This was boat trip day. Which was something not planned before I came to the island. Between the flyers near the baggage claim at the Lihue airport and the travel book, it was a sorta a last minute decision. It ended up being a good choice.
I booked a tour with Captain Andy’s called the Star Na Pali Snorkel BBQ Sail. It was on a 65’ catamaran that sailed from Eleele to the Na Pali Coast and lasted about five and a half hours. I had to be at the pier at 8am, so it was my first and only time in Kauai when I HAD to get up early to be somewhere. I didn’t mind, between my insomnia and still adjusting to the time zone, it wasn’t difficult getting up. What I DID mind was the fact that I had to take a cold shower before I left.
Show up at the pier: check. Board the boat: check. Go down below to drop off my stuff: check: Realize, after looking at everyone else’s pile of crap that I’m the only a-hole to forget a towel: check. Break out camera to ready for cruise: check. Place camera on waxed table: check. Apply sun screen while boat begins cruise: check.
The boat took a small wave and the camera slid off the table like it was greased and landed on the deck. I suppose it could have been worse. The lens could have been damaged or the camera could have been left not functional. One of the crew members had been a witness to this disaster and asked if the camera was ok. I smiled. What could I say. Yes, I replied, everything’s fine.
The camera had landed on the Mode Dial and broke it. The indicator label had came off and I couldn’t tell which shooting mode it was in unless I used the back LCD screen. Also, if I barely touched it, the camera would go from Aperture Priority to Shutter Priority. This would be kinda of an issue with the way I shoot.
And this was a recurring theme of the whole trip: a setback that tested me and my resolve.
The first stop on the sail was a snorkeling spot. When I booked the cruise, I was unsure about this part of the whole tour. I had never been snorkeling before and never really had a desire to do so. Don’t ask me why because I didn’t really know. Still, on that morning, I was in the herd and began to get ready to go snorkeling for the first time; googles, snorkel, and fins. Ok, I can do this.
The first thing I saw was a school of Black Triggerfish. They seemed indifferent to the odd looking beast swimming above them. Me, on the other hand, was exposed to this brand new world of sights I had never experienced before. The water was clear and the floor was only 30 – 40 feet below. I was amazed at how much I could see.
The crew member overseeing all the lame tourists snorkeling called out, “Turtle!” I somehow heard this and surfaced to see where she was pointing. Swimming in that direction and following the rest of the herd, I saw it – a Honu aka Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle swimming in the ocean. On my Big Island trip, I had seen them on the beach, but now I was up close and personal to one swimming in the ocean. These were the guys I had seen laying on a beach on the Big Island with the signs reading ‘Please Don’t Ride the Turtles.’
The snorkeling thing was a bit awkward for me. I had to force myself to breathe through my mouth and not my nose. When I couldn’t, I had to surface and reorientate myself. It was a mental exercise to actually relax my instincts to allow me to breathe through my mouth alone. Eventually, I grew tired of this exercise and climbed back on board, shedding my gear. However, the captain of the boat asked me if I was interested in diving of the boat if he opened a gate on the railing. So yeah, I did that a few times. Oh, I wouldn’t want my dives scored, but it was fun to dive into the open water with no gear and swim free to only do it again and again.
After the snorkeling, the boat headed back up the coast. On the way, we passed some of Hawaii’s aquatic life. In the distance, we saw a couple mama and calf Humpback whales. The captain and crew would scan the waters looking for them (how they spotted them, I have no idea) and then point them out to the rest of us land lovers. He would never get close those, saying he wanted to give them plenty of space. Not so with the dolphins! We came across a large pod of Spinner Dolphins that were swimming in the opposite direction. They are called spinner dolphins because when they jump out of the water, they spin their whole bodies in the air. While, I sat on the netting on the front of the catamaran to get close ups, I wasn’t ready with the camera in time to catch the one and only time I saw one of the dolphins do this. Sigh.
About thirty minutes before we arrived at the point where we’d turn back around, the seas were a bit rough. From I heard from the crew, we were sailing into an 18mph headwind with about 8’ seas. The captain did his best to try to keep catamaran from bouncing too much, but there was only so much he could do. I wanted to stand at the front of the ship to get the full effect of the roller coaster, yet the results were a large amount of sea-spray. Since I didn’t want to get my camera wet (I had already broke it) and I hadn’t brought a change of clothes or a towel, I opted to stay inside. Yet, I did feel sorry for those who couldn’t handle the seas. I witnessed at least two persons hanging their heads over the side. One young woman looked like she had made the greatest mistake in her life. There was no way she would eat lunch.
To see the Cathedrals of the Na Pali Coast up close was breathtaking. This was the view I had wanted from the air. This is what I had wanted to shot. Even from the sea, it was amazing even though a low cloud cover made it not as picturesque as I had envisioned.
This was the turning point. The boat turned around to head back to port. The sail was raised and the heavy seas were no longer an issue. Lunch consisting of burgers and fixings were served. The ride was now smooth and easy. The sun was out, the sky was clear, and this white boy got some sun.
I have to say taking the cruise was the thing that brought this trip out of the depths of why-did-I-even-come-here. After this tour, I felt great. I felt like it was all worth it, weather be damned. I felt positive about the upcoming helicopter tour.
Yeah, my camera broke, but it was still functional – kinda. I had two more days. I could make this work.