Happy Monday and a shout out to the US Memorial Day. I attended a Memorial Day celebration at the US Military’s Margraten Cemetery in Limburg NL in 2014. It is situated in lovely countryside near Maastricht.
I am writing a new story. I am about half way finished. I have written three other books as shown here at the top of the page. I like to put draft excerpts out there to see how they are accepted. Any comments are very welcomed.
One could always work in Honolulu or Waikiki. That is why I had no time for Keith. He was lazy and solely dependent upon his wife for his financial well being. On top of that I had no respect for him. As I became familiar with the off-shore sailing life I came to realize that he was exposing his family needlessly to real danger. His twenty foot Cal (California) 20 was not a safe platform for off-shore ocean passage, especially in heavy weather sailing. She was small and very confined and not sufficiently robust to come through a challenging storm or sea. She was designed for inshore day sailing. It seemed to me that Keith was fulfilling his own selfish dream on the cheap without consideration for the safety and well-being of Peggy and Katie. His actions were a form of domestic abuse if you ask me. He didn’t, but I felt sorry for Peggy and Katie.
Update: Peggy and Katie left Keith in Hawaii and returned to Hamilton Ontario. I never saw Keith again or heard from him after I departed Hawaii.
I came across many personalities there at the Ala Moana Yacht Club. To say that the off-shore cruising lifestyle bred many of life’s unique off the wall characters would be an understatement. Idiosyncratic would be an apt description for many of the people I met. One of those was Skip. His introduction to all of us at the Ala Moana Yacht Club was legendary. He was a Yacht Club favourite. Verbose to the core. He held court at the clubhouse bar and could be found there most afternoons, prior to his alcohol induced afternoon nap. He always had a story to tell…almost always a humourous, exaggerated embellishment of a tale.
His arrival at the Ala Wai was loud and boisterous. It was on a Friday, late afternoon. The sun was beginning its final descent into that green induced bright flash of an Hawaiian sunset. Suddenly this forty-five foot ketch appeared in the channel, full sail, moving erratically to port then starboard as she made her way toward the turning basic and visitor’s slips of the yacht club. That was a no-no. Vessels of that size were required to come into harbour under power, not sail. Luckily there was only a slight breeze blowing. Nevertheless, trying to call him up on VHF Channel Eleven to follow protocol was fruitless. Those of us at the bar and restaurant ran outside to the upper deck to watch this nautical catastrophe unfold. Disaster was in the cards and, like the anticipation of a wipe out at the Indy 500, it was on all of our minds.
Suddenly there was a loud commotion on the upper deck. A woman appeared. You could not hear her but you could tell by her body language that she was not a happy camper…erm sailor. She was furious at something or other. Her arms were flailing, wildly: in complete synchronicity with an erratic bobbing of her head. She was clearly upset, mad as a hatter. As the boat began to close in on us and come within earshot of the clubhouse her voice became discernible. A loud, terror stricken, a banshee of expletives poured out of her mouth and they were all directed toward her as yet unseen antagonist.
In a few seconds a sun bleached mop of hair appeared from the lower companionway and cabin. A very tanned and muscular man in knee length bathing trunks and a tie-died tee could be seen. He was your typical southern California surfer dude. As he came up from below he began to drag up, haul up and throw suitcases and duffel bags into the cockpit. At the same time the woman was howling at him and throwing bits of boatsam at him. We could see this as his arms and hands went up in a defensive mode to shield him from the woman’s onslaught. Then, in an instant of time, he looked right at us. His attention was suddenly engaged toward us. A look of fear, but explicit understanding of his current situation and predicament came over him in an instant. He was no longer interested in his female assailant.
“For fuck sakes, SHIT. Jesus H Christ.” He cried out. And like a mad maritime dervish he began to take control of his boat. First, the foresail came down like a stone. Luckily the halyard was free of any obstruction and he was able to run up forward and grasp the sail and force it into the pulpit area of the bowsprit. Secure. Good thing too as the boat was drawing closer and closer to the foreshore. Running back to the transom area of his boat, he dropped the mizzen and as he did so the boast suddenly veered up and into the wind, as light as it was. The sudden lurching movement of the boat and her unscheduled course change scared the woman. She stopped her attack immediately to grab a secure handhold.
Skip left the main up, went below and flashed up the diesel engine. It sputtered, choked, coughed and then idled confidently. He came back up topside jumped into the cockpit and thrust the boat into gear. Good thing too as he was dangerously close to collision with the main dock of the club. Altering hard to port, he maneuvered the boat slowly out into the middle of and safety of the turning basin, he methodically lowered the mainsail from his position in the cockpit. The sail came down without incident and Skip secured it to the boom. All at once the woman recommenced her insane diatribe of Skip, his entire family and all of his ancestors. She was mad, insanely mad.
