Flashback 1

Malinda is finally on board and there’s maybe half an hour of daylight left. I had just made the fist open water passage on Alunita, paddling her from our anchorage in Honomalino Bay to the public pier in Miloli’i, about a two-mile stretch around a headland and then some reefs outside of the harbor that were throwing up white and foamy breakers. Our friend Steven had just arrived there with Malinda, her luggage and a whole bunch of perishable provisions. He had driven them over from Hilo on the wet side of the Big Island of Hawai’i in his old faded grey Volvo. After stowing the provisions in Alunita’s two part belly Malinda and Steve set out on foot along the coastal path to the Bay, and I was about to do the return trip, pushing Alunita for the first time fully loaded through maybe two feet waves. The memories of me, Beatriz and Kiko splashing around in the water were still fresh, trying to gather our floating belongings before they would disappear below us after having flipped Alunita the second time on our way to shore in Keauhoe Bay a couple days earlier. We had since adjusted the iakos so that the outrigger was now floating quite a bit further out and that had helped to stabilize the canoe considerably. Now she needed to stay upright, otherwise there would be a lonely me trying to collect cases of tomatoes, cabbage, onions, avocadoes, bags of rice, grapefruits and a whole number of water bottles from the wavy surface…

She did, she actually turned out to handle way better loaded, was much more stable than when empty and after unloading the provisions onto Aluna I had gone to the black sand beach just across from her and brought Malinda over. Now we need to bring Alunita on board, disassemble her and stow her two half-hulls, the iakos and the ama in suitable places, where they would be the least in the way of the navigational chores, but still securely tied down. By the time we’re done with that it’s dark. Pitch black dark. The light winds on our previous passage coming up the South end of the islands’ West coast had made me decide to begin our passage to French Polynesia in the late hours of the evening, with the idea that we get to South Point by daybreak, where we will certainly need all our five senses operational when sticking our noses out into the wind and swells of the trades. So we decide it’s time for a hearty diner and then we open the young coconut I had collected on the beach. We want to pour its sweet milk over our two bows to appease the mighty spirits of the sea hoping they might grant us a safe and speedy passage.

At about nine thirty we raise the anchor. The land breeze has kicked up and soon we notice that it is quite a bit stronger than I had imagined. We’re doing four to five knots on a beam reach, which would bring us to South Point in four hours! Once the rugged coastline turns East we find ourselves in howling winds, the spars crackle and bend precariously to the lee, and Aluna wants to round up into the wind. When forced not to do so, the big mainsail fills violently, she falls way off the wind before picking up enough speed to be able to control her course. The trades are wrapping around South Point and coming all the way up the coast! We tack and make our way back towards the shore, where the winds ease up enough to take a breather and relax. So we’re doing small tacks through the night and by daybreak take the big main down and set the small one. Now Aluna all of a sudden is a happy girl, riding the increasing swells and the strength of the wind seems to be just right. We set our course as close to the wind as possible without losing speed and head South East, South Point is still a couple miles away under the rising sun. It will now slowly move across our port beam while the size of the swell increases, raising Aluna’s bows up towards the sky and then down into the troughs. The uneasy feeling in the stomach makes it clear, we’re now in open waters with well over two thousand miles ahead of us before reaching any other piece of dry land.

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