Sunset from Maui

They say there are only two kinds of blue water cruisers;
those who have gone aground- and those who will.

As we add (yet another) trial to our Big Bag of Experience,
the circumstances surrounding the fiasco actually taught us way more than just what to do when your boat runs aground.

( stay calm, think it through, don't just gun into forward, use the waves to help you if you can, make sure you can see your way out of the rocks before you start driving...)

Jon did all of these things and I credit his cool approach and our Lucky Stars for the fact that we did not lose our boat that night.

I think the Universe had even bigger lessons in store of us, though
and the conflicts we encountered in the events that followed,
gave us the chance to broaden our perspective and practice a little "Noble Strategy".

Now, I'm not a full-on Buddhist exactly but I do appreciate the wisdom of trying to find a way to suffer less, 
and not chew off your own tongue at night because you are so anxious or depressed.

There's a concept in Buddhism called the Eight Fold Path and it was definitely one of Buddhas "big thoughts" on how to be groovy and Noble- a quality that is by definition, totally rad and yet these days, it seems to have an undeservedly wussy reputation.

(I think we could change the world, if only acting noble could be perceived as being as cool as having a fancy car or washboard abs)

Nobleness is pretty much the corner stone of everything Buddha thought was dope.

You can look it up, if your interested (in more than my barely literate understanding of it),
but the basic gist of the Eight Fold Path is;

Find a way to Happiness, by practicing "right" View, Intention, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Concentrationwhen one is dealing with the pile of crap one is sometimes handed in this life.

(and this entails something entirely different than thinking you are always "right")

These are ways of behaving that lead one out of being super pissed off and reactionary and into a nice calm cove of not making things worse for yourself or others.

If it seems like I'm off topic here, let me explain how running aground brought us to a higher understanding of these Buddhist precepts.

Waking up  on the rocks in Lahiana was defiantly one of the most terrifying and stressful experiences we've ever had on our boat.
It was compounded by the fact that both our children and my wonderful and very non-sailor-like mother-in-law, also got to share in our middle of the night, cotton-mouth-making, life-threatening terror-which was subsequently followed by three sleepless nights, of wondering if our boat was going to sink out from under us (due to the slow leak we could not identify after the accident) as we limped the remaining hundred miles on to Ohau, crossing notoriously rough channels on a boat, with a compromised keel and rudder...

The next morning, after the incident,  Jon dove under the boat and got a look at what our damage was, he decided to bring the frayed rope from the decrepit mooring ( that was still attached to our lines on deck) into the yacht club so they could see what was what- and let them know right away, so this wouldn't happen to someone else.

What went down next was inexplicable and crazy-making but as my great grandfather, Ol' Henry J,  liked to say;
'Problems are just opportunities in work clothes".

We arrived at the yacht club  and were greeted by the secretary who was very cold and acted as if nothing had happened.

She was incredibly curt and when we asked her if she had received our email ( as no one had responded to it)
she ignored the question and simply asked if we would be leaving that afternoon and then shook our hand like we were pariahs, told us,"it was nice to meet you" and then turned around and marched back into her office.

Jon and I were so weirded out we just sort of wandered out of the club and onto the street.

It was a million degrees outside and pink, puffy tourists were streaming around the sidewalks and we stood there for a moment dazed and confused and feeling really, really upset.

How could they not even care?

This was their mooring and we could have lost our boat.
Surely a Yacht club would feel kinda bad about that, right?

Litigious thoughts began swirling around...
Anger rose in our hearts and bad vibes clouded our intentions.

We decided to go back into the club and see if we could find someone to talk to.

The day before, we had come in and had a lovely dinner and spent a good whack of our almost-no-cash, ordering snacks and trying to find some willing ear to listen to us blabber about all the cruising we had just done.

(we are still so new at all this that getting to sit at a bar with other sailors and talk about adventures, is a big, romantic deal for us)

We had met a really nice, long time, club member and chatted with her for awhile and today, we saw she was again at her post at the bar,  so we sidled up and sort of found our way into regurgitating (in as non-accusational a way as possible) what had happened to us the night before .

She was shocked

"You went aground on our mooring!!!?" 

We nodded, appreciating her concern.
It had been terribly upsetting after all.

"That's awful...did you tell the Commodore?"

"No", we said and then told her about the secretary and how she had been a bit of a cow to us.

At that very moment, the Commodore came in and stepped up to the bar and the nice club member took it upon herself to introduce  us.

He was looking at us with this odd grin and we expected  he would offer some sheepish sympathy and be grateful we were alerting him to the problem with their moorings- or at the very least, offer to buy us lunch.

''re the ones who came off the mooring and ended up on the rocks?' he snorted, eyeing us like a couple of grifters up to tricks.

"Yes" Jon said with measured pleasantness.
"We went aground last night after your mooring parted…"

To our utter amazement, the Commodore LAUGHED.

"Yeah, it is not even our mooring. The line you brought in?
It's not the kind we use, so I don't know what your doing but
its nothing to do with us...."

He laughed again and then turned away and ordered a beer.

Jon and I were shocked.

( so was the poor club member who had introduced us)

There was not one ounce of compassion, not a single thought  or question or concern for our or our children's safety,
or the condition of our boat...
AND he seemed to think we were up to something!

There were a LOT of things we wanted to say right then but we didn't want to upset the nice people in the club who
had nothing to do with what had happened- so we went back to the boat and regrouped.

We have learned to slow down and not react until you assess the situation-this is what living on a boat does to you.

It works great when your on the rocks and it works even better when you really want to punch someone in the face.

