It’s been 50 days since J. Henry and crew sailed into Honolulu, Hawaii. Sailing towards the tall glass buildings, reflecting the reds and yellows in the morning sunrise, was a strange but welcome sight. This is the largest city I have seen since Panama. What was strange, was that we were still in Polynesia. Even the capitol city of Papeete, Tahiti, only feels like a big town in comparison. I had been reading books about Polynesian history; about the voyagers and navigators that discovered the Islands that compose Polynesia. Hawaii was, by far, the furthest North, and also one of the last archipelagos to be discovered. What made this destination even more exciting for me, is that it’s widely believed that Hawaii was discovered and colonized by the Marquesan people. After 9 months in French Polynesia, the Marquesas stole my heart. Of all the islands we had sailed through, they absolutely take the cake. So, we sailed to Hawaii on a route that could have been very similar to the route her founders sailed. The route was simple – sail due North, cross the equator and then turn West when we hit the NE trades, they’ll blow us straight to our destination (and so they did). The wind was on our beam or our aft quarter the entire way. The sail was wet but easy. It’s funny how 17 days at sea becomes a casual cruise after a year of constant sailing.
Our arrival in Honolulu was sweet. We needed to find a slip in the early morning and we had read that Hawaii Yacht Club (HYC) was a good place to land. Of course, we hadn’t made arrangements, and the pandemic added its usual sprinkle of uncertainty. As we slowly puttered past HYC, the big red digital clock on the second floor read 7:30:00. We got on the phone and began making calls. One number to the next, we eventually got a hold of the port captain and after a bit of pleading, we were granted permission to raft up on the Aloha dock. We had finally landed back into the United States. The Aloha dock is where J. Henry and I have been living since.
The Aloha dock embodies the spirit of its name. Here I have found a surprisingly fun, friendly and welcoming community. Boats are usually rafted 3-deep, which could easily be a social disaster. Luckily our neighbors have been fantastic. I find myself today, surrounded by good friends. We make meals together, go sailing together and we’re planning trips together. In my immediate proximity, we’re all in our 30s. What are the chances?
Zach took off shortly after our arrival. Since his departure I have been hard at work aboard J. Henry. I’ve been repairing, restoring and improving things nearly every day. Dockage isn’t cheap here, so I have wanted to make the most of the full workshop that is provided under the club. Here I also have the help of many good sailors with plenty of tools and a willingness to help with the heavy lifting for the price of a cold beer. Now, after a month and some change, I am ready to sail again.
Now to catch up with the basis of our work, the mission of Apparent Winds. Although French Polynesia was dreamy, after 9 months, it was difficult to find new content for our project and the language barrier hindered us plenty more. Hawaii has been a gale of fresh air! Hawaii is home to a plethora of organizations and individuals who are conducting research all over the world and who have developed highly impactful environmental and cultural restoration programs. There is plenty for Apparent Winds to learn and document here. I have already conducted some fantastic interviews and my calendar is now filling up for the coming weeks and months!
With J. Henry looking and feeling her best, I’m ready to sail. As soon as the next weather window permits, I’ll be sailing to the North Shore. I’ll spend a week or so there. I’ll have good friends nearby, great surf and a quiet place to catch up on reading, writing and film. From there I will likely get back into the swing of inter-island sailing. A neighbor at the Aloha dock and I are planning about a month or so of sailing which will begin in mid-February. We will sail through all of the islands windward of Oahu and finally land on the Big Island of Hawaii. Maybe it will take two weeks. It might take two months. We shall see. This brings me to my last update… Alaska!
After a whole lot of thought, I have decided that the best route from Hawaii and for the remainder of 2021 doesn’t begin with San Francisco. Instead, J. Henry will be sailing North, to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. In order to wait for the proper weather window (I hear it’s pretty cold up there right now), J. Henry will remain in the Hawaiian Islands for the next 4 months. In that time I will be preparing for a June departure to the higher latitudes. For the first time on this journey since departing Charleston, we will be sailing out of warm tropical waters and into a land of icebergs and grislily bears. The sail to the Aleutian Islands will be nearly due North. As of now, we are planning to land in Dutch Harbor, the largest fishery in the United States. From there we will sail East past Kodiak and across the Gulf of Alaska towards Juno and finally through the Inside Passage and South along the West coast of North America. In October and November, we will be passing through Central America and finally in late November or early December, J. Henry will once again transit the Panama Canal and sail straight for South Carolina. I’ll be home for Christmas.
When I say, “We will be sailing”, I mean myself, J. Henry, and the addition of various crew members along the way. Over the next month or two I’ll be putting a detailed itinerary and crew manifest together. I’m thrilled to be able to share the second half of this voyage with many others.
Although our plans have totally changed, this has still been an incredible journey. Every day I am blown away. I constantly struggle to convey how sweet this experience has been. There’s a whole lot more to come as well. It should be shared. I’m forever grateful to those who have made this possible, those who believe in the mission and those of you who continue to follow the journey.
So, I’ll be trying to keep up with the writing. I have so much more to cover! Also, check out our Instagram @apparentwinds for updates, pictures, video and so forth.
Thanks for keeping up with Apparent Winds!
Below: sailing into Honolulu and sailing past the infamous Diamond Head – Both photos from the morning of our arrival to Hawaii.