Sail to the North Shore

January 27th, 2021 

I have thoroughly enjoyed living at the Hawaii Yacht Club in Waikiki, but I have been itching to move. The city can be both energizing and draining. At the end of the day, I choose the country. 

When we arrived in Honolulu, I was first formally greeted with the “Aloha” spirit by my friend, Mills. Mills is actually a former Charlestonian, now living and raising his family on the Island of Oahu. On the morning of our arrival, he came down from the North Shore bearing Hawaiian pastries and some mail that I had sent to his house. It had been a while since Mills had been in “town” and he was quick to suggest that I get up to the North Shore ASAP. He looked around at the tall city buildings like they were going to pounce on him at any moment! I was invited to stay with he and his family over the holidays, and I got a taste of what he was talking about. The North Shore is a totally different place. It’s surprisingly rural. I was expecting more development based on all of the hype I’ve heard since I was a child about the “North Shore of Oahu”, the Pipeline and so on. For a place so widely known, it’s still relatively quaint. Mills lives in the town of Hale’iwa (“w’s” make a “v” sound in Hawaiian). There’s small marina in the heart of town. This is where I wanted to be. 

Week after week had passed and I was still at the Aloha dock. By now, I’ve learned how places can become pretty sticky!  I was finally ready to leave when a neighboring boat owner asked for help building a bulkhead in his boat. I was to stay another week and a half to knock that project out. I took the job to help fund a new drone and telephoto lens for Apparent Winds and I should have both of these items aboard J.Henry in less than a week! I finally finished building the bulkhead last Thursday and on Friday I drove up to Hale’iwa to speak with the marina manager. After a bit of negotiation, I got the permission I needed to bring J. Henry up. 

I was thankful to have the help of two of my Aloha dock neighbors for the trip North; an Irish man named Marc, and another American, Graham. Marc had sailed to Hawaii from French Polynesia as well, although he left much earlier than we had. We both love reminiscing on how life was on those islands south of the equator. Graham came to Hawaii on a delivery from Fiji. He had been touring New Zealand before having to leave and then went on to Fiji in hopes of waiting out the Pandemic there. Graham works a quarter of the year in Antarctica, drilling at the south pole for space research. The rest of the year he travels. The two of us are here in Hawaii until June, when our respective ships will sail on. 

I had a pretty good crew in place. Next came the weather. The weather didn’t look perfect. The National Weather service had warned of Gale force winds over the weekend, but I kept a constant eye on things. It didn’t look like it would get much better for another week. When I studied the wind chards, there was a whole lot of red everywhere. As Sunday morning drew nearer, it looked like a window was forming. After obsessive observation of the weather and several discussions with locals, I decided to depart from Honolulu at midnight – Sunday morning. The winds and swell were exciting when we first departed but by the time we rounded the South Western corner of the island, the winds calmed and continued to calm as the morning came. We watched the sunrise over the mountains on the Western coast. With the sunlight came Humpback whales and Spinner Dolphin. 

The most challenging portion of the trip to Hale’iwa, was passing Kaena Point, a notoriously windy area as the mountains funnel the trade winds off the island. The currents here can be pretty darned exciting as well! Luckily as we came around the point, it was calm and beautiful. Just as we were passing the point, I saw what was likely the best whale breach I have seen in my life! This male Humpback whale breached fully out of the water about 30 yards from the boat and fell back into the ocean with a massive splash! It seemed like he was suspended in the air for 10 seconds before returning to the water. This whale then proceeded to slap his tail on the water for another several minutes as we sailed off and he slowly swam on. 

We finally tacked and began the last leg of our journey. With wind on the nose and a desire to get there, we cranked up the diesel and pushed on to Hale’iwa. The last leg was easy. Breakfast, lunch and naps were had and after a small squall sprayed past, we pulled sails down, motored passed the surfers and entered into the harbor. 

Its sweet and quiet here. Graham and Marc have now taken off. I’m planning to take some time to relax, write, and catch up with some work. Of course, I’ll also be trying to peel off every day and paddle out to the surf, enjoy some fresh banana pudding  bread at a local bakery and spend some time with my buddy, Mills, and his family up here. 

Thanks for following,


1 thought on “Sail to the North Shore

  1. Glad you were able to hook up with Mills. Those Buist /Academic Magnet connections run deep.

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