The fact that the Commodore was acting strangely was obvious-what that was all about wasn't clear.

All we could look at was where WE are and figure out the best actions for US to take.

It was a deeply sucky thing to happen at the end of such a long trip. We have always been so careful, re-achoring over and over until we are set, moving out of anchorages in the middle of the night if the wind changes, checking and rechecking our gear...and we've never had a problem.

Sure, we felt the club bore responsibility for their negligence and the manner with which we were being handled was super upsetting but the fact was, we still had to sort out our boat and how we were going to get safely to Ohau and hauled out and inspected

Our insurance deductible is 2900.00 bucks, 
which is about the sum total of our net worth right now...

What good was going to come of getting all heated and upset about things?

In our lives, there are also little eyes and ears watching all the time, what was goes down and our actions directly influence the behaviors we impart on our kids.

So we mutually decided ( by force of will) to behave with "right"action.

We would just take care of our own stuff and take things one step at a time, be grateful no one was hurt, not paint anybody with a big fat brush of mistrust ( everyone else we had met in Hawaii so far was great), and not let anger get the better of us.

It was a chalky, hard pill to swallow but we did our best.

While Jon went ashore to make arrangements with the Harbor Master to inspect our boat
( the Marina in Ohau won't allow any uninspected vessels into their slips so the Lahiana harbormaster kindly offered to do this for us, to save us the hassle when we got there),
I took all my anger and frustration at the unfairness of what was going on and marched up to our foredeck to attempt a little meditation in order to get some perspective on the big WHY.

Why now?
Why like this?
Why when we have no money to deal with all of this?
Why was that guy being such a total jerk?

I don't always have profound meditations;
Sometimes I get distracted and think about surfing,
or my feet fall asleep, or I can't focus or let go...

But this time, a message floated up from my consciousness,
with in big, bold, letters, like the blimp over the half time show at the Super Bowl, complete with flashing neon lights;


 ( my Buddha nature has kind of a Budweiser slogan sort of tone and is not very fancy about things)

I opened my eyes ( and I swear this is exactly how it happened), looked out at the water, and a little farther over in the mooring fieldI saw Jon in the Harbor Master's boat.

They were checking out the broken mooring we had come off and taking pictures.

I wondered what was up.

Five hours later, Jon returned to the boat.

Apparently, the Harbor Master, a big, serious, Hawaiian guy, who was stern but fair and completely professional...
had talked to the Commodore and not liked the conversation very much. It seems other yachts had broken from their mooring before and one ketch had been lost entirely just two years ago...
So he decided to do some checking up on the circumstances himself.

He sent Jon out with his guys to verify the facts 
and that noted that we had indeed  been on a mooring with the LYC 3# clearly painted on the side, when the line had given way due to improper maintenance.

They confirmed that they had some previous concerns about how the club had been maintaining their moorings, they didn't like how we were being treated, or the fact that our children could have been hurt or that any of this could come back on them, they also already had kind of a sense of us and that we were nice people, because we had  been the office lots of times over the previous few days, filling out paperwork and asking questions and we had chatted with everybody about how awesome Polynesia is and talked about fishing and music and food and you know, just seemed like decent folks,  i guess.

Hawaiians are cool. 

They don't like a bunch of ruckus or headaches and I think they appreciated that we were not getting super inflamed.

Like all the Polynesians we have met so far, they are also total badasses and if they have your back, you're in good hands.

Long story short,  Harbor Master and the Department of Land and resources couldn't have been nicer, offering to help us out any way they can and wanting us to let them know, if we get any hassle from the LYC or their insurance.

(they also told us they thought we should pass the deductible on to the responsible party)

As Jon was climbing back into our dingy to out to our boat, 
another member from the yacht club who had heard about what happened to us, approached him.

"I just heard about what happened. I'm so sorry... is everybody okay?"

The guy was really nice and sincere and Jon told him we were all fine. The dude commiserated (genuinely) and recommended a good yard in Ohau for repairs-and offered to help us find work if we needed jobs while we are visiting Hawaii.

He handed Jon his card and insisted that we call if we need anything or he could help in any way.

Jon told me the days events over a cold beer when he got back to the boat and I told him about my meditation and the message I got from it.

Jon smiled and handed me the card from the friendly guy on the dock, embossed under the guy's name, in big, bold, letters it said;


Noble strategy, man...
it's definitely the real deal.


We managed to sail into Oahu, get ourselves into an insanely expensive slip ( but the cheapest available), said our sad goodbyes to G-ma Sara and put her in a Taxi, getting her off to the airport, with not a minute to spare before her flight...

We walked back to the boat and our new reality began to sink in.

For the first time in years…
we are plugged into shore power, a fresh water hose is within arms reach, we can walk to Macy's, order a pizza and have it delivered right to the boat, our beloved stars wink at us though a canopy of skyscrapers and it's a three minute walk from our decks to the awesome surf break on Waikiki beach

it feels like the beginning of another adventure.

Smooth sailing to Molokai

Passing Diamond Head on approach to Oahu

The new digs…..view from our foredeck
...and from our stern
Hunter's amazed to find out we will see  the fireworks from the Hilton EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT
right from our cockpit.

We love you G-ma Sara.


  1. Wow. What a story! Can't wait to hear what happens next! Crazy story, and so sorry to hear that it has put a damper on the end of your wonderful voyage. Keep well.

  2. You gave me goose bumps with this beautiful and powerful story.. thank you once again for the inspiration to carry on through these crazy days with a sense of calm and understanding. xo