Sea Gypsy

I’m a sea gypsy now. Living on the hook and harvesting rain. The sea is my sanctuary and I need nothing but air. 

I shout to the wind, “Honey, I’m a seed and you are the wind, which way are we going today?” 

I don’t really know where I’m going half the time. And many times I have lost my way.  I just make it all up as I go. I like to throw random thoughts at the sun and see which ones stick to the sky. If they stick, I dress myself in butterfly wings and that’s the direction I fly.  I only know for certain where I thought I was going, and where I ended up. Sometimes they align, often they don’t. Sometimes my expectations are too high. Sometimes my fantasies are too wild. Sometimes I try to stuff too many things into a dream.

Most recently, I ended up in the Ala Wai, for longer than I expected.  My temporary mooring permit just ran up and I was forced to head out of there. It’s probably for the best. I was starting to grow roots and moss and barnacles and sea slime there. 

And I felt like I was living in a fishbowl there, on display for all to see. I was on the X dock, it’s a crossroad, in the middle of everything.  

And I was feeling frazzled there in my fishbowl. I don’t know why, but I had a fire inside me that I didn’t recognize. Flames started flying out of my mouth and ears, burning my teeth and singeing all of my hair along the way. Haunting me like a nightingale. 

That harbor is kind of like the wild wild west. I’ve seen people stealing bikes, walking the docks with knifes, riding their dinghies high on ice. Perhaps all that chaos was the cause of the flames? I don’t really know. 

To smother the fire inside I had to remember to breathe. Breath is the way to the Alpha and the Omega. It gets whatever is bubbling up, to bubble down.

 Lemon juice and liquid sunshine and breath can fix a lot of things. 

It was a hustle to get Juniper out of the harbor. All my neighbors pitched in to help. We installed a new autopilot, re-bedded all the screws on my jib track, removed the rust from my water tanks, installed a new halyard restrainer, end for ended lines, fixed a bunch of leaks, etc. By the end we were just slapping 5200, TDS, and epoxy on everything. 

I had a rigger come check my standing rigging too. He said I needed to change it all. I left that dock without changing one thing on the rigging.

At a certain point, I’m just like whelp it’s time to go and that thing just leaks or is broken or might break real soon and I’ll just live with it. I accept it for what it is and scratch it off my honey-do list. 

Accepting things for the way that they are, usually works to my advantage, like when it came to my transmission aka tranny. I’ll call her Tina. Tina the tranny. Tina has been leaking ever since I left San Diego. I replace seals, she leaks again and again! 

I called this dude who knows every tranny on the planet and he said, “Oh you got a Hurth transmission, we won’t touch those with a ten-foot pole. You pull ‘em, fix ‘em, and a month later they’re leaking again.” 

After that, I decided screw it, Tina ‘s a leaker. I poured a bunch of thick Lucas Oil down her gullet and called it a day.

And guess what? Tina hasn’t leaked a drip or a drop since! 

Tina reminded me what can happen when you let go. When you accept a situation for what it is. All of a sudden, that thing that’s been itching you so bad, won’t need any more scratching.  

Sometimes I wish I could pour Lucas Oil into my brain. It likes to itch with thoughts that I can’t scratch and sometimes those thoughts fall out of my eyes and form puddles of more thoughts. And I become lost on a valley of the moon, like an unidentified flying object. 

Anyway, If I did everything on my honey-do list I might not have ever left the slip. My friend Gary says, “If it don’t leak or squeak, don’t go to sea in it.” Gary also says, “People are like fish, they like shiny shit.” That’s all so true, so here I am, at sea, leaking and squeaking and shining. 

I think my life is made perfect by all its imperfections. 

My last week in town was pretty amazing. I woke up early every morning to watch the moon set in the west, and I went to dinner at the son of a Micronesian king’s house, and I surfed, and I hiked, and I cried, and I went on a sunset cruise aboard an electric boat that a friend built, and I ate moonfish dip and strawberry guava straight from the tree. I also met a woman at the laundromat who claims that she’s married to a Demi-god who’s half-shark and named Bruce. I never got to meet Bruce, but I can see him in my mind. Right after meeting her, a young man climbed a tree and picked me a bunch of mangos for me. My life is dandy! 

