  Fear. CK yanked underwater. I thought he was a goner. The swell was arriving… we could hear deep thunderous explosions way out there on the reef.
We had forgotten to turn on the boat’s running lights. It was lost out there in the black. No stars. No moon. I remember shivering, dripping wet, thankfully back on land, crawling up those big marbles, staring down at a thick twelve-foot leash, a black snake on the white stones. And the design was some sort of writing, a glowing symbol that I desperately needed to understand.
And later, Liam stumbled up through the soupy blackness, squatted next to me and lit a new campfire. We all got close for warmth. We had all survived.
And then, the second half of the night, there were other people there, strangers. They kept showing up from the shadows. Stepping into the yellow light. Sitting down around our fire. We welcomed them in. Made friends, got festive. Loud conversation. Some sort of blurred ghost party in the middle of the sea. The mahi smoke spinning around us, and CK chanting and dancing, deep in some Papuan witchdoctor shit.
And laughter. And thunder.
Oh.
The waves we found. Sure. That swell we were chasing materialized, and later… we made it out to the boat under a beautiful rosy-golden light. And we geared up, ate a quiet, fortifying breakfast. Sweet coffee. Salty biscuits, butter, mango. And it was like a dream, all of us paddling out together. A team. Further and further out, till the island and the boat were tiny behind us. And the wave, StoneHead, was everything that CK and Birk had claimed. Huge and lovely. A zenith of everything we had ever wanted. The sounds of that giant swell, pure, like music. The vision of it, mesmerizing. StoneHead. Its amazing personality, out there, rolling across the sea, standing up tall, wedging, shifting, pulling and bending on its secret reef. Wave after perfect wave.  Set after set. The biggest ones, by far the best. All of us scrambling, cheering. Paddling with everything we had. They were by far the finest waves of our lives. And that magic light. Those oily conditions, the softness and slow motion beauty of it all, of giant, perfect surf…
no.
The real dawn, when it finally came, was gray and stormy. The five of us fetal, half awake and cold. Lying on damp rocks by a spent fire. A half eaten, half raw carcass lying there next to us in the ashes. A steady North-West wind.  Straight on-shore. Twelve empty cans. Empty thermos. Empty water bottle. Me wincing against the light, peering out towards the horizon… there was some swell, maybe six feet and crumbly. I heard someone groan. My vision blurred. My mouth dry and sour. My stomach clenched and turned. I closed my eyes.
My hands perfumed with the dead mahi, cold and rough with salt and blood, my body sore and old, I covered my face, pulled my knees to chest, and tried to fall back into sleep.

Encounter

new  chapter from    Island of Kanaloa  

stormy

Yoshi was seated on the low flat couch. He sat straight and had a serious expression. Lentil was placing the second chair behind the camera closer to the bathroom and he gestured to Teddy that the chair would be his.

The three sake cups had been refilled and Lentil handed one to Yoshi, and one to Teddy. The three of them did a silent toast and drank the cold liquid. Again, Teddy was impressed by the quality.

Yoshi smiled, “Now, we are ready to begin!”

Lentil nodded, “I agree. Ready to record.” He reached out and took Yoshi’s empty cup and set it on the kitchen counter next to his. Teddy stepped over and carefully set his down next to the other two. Lentil stood behind his camera, waited for Teddy to be positioned behind his and said, “Record.”

Yoshi stared straight ahead between the two cameras. Teddy’s pulse bumped, waiting in the silence. He looked closely at the camera screen and registered the blinking red dot, the word REC, and found Yoshi’s face centered. He wondered if there would be enough light in an hour. He looked up at the small ceiling lamp and guessed that it would have to do.

Lentil gave a thumbs up and Teddy nodded back.

 

“Ok, Yoshi, we’re ready to begin. Can you tell us the background for your story. Maybe starting here in Nayoro.”

Yoshi made a short quick bow, looking first at the ground and then up to Lentil’s camera.

“My early years of schooling, were here in Nayoro. When I was a young student I studied Math and Science. Physics. Very early on I aimed towards Astronomy because here in Nayoro we have a small but famous observatory. Famous in Japan. And when I younger, I know I want to work with this telescope so I study very hard.

“In University I also meet local surfers from the coast who also study in my Math classes. We became friends. And during that time I first learn to ride surfboard. And it is very different from my life before. Very good. And I wonder how I might make both of these passions work for me in my life.”

Yoshi wiped his forehead and smiled toward Teddy.

“I find opportunity to study in Hawaii. In University program there with bigger telescope, and famous professors. For me it was a very exciting time. And I win national scholarship which makes the moving to Hawaii possible. And I become very focussed and serious about my studies. I also dreamed of getting to have surfing in Hawaii.”

 

Lentil spoke up. “Was it that time in your life when you had… um… your first encounter?”

Yoshi looked into Lentil’s camera, and then straight at Lentil and nodded.

“Yes. In the months before I left for Hawaii it first happened. I was very concerned. Because I knew I must keep everything secret. Or I might jeopardize my plans. My scholarship.”

Yoshi was silent for a moment. His eyes out of focus. He took a long breath, and still looking at the ground he began.

“Life with telescope can be strange. Maybe two weeks I attend school at normal daytime hours. And then for next two weeks I work only night time. Sleep almost all of day. That routine not super healthy. And many times astronomers have some strange behaviors.

“For me, when I get two weeks of normal daytime life. I very much want to drive to the ocean just north of Omu, and go surfing, and get some time to relax my mind.

“It was there, wintertime, very cold, on a weekend surf trip. Just me. And I rent a small room at a family hotel that is mostly empty in the winter, and I surf with a few of the local guys during the day, and have quiet nights that I very much enjoy. Very peaceful.

“On the Saturday night of this weekend trip I have a, how do you say, very strange experience. I’m in this small room of the hotel. It’s very quiet and something outside my window catches my attention.

