Jul 27, 2009

Saturday and Sunday July 25 and 26th, 2009

(the boat pic was not the one we were on, but shows how the position can lean when too much sail is up, we were actually leaned about 5 degrees further down much of the time).

Great days. Early Saturday was a bit slow, since I celebrated the night before and didn't go to bed till 5:00 AM on Saturday. Around 3:00PM Saturday I woke up and did some laundry in the hotel and caught up with things on the internet, while using my radio here for the first time. Honolulu radio is about like Utah's in it's lame-ness, but I found an interesting station. I love listening to local news and radio, wherever I happen to be. At 6:00 PM, I headed down to "DUKES", in order to go on the 1 1/2 hour "drinking cruise" on a very large yellow catamaran sailboat. I have been a sailboat enthusiast in a past life down in Port Lavaca, Texas, and having been ocean sailing in over 12 years (I have done some bay and lake sailing in the past 3 years), but I love to sail! Got to Duke's and watched the sailboat full of happy people, head off into the lovely Hawaiian late afternoon. So I bought a Gin and Tonic (my favorite mixed drink), and sat on the beach and watched the sun slowly head towards the horizon.

Feeling a little lonely, I started down the beach for another beach bar, and found some rich hotel beach bar, that charged 8 dollars (3 more than Dukes), for the same drink, and spent an hour 70 feet from the waves, with a bunch of over dressed, over fed, starched rich mummies, who where clearly having no fun at all. Not one of them stripped off their clothes and jumped into the water! At "Dukes", which is a high class place as well; sports a much happier crowd an the occasional patron jumps in the water to cool off, then returns to their table. The music there is nice, and the vibe is free and easy. Many classy people there, since Dukes is a three star restaurant and bar. I just like to be outside and jump in the surf, even if it's at night!

After the "morgue" I moved back toward my Hotel, which is three blocks off the surf, and saw an underground bar on a side street called "Nashville", I was attracted by the "3 dollar well drinks offer" but was actually looking for some food. The place was very nice, with only a few patrons, and a TRIVIA MACHINE! to keep me company. I drank an awful syrupy Mai Tai, and bought a tuna salad sandwich was was huge for 7 bucks, then proceeded to attack the trivia machine. After a few plays, I managed to be permanently ensconced with one of the top ten scores, and beat out a score that has been standing for 9 months! I know my history and geography quite well. And the machine was used for 100 times a day for 9 months. My Ego was feeling good. Then I met a Hapa (half Hawaiian, half honky) dude named Ron Van Cleef.
Ron is a typical barfly, full of shit and unhappy in life. But he was decent enough, and I was feeling lonely, and when he said "I have a crewmember opening for a yachtrace tomorrow", I just had to say "HELL YEAH" I'll go! Then he showed me to about 5 more bars, including "Dukes", where I had a midnight swim in the Pacific, before leading me thru the international Marketplace to get his ancient Yamaha motorscooter. Ron is an ex-military character, whose parents moved to some acreage near San Antonio, and talks about nothing but all the chicks he gets. I didn't really trust him, but it was nice to have a local show me around to all the Waikiki spots that I haven't been. Besides: What can this old little man do to me, I wasn't born yesterday: And I really wanted to go yachting again!

He hands me his scooter and I drove it 6 or 7 blocks thru busy Waikiki, with a solid buzz and no fears whatsoever. I circled my hotel a few times then landed, and headed straight to the hotel bar, where my bartender friend "Wade" cautioned me against driving mopeds while under the enfluence. Ron tells me "cops don't really care" and Wade tells me "cops will bust your ass for this", so I wisely will take Wades advice. I conclude that "Ron" is a bit of a douche.

Ron calls me at 10 AM and we head up the the yacht harbor, where he introduces me to Captain Dennis. Dennis is an older poor mainlander who has a large 34 foot yacht, that looks to be an old tub. I had a few reservations about going out into the high winds of the Pacific ocean with Dennis, but as the other crew showed up, I gained some faith as him as a Captain. I could see their dedication, and that they apparently trusted Captain Dennis.

