Departure :: July 2, 2016
I am writing this from Haunani’s cabin about 600nm along my way to Hawaii (pictures will be added when I return as I don’t have the capacity for uploading them now)
Everything has happened so fast that until now, I haven’t been able to really slow down and reflect on what it felt like to leave the dock. The days leading up to that much anticipated moment were a roller coaster ride of emotions. I had the most insane nervous stomach, and had to take deep breaths about every 4 seconds to quell my nerves. I carried on during those days, allowing myself the feelings but also maintaining my focus on the goal.
I have never felt so supported in any endeavor (yes, I will say it again). It was truly a team effort to get me here, and in those last couple of weeks, everyone seemed to step up their game to the point where I felt no stress at all (at least logistically speaking). My amazing brother and his lovely wife welcomed me into their home for two and a half weeks, fed me, leant me their car, ran errands for me and let me cry on their shoulders when needed. I have already written about the ladies and their heroic efforts in transporting my stuff up from LA and helping me prepare Haunani for our voyage. The owners of the marina where I stayed were beyond generous and gracious, and did not charge me for my slip as a way to support my journey. My friend Whitall helped me watch the weather for the week before the race, on top of offering his support and expertise as always. My dear friend Bill (a kick ass chef), volunteered to make all of my meals and froze them for me in single serve bags (seriously a life saver every day that I am out here). My sister in law Kate, drove all said meals (among other things) up from LA and schlepped my extraneous crap back with her. My new friend and fellow racer, Barry offered his support and knowledge any time I needed help or answers. My friend Rich built a super awesome shelf to stow my (potentially lethal) hatch board. Brian Boschma not only loaned me the famous emergency rudder, but came to my boat to help me trouble shoot an autopilot issue at the end of a busy workday when I was freaking out. He also followed up and as the race chair, has been a huge source of support throughout! Then of course, there is Thomas, without whom I wouldn’t be sailing to Hawaii right now. I know I always write about how thankful I am for him, but I don’t think words will ever do it justice. He continues to astound me with his generosity and dedication to my goal and to me. He flew up a few days before my start to sail with me and to help me knock out the remaining items on the dreaded list. Having him by my side professionally and personally throughout this journey has given me amd continues to give me great solace and strength. Somehow in those last days however, having him there transcended all of that. I don’t think I will ever be able to adequately express my gratitude and love for him.
The days leading up to my departure were filled with practice sails, unexpected and last minute boat repairs, provisioning, double-checking, organizing, and random projects, midnight worry sessions, lists upon lists….I could go on and on. We had a skipper’s meeting and a luncheon the day before the start, where I finally got to meet the rest of the racers and their families. It was wonderful to finally meet in person and to be able to encourage and support each other. I was especially happy to se my two PSSA buddies….a familiar anchorage in a sea of unknowns!
When the day finally arrived for me to leave, I awoke from a good night’s sleep with nerves aflutter. My amazing support team helped out with last minute provisions and checklists, and then all of a sudden I found myself being released from my side tie (another racer’s boat) and into a journey that I had been anticipating for so long. I backed out without a hitch (you know how nervous I get about docking and un-docking) and bade a final farewell to my family and friends on the dock. There were cheers for all of us as we pulled away, but of course I could feel mine the most profoundly. I motored out into the channel in front of the yacht club and set my sails. I was surprisingly not nervous. I was excited and ready, and somehow infused with confidence and calm. The next hour was a blur of tacking around in Raccoon Straights preparing for the start. As I got closer my autopilot remote stopped working, so I had a few weird moments made weirder by being in tight quarters with 20+ other boats. I recovered quickly and at 12:08 or so I made it across the start and headed out into the bay. The sail out was exhilarating to say the least. We were hauling ass and I was in my happy place! As I finally crossed under the bridge, a whale surfaced just near me. That is an omen I will never forget! I was really doing this!!!! The next few hours were spent tacking away from land with my fellow racers. We would wave and shout encouragement as our tacks crossed, until finally we all started to disperse onto our individual journeys. The last I saw of any of my compadres was early in the pre-dawn hours on Sunday. Two sailing vessels barely visible except or their nav lights in the foggy darkness. Since then I have not seen a soul (apart from 2 tankers from afar). It has been Haunani and me out here doing the best we can to chart a course across this huge sea.
I am humbled to be able to experience this magic, and to be able to push myself in this way. I am very present in my experience out here, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t counting the miles and hours until I arrive in paradise to see all of my fellow sailors, and especially my Dad. That for me is a vision I will hold in my mind’s eye until I feel his arms around me in Hawaii.