Skip ignored her rants and taunts and screams and maneuvered his boat toward an assigned berthing slip that was adjacent to the green lawn of the club’s inner foreshore and its towering palms. As he was nearing the slip he began to yell at the woman, giving her as good as she was giving him. They were entirely oblivious to us, the cheering section. We were all enthralled with the show unfolding before us. The colourful, descriptive expletives that came out of his mouth were very entertaining and would make a pirate blush. He secured the boat and then ran up to the foredeck with the suitcases and duffel bags. He threw them into a heap of the foreshore lawn. He turned to the woman, picked her up and tossed her frame onto the suitcases as if she was almost weightless. Luckily for Skip and for her she was not hurt.
“I never want to see your ugly puss ever…E.V.A.H. Do you hear me? Understand? Ever. It will be a cold day in hell before I let you grace your fat ass on “Sheila” ever again.
The woman got up, brushed her bruised ego off, grabbed her self esteem and a couple of the duffel bags and in a huff walked briskly toward the entranceway to the club. She came back for the suitcase and without saying a word to Skip, picked it up and walked back to the entranceway. Her gait and expression were of silent determination. She let out one last curse before disappearing into the late afternoon twilight that was the evening light. She would hail a cab from there.
“You…you…you will hear from my lawyer….and by the fucking way Skip…Per, you, you were never a good lay… asshole.”
“Whoa!” an ensemble of groans, hoots and chuckles came out from the peanut gallery above.
Skip looked up at us on the deck, suddenly aware of our presence. He laughed aloud and gave us all a big high five.
“Twenty one days of holy terror…gents. Forty five feet of misery. Finally over…for good.”
Skip had left San Diego for the South Pacific. Hawaii was planned as his first port of call.
“Words of advice? Skip offered us. “Never bring your wife along for the ride…unless you’re cruisin for an instant divorce on making landfall. Never again…And…and whatever you do never name your boat after your wife. I am stuck with “Sheila” and her memory throughout eternity or my immortality,”
“I’ll be right up.” he added. “Oly’s all around.”
We fought among ourselves to see who would be the first to give this larger than life sailor a beer.
 Boatsam. topside junk of a sailboat that cannot be classified as flotsam.
 It is okay to change the name of your boat on assuming ownership but very bad luck changing the name sometime after taking ownership.
Another excerpt from a book I am working on. All based on true facts.
It was a cold December day in Hawaii. Who would have thought? A cold day in the tropics seemed to be an oxymoron of tropical life but it was the truth. The temperature dropped to an unusual, unseasonable, unprecedented and unreasonable fifty five degree Fahrenheit. It stayed that way for a week as a cold front stalled and then passed through the Hawaiian chain. It was a sight to behold to see so many Hawaiian locals wearing parkas while the touristos on Waikiki tried as they might to stay warm. They failed. They couldn’t keep warm and none of the hotels had central heating.
Waikiki was deserted. Kalakaua Avenue was deserted. Kapiolani Beach Park was deserted, Ala Moana outdoor shopping mall was deserted. Everything was deserted. Quiet, silent desertion. The relatively new Hilton Hawaiian Village complex was shuttered: awaiting the tropical blizzard that was sure to come with this cold snap perhaps. This was not a problem for me as I was used to this: fifty five degree Fahrenheit was nothing but a cool early spring temperature. It was the first day to wear shorts up in the great white north – even though this was December in Waikiki.
I had been here for almost six months. Acclimatized, I was becoming used to a very nice routine. I did have a job for a time at the Waikikian Reef Hotel as a bus boy. I decided shortly after our first sail to Kauai that I needed to sustain this lifestyle. I did have enough bucks in traveler’s cheques but for me that was not enough. Being frugal – not cheap – frugal, I was determined to support myself throughout this adventure and not to depend or lean on anyone. Unlike Keith, who after many, many months still hadn’t found work. His wife Peggy and Katie their daughter were still slugging it out at the clubhouse kitchen all the while that Keith held his own court on the upper deck. By this time I had many friends and acquaintances so I avoided Keith like a tropical storm.
Having a job here did not come without risks. I was Canadian after all. I did not have a green card or landed immigrant status. If I was caught out working here illegally I could be deported. That would not be good considering the adventure I was about to embark upon. Nevertheless I did my best. The Canadian social insurance number was nine digits long, similar to the US’ except the order. Canada’s was 123-456-789 whereas the American social security number was 123-45-6789. All I had to do was use my own number and change the order as in 123-45-6789. Coupled that with an American home address that I took from a recent relationship I had had with a gal from Boston and voila. Before you could say Johnny Paycheck I had a job.
