02-Jul-2012 -- Now I know why.
Why would only 3 of the 21 confluences in the beautiful and much visited State of Hawaii have been visited? This was the question that occurred to us as we were planning a family vacation to Kauai. Having been the first visitors to 2 other confluences, one in Belize at 16°N 89°W and the other on our honeymoon in Vanuatu at 15°S 167°E, Amanda and I like the challenge that this unique and collective adventure offers. But surely in Hawaii, with millions of visitors a year and some of the most scenic settings in the world, most of the confluences should have been visited long ago?
Now I know why.
Our first step was to contact a number of charter fishing outfits with the somewhat mysterious request that we wanted