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Sailing to Hawaii -- Part II

Author: travelmel (More Trip Reviews by travelmel)
Date of Trip: October 2006

I have to admit I was not having any fun in the beginning. Even though I grew up in New Jersey and spent summers at the beach with my parents, I'm not an ocean lover. I'm a city slicker. But I gathered up all my courage, and my board, and went racing into the icy cold Pacific Ocean like some deranged Gidget wannabe ... and got knocked over by the first big wave, swallowed what seemed like a gallon of salt water, and felt miserable. I couldn't heave my ample bottom up onto the board to paddle out, and felt miserable. I drifted down toward the nearby Marriott by the current, and felt miserable. How was I ever going to get to the "two swift motions" if I couldn't even paddle out toward the instructor? I retreated to the beach in shame.

The instructor would not let me sit it out (and boy, did I try). He walked out of the water and literally pulled me up off my duff. Now that I am dry and safe, I am grateful to him for pushing me to get back out there, even though I wanted to die of embarrassment at the time. He was incredibly patient with me and promised (or at least convinced) me that it was hard even for buff him to swim out that day because the current was unusually strong. He grabbed hold of my board, swam me out and got me positioned in such a way that I actually did get picked up by the oncoming waves -- and was suddenly zipping along at breakneck speed! With the roar of the waves I could barely hear him screaming "stand up!" behind me, and when I tried I of course plunged directly into the water. Proceeded with a second assisted swim-out. Teetered off again.

I wiped out again and again, but each time it was less frightening -- I actually started to laugh and hurry back out rather than gasp and recoil in terror. Just before it was almost time to call it a day, I finally rode a wave to the beach on my knees. I knew if I tried to get up on my feet again I'd wipe out, so I didn't -- I so badly wanted to experience the rush of making it all the way back to the beach (and it was awesome!). Before you can really grasp the fact that you're actually "surfing," it's over. It's really hard to put it into words. All I can remember thinking as I literally flew toward the shoreline was "all that is between me and billions of gallons of rushing water is a long skinny piece of foam." Crazy.

How did my shipmates do? We all enjoyed our fair share of wipeouts, but it must be said they did a much better job than I with what should have been basic -- paddling against the current for example. They also were able to stand on their boards, and make it back to the beach upright! I probably won't go surfing again unless I lose a few pounds (my upper body ached for two days from paddling and carrying the board down to the shoreline) ... but I think everyone who can swim and is relatively physically fit has to give it a go. Oh, and bring $10 for the photo -- even if you look ridiculous (as I did) you'll want to buy it.

Note: Only four people signed up for this tour on my sailing, and because the current was so strong, that worked out to our favor -- the instructor was able to give each of us (especially me) personalized attention. The maximum amount of people taken for each session is 12, and he admitted that with the unusual water conditions, that might have been too many. Participants must be at least 8 years old and able to swim.

Going Home

After spending my last day in Honolulu paying my respects at Pearl Harbor, I boarded my flight home with a big box of pineapples and a camera bag full of high-resolution memories. I would sail this ship and trip again in a heartbeat. I just wish the flight wasn't so long....

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