Saturday, March 28, 2009

how to sail on H-1 freeway

TRAFFIC IN THE BOATYARD

Q: How do you sail a ship from Ko'Olina deep water harbor to Honolulu Yacht Club on the H-1 Freeway?

A: Very Carefully, with very large machinery, and with great care...

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HUGE WHEELS!


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APPROACHING THE SPEED LIMIT


OK OK OK , just kidding... it was too wet and too windy to capture any footage or images on the 4-hour sail home from Ko'Olina... and the boatyard operations were so interesting I couldn't resist!

VERY LARGE MACHINERY

Anyways, Country Boy is back in the water after much-needed repairs...we sailed back in time to join the fleet coming in from the Friday Night Beer Races...


THE INFAMOUS "COUNTRY BOY"


FISH OUT OF WATER


JIM & HUGO SURVEY THE BOATYARD LANDSCAPE
AS WE ARE TAKEN TO THE SLIP



SKIPPER & FIRST MATE


The winds on this day are 20-25 knots, with gusts up to 34 knots recorded... we are sailing with a limited crew, and the seas are choppy; the boat bucks and pitches through the whitecaps as our Skipper slices deftly though the waves.

We round Campbell Industrial park, and a big US Military plane thunders overhead - a Submarine-Catcher, according to our First Mate. The big four-engined turbo prop will continue its maneuvers for the next 4 hours, repeating the same loop which takes it directly over and over and over and over us again and again for this leg of our journey: landing gear down on final approach to runway, black exhaust fumes trailing, extended tail radar gear ominously watching us. 3 out of 5 of us hold foreign passports, and we joke that they are keeping tabs on us.

There is a massive yellow buoy that looks more like a miniature oil rig off the coast here, that most Oahu residents are unaware of. 90% of Hawaii's energy needs depend upon imported petroleum. A massive tanker is tethered to the buoy, a web of gossamer ropes of each side is anchored to a small armada of tugboats whose job is to keep the tanker steady in the choppy seas so that the pipe does not break and cause an oil spill.


Being out in the ocean on a day like today, with the gusty wind and seas breaking over our bow and marinating us in briny seawater, only highlights how precarious the energy situation in Hawaii is.

Possible solutions? Click here:

"The State's combination of abundant renewable resources, high fossil fuel prices, limited geographic area and recognized expertise in hydrogen research and development makes Hawaii an ideal leader for hydrogen production. "
-from the book "Winning the Oil Endgame", Rocky Mountain Institute-

Download the two reports entitled "Energy for Tomorrow" for more information.

We pass Pearl Harbor approximately 3 nautical miles offshore, and the massive Evil White Dot glares at us from its perch in the middle of the harbor. I've heard that the equipment it houses can detect a mosquito farting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I didn't know mosquitoes could make it that far out into the ocean; and I didn't know mosquitoes farted, for that matter... That being said, if the equipment housed in that thing really is that powerful, how come it couldn't help keep that silly battleship off the reef outside of Pearl Harbor one month back??

Anyways...on with our sail...the Travel Poet graces us with a beautiful acapella song over the roar of wind and waves, and a flock of seabirds appear, frolicking and wheeling playfully on the wind swirling just above the waves. We are all wet by now; no amount of skill can keep the boat dry in seas like this. First Mate Hugo tells us that on the open ocean, they would be riding over 20-foot swells that roll like the hills of New Zealand, graceful and flowing; not like the washing machine-like conditions that often arise in the seas around the islands.

A pair of whales' spouts, followed by a pair of whales' tails arch out of the water 500 feet or so ahead of us, straight off our bow, and we watch in awe as they continue their journey towards deeper, colder water as their calving season draws closer to its end for this year.

I lick my lips and taste sea salt as I prepare to bite into a poppy seed muffin that is being passed around the crew. The wind is whipping our hair, the boat crashes loudly through the waves breaking around us, and we are all calmly munching on a snack as nature pounds us all around. There is a rythm to sailing that sets in once the initial flight-or-fight response kicks in soon after you clear the harbor and hit sloppy seas, an adrenal high that gradually fades ince you step off the boat and back onto bring, stable, quiet [relatively speaking] dry land.

The sun, which has been muted by the pastel blue ocean and grey clouds all day, bursts through on its final sprint towards the other half of the world, casting a sunset-orange spotlight on all the buildings of downtown Honolulu and Waikiki as we near our destination and nonchalantly join the tail end of the fleet that is out racing this evening. You can almost hear the Honolulu jazz music wafting from the romantically lit buildings gleaming back at us...

We sail the boat all the way into its slip [the engine is still broken], and head back to the clubhouse with satisfied grins on all of our faces to enjoy a cold beer with each other.

Country Boy is an old friend to many sailors in and around Honolulu Yacht Club, has sailed in Hawaii's waters for the last 30 years... and she's baaaaaaaaaaack......


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