“I go to the window and think about opening it. But I know it is very cold outside, so decide not to, but I press my forehead to the glass, and cup my hands around my face, and peer out into the dark.

Trip

At first I see nothing. My reflection in the frosty glass. The darkness of night outside. A few yellow street lamps, a few lit windows in other buildings. But my eyes are drawn up to the sky, the moonless, starry night. And it is very clear. No clouds. It’s a very beautiful, star-filled sky.

Now as a passionate student of astronomy, a clear night sky, to me, is always captivating. And down by the coast, away from my telescope and my duties, that night sky held a sort of sweet freedom. A… magic. That I might enjoy it without any responsibilities. It was a rare pure opportunity.

So I am convinced. I quickly pull on my warmest layers, my shoes, my hat, and my jacket. I switch off the lights, lock my door behind me, and head quietly for the main door of the hotel.

Outside it is quite cold, and the smell of the ocean is strong. This is a quiet place and I can clearly hear the soft sounds of the waves. There are a few lights in that small coastal neighborhood, and I decide to walk away, down the road towards a stretch that has no lights.

I know, of course, that from that small degree of deeper darkness I will be able to enjoy more that enchanting night sky.

I began to walk along that road, quite content out in the cold night alone. Quite peaceful.

 

In my memories I am not sure for how long I continued walking on that road. My next solid piece of reference was that something caught my attention from above, and me, pausing there, and staring up, getting my bearings on the constellations above me and being, well shocked, that the small constellation called in English ‘the Pleiadies’ was quite positively pulsing in the night sky. Quite bright, and then dim, and then bright again. Like a beacon. I had never seen anything like that, and as I stared in both wonder and confusion, my mathematical brain immediately began trying to form a guess… that perhaps the salt in the air, me standing so close to the sea, might have some sort of affect. Or, perhaps something to do with aurora borealis…

And a small fear also developed. A fear that something beyond my understanding was occurring. My throat tightened, and for one second I thought about looking away, pulling myself away, returning to my small room, and pulling the covers over my head like a child.

But I was curious. I continued to watch the constellation do its strange pulsing, and eventually, my face relaxed and I let myself enjoy the strangeness of the experience. Like watching a butterfly dance over blossoms. I smiled. I began to feel… almost giddy. Definitely happy. I had a warm feeling return to me, one of simple innocent wonder, looking up into the night sky. That was a feeling I hadn’t had in many years, for much of my work at the telescope was quite mundane and monotonous.

I stood there in the cold and watched this strange celestial show that I didn’t understand at all. And I fell deeply in love again with all of the mysteries out there.

 

 

When, in the morning, back in my small room, I woke in my bed, knowing right away that something was odd. And I wasn’t under the thick blankets, but rather on top of the bedding. And I still wore my shoes, all my clothes, my jacket, even my hat. I became concerned. Disoriented. Besides the immediate urge to get to the bathroom and urinate. I felt famished. I was overly hungry and thirsty. I rushed from the room to go pee. Splashed water on my face. Feeling almost like I was hung over. Perhaps I had consumed too much sake? It had happened before. I looked curiously into the mirror, shrugged, and made my way to the small dining area where breakfast is served for the hotel guests.

And the lady of the house… the landlord, she assessed me strangely, saying good morning and disappearing to fetch me a tray of food. When she brought my meal she politely asked where I had been ‘yesterday’.

And I had eaten dinner with her the previous night. Just the two of us. And I told her so, already fearing something strange. And I felt strange. And she shook her head, and politely corrected me, and said that we had eaten dinner on Saturday evening. And that it was now Monday morning. And she looked at me very oddly. And my hands shook as I looked down to my digital watch and saw that she was correct. Somehow it was Monday morning. I was missing a class at that moment. I had never missed a class. And very quickly I began to question many things. I ate the food she had brought me ravenously, and politely asked for three refills of my tea. I calculated that I wouldn’t make it back up the hill in time to make it to any of my classes for the day. And somehow, with that realization there came relief. A feeling of weight lifted. And I had the impossible thought of never returning. And of giving up my scholarship, and my very near plan of relocating to Hawaii to continue my studies.

And I was very much surprised by these blasphemous thoughts being in my mind. It was very strange and new. And the chain of thoughts were like a serpent, moving in a direction that all I could do was observe nervously. Basically, the conclusion came that I would of course make it to Hawaii, but that my dedication to telescopic astronomy would never be the same. And the relocation in my future would have much more wide-ranging goals. I would be doing things differently.

I finished my breakfast. Astounded by how different I was… from what I was two days prior. I apologized to the landlady for staying an extra night, and thanked her for understanding, and told her I would check out of my room soon enough.

She shrugged an nodded, still looking at me distrustingly.

I returned to my room feeling very confused, and again a small amount fearful.

I was fearful for my sanity, and fearful that something had perhaps happened that I had no memory of. And I strained my mind, trying to figure out where a whole day had gone.

 

I undressed, wrapped myself in a towel and went down the hall to bathe. I got to the tiny bathroom, with the standing tub, to take a hot soak, and of course it sounded nice. But I stood there looking at it, and I decided I would turn around, return to my room, put on my thick wetsuit and go find a wave instead.

 

A New Line

There wasn’t much swell that morning. And the air and the ocean were frigid. I saw one surfer out in the water, maybe a quarter mile down the coast, and walked briskly towards him, happy to have someone to share the morning with.

There was almost no wind, which was a nice detail, for even though the waves were small, they were very beautiful.

I paddled out, recognizing the surfer as one of the locals who I had made friends with over the previous years. We exchanged ‘good mornings’ and then sat silently watching the horizon. I found that I didn’t have a hunger to catch the little waves, but I found great relief in sitting out in the ocean.

