I was terrified as a child after watching a movie in which Bette Davis played both parts as a twin. On one stormy night, she and her twin while sailing were caught in a storm and one of the twins was swept overboard. From that day forward I was afraid of sailing and stormy seas. Whether this event was the cause of my fear or whether the event triggered a past life fear is unknown. At any rate, my fear was real and I knew I never wanted to be on a sail boat.
When I was stationed in Viet Nam in 1969 and dating a Navy Lt. who taught sailing down at the Qui Nhon beach, I decided that it was time to get over this fear. At every spare time off, we would swim out to the moored Rhodes 19 and board her. After a few sessions I was hooked, and while all the seas in the bay were calm, I was having feelings of wanting to learn more and go farther than the machine gunned patrol boats would let us. Then one day while lying on the beach, off on the horizon I saw a large sailing vessel. I sat up and wondered who would be sailing off shore in a combat zone? Wouldn’t it be fun to sail on a large ocean? Had they seen me lying on the beach they would have wondered why was this lady sun bathing on a remote beach at a Leprosarium in a combat zone?
Jean, my twin, was a Captain in the Army stationed at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu. She was learning to sail and had bought a Cal 20. As twins go, we both sent each other letters across the Pacific Ocean saying, “guess what I am learning to do”?
Mike, an old salt, learned to sail at age 19, was a retired Air Force Captain and Captain of the Hickam AF Base’s 40 ft Tamerlane Ketch. He ran day sails for the military. His life long dream was always to sail across the ocean, but when asked why hadn’t he done it. He would reply, I haven’t found anyone that I would be compatible with for that long a time.
By the time I got to Hawaii in 1978, Jean was a civilian, married and a mother of 7 year old daughter, Erin. She had her Captain’s license. Jean jointly owned a Cal 2-27 but, upon my arrival, we bought a Pacific Seacraft 25 together, named Double Trouble. We all had taken numerous courses in seamanship, celestial navigation and diesel mechanics from the Pacific Maritime Academy and the Bishop Museum. Mike owned a Cal 29 and all of us were members of the Waikiki Yacht Club.
In 1979 I started looking for a good ocean sailing sloop that I could live aboard and keep for a retirement boat. That’s when Sabra sailed in from the South Pacific and I fell in love with her at first glance. The previous owner had renamed his Swan 36. At first she was named, Mi Novia. His Jewish fiancée was in the Israeli Army and after she was killed in the 6 Day War, he renamed her Sabra, which refers to a woman soldier in the military. How perfect was this Swan? With a fitting name, she was tailor made for all my dreams and life style.
I had my retirement boat, and in 1982 I knew I’d be getting orders sometime during the summer. I asked Jean and Mike to go with me and there was no hesitation on anyone’s reply. We all had sailed many a mile together, so compatibility was not an issue. The issue was to convince the Chief PT at the Surgeon’s Generals Office in Washington DC, to write orders for me to go to Tacoma, Washington, so we could all sail there. We had lots to do to get Sabra ship shape for this upcoming voyage, so we started making out our lists and checking them off.
I was confident that I would get my first choice of assignments, as I always had my whole career. The orders never came, but I never gave up hope and finally 6 weeks before our departure I got my orders. I flew over to Tacoma, bought a house, flew back and we were on our countdown. The car got shipped and would be there waiting for me, the new house was ready when we arrived. The furniture scheduled for delivery, but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. We still have to sail across the Pacific Ocean.
