ROGUE WAVE ON KAUAI

I’ve known many married coiuples who sailed together, many of them, like their marriages, ending up  disasters.This was not the case with Bill and I, except when we raced, but that’s another story.

For the most part – no, always- you could  put Bill and I on a little boat and send us out to sea and we’d come back happier and more in love-than we started out.  Bill was the sailor. A damn good one. A pro. After he died I sailed on high-priced boats with guys who didn’t know a jibe from a tack or a spinnaker halyard from a jib sheet.

We always raced when the TransPac was in. They had inter island races and we were almost always the littlest yacht in the fleet. We were also, often, at the head of the fleet, particularly when the winds were light. We could maneuver through the entire fleet dodging beer bottles and cuss words like a wary trout dodged fishing lines. We never beat them- boat to boat- but often got a cup-and more than a cup when we hit the bars.  Morning after hangovers in Lahaina, with all those damn mynahs squawking, was a trip all by itself and- like the whalers, I’m sure- breakfast was the hair of the dog.

Bar room brawls were not  uncommon and neither were the pixilated ladies piddling in the bushes or the little kiosk that stood in the middle of the main intersection where cops directed traffic during the day. The heighth of the walls was perfect. All you could see was a puff of hair and a dainty little stream of perfumed lady water singing out the bottom. My best friend Ginny Rothwell found this handy convenience first. The rest of us followed.

Our favorite trips, though, were long weekends when we’d leave Kukuiula harbor-and head out, without a phone or any other means of communication with the ‘real’world for whereever the wind would send us, or wherever we wanted to go.  It was one  Christmas morning-early-sunny, bright and blue-while all the world slept, that Bill and I made weigh. We always sailed, in and out, no noisy motor for us. I was on jib. Bill was at helm.

Checking under the sail that morning, there it was: the biggest baddest grandfather rogue I’d ever seen coming straight at us. I turned to tell Bill but he’d already seen it. “Hang on,” he growled and that I did. We drove right through the middle of that thing, water over the spreader,  but we made it out safe to the other side.

I turned  back speechless. Bill had the usual silly grin on his face-rough sailing always tickled his bones. What tickled me, however, was this: Bill smoked a pipe in those days and, while the silly grin lit up his face and the end of the pipe was stuck in his teeth, the bowl of the pipe was on the sole, he’d bitten right through the stem.

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