I thought about telling the local surfer about the strange events of the morning, and the loss of a day… but quickly decided that I would rather figure out the mystery on my own. And that it would be best not to tell others of the strange experience. I had a creeping anxiety that perhaps I was losing my mind. Not something unheard of in University life in Japan.

That short surf session would have been unmemorable, short the therapeutic effects of being in the sea, but after forty minutes or so, a fog bank, that looked like it might bring snow with it, slid in from the north, and though my gut feeling was to return to the beach before we were swallowed, the local surfer made no move to flee, and I felt like I would have to wait for a good wave in to show that I was equally brave. I know it sounds childish. But it was my true reaction.

As we were surrounded by the white cloud, sure enough, flakes of snow began spinning around us, and it was eery and at the same time charming.

I had a smile on my face. Convinced that this weekend trip to the coast had been my strangest yet.

When, to my wide eyes, out of the fog came two shapes. Big. Coming from the deep. And at first, I was sure they must be to humans, perhaps on a small boat. And I looked at the other surfer, and he had fear in his eyes. Which made me wonder if I should be scared. And the two forms came closer, fast, and sure enough they looked like two more surfers wearing thick wetsuits and hoods, but as their details came into focus, I gasped. They were creatures.

Both of us, the other surfer and I, recoiled, as our eyes registered the strangeness, and both of us realized in a second that they were large seals, swimming in from the fog, and the big animals must have been equally shocked to see us.

The seals changed direction. And the other surfer and I, spun and paddled hard for the beach. Both of us catching a small wave in. Shoulder to shoulder. Laughing. Relieved that the big seals hadn’t bowled us over.

And we hit the beach together, and walked back towards the buildings laughing and retelling what we had seen, and thought, and assumed. Ghosts, or monsters… we laughed it off, said our farewells and went our separate ways.

I took my wet booties off outside and left them by the door, and made my way quickly to the bathroom to take that hot soak, that sounded better than ever. I chuckled at the experience, and knew that I would return to school that evening a very different person than the one who had left.

 

PerroMon

By Dusty Middleton

 

Gunner Jones grew up a normal kid, right here in MillTown. Successful as a teenager, you know, good enough in school, good at B-ball (he played two years on JV at Mill High), some nice girlfriends throughout those years. And all through that Teen Age, he surrounded himself with a crew of nice kids. The normal ones, you know. None of those gang bangers.

Gunny, well, he had his fun and he worked hard, too. He was, it seems to me, pretty good at whatever he put his mind to. And growing up into a young man, he done well.

By the time Gunner Jones was thirty he had landed himself a salaried job. He was a manager at our local ‘fancy’ hotel. He was a nine to fiver. Ironed slacks, nice shirt, and a close shave. Started his monthly payments on a clean new car.

He got comfortable.

Within that year he locked himself into marriage. Making a family. Buying a home.

That easily could have been Gunner’s story. Simple success. No Drama and an easy happiness. A well-shaved, well behaved part of our neighborhood.

I guess, well, it always catches you off guard when life gets weird. Things shake and roll like there’s an earthquake underneath us. And people get shook up, you know?

Well then, there you go. I guess that out on this coast, it’s bound to happen.

Gunner Jones, back then, in those hotel days, he was an ok surfer. Your standard goofy foot. You know how they are, not technically brilliant. But, they can draw a nice line. Gunner, he could huck himself down into a set wave and stand tall through that first section. Maybe throw in a good turn. You know, competent enough.

He surfed here and there as his hobby, you know, his sport… but Gunny Boy never made much of his time in the water. It was just part of his life.

All through those formative years, everyone here agrees, he was a nice guy. Law abiding.

In my opinion, in this town, Gunner Jones, was, and always will be one of the good ones.

Poliahu

by dusty middleton

kalo

Collin hadn’t seen anyone since the first night he landed. He had encountered a few people that first night, though he realized now that they must have been ghosts.

The island, as far as he could tell, hadn’t seen another human in months. He had followed the rutted dirt road all the way down to the western shore, to the old military buildings that had been used in the past few decades as headquarters for civilian groups coming to work on the island.

He had approached those low buildings warily, watching closely for action, but had seen none.

The buildings, and the staging areas around them were empty.

Thick layers of dirt had blown in the wind across the walkways, piled in hallways and against low walls. Collin found paw prints of cats in those soft drifts, nothing else.

He had found supplies, canned foods, tools, water jugs… noted them in his head, and left them.

Collin had walked much of the island. There were large sections with signage warning of unexploded ordinance, and he had avoided walking through those valleys and areas.

Many days, during calm mornings with flat waters, he had thought about paddling to Maui for supplies. He had a ziplock bag with five hundred dollars left. But there was no real need. His main motivation, the real urge, had been to go look for a woman… and he knew that his scraggly camps weren’t going to impress any level-headed female… At least not yet. Besides his poor living situation, the idea of paddling across the channel still scared him.

His hands had healed. His shoulder muscles were ready. But if the wind decided to push strong, he knew he might be swept away, and that possibility terrified him.

Collin enjoyed walking to the highest point on the island and spending hours gazing off at the other islands, and the vastness of the horizon around him.

 

Time slipped into an easy pace. Collin ate sparingly. He worked on small projects. He had three ‘gardens’ that he watered and cared for daily. He collected food from the reef and the hillside. He slept through the heat of the day, watched the stars at night, and swam in the ocean when he woke each morning.

Mostly he was silent. Mostly his mind was still and clear. But sometimes while he worked his brain would start firing off conversations and debates. Collin might find himself talking aloud, arguing. Or sometimes, he’d find himself singing, songs of his childhood, songs he made up, or birdsongs from his old home above Waimanu.

 

Collin’s camp that first year was comfortable enough. He had built up food stores, water stores, and overall he was content and proud of his work, his ability to survive.

