Sunday, September 8, 2013

Honolulu sailing: Better late than Never.

With an average rainfall of 18.29 inches per year, it is unlikely that you will get rained out in Honolulu. For comparison's sake, my hometown of Miami clocks in at 58.53. This was repeatedly pointed out to me, a couple of years ago, as I sat indoors watching it pour during the time that I should have been sipping mai tai's on a sunset sail.

I had done all of the the research before arriving on the island and had sold about a dozen people on the idea. Based on both their price ($30 including unlimited drinks) and excellent reviews, I had booked all of us aboard the Na Hoku II. On the given day, I had taken "it's only a passing cloud" as my infallible mantra. I may have done an anti-rain dance.  It did no good. In the end, we were all left sodden and minus one dazzling sunset (but not exactly thirsty, luckily, you can still get those mai tai's on land).
Fast forward to earlier this week. We land in Honolulu with no real plan on hand.  It is a picture perfect day. It is the ideal chance for a do-over.  Or it would be, had I pre-arranged something.

There are probably around 8-10 catamarans that do daily sunset sails, yet even in the middle of the week, they all tend to sell out.  I tried calling the Na Hoku and leaving a voicemail message to check on availability.  When twenty minutes later, they hadn't responded, I called again. And again.  I was the jilted lover of everyone's nightmares. "Hey, hi.  It's me, Berti, again.  Just checking to see if you called.  My, uh, reception is not so good here, so I thought I might have missed your call. Guess not. Call me back. Mahalo."

After an hour or so of this, I switched to the "many fish in the sea", or in this case "many boats on the water" train of thought.  If I, obviously, could not get on the boat I wanted, I would have to find another boat to sail on.  I went down the list calling each and every one.  All of them were either fully booked or down for maintenance.

Defeated and with a low battery light blinking on my phone, I gave up.  I grabbed some friends and headed over to Duke's, a touristy beachfront bar that still manages to be kind of cool.

Sometime between beers #2 and #3, I looked out towards the ocean and saw an orange and yellow vision.  It was the Na Hoku coming into shore.  I sprinted over, frantically searching out someone to talk to.  A couple of feet from the boat, a guy with a notepad was collecting payment for the 3:30 sailing. Gasping for air, I asked if he had any room on the sunset sail.  "Sure" he said, as if it was the most natural thing on earth.  "For five people?!"  "Yeah, why not?"

I wasn't sure if I was being punk'ed by some Hawaiian grifter that had nothing to do with either the Na or the Hoku but this was the best news I'd gotten all day, so I ran with it.  Literally. Somewhere in between phone calls to the rest of the group, including one which now brought the total up to six, I ran back to the hotel to get my camera and then back to Duke's to finish that beer....and then out to one of the ubiquitous ABC stores to get batteries for my camera since I had just realized that mine were dead...and back to Duke's because that beer was now getting warmer. It was a workout is what I am saying.

But come 5pm, it all proved to be worth it.  Years later, we were finally boarding the Na Hoku II.

Everyone had made it.  The guy with the notepad had turned out to be legit.  And it was 5:05, we all were getting settled in and with fresh drink in hand.

The boat did not travel very far out, just a bit past Diamond Head and then it began making a wide loop back.

But the tunes were kicking, the drinks continued to flow and we were getting exactly what we came for... one mega-dazzling sunset.

 And not one drop of rain appeared to ruin our fun.

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