Fish Tales and Landfalls of Paradise
Sea Dragon made it to Hawaii! But I’m getting ahead of myself. First…
Since the last blog, there have been many days of sun and sailing and many nights of stars and squalls. One night, Peter and I saw the biggest meteor you’ve ever seen. It was so big you could see variations in the ball of fire at the front. Pale yellow fading to a bright white in the center. The streak was so big it was more triangular than anything else, and it left a mark in my eye for moments after.
Aside from star gazing, the nights are filled with stories, jokes, and introspective silence. Our fruit slowly aged and we enjoyed several batches of banana bread with our morning coffee. Over the course of a few days, we slowed down enough to fish (about 6 kts) and caught two gorgeous Mahi-Mahi! Pictures don’t do them justice. Shanley is the filet master, but managed to teach me just enough of the skill to get us a feast for lunch.
We had a pure sunny day, so we put up the spinnaker to eek out a few more knots from the gentle wind. The steering was a bit finicky, but the ride was smooth and fast. Plus it’s a pretty sail to look at. We had to take it down after dinner though, because it’s hard to fly it full when you can’t see the sail or when squalls pop up out of nowhere and throw the wind into swirling confusion.
We set the fishing line again the next morning, and right before lunch we caught a tuna! A beautiful skipjack with dark stripes on its belly and shimmering blue-green spots across its back. A meaty one, too. Tom insists it was at least 150 pounds. Take a look at the picture below for reference—I’ll let you decide if Tom is being truthful or not. Roger (a monster of a man, at least 8 feet tall with hands the size of dinner plates) is there for size comparison. That fish had enough fish to feed 8 people for three days. We had seared tuna in wasabi and soy sauce, an enormous bowl of poke, and some delicious tuna pasta. And there’s still some in the freezer.
During the day, we sit in what little shade we can find and count flying fish. Sometimes there is only one sailing about between the waves. But other times, there are enormous schools of them! Fifty at once leap out of the water in a shinny silvery flutter of wings. If you’re up on the bow, you can see little baby ones bounce around. They’re quite a hoot to watch, really. They can’t seem to move in the straight, graceful way the mature ones can, like they haven’t quite figured out the whole flying thing. Instead they move in humps or veer off at sharp angles.
As we got closer and closer to Hawaii, the nighttime rain grew warmer and the winds grew stronger, and our sunsets and sunrises grew more and more spectacular. There’s nothing like watching the sun set over the waves, over the exact same horizon you’ve seen yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, even though there is 150nm in between then and now.
Our last full day at sea, we hove-to for a swim call. It was sunny and hot, and the cool water felt utterly refreshing. Looking down into the 4.3km of water beneath our toes, the shafts of sunlight pierced into the purest, endless, baby blue I’ve ever seen. It made the world feel quite small and quite enormous at the same time.
A nice little squall brought us some wind, and we cruised towards O’ahu at 8kts or above. After another beautiful sunset, the last of the night watches began. To celebrate, I made a batch of hot apple crisp. It’s pretty nice waking up at midnight for a 4 hour watch and realizing the smell of cinnamon and hot, tangy apples is not in your dreams.
We had a red footed booby join us on the jib sheet at about 2200. Its webbed feet had big, long, hooked claws and they were wrapped around the skinny sheet like a baby’s hand. I didn’t think webbed feet could curl like that. Every time the boat bounced over a wave, the bird would slide down the sheet a few inches. But Bob the Booby didn’t seem to mind. I crept past it to check out the glorious moonlight shining down behind the main sail, and it let out a noise that was halfway between a honk and a croak and sounded like what I imagine a dinosaur must have. Pretty startling, if I’m being honest. I may have jumped just a little.
Lighthouses on Molokai were spotted at around 0150 Sunday morning, and Land Ho! came with the sunrise. By 0800, we were passing Koko Head Crater, Diamond Head, Waikiki, and Pearl Harbor. The whole ridge line was spread out around us, like jagged teeth. The wind died down to 4kts, and we started the motor for the first time since leaving Mexico.
We arrived at the dock by 1100 local time, and pulled into our slip. Shortly thereafter, beer and shower water flowed freely. Everyone made calls to loved ones and set off to explore the multiple hotels, restaurants, and swimming lagoons of Ko’Olina. In the evening, we met at the Monkey Pod for one last dinner all together. Stories were shared and retold, and laughs flowed heavily as we enjoyed the company of these strangers-turned-friends.
As this crew leaves, Sea Dragon will be in Hawaii for the next week preparing for a fresh set of crew and the sail down to the Palmyra Atoll and Christmas Island.