(When you accept a crew position on any yacht you have to know what you are doing. The boat going out in the ocean is under the legal command of the Captain. If the captain is an idiot, he could easily get you killed. No shit! Dennis's boat was from the sixties and needed a few things. But after looking at the rigging and sails, I felt like the boat was sound. But is the captain sound? It's tough to tell until the boat is heeled over, with stuck sails, or whatever, and he is unable to give an intelligent command; So YOUR dead!!! Imagine being 4 miles from the island and the boat gets knocked down due to your Captains' mistakes. You fall in the ocean, with no lifeline (most yachts dont use them), and they will not be able to find your shark bait ass! Once they spend 10 minutes trying to get back to you, your small head will be impossible to find unless the boat gets lucky and finds your position within 100 yards. IF YOU FALL IN THE WATER TOO FAR FROM SHORE.....YOUR USUALLY DEAD. "

Ok, I determined that the rigging and sails/hull were good. I forget about checking the two way radio, but the boat did have an excessable, throwable life raft/Epirb (locating signal). I was good to go; mainly, because the 5 passenger crew trusted him, I wasn't impressed by him at all. Oh yeah, his engine had issues, but what sailboat doesn't have engine probs? I was to be in charge of controlling the Main sail. Sounds important, but it really is the least technical job of Yacht racing. When the Capo orders "tighten the sail", I do it. Or "release sail", "tacking", "jybing", and so forth. At times; when the boat is leaning at an 85 degree angle, and the crew was about to be spilled into the sea, I would just give the sail some slack w/o being told. Captain Dennis, like to push the old tub to it's outer limits it seemed. But he never bitched when I would slack the sail a little. He knew I was a sailer, but his ego never wanted to say "ease off".

We left the Port of Honolulu, around Noon, and headed out to sea on a "three hour tour", the weather was very windy but controllable. 25 knot winds are nothing to sneeze at. My privious Capitan named "Capitain Jaques" was an old wise Frenchman, who allowed me to crew on his 47 foot old wooden boat from Port Lavaca, Texas, to Sabine Pass, on the Texas/Louisiana border. We went 100 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, and spent 2 1/2 days and nights to get there. "Jaques" was much more easy going, and kept the jib and mailsls' reefed down, to prevent excessive lean and excessive strain on his rigging. Capitain "Dennis" was a racer, and pushed his boat to the limits, using a full main/jib configuration, so the ride was a total bitch! Healed over with the mast near the water, and shit smashing around in the cabin, as the wind shoveled us atop the whitecapped waves, was not a joy ride. But Dennis was racing. Funny: Capo Jacques boat had a hull speed of 4 knots while riding nice and serene, and "Speed Racer Dennis" was only going about 6 knots. WTF? With Jacques 2 1/2 days was a pleasant ride. With "Dennis" 3 hours was a balls to the wall, scary experience, where some of his crew were tossing their cookies, into the Pacific Ocean. My cookies stayed in my belly fortunately...hehe. Captain Dennis was a good Captain overall. He was just one of many sailboat racing dudes who likes to push the limits in order to gain a little more speed. We just have different philosophies about sailing. He was the Captain, he kept calm the entire time, never raised his voice, and knew how to sail. Dennis was a perfectly adequate Captain, my only critisism, was that when one of his friends; a younger lady crewmember who became sick and threw up over the stern port leeward side: Dennis just made a light joke out of it "haha now we know we are sailing!" was all the comfort he had to give. He really should have eased the sails, or just motored in, rather than continue to same grueling pace for the next 90 minutes, while this girl was in misery. We really were not in a race, and just doing time trials afterall.
But I'm damned glad I went! Had the best time on this trip so far. Seeing the Waikiki coast and Diamond Head from 5 miles out while leaning and bucking the wild waves at a scary pitch is a thrill that will last me a lifetime! And when I return, Dennis says I always got a crew position on his boat. Not sure if I want it, but he did at least recognise my sailing abilities, as I recognise his Captain skills. There is way more to Yachting than having martinis at the club, I assure you.

After that, I was beat and completely sunburnt. Van Cleef and I took a cab to Dukes (the Cleef stiffed me on another cab ride as he does on many bartabs, I don't pay the entire tab, just 65 percent or more...this guy is a piece of work). We were both up late the night before and he suggests us go sleep in the sand while listening to the Sunday Band at Dukes. By then I was sunburnt and tired, and just wanted a swim and a return to my hotel room, while not being around this leech any more. So we laid our beach mats down, I went swimming and body surfing. I came back, Cleef was totally asleep, (he did drink 9 beers on the trip), I snagged my mat, and stuff, and went to the International Market and had a Chicago Dog with fries, knowing that the leech would be pissed, but let him find another friend. I enjoyed the Sailing, but he trashed Dennis pretty bad after we left. Dennis was the good guy, not sure about the Cleefster.

Went to the hotel room, showered, put on lotion (damn I am burned, my sunglass marks make me look like a raccon (the Japanese bellhop told me this), and I slathered on some lotion but the burns arent to severe.......maybe. Woke at 8:00PM to do the jacuzzi thing, and floated in the pool for awhile. Checked my internet for a while, and now going to sleep while planning for adventures in the morning (that dont involve the sun).... Night all!