It was a cold and cloudless morning when things began to change.

Collin’s camp was muddy and damp. His supplies were at risk of molding. A dark week of wind, winter storm clouds and heavy rain was finally past, and Collin was happy to have a sunny day in front of him to move his body and cover some ground. He was excited to climb the mountain and take note of which plants were doing good after eight solid days of rain.

He spent an hour pulling damp supplies out into the sun and the soft breeze, and then he headed up the hill.

 

It was with utter amazement that afternoon that Collin spotted a figure standing at his usual spot on the highpoint of the mountain.

He had been hiking for almost three hours. And when he looked up and saw the silhouette of a person, he instinctively dropped down to one knee and went completely still.

For a moment he thought about retreating down the mountain and hiding, but for whatever reason his curiosity was more powerful than his flight instinct. He stared up at the human form, squinting, and he was quite sure, after a moment, that it was a woman.

It seemed, after a half minute there, frozen, staring up in concentration, that she was equally still, watching him. Though how Collin decided that he wasn’t sure, just a hunch, and he realized that he must look a bit silly kneeling in the dirt. He picked himself up and dusted off his one knee. He gave a small, awkward bow and a wave and continued slowly up the red brown slope.

Collin became slightly self-conscious. He had a thick beard. His hair was shaggy. His surf shorts tattered. He understood that he might look almost frightening to some. But his face held the soft smile of the simple and harmless. He approached quietly and respectfully.

The woman was watching his face with curiosity and a hint of confused amusement.

In the quick moments that they assessed each other, as he drew close, he knew that she had a quality that Collin couldn’t quite place. She was wrapped in a light blue cloak and she faced northeast into the wind.

Collin came to stand ten feet away from her, a bit downhill. He smiled in greeting, respecting the silence, and he turned to look out across the calm ocean to the other islands.

Haleakala, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea were covered in white. They were draped in snow.

Collin’s chest, his throat, his face, everything filled with emotion and wonder. The sight was simple and beautiful. It was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. The air was so clear. The sun bright, but not overly hot. His jaw was soft, and when he finally was able to utter something, he turned to the woman, and she was gone.

His eyebrows raised. “Whoa,” was all that whispered from deep in his throat.

And at that same moment that he had registered her vanishing act, he saw that across the sloping hill the red dirt showed a layer of green, tiny green plants, tens of thousands of them popping from the surface of the cracked red earth.

 

Less than a minute later, still standing there in shock and disbelief, Collin’s ears picked up the unmistakable drone of an approaching helicopter.

It was a noise that he had dealt with for too many years. He held the foul sound in equal distaste to the mosquito’s whine in his ear when he was trying to sleep. And normally his instinct was to melt back into the shadows. Disappear into the underbrush. His habit was to never be seen by those in the sky. From where he stood, unfortunately, there was no substantial cover for a mile in any direction.

Collin’s feet felt immoveable. Somehow, he felt that the close encounter with the woman, be it Pele, Hiʻiaka, or Poliahu, the proximity of divinity was in some way a token, a free pass, for him to feel confident and strong in his place there. He was standing where he ought to be. This was his rightful home. Her smile had communicated that.

He felt himself, at that moment, the strongest since he had left the Big Island.

 

When the military helicopter, it looked like a bloated grasshopper, descended in an almost direct course for where he was standing, Collin began to wish that he was somewhere else, but he stood completely still. He clicked back into his hunting instincts from his teenage years, when he’ taught himself how to stalk and kill. He watched sideways, from the corners of his eyes as the helicopter settled down, pushing clouds of red dirt in every direction. He stood just like she had; with a proud, strong stance.

The propeller blades slowed, the noise of the motor softened, and after a few long minutes a door opened and a group climbed down from the helicopter. Some of them, the ones who weren’t wearing camouflage, started moving towards Collin.

He felt like he needed to sneeze. To wipe the dirt from his face and his arms. He almost grinned with the impulse to run down the hill. A crazy guy flopping and jumping and hooting away from the strangers.   He imagined the scene. Them confused, him giggling like a kid. Collin pushed down that impulse. He kept a stern, straight face. He wanted to scold the helicopter group for kicking up so much soil, soil that needed to stay put if these little plants were ever going to have a chance.

Collin stood statue-still and waited there.

He tried to keep his heartbeat slow, his breathing soft, and the fear that these people were going to force him to leave the island, his home, his island… he realized right then, for maybe the first time, how much he had fallen in love with it.

 

Collin brought back the memory of the woman, the vision so fresh in his mind, gazing out peacefully at the snow covered mountains, and he knew, with calm certainty, that she was Poliahu. He held the wonder and magic of his encounter as a sort of shield against whoever these people were. These people, strangers in clean, colorful clothes, walking closer and closer.

trips back to kashmir

 

Alicia wanted to know everything about Srim’s adventures in the other world.

In the past. In his ancestor’s life.

“Is Hamil for sure your ancestor?” She asked one night, “What time in history did the boy live?”

Srim shrugged, not sure, non-committal.

She was fascinated. Alicia felt that this ability that Srim had, and the experiences he had been able to observe- were the most captivating part of his identity.

Srim, on the other hand, agreed that his mind wanderings were interesting, but almost took offense when his new girlfriend stayed fixated on this one piece of his story. Hamil’s life wasn’t Srim’s life, just a daily meditation, like a daydream, where Srim clicked into an ongoing saga. It had been like a fascinating movie for Srim, not really his story.

Srim wasn’t ashamed. But he wasn’t proud of his ability either. Srim didn’t want to tell his girlfriend, but, for years, he had felt that his meditations had become a type of addiction. Not necessarily an unhealthy addiction… but akin to spending too much time in a life of video games or Hollywood fiction. “It is not my life we’re talking about,” he told his girlfriend quietly as they lay in their small soft bed together.

