Ala Moana

Finished my fourth book. It is now out for editing and formatting for publishing. I do not have a cover design as yet either.


Ala Moana Yacht Club, Ala Moana District, Waikiki

After a few days I was beginning to feel acclimatized. I did have some serious sunburn on my legs and arms but that pain was easing some. I was also getting used to the confines of “Red Jewel”, my home for the foreseeable future. Yet Nigel, my mentor in all of this, was very illusive. The few times that I did see him he paid little attention to me, as if I was some sort of albatross hanging about the neck of the boat. No matter.

I spent most of my time exploring things. The yacht club, Ilikai hotel, the lagoon and its grounds. The hotel had a broad open lobby. A cross breeze that was constant flew in across the open spaces. It was at once caressing and soothing with its aura of tropical heaven, at least to the tourists who stayed there.

“Aah, isn’t this is just heaven George? Well, isn’t it George?” I heard a couple say when entering the lobby from the outside, especially on those oppressive hot Hawaiian afternoons. Of course George was non plussed about his wife’s remarks. Probably thinking about golf or a cool one, as he was in a sweat. And on those rare occasions when it became too cool for comfort they had these massive sliding glass doors that could be set in place very quickly. All at once the lobby resembled an enclosed yet broad and open tomb but its protection from the elements when the temperature dropped was a welcomed respite.

I loved going to the Ilikai to have a morning coffee on its expansive outdoor patio. It made me feel important and gave me a sense of well being. Not belonging mind you as I had yet to make any friends here. Nigel was anything to me but a social companion. Sooner or later he is going to have to include me into his space and share his personal thoughts I thought, as we will be spending considerable time together – in close quarters. But that would come later. For now I allowed myself to fall into the tropical nuances of island life. It was grand to a young fellow like me. Not a single care in the world. No prospects, as my dear mother loved to remind me. Perhaps, but no anxiety either. It was a minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day life. Thus far I loved it.

It was July. I was told by Nigel that we would not be leaving until January at the earliest. Briefly he said as we had to ensure the storm season was behind us. He had this massive book that was a compendium of tides, seas, winds and storms – cyclones and typhoons in this neck of the woods. It was environmental historical atmospheric precedence, or weather, all over the central and North Pacific. Hurricanes were a Caribbean trait. Out here in the grand Pacific we had typhoons. No matter how you cut it a cyclone was a cyclone and extremely dangerous for small craft. And a thirty five foot sailboat such as “Red Jewel” was considered a very small craft. Interestingly, in my spare time, of which I had loads to spare, I would study that book because in some instances it held my life in its bounded, bindered hands. I handled it with subdued reverence, like a sailor’s bible. It was probably best to have some idea of the dangers ahead of us, I thought. So much to learn. So little time, ha, but I had lots.

After about a week I was beginning to find my way and getting into a routine. In the mornings I loved to swim across the Ilikai lagoon before proceeding up and onto the Ilikai’s outdoor patio. The lagoon was only about 400 yards across, if that. It had this small island in the middle of it that lit up at night. During the day, and night, a fountain would appear and erupt like an aquatic spirit of the islands, a Namaka.

I was becoming familiar with the hotel staff, even though I only ordered coffee. That and about three cigarettes made my morning pre-day routine. As anyone who smokes will tell you there is nothing better in the morning than coffee and smokes. Food? Forget it. From there it was back to the boat to pick up my doby[1] and off to the club’s heads and wash places. And after my proverbial “S” quad[2] I would head up to the restaurant for another coffee, a few more smokes and a bit of chin music with Keith who was there most every morning. I never saw Nigel nor did I socialize with him in any form. When he did return to the boat in the late evening he would harrumph me, curse Sadao, damn his current state in life then fall asleep in the forward “V” berth under the auspices of a few scotch. Normally I was half asleep at this time.

“We’re leaving tomorrow.” Nigel announced one morning. “Kauai.”

“Kauai? What is that?” I asked.

Nigel threw me a funny look. “Kauai is the Garden Isle in the Hawaiian chain” he said. “A beautiful place. The northern most penultimate island of the Hawaiian archipelago.”

“Oh…wow,” was about all I could muster in return. And what was a penultimate? Brit slang no doubt…perhaps. I will have to look that one up.

“And a couple of girls will be joining us.” He added. This will be a good famil sail for you.”

“Can’t wait.” I answered. I was both nervous and excited. And a couple of girls? And with that he left.

“Kauai, Kauai, Kauai.” I thought to myself. Spelt funny and pronounced…”Caw-why” or “Caw-why-ee.” I looked for it on the chart. Regular shape. Almost perfectly round except for a bulge to the west that reminded me of the profile of a Pit Bull. Names like Pali, Waimea, Nawiliwili, Lihue…hey… Hanalei, from Puff the Magic Dragon fame. All words that I could not really pronounce properly as yet. Not until I became more familiar with the Hawaiian language. Two things of note on Kauai are Kauai’s Waimea (Why-May-Ah) Canyon, which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific while the peak of Wai-ale-ale (Why-Ah-Lay-Ah-Lay) at over 5,000 feet is considered one of the wettest places on earth with over 373 inches of rainfall per year. That is thirty one feet. A lot of rain. Don’t forget your “slicker” when you visit this place, which is perennially set in a cloud.

[1] Mariner’s slang for male toiletries

[2] Shit, shower, shave and shampoo – but not necessarily in that order.

This was a big hit in 1973, when I lived at the Ala Moana Yacht Club: