S. A. L. T.

I want you to close your eyes. Picture the rolling seas running past you and the spray of the ocean quenching your sun stricken face. Imagine witnessing the first initial glimpse of the sun over the Pacific Ocean as flying fish skip across the water. Our 2015 fall Surfers Leadership School Class experienced just this. For five days we embarked on a sailing adventure through the Hawaiian Islands on the “Makani Olu.” We charted the waters, navigated through channels, hoisted halyards, and guided the ship to each destination. A blog filled with detailed stories and adjectives couldn’t possibly portray such an experience. However, I’ll try my best to accurately illustrate the most exciting and stunning five days of our lives.

The first few hours were jam packed with vital information. We were taught how to respond to certain emergency situations, hoist sails, steer the boat, and tie crucial knots. After we absorbed every ounce of information, we were off to sea.

If I could properly convey the first hours out to sea, I would just give you an illustration of a rollercoaster. However, instead of being tossed along steel tracks, we were flung across ten foot waves. I don’t want to include all the graphic details, but let’s just say our stomachs were tested by some mighty forces. Our strongest members of our team were out due to the heaviness of sea sickness. Weak and pale, our dear classmates were strapped to the side railings and… well, I think you get it.

The first stop was in Lanai. The second the ship anchored, all of the students and crew jumped into the deep ocean blue for a refreshing swim. The vibrancy of the sea was absolutely incredible and the fish beneath us celebrated it’s hue. We visited the island and walked along the small perimeters of the town. Each shop had a friendly face who was more than willing to make us feel at home and encourage us about our travels. We continued our class teachings on a secluded beach and enjoyed each other’s company under the sun. Each night, our nightly watches dipped fishing lines into the eery deep waters. The constant sound of laughter filled the night as each person fishing was immediately hooked on to a big fish. We had daunting experiences of nightly visitors as we were reminded of the food chain. Our line would quickly plunge to the bottom of the ocean floor. Reeling with all our might, our hooks would contain only the remnants of large fish heads. It was chilling to know that something much larger than us was lurking in the same exact place where we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon swim.

Next, we were off to Maui. We were welcomed with the most incredible sunset and greeted by a salty swim. Each destination had it’s own unique brilliance to it. Maui’s coast was decorated with surfers, pontoons, and sailboats. We anchored, and walked along the classic town and embraced the feeling of land. Land sickness is a real thing. The moment you adjust to the subtle sway of the ocean, your body questions the stability of solid ground.

I don’t think anything could accurately describe the beauty of the backside of Molokai. It leaves you absolutely speechless. There is nothing you can do but admire the vastness of it all. Sea cliffs boldly surround the island and waterfalls drape over the cliffs escaping into the ocean waters. Desert turns to plush valleys, and green valleys transform into mountainous terrain. One of my classmates, Craig Nunez recalled, “While we were passing Halawa Falls in Molokai, I had the revelation that life is but a vapor. I need to enjoy and live fully aware today and not caught up in my ‘tomorrow’s’. To invest whole heartedly in my relationships with friends and family always needs to be top priority.”

As we sailed along the coast, we trolled the waters for some fish. Our fishing lines immediately snagged our first Mahi Mahi. The fish danced and celebrated with us. (Or so it appeared, it probably wasn’t as excited as we were.)

I wish the sight of sparkling bioluminescence, intricate-twinkling galaxies, dancing pilot whales, and captivating sunrises could replay in my mind over and over again. There is something incredible about the ocean. Once you’re out there with people you love and care about with no distractions of the real world, everything simply falls into perspective. My favorite part of the entire trip was just the presence of every one on board. We were all so invested, intentional, and present with each other. It was just us, the boat, and the ocean ahead. It was often times daunting, but it was such a beautiful feeling to have zero distractions. I learned that every moment could be just as precious as the ones we shared on the boat. There is such a difference in experience when you’re totally present, attentive, and invested. The trip realigned my focus and made me recognize the delight in simplicity, and I am truly thankful for that.


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