She had been pressing him for details. Hungry to learn everything. Hungry to hear more of these stories that captivated her imagination.

She chose her words carefully, aware that he was putting up walls.

“Were you able… are you ever able to affect what goes on?” she asked carefully.

Srim’s breathing was slow. He chewed on her question. She listened to his long inhales, watching the outline of his cheekbone and his forehead in the darkness. Matching her exhales to his long, slow release.

“Mmmmm, yes and no,” he whispered after a moment. “I have before, once or twice… I’ve taken over for a moment, but it usually doesn’t go so good, and I’ve learned that it’s better to just observe. It’s safer.”

“Tell me,” she asked. And Srim thought back into the life of Hamil. He flared his nostrils and pulled her smell, the smell of her lovely home through his nose and he stared up at the dark ceiling.

 

Hamil had been fifteen years old when he was invited to apprentice under the monk named Moksha.

The old man was known around the ashram simply as Head Gardener. And it was true that every morning and every evening the old man quietly made his way among the near endless rows of plants that provided much of the food for their school and community.

Moksha, who was bald and exceedingly wrinkled, would eat his dinner each night with a group of younger monks, his workers, and they would discuss what farmwork needed to be done the coming day. Moksha never commanded or assigned tasks. But rather the younger monks would respectfully ask him what they might do the following day, how they might help, and the old monk would offer them a task. Harvesting. Watering. Planting. Moksha knew every plant in his head. Every inch of the gardens. Every bit of rocky soil, every pile of cow manure, every bucket for carrying water.

He was known by the other monks as head gardener, and he enjoyed leading the work, and guiding the young farmers, but for Moksha his personal pursuits, his life’s work, his true pursuit, was largely done away from the gardens, the sun, and the rain. His most important work took place indoors and in his own mind.

 

Hamil had been living at the Ashram for over two years.

He lived and worked as a young monk in training. There were more than a dozen boys like him, living a similar existence. Srim shared in simple meals and a warm place to sleep. The young monks were expected to be present at the daily pujas. They were given a simple education. And each of them were assigned long hours of hard work.

Suliwa, his cousin, took a different life. He had enrolled himself into the higher school of learning, and was now living half a day’s walk downhill, closer to the lake. Suliwa had rented a room in the small town referred to affectionately as the ‘sparrows’ nest’. Suliwa was on a path towards the scholarly pursuits of a Brahman.

Two years earlier, Hamil and Suliwa had arrived at the ashram exhausted and hungry. They were given guest quarters and Suliwa had asked the friendly monks about the possibilities for both of their educations.

Within a week Suliwa had shaken his young cousin’s hand and headed off on his own down to the lovely town. Hamil watched him walk away and had assumed he would be back by nightfall. But Suliwa didn’t return.

When Hamil had been living at the Ashram alone for two full cycles of the moon, he had become homesick and forlorn. He wanted to return to his family. He wanted to return to the valley he had known all his life. Suliwa had changed once they had reached the valley of ‘Srinigar’, and Hamil felt that his cousin had betrayed and abandoned him.

Hamil, after a long week of feeling sorry for himself came to the conclusion that making it back to his family’s home by himself was not realistic. The winter was already arriving and his best strategy would be to work hard in his new life. Learn what he could. Make friends. And enjoy the marvels of a world so different from where he had grown up.

As that first winter came to a close, and the trees came into bloom, and the warmth of the summer sun slowed all activity into an enjoyable, lazy pace. Hamil felt that the long trek home held not much excitement for him. And his new home was safe and comfortable. He was part of a large family. He was enjoying his lessons. He was growing stronger and more confident in his tasks. He had many friends of all ages, and he wasn’t treated as a young boy, but rather an equal and able part of a hardworking team.

Hamil decided to stay.

And all this time, Srim watched silently. During all the lessons and the manual labor and the meals and the prayers, Srim quietly listened and observed.

 

It was during Hamil’s second winter there at the Ashram, that the old monk noticed something.

One day at morning prayers Moksha glanced across the crowded room and noticed something in the morning light and swirling particles of dust and incense smoke circling around the boy that caught his attention. Something about the haze around Hamil that was different from the rest.

At dinner, after Moksha had instructed his team for the next day’s harvests and trimmings, of weed pullings, and seed collecting and grain storage, the old monk waved at Hamil, something he had never done before, and invited the boy over.

Hamil assumed that he was about to be given a task for the following day. Moving stones, or digging holes in the garden, but instead the old monk asked him a strange question.

“Listen boy, how many eyes do you have when you see?” The old monk angled his wrinkled head and looked at Hamil with just one eye, closing the other.

Hamil scrunched his forehead in confusion, “I’m sorry Head Gardener Moksha, what are you asking?”

Moksha touched his own ear and asked, “How many ears then, do you listen with?”

Again Hamil was confused and uncomfortable. He looked across the crowded room and noticed a few of the farming monks closely watching the exchange. It was odd for old Moksha to call someone as young as Hamil to personal conference.

“Tomorrow, you don’t go out to move stones. You do not go out to dig holes,” Moksha was still looking at him with just one eye, “You wake early and walk the garden trail with me. And after prayers, after breakfast you sit with me, and together we shall figure out just how many of those ears and eyes you have inside your head.”

 

Moksha

 

Srim, watching and listening from the modern Western World, was fascinated by this strange line of questioning. This crossroads. He could feel the old monk looking for him, inside of Hamil. And Srim held his breath, wondering what might come of their meeting. Wondering if it was to be bad for Hamil’s fortune, or perhaps a turn of good luck.

