Return from Paradise – Kauai to California

September 2016: Shaman, a 1960’s era Cal 40, found herself in Nawiliwili Harbor, Kauai in need of passage back home to Santa Cruz after competing in the Single Handed Transpac with her owner, Tom Burden, senior editor of the West Advisor series.

This beautiful lady was a joy to sail. After a few days of provisioning, route planning, and getting Shaman ready for the transpacific trek, and on the heels of back to back Hurricanes Madeline and Lester, we set out. It was a balmy Thursday evening at dusk. The better part of valor, I thought, would be a bright and early morning departure with time to put our gear bags away. One of the crew, Ryan Finn, rock star solo sailor, phenomenal human being and now strategic business partner, held fast that it’s bad luck to leave for a passage on a Friday so it’s now or Saturday morning, and we left.

The first 36 hours of pounding through the renowned Hawaiian surf were rugged and wet. I’ll admit, now, to feeling a bit green during that time. The next 16 days looked like floating garbage; birds; sail changes; reefing; unreefing; varying weather patterns and winds; three hours on watch, six hours off; swapping stories; one Panamanian freighter; a black and white moon-bow; more floating garbage; and endless laughter. 17 days on the water was the best time for reflection time and clarity on Earth. It was also a LONG time without a shower. Every few days I chased the boys down below and had what Ryan dubbed “spa day”. Bucket of sea water and bar of soap day would have been more accurate, but not as catchy. Conditioning out the developing dreadlocks and shaving the legs was therapeutic. Most of the trip we were healing to starboard so hard the head wouldn’t flush and we had to hang on to keep from falling out the doorless head opening, so “pampering” spa day was even more appreciated.

Like life in the ER there were hours and days of “boredom” punctuated with moments of terror. Every line on Shaman was repaired and whipped and soft shackles replaced metal as they broke. The boys would merrily say, “Only 500 more miles!” And I would say, dejectedly, “Awww. Only 500 more miles.” On day 17 we finally saw whales, dolphins, and other boats. I had budgeted for 17 days on the water. We pulled into the harbor entrance, to the sound of sea lions and the owner yelling our names from the sea wall, at 16 days, 23 hours, 55 minutes and were met in Shaman‘s slip with hugs and champagne. Yes, I took a shower that very night after regaling Tom with tales of our adventure.

This was an absolutely life changing, incredible adventure. I learned so much from Ryan, a young, old, salty sea dog, fantastic teacher and fabulous mentor, who I would sail anywhere in the world with under any conditions on any boat. I am the luckiest girl in the world and so thankful to everyone I met and learned from along the way. I love doing this. This is a service that I offer. If you have a boat you need moved and want to talk, contact me.

Leave a Comment