4 comments July 21st, 2010
4 comments July 21st, 2010
Colorful sails skimmed across the water in Kaneohe Bay this weekend as the racing season got underway. Two different races were taking place near one spot, making it appear as though the boats were running into one another. They were taking slightly different patterns in their wind-powered circuits. We were close enough to wave but no one collided.
Several bright yellow buoys are placed around the bay with big, black letters on them (A-F). Each race involves a different order of which buoys to go around and an indication of whether you pass on the port or starboard side. Over the summer, races are held several times a month. The races are an opportunity to practice boating skills while enjoying an afternoon on the water and the companionship of other sailors.
Because this was the first weekend of racing, the yacht club had a boat blessing. A local minister led boaters in a prayer for safe travels then visited individual boats to bless them with water from a koa bowl with palm leaves. Club members have both sail and power boats that were blessed if the owners wished.
Blessings are customary at many beginnings in Hawaii: ground-breakings, building moves, or season openings — even government projects. Rather than a conflict between church and state, they are considered a sign of community. Boaters don’t have to agree on theological matters to join in a common wish that everyone returns to safe harbor with vessel and crew intact.
Add comment March 16th, 2010
Paddling is a way to play on the water in Hawaii. This appears to be a family outing — mom on a stand-up paddle and dad in a kayak with the kids. I saw them from the sailboat as we toured Kaneohe Bay. We often see stand-up paddlers quite far out on the bay. The water is fairly calm most of the time inside the bay. Also, some head out to the sand bar — a spot in the bay where the sand is just below the surface of the water most of the time. People get out and walk around on it, playing football or throwing frisbees.
This outing caught my attention for several reasons. First, there are many more ways to enjoy the water than I would ever have imagined, not having lived near an ocean before. Second, the big ocean waves don’t hit directly on the shore in all places in Hawaii. Bays like this one are protected from the waves. In other areas, the water near the shore is still fairly calm – surfers go a ways out to meet the big waves. That allows even beginners to explore paddling or wind surfing or kite boarding in relatively safer waters. Third, there are lessons in every imaginable activity available on beaches popular with tourists, such as Waikiki and Kailua. You can rent all the equipment you’ll need to enjoy the water in a new way.
Finally, note that the kids are wearing life jackets, everyone is wearing rashies (tops with sleeves) and hats for sun protection, and they are watching out for one another. As accessible as the sea is, accidents can happen anywhere. Prudence is always in season.
Add comment February 21st, 2010
Some people in Hawaii learn to sail fairly early. Young sailors in small boats skillfully maneuvered around Kaneohe Bay this weekend, wrapping up the season of races for the Hawaii Youth Sailing Association. It is amazing to watch them pilot their small boats, switching the sail from side to side to catch the wind, quickly ducking beneath the boom as it passes over their heads and switching the position of the tiller behind their backs. It is a complicated move that they have obviously practiced many times.
The group of sailors from several yacht clubs was divided by age and skill level. We watched the youngest and newest sailors on what are called training races. They coped with too little wind, too much wind, drifting start lines and friendly but determined competitors. Some had mechanical problems — sails that came loose, fittings that broke. Most were still able to sail into port on their own, displaying remarkable composure.
Sailing is an equal opportunity sport: it doesn’t matter how big you are, or if you are male or female. Girls were equally represented in the competitors and in the plaques handed out at the end of the day. The smallest and youngest girl started the day falling out of her boat when it overturned during the practice run. She was too light to flip it back over the way the other sailors did (several went upside down during the course of the day, figuring out how to turn your boat over and get back in is a required skill). One of the older boys swam over to help her right the boat. She still finished every race on her own power, including the last run with pretty high winds.
The day was entertaining and I learned two things. First, the sailing season is over for the winter — this was the last HYSA race and the Friday evening races at Waikiki have also stopped for the season. Second, when you start sailing around the bay, avoiding coral, or navigating waves off Waikiki as a pre-teen, responsible for your own safety and that of your boat, sailing across the ocean doesn’t seem like such an impossible undertaking. My guess is that it is sailors like these we watched Sunday who later pilot boats in the Trans Pac or Pacific Cup races to Hawaii.
Also, Pacific Cup will start July 5, 2010 in San Francisco and end in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Mark your calendars!
1 comment October 12th, 2009