 

Moksha, who had spent decades of his life, deep in meditation, deep in contemplation of the spirit, and the ability of the physical to be separate from the mind, the body to be separate from Awareness, had noticed something in the boy Hamil, and he was certain that there was some knowledge or awareness to be found there.

Truth be told, the routine of farming and producing food was of little stimulation for the old monk’s mind, but the theories of the mind and the study of the spirit were what kept him working and living. The possibility that the young monk Hamil might lead to a higher understanding of his theories was the most exciting thing to appear in the ashram in many years.

 

There was a sharp icy wind scraping across the grounds of the Ashram and its gardens that next morning. The old man was mostly silent on their walk. Hamil kept pace with Moksha, not sure what their work was to be. A little nervous that he had been pulled from his normal labors and tasks, and though it was a relief to not be spending the day in toil he wasn’t sure if he really wanted to spend the day with the old gardener.

When they were finished with the hour-long walk, they joined the larger group of monks for morning prayers and then breakfast. Hamil’s friends peppered him with questions, but Hamil could only shrug them off. He wasn’t sure what the day held for him. After they had eaten, as the other young monks headed of to toil, Moksha led Hamil into an alcove off the side of the main room. He used a burning candle to light a stick of incense and motioned one of the young workers over and asked politely for a pot of tea and two cups.

Then he closed his eyes and rested.

Hamil had learned in the many many months since he left his parents’ home, that when someone else closed their eyes in meditation, he might as well slow his own breathing and click into that empty space, the nothing box that was easy enough for young Hamil to access.

 

Srim, on the other hand, usually chose these moments to slide back to his own life. Srim rarely enjoyed the type of clarity and simple quiet found in Hamil’s mind.

And on this day Srim felt so certain that the old monk knew something, and somehow was going to engage him in conversation, that Srim went so far as to open one of Hamil’s eyes and look across at the old man.

There was Moksha. Still and silent. Sitting tall, his face at peace. No hint that he might stir. Srim, feeling bold, and somehow called to action, used his will to reach out with Hamil’s hand take the steaming pot of tea resting now between them, and with a thrill and something of a challenge, Srim carefully poured the two cups full.

He quietly set the teapot down and then softly willed Hamil’s eyes closed.

Ten minutes later Moksha cleared his throat.

Hamil back in his body, blinked his eyes open and looked at the old monk.

“Who told you to pour tea into these cups?”

Hamil shrugged, confused and slightly ashamed. He didn’t know why he had reached out and done such a thing. He was aware that he had done it, but it was not something he would normally have done.

Srim was right there, behind Hamil’s eyes, watching with full focus. Curious of what Moksha knew. What the old monk might sense.

“What is your name?”

“Hamil.”

“I know that!” The old monk chuckled and picked up his tea cup, sniffed at it, drank, and then leaned forward, staring into Hamil’s eyes, one then the other, somehow looking through him, looking through two windows, the Head Gardener asked, “What is your name?”

 

Srim, his heart rate up, staring through the fragrant smoke, holding the old Monk’s eye, focused his energy, dropped Hamil’s jaw, and said through him, “Sreeem”.

 

And Srim snapped awake, heart pounding. Srim blinked at the real room around him. He was back in his own body. In his own world. Hamil, in that other world, had ejected him, shaken Srim off in a way that was completely new. It was nauseating and unsettling. Srim looked around sweat popping on his brow, and understood that he was alone. He was back in Southern California. It was his day off, and when he glanced at the clock he was startled to see that it was almost four in the afternoon. He shuffled to the grungy kitchen, washed a cup, and filled it with questionable tap water. He wrinkled his nose as he sipped it, scanning his messy living room.

He had moved into a four-bedroom house with eight college-aged boys. Only two of them were taking classes at the nearby city college. The rest of them worked. Drank. Went surfing. Watched sports. Lived their lives around houseparties and chasing girls.

Srim rubbed his face and set the cup of water down. He needed to spend less time in Hamil’s world. Srim needed to figure out what he was doing, here, now, in this strange world.

He pulled on a jacket and decided to walk the three blocks down toward the cold ocean. Perhaps he could ride a wave before dark. Perhaps it was time to move somewhere warmer.

 

Alicia

 

“But what happened exactly?” Alicia asked in the dark.

“I think I made a mistake that day, but it might have helped Hamil,” Srim talked softly, and part of him marveled that he was sharing these things, that for so long he had kept secret. Alicia squeezed his hand, encouraging him to continue, “When Hamil realized, there for the first time, that I had been inside his head… he snapped. He threw me out and put up some sort of new resistance. And after he kicked me out… I guess I kind of reassessed what I was doing…   I felt like an intruder. Like what I had been doing was a creepy thing. I didn’t go back for almost a month. I was living in crappy Southern California, and I would still do a little daily meditation, an empty, quiet meditation. And for a while I avoided going back into Hamil’s life. During that time I realized I was actually using some of Hamil’s meditation style, to just go into an empty place, and that was a cool realization… But after a few weeks I got real curious as to what had happened there, in the ashram with the old monk Moksha… and I decided to just peek in, without interfering.

“Hamil had become the old man’s apprentice. They would walk the gardens each morning and night… and the old monk was actually teaching him a lot about plants… you know, if I hadn’t been kicked out, if I had been more comfortable there during that time I could have learned a lot too, but I was careful, and I would just check in here and there.

“Moksha was getting old, and he knew that after another decade or so, someone else would need to take his place there at the Ashram, and though Hamil was one of the youngest ones there, he was chosen as the Head Gardener’s apprentice, and Hamil spent long hours learning from the old man.

“Besides the information and knowledge of the gardens, the grain storage, and the food production, Moksha taught Hamil what he knew of shifting and exploring awareness. About traveling away from the body. He explained to Hamil, that he had observed someone else looking out through Hamil’s eyes, and now they knew the name, my name, Srim, though the old man seemed to understand that I wasn’t spending all that much time with Hamil, and he seemed to be fine with that. He took it upon himself to teach Hamil what he knew, and those lessons… they’re amazing.” Srim nuzzled his face into his woman’s shoulder, “I’m still dropping in to hear them… To learn from the old monk.”

