Saturday, September 17, 2011

Uncle Saint in Hawaii: Dolphin Stampede

After two days in dry dock refitting the hull and keel, Uncle Saint and his companions set off for Tahiti once again. For two days they had fabulous sailing in their 33 foot boat, then heavy swells.
The days and nights began to merge with one another.

There was one night, however, which I shall never forget. I was standing watch, alone, about 2 AM. There wasn't a breath of air and, for once, the sea was glassy calm. Although all possible sail was up, we were "ghosting", or standing practically still. In memory of Dr. Van der werff I was actively engaged in "sokuten kyoshi" ( self-detachment in pursuit of heaven), when far off in the distance I heard the rhythmic sound of breakers. I knew we were nowhere near land, so I assumed a major squall was approaching and lowered the main.

The noise drew closer and closer but there was still no breath of wind and, I swear to God, I thought we were going to be hit by a tidal wave. I was about to go below to waken the others when the sea around us literally erupted with the bodies of over a thousand porpoises. They leaped and cavorted in absolute perfect unison - and the full moon reflecting off their flashing eyes and phosphorescent wake made it seem like we were surrounded by an underwater Milky Way.

The came so close to the boat I could have touched them --indeed, some of them actually nudged us ( I found out later they do this to rub the barnacles, etc, off their backs). There is no way in the world to describe this spectacle. I thought, afterwards, that they were like violin players in a symphony orchestra - performing the most incredible tricks while bowing in perfect unison. But a symphonic score lacks the sweeping grand loneliness of the ocean, and violin players lack the grace and power of porpoises. I sat there for an hour after they had gone, drenching wet and shaking. I could not think. "Vot comes to mind?"

After the night the ocean "exploded in his face" Uncle Saint and his passengers drifted into the full-scale doldrums. Someone tossed a paper plate overboard and watched it drift forward and out of sight. The decision was made to return to Hawaii where Uncle Saint helped his old friend John Honl with his charter marlin boat business. He moved into a small apartment with roommates and cockroaches.

I won't say we had a lot of cockroaches, but one morning I found an albino and this only happens once in 10,000,000 births!

I missed living in the yacht harbor though. The life, sights and sounds there were other worldly. I love to watch the tall masts rocking back and forth--scribbling the sky, The long drawn out belching sounds of the mooring lines as the boats strain against the docks. The incredible array of ragamuffin I shipped out again and went back to Kona where I have spent the last week diving for slate-urchin spines.

The price is $50 per thousand and I have 6,000 of them in a big reeking sack at my feet. The wind has picked up a little and it's my turn at the wheel,Ma. We'll be back in time for the surfing championships and I am entered.

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