All was right with my world. I had a job and was making money supporting myself. I had made a few friends – some Aussies, some Kiwis, some Americans – and had an on again off again relationship with an Aussie girl named Pauline. I still missed Nina. Nigel continued to avoid me as if I was Pele’s husband Ku. He kept to himself or kept company with his Brit friends. To my surprise, he took a job in September delivering a large yacht to Vancouver. He linked up with the Dutch owner who was not comfortable returning to Vancouver without an experienced mariner. Lucky for me Nigel fit the bill.
“I should be back the end of November.” He announced one day. “While I am gone try to paint the Akaru-Hime’s hull.” and that was it. Goodbye and good riddance.
The tropical lifestyle catering to the tourists was exciting. Washing dishes and clearing tables was not but hey, I was young fellow without responsibilities. I was living on a sailboat berthed at the affluent Ala Moana Yacht Club. My living room was Waikiki and my backyard was the never-ending, limitless expanse of the Pacific Ocean and the other Hawaiian Islands. Life was indeed good and fruitful. I was living the dream.
“Thank you Lord for thinking about me…” I prayed from time to time. I was forever grateful and never let Him think otherwise…every single day that I lived there.
The restaurant work was interesting, especially the afternoon shift until two in the morning. That was when all of the action and fun took place. There was a lounge adjacent to the restaurant’s kitchen. Along with the restaurant I had to service that lounge as well as an underground beach bar named Davey Jones’ Locker – hauling ice and clean dishes and condiments to and from the kitchen and dishwashing area to these outstations. I liked to think of my working space as my culinary “Headquarters.” I became familiar with most of the staff – mainly women servers and hookers who frequented the place. One of them, named Cindy, took a shine to me but in a plutonic manner. She was at least fifteen years my senior. She would often tease me playfully accusing me of being an imposter.
“If you’re from Boston Jimmy then I am an Eskimo.” She would say to me.
An Eskimo Pie I thought.
“You don’t have the accent, the drawl honey. C’mon, where ya from Jimmy? Canada I think…eh?
“Boston Cindy. Really, I am. I have a refined accent. The Queen’s English don’t ya know.”
She was right of course.
“Yeah right.” she would tease, raise her right eyebrow then throw a kiss my way.
I loved Cindy.
Davey Jones’s Locker was situated next to and below the hotel’s beach pool. There, behind the bar in the dark, musty and very smoky underworld lounge that was decked out in nautical piratical décor, was a large magnified window that stretched the entire breadth of the bar. Here the patrons could watch as the bathers frolicked around in the water of the swimming pool above the bar. Those swimmers that were in the know, especially the woman, would swim down and underwater to the pool side of the window and present themselves as playful teasers to the bar’s patrons. It was good exotic fun.
I had one weird moment while working there. An older man, a Hawaiian, came up to me one evening while I was having my break in the restaurant. He was a large man, as most Hawaiian men are. His face was weathered, his hands calloused and huge. He had a full head of black curly hair that was streaked with gray that bespoke of his age. His features reflected a friendly disposition in a face that was almost cherubic but characterized by years of hard living.
“I have been watching you young man.” He said to me out of the blue.
“Oh?” Was all I could say to him. Why? I thought to myself.
“Yes…yes. I see a great deal of pain through your eyes, as if you have experienced many dark things that you should not have had to witness…at this stage of your life. Yes, many bad things.” He shook his head. “Your facial lines and features tell me many things. You appear much older and much wiser than you would seem to be for a man of your age.
“You do?… I do?… Really? I said.
“I only wish you good things…very good things”
“But I’m only twenty two.” I said.
Not hearing me, he smiled, and then continued. “Soon you will meet Kanaloa, and He’e and other water dwellers. He and they will bring you good luck and help you navigate and cross the great water. But first you must see Kane, and test yourself through him. You will prevail as I see you embraced with Amakua who will wipe away your tears”
Whaaat the Fuuuck? I thought.
He left as abruptly as he showed himself to me.
I shook the vision of him off of my brain cells. That…he…was creepy. Who was Kanaloa? Amakua? And He’..he’..he…eh? I chuckled to myself as then a cold, tingling shiver went up and down my spine. I shuddered…uncontrollably. I will have to ask Cindy
“Pay him no heed Jimmy. He comes in here often and is often drunk. His name is Kukani but we call him Koo-Koo. He is harmless.”
“But who or what is a Kanaloa, an Amakua, or a Kane Cindy?”
“Beats me Jimmy. Hawaiian folklore perhaps…don’t worry about it.”
But I did. I could not dismiss what he said to me. His visitation left an uneasy feeling in me. Thankfully…in time, I forgot the incident and carried on with my Hawaiian life.
 The warrior god and husband of Pele goddess of fire and brimstone.
Check out my other books by clicking on the links at the top of the page.
A very big Hawaiian with a beautiful voice. He died too young.