 

Alicia squeezed Srim’s hand. He was quiet, and he was a little frustrated with himself for having said so much. He didn’t want Alicia to hold onto these stories as the foundation of their relationship… but he had never told anyone about these details, once he had started it had been a flood. It was liberating to let it all go.

Srim kissed his girlfriend’s forehead. She kissed his lips, then wiggled down and put the crown of her head under his chin, and eventually they both drifted off to sleep.

 

In the morning, before they made there respective mugs of tea and coffee, when Srim came out of the tiny bathroom brushing his teeth, Alicia was propped up in their bed flipping through a book.

She looked up at him and smiled.

He smiled back as he brushed.

She showed him the front cover of the book. It was forest green with the outline of a bird in flight at the center. The book’s title was written in white, he squinted and read out loud through his toothbrush ‘Spirit Walker,’ and shrugged.

Srim raised his eyebrows twice. He brushed.

Alicia raised one eyebrow in response and held the book out toward him.

He opened his hand and took the book and let his eyes play over it.

“Good?” he asked again through his toothbrushing.

 

Alicia nodded, jumped up from the bed, kissed his hairy chest, and slipped past him into the bathroom to take care of her morning pee.

Water

 

book II scribblings

 

Collin set his jugs in a line. He guessed that he had five days’ worth. Maybe more.  At what point would he try to Kayak back to Maui? And if it was too windy to cross?

He had barely made it here.  He stared down at his torn up hands.  He didn’t want to die from dehydration that was for sure.  Rationing water rationing food, of course, he’d be on top of it.  Collin observed the chatter, the dangerous line of thought, questions, doubts. He let it go and smiled. The solution was to find water and survive. The abundance of opihi on the rocks gave him good hope. Good momentum.

He looked over his supplies. His dry food and jugs of water were the first to protect. From what? Goats? Dogs? Pigs? He knew that there used to be goats here. The military had tried to eradicate them. For decades the goats had been here surviving, even with planes dropping bomb after bomb. Mountain goats living for generations in a weird war. Had some of them survived all the way through?

Collin went through his motions without much thought. He used loose stones, his smaller kayak, sand, more stones and eventually his food and water were covered, safe enough… though he still wasn’t sure if the island had any animals or people to be real thieves… but just in case.

In the one pocket of his old board shorts he had a small bundle of cloth with the lilikoi seeds. He had a knife and a stick of beef jerky.

Barefoot. No shirt. Normal. Nice and warm now that the sun was up. Would he find old bombs? Shrapnel. Rusty missiles. Old targets? Collin set off, the trail was sandy, with chunks of stone, maybe a stream on the heaviest winter rains. He glanced north. Clear skies. No rain today. At least not for the next twelve hours. His old perch in Waimanu had looked north, and Collin knew that even the clearest, hottest days could do a 180 by nightfall. But Waimanu was lush and green and full of water. And this crumbly hill that he was climbing seemed like it hadn’t seen rain in weeks.

After a minute of walking Collin paused. He let his eyes take in the details around him. He looked back toward his base camp. He imagined carrying his supplies back into one of these gullies, one of these sandy alcoves. He imagined a small pool of fresh water. He pictured himself returning to the ocean in the evening, when the sun set. And saying some sort of prayer of gratitude. He had made it. He would use the knife in his pocket and pluck four or five good sized opihi for his dinner. And maybe he’d just eat em raw. He wouldn’t need to make a fire.

And once he had a good camp with enough drinking water, his supplies organized and safe. He wanted to explore this island. Eventually the whole thing.

He walked back into the first gully, cool sand, the green of tiny plants. He made it deep enough to where the sand turned to red soil. He climbed a small rockface and found a flat table of soil holding scraggly weatherbeaten plants. He pulled the lilikoi seed bundle from his pocket and set it down on a rock. He positioned himself at the high point of the little plateau and with his hands he carefully dug a small hole in a spot that was plant free. He took down his shorts, and squatted over the hole in the soil. Collin looked out over the rocky terrain and relaxed for his morning crap. His first one on Kaho’olawe in more than ten years. He wondered if any seeds he had eaten might take. He would plant two of the lilikoi seeds here. A foot away from this healthy fertilizer. His mind wandered to limu. If he found water… when he found water, he’d collect limu and start to build soil, start to compost. He could use fish heads, some opihi. But limu and humanure… those would be the base of his garden. When it was time, if everything went smoothly, he would paddle back to Maui and collect more plants. When that day came he would be proud.  It would be a good supply run. Not a retreat.  Not a failed return. He would paddle north on a proud mission to bring more life back to this land.

Sailing French Polynesia

 

 

It can be a challenge to live on a boat. Most of us humans are used to unmoving ground below our feet, shelter over our head, and a stable orientation to the world around.

Most of us have never spent more than a day floating out in the sea.

Most of us have never had the responsibility, before night falls, of choosing a safe anchorage. Watching the shallow reef, the currents, and the wind. Watching, as the afternoon light fades, how our home pulls and moves. How the boat swings with the tide, dancing around the hook, and swaying with those invisible movements from below.

Deep sleep interrupted in the hours before dawn, hearing creaks and groans, ropes whipping in a fresh wind, clanking against the mast, the splash and thump of predators just there, through the thin fiberglass wall. Spinning porthole views of ever-circling stars and the dark water outside.

bora      happy boats

It was the beginning of June, a perfect time to fly five hours south to Pape’ete and have a little taste of the boat life in Tahiti.

