Adventures in Sailing, Part 9 – Land-Ho!

Photo by Markos Mant on Unsplash

The longer the trip to Hawaii took, the more on edge we all became. Imagine 11 unbathed teenagers and young adults, diminishing food supplies, an irritable captain, a navigation chart with a criss-cross line for our trail and no land in sight. We did what we could to bide the time, reading books, playing cards and games, negotiating with each other for trades of snacks. But still, there was no land in sight.

The captain worried that we might be too far south and miss the islands completely. That could cost us days of sailing, put us into an entirely different wind pattern and jeopardize our fuel resources, though he planned on the most conservative side possible regarding fuel. It didn’t help that our primary VHF radio didn’t work and that we knew it while we were still on the West Coast.

We had a pool going as to when we would sight and arrive at land. The date I had chosen was on track according to our chart and progress, and I wanted that money to pay my poker losing debts.

After 20 days at sea, the captain was looking for land. It should have been right in front of us, but we still couldn’t see it. One day while changing sails to account for the fluctuations of the wind, I saw a big fish, bigger than any I had ever seen. It was a dolphin! Soon there were 5 of them, a welcoming party. The trimaran had a swing on it that we could let down underneath the netting between the pontoons. We took turns swinging and petting the dolphins.

I won a Spam eating contest, 16 slices. We were down to the dregs of food at this point, coffee cake and peaches for breakfast.

Our traveling companions, Sea Vista, had reportedly made it in the night before, though they left a week earlier than us.

By the afternoon on day 21, we finally saw land! The mountain top peeked through the four day fog bank in front of us. The celebration began with washing down the boat and cleaning our sleeping compartments. We were able to use fresh water to take showers, a refreshing change from salt water baths.

We made it into Hilo under cover of night. We docked next to Gene’s boat, SeaVista and rushed out to a restaurant to eat. My sisters had and their friends sailed on Gene’s boat, but they had left the boat. A complete mutiny had occurred. I tracked down Lisa and her friend Jack, but Leslie and Theresa had flown to Maui. Restaurant food filled us up and we made it back to the boat for some well-needed sleep in the marina at about 4:00 am.

There is more sailing to do through the islands, but now we bask in having made it from the West Coast of the continental United States to Hilo, Hawaii, a 22-day voyage.

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