From my new book, currently being written. Hope to have it completed by next summer. It is in rough draft. It has not been edited as yet.
Writing like this gives me a nice and welcome respite from the Covid 19 madness. I can escape to my own world of past adventures and excitement without a care in the world.
Her decks were wide enough to manoeuvre, to work the sails. Painted a sun bleached dull yellow with a non skid of flecked shells, hard on bare soles but stiff and skiff free to provide non slip protection when operating forward and outside the combed protection of the cockpit. Up in the bow, in the confines of the pulpit, were a few sail bags secured to the forestay, ready to go, to hoist as they say with only their hanks showing in a step like fashion. Lines emerged out of those bags leading aft outside of all the standing rigging like sinewy snakes meandering in unison back toward the winches. Of course I can say this now, describe “Akaru-Hime” as I am looking back on this, but at the time I didn’t have a clue, or a withering breadth of knowledge of the nautical world.
No sign of life, The cockpit was very large for a sailboat of this size. Deep and narrow with combed benches port and starboard. The engine controls were abutted up against the stbd side combing in the after section of the cockpit while a manually operated “gusher” pump was situated on its forward bulkhead. Turns out that this gusher pump had an attached steel handle topped with what resembled an eight ball. For leverage I guess. I would become very familiar with this piece of kit in due course.
The cockpit went as far back as it footprint would allow ending at a narrow covered transom. The transom, or stern section, had a protective white railing attached, not robust enough to save one from hurling overboard but more for utility and functionality as cordage, various sized red and black “Scotsmen” floats were attached. Some 5 gallon buckets, whisker poles, fishing poles were also in situ as if this part of Akaru-Hime was a catch-all for the rest of the boat. “Akaru-Hime” was squared off at the rear by a stern that dropped to the vertical for about a foot then angled itself forward at about a forty five degree angle toward the waterline. The stern’s aspect gave “Akaru-Hime” an air of sleekness, fine lines and speed. An illusion as it would turn out. Of course it was impossible to see how the bottom faired as the deep bluish green shades of surface water obscured visibility other than a few inches below the boot topping. The boot topping, that narrow four inch wide black painted strip that followed the waterline of “Akaru-Hime” from bow to stern and separated her from the living and the dead. It provided an aspect that seemed to frame “Akaru-Hime” synergistically.
The hatch to the gangway was locked so I couldn’t go below. This was taboo of course without prior permission, no matter that I was deemed crew. If you want to get off on the wrong foot with any skipper or make a poor first impression just climb aboard without permission to come aboard. This I knew.
I threw my kitbag into the cockpit and left it there. I wasn’t worried about somebody stealing it for there was nothing of value in there except for a 35mm camera, which I had with me, on me. No, if someone wanted my stinky stuff they were welcomed to it. I then proceeded to explore my surroundings. “G” dock, “Akaru-Hime’s” main street was very long with finger floats abutting both sides of the main dock. Probably up to 100 boats on this dock alone. And “G” was followed by “H” and “J”, no “I” apparently, preceded by “A” through “F”. Unbelievable! An entirely different world than what I had been used to or even imagined: somewhat of a parallel universe to the tourist district and peons of the Waikiki district of Oahu.
The Ala Wai harbour, accompanying marina and Ala Moana Yacht Club were huge. Hundreds of yachts, of various sizes and shapes: Sloops, Cutters, Ketches and Yawls. Double Enders, where the bow and stern have the same pointed aspect, Tahiti Ketches, Catamarans, and Trimarans. They were all here. No power boats. They were all berthed separately across the main channel near the Ala Moana Park. I guess they wanted to keep the stink-potters separated from the true believers.
I left G dock, walked a way over through a parking lot that abutted a park area, then a small landlocked lagoon. Not really a lagoon as it was landlocked but it was known as the Ilikai Lagoon, part and parcel of the Ilikai hotel – a local landmark as it turned out and I do recall its centrally located exterior elevator that took one from the hotel’s lobby to the top of the “I”, all the while allowing one to see the calming beauty and blue turquoise pastels are dark inshore fluid shadows or reefs of the Pacific Ocean, the Ala Wai, harbour the Ala Moana Yacht club and the like. This exterior run was also made famous by the Jack Lord version of Hawaii “book-em-Danel” 5 Oh.
The Ilikai was just many of a long line of Waikiki luxurious beachfront hotels that stretched from the Ala Moana Yacht club, skirting their way as fringes of the beach only stopping its progression by the iconic Diamond Head volcanic caldera. Luckily, not active but extinct, the sides of which was covered from its base about a third of its elevation in tropical green hues of a lush carpet like vegetation blanket, like moss, then abruptly transitions to that easily recognizable dark brown blackish coloured and bare volcanic rock that permeate the many volcanic islands of the South Pacific. The rock sides were not smooth but interspersed it seemed with symmetrical lines or cracks, seams and what appeared to be vertically oriented valleys that all too apparent on many of the mountain ranges and rock formations on these volcanic Hawaiian Islands and those other mountainous gems of the South Pacific. It appeared as if those seams were hardened rivers and streams of lava slides or floes of long ago. On its crown you could just make out the diamond like cluster of rock cuts at the leading edge of this ancient rock.
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