Saville was down there waiting for us. He had purchased his catamaran a year earlier in San Francisco and sailed down with a small crew through the Marquesas, the Tuamotu, and across the Society Islands to his lagoon home for the moment, tied to a yellow mooring ball a half mile off the sweaty town of ‘Fare’.

In ‘Olelo Hawaii, hale is house. As in Haleiwa, ‘house of the iwa bird, house of the thief’ the town closest to my home. In the South Pacific the Hawaiian H turns to F, and the L turns R. So in Tahitian, fare means house.

We met Captain Saville in Fare. A bit more pirate than the last time I saw him. A grin on his face, pride in his stance. We filled his little tender (an eight foot, slightly tattered zodiac named ‘Animal’) and headed out to take our first look at his fine sailboat, ‘Kaimana’.

 

Captain Saville and Canard

 

It’s beautiful here. Stunning. The water. The surrounding mountains. A handful of small, good looking, well-travelled boats floating here in boat paradise.

We unload our bags onto the swim step, and get a quick tutorial on tying the tender up. We watch and listen. The cat Canard comes over to say hello. Noelani and I complete our first test, tying the tender leash properly with a bowline while the captain watches, nodding, pleased.

We leave our luggage there, precariously close to the edge, and head inside for a quick tour.

2nd lesson, pumping salt water through the toilets. An explanation of why the forward head doesn’t work as well as the aft one. A request from the Captain for short showers. A quick tale of Roache not bathing for weeks and how that made the captain happy and proud.

We gather in the small, functional kitchen. Good airflow and windows, a plus in the boating world. We’re all eyes, so many details to take in. The inside of the Kaimana is a happy home. Cozy.

Captain Saville shows us the breaker board. Located in the main living zone, a control panel for the home.   The conscious use of electricity and fresh water something that’s important on a boat, and always a good reminder for the brain.

 

We stow our bags, drink water, and it’s time to swim.

The Kaimana is moored in twelve feet of water. Crystal clear water over sand. The mountains of Huahine are green and beautiful. The island is feminine. A pregnant woman in the line of the mountains. The island is named for the Wahine. The women who surf here are as good as any in the world that I’ve yet seen.

On the sea floor we find large shells with large animals. Around us swim rays and fish. The life of the corals, the sea anemone, the neon blue and green clams in the reef… giant cat eyes, giant turbans and cones…

And reef sharks, like wary stray dogs, watching from just around the corner, blacktips swimming circles, their crescent eyes watching us. These wild animals are beautiful and graceful.

We bodysurf. We paddle around the lagoon on standup boards. We motor to town and drink Hinano and eat delicious poisson crue.

We stock up at the grocery store. 3,500 Polynesian Francs.   ‘Sure, put it on the plastic. Seems about right.’

And we make plans to sail west.

 

kitchen       IMG_2943

When it’s time, we pull the tender up out of the water and tie it up tight. We stow extra ropes and bumpers. We bring Canard’s kitty litter up off the swim step.

The motors are a soft rumble as we pull forward, unhook from the mooring ball and head slowly out of the reef pass.

Fishing gear out. Sunscreen up. Organize the kitchen for the crossing. Close the hatches as we head out into the real ocean.

 

We raise the mainsail, take our heading west southwest, and then unfurl the jib. There’s a nice, steady trade wind blowing, and with the engines shut down we click into a nice, comfortable six knots. It’s beautiful out in the channel, and the boat rides the ocean perfectly.

We have good music and good speakers. Nahko Bear. The lures are skimming along a hundred feet behind us. And for lunch, cabbage cups.

 

And this easy movement with the wind is what it’s all about. Crossing the sea. The boat is strong and glows with the movement. We look at the map, and I push for exploring an area that Saville has never checked out before, a southern pass called Nao Nao.

We have a pleasant crossing. Hours slip by like a meditation. And as we come in close to the barrier reef we motor up again, and there’s a bit of stress about entering a pass for the first time. And there’s wind and waves. And the afternoon is a bit ominous. Darker clouds, darker mountains here. No sailboats sitting happily together in the lagoon. No anything really. A dark forested motu. Big mountains above the dark coastline. We slide through the narrow channel, and Saville yells out the depth at one point, twenty five feet. Shallow enough to make it impossible during real groundswell.

And we’re in, and it’s time to find safe anchorage because the afternoon is heading for night. And we need to see what we’re dealing with.

Our first attempt at dropping anchor doesn’t go right, and we drift backward into dark water. We try another spot, but it gets too shallow, too quick, and Saville puts the boat into reverse, yelling out that it went from twenty feet to ten to five to three in a matter of seconds.

We try again, and get the anchor to set, and the boat pulls sideways and stays put. And after fifteen minutes of quiet, Saville shuts down the motors, puts on diving gear and goes to check out his anchor and chain.

And then it’s night. And this spot is a little spooky, everyone agrees. But it’s beautiful in the absence of people. The darkness of the night, uninterrupted by lights or noises, save the splashing of big fish. And the little motu close to us is dense with jungle. And in the morning the waves on both sides of the pass have potential. It looks like the right could handle big swell. It looks like the left is a punchy fun small wave. But today the wind isn’t quite right. The surf is mediocre. The ocean here is sharky, and not in the fun lagoon style. The south pass faces right into real ocean, and there’s big sharks here swimming in the strong current waiting to feed.

We decide not to surf this one, but go for a drift dive through the shallow coral heads. The morning turns beautiful and bright. And after a leisurely breakfast we decide to pull anchor, head back out into the open ocean and go for a sail.

We batten down the hatches, stow loose items, put the kitty litter back up high, and head out into the real sea.

Fishing gear in place, lures set. Sunscreen, sunglasses and smiles. It’s another beautiful day and we’re headed west for miles before we tack up north and aim for Uturoa.

photo-7

 

taha