Sabra is a Sparkman Stephens designed Swan 36, built in Finland by Nautor. Her hull number is 74 and 100 were made, but some were lost in a factory fire, so the final total was about 90. Some were shipped to Michigan and sold as Palmer Johnson PJ 36. She is long, sleek and a fabulous sailing vessel. She is made for the north seas and she is capable of handling any storm. The bigger the wind, the better she sails. She can carry lots of sail. She is safe and I had no hesitation to sail her on the open ocean. The previous owner had made 2 south pacific trips from California on her before bringing into Hawaii Dec 1979. By 1 July 1982 everything is done and we are on our final countdown. We leave in 2 days.
|Haulout and Survey Honolulu 1979|
An Exciting Day
3 July 82- A wonderful farewell champagne party was held at La Mariana Sailing Club, Keehi Lagoon near Honolulu Harbor, Island of Oahu, Sabra and Hira’s home port. Many tears, joy, sadness, but there was a prevailing spirit of adventure, pride and admiration. I was leaving beautiful Hawaii, where I had been living aboard Sabra and had been stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center for 4 years. I was sailing to my new duty station in Washington.
Dr. Mitsuo Aoki delivered the blessing while well wishers watched.
Aloha Oi was sung; well wishers were hugged and kissed. Mike, Jean and Hira boarded Sabra, untied her dock lines and departed LMSC, at 1200 hrs. The leeward Keehi Lagoon was calm, however gale warnings were in effect, 35 knot winds and 22 ft seas awaited us outside the reef. Mike had the first watch, then Jean and next me. We would have 4 hour watches with 2, 2 hour dog watches at 1600-1800 and 1800-2000hrs. We would rotate around the clock 24 hours a day, someone was always on watch.
the "B" is for Hira's watch
Two boats joined the exodus. The friends on a Morgan 30 followed us as far as Pearl Harbor and another boat went as far as Pokai Bay on the western shore of Oahu. We are enjoying the blanketed gale on this lee side of the island and have calm seas and light winds of 13-20 mph winds.
|Hira, Mike, Jean|
Where did the waterline go?
|Underway along lee shore Oahu|
|Moving right along|
|3 July- Breaking Seas Reef Runway Honolulu|
At 1800 hrs we are approaching Kaena Point and put a reef in the main and still have her working jib up. This is in preparation as we pass Kaena point and face the full force of the gale force NE trade winds. At this point we will fall off to adjust our course for a broad reach run to the island of Kauai. One needs to sail west to Kauai to gain westing, so when we depart on our northerly course out of Hanalei Bay, Kauai we will have the pacific high well to the north and east of us. The intention is to hold a northerly course of about 1000 miles on starboard tack until you pick up the westerly’s, then reach off towards Cape Flattery and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It sounds so easy.
|Early reef and Anchorage at Hanalei Bay, Kauai|
4 July- 0700 hrs After sailing along the north shore of Kauai we enter Hanalei Bay. My favorite thing to do along this famous coastline is begin playing the soundtrack from South Pacific. The movie was made in Hanalei Bay and Bali Hi is playing, as we enter. This anchorage is the best in the Hawaiian Islands and my favorite to come and hang out. We anchor with bow and stern anchors, make coffee and have cereal. We fall asleep for a short nap. We have friends who live on the island and others have flown over so we row in and have a great beach party. Afterwards we return to Sabra and tend to some chores:
1. Relash hard dinghy-Ilimetto on deck
2 re-track the gear on Humpback the auto pilot
3. Replace a screw on the wind vane Freddy
4. Discover a lost cotter pin on port clevis pin for shroud.
Swan 36 has aerodynamically foiled solid Stainless Steel Rod rigging. So, basically the entire shroud is tightened or loosened like a turnbuckle. Which means you have to have someone at the top of the mast and someone at the base and they turn the whole rod for adjustments? This is something I didn’t want to do at sea and was done earlier.
Honolulu( Keehi Lagoon) to Hanalei Bay, Kauai.
~129nm in 18 hrs- Average 7.16 knots
A note for future postings: The log book, of course, covered 24 hours for each day; 0000hrs(midnight) to 2400hrs(midnight). A Latitude/Longitude was recorded in the log every hour, while our noon position each day was plotted on the master chart and may have been a Dead Reckoning position(DR), a noon sight, or a Loran Fix,