The day before I left, I heard an old man on the dock say, “In the cathedrals of my heart a candle will always burn for you.” He didn’t say it to me, but I wish he would have. He stole and modified the line from German Actor, Hardy Kruger, or maybe he is Hardy. 

I wanted to tell pretend Hardy this, “When the sun hits the cathedral of my heart, you’re going to think a rainbow fell out of the sky and landed in front of your face.” If I told him that, maybe he could light a candle in his cathedral for me too. 

I left Saturday morning at 6 am to sail away. The wind was blowing chaos. I had two friends with me, Sava and Josh. They’re really big free divers and have both done a ton of offshore sailing. 

 I was either going to sail east and up to Kaneohe or west and up to Waimea Bay. I asked my pendulum and it chose west, so I said a prayer and west we went. 

Sava and Josh were the best crew. They made the right moves without any words coming from my mouth. Fenders, docklines, and gate, tidied and closed without asking! 

We all played DJ and danced and talked story. Sava sang Russian songs as we charged into 30 knot winds close-hauled. It felt like I was touching the finger of God. All that wind, all that swell. It took us forever to round Kaena Point on the northwestern end of Oahu. Long tacks without much progress. The further off land we got, the wilder the waves and wind got. In the middle of the night, I reckon it was 3 am, Sava was sleeping and Josh and I were in the cockpit. We were chatting away, when out of nowhere we got hit hard by a rogue wave. I saw a mountain of white climb high behind his head and then we were drenched. Both of us were underwater for 5 seconds. Everything in the cockpit was floating. Sava woke to the sound of our screams. I was freezing. 

 It took us 28 hours to make it to Waimea Bay. By the time we got here, there was so much salt on my body that I felt like a sandbox. But, Waimea Bay is otherworldly and none of that mattered. Here it smells like spring in the realm of the divine and feels like an island where no roads go. Even though it is not an island and plenty of roads go here. 

There is a rock in the southeast corner of the bay that you can jump off of and there is rain and rainbows above me off and on all day. Just down the way, there are wild peacocks crossing the road. Beneath me there are sea turtles and parrot fish. In the forest above me there is lilikoi falling from trees and orange mushrooms and magic moss and butterflies. There is also a Heiau on the hill. Heiau’s are sacred temples for Native Hawaiians. A friend told me not to go there at night. At night the ghostly Night Marchers float around beating drums and chanting in spiritual areas. They rise up accompanied by mist and fog or heavy winds or lightning and thunder or rain and high surf. My friend told me not to make eye contact if I see them. He said I have to get buck naked and lay on the ground, or else I risk death. 

My tracker is back on and I leave here for Molakai on Saturday. I will make my way down the island chain to Hilo on Big Island. Once there I will provision, get tested for COVID, and clear customs. Hurricane permitting, I will be headed to French Polynesia by early July. 

I am headed there because the answer to everything is in the whale’s eye. 


I made a short film about my COVID experience for Documentary Educational Resources. You can view it here:

4 Replies to “Sea Gypsy”

  1. Wow….I love your writing and freedom and sense of adventure driven by the wind !
    Ken McRae

    Sent from my iPhone
    Ken McRae
    501 680 0381
    Little Rock,AR

  2. You are a poet. Your eyes see dreams. Your voice is windswept waves. Your heart is free as the rainbows.
    And, hoping not to break your beauteous blog, not one mention of the orange turd that clings on the butt of the world. That is true freedom.

  3. Great work on the short, loved it! Enjoy the sail down the sandwich trail and good luck with clearing customs for the long voyage! ??

  4. yikes!! 28 hrs to Waimea from the Ala Wai! that Kaena Point is a monster standing sentinel and immovable over that part of the island . . . ocean currents are accelerated around that point and winds are amplified and bent round and round. I can’t imagine that someone hadn’t already warned you that Kaena’s a sailor’s nightmare and something that needs to be planned for well in advance. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Ocean’s schedule . . . It’s never about when we want to go, it’s about when she decides to let us. Being tuned into that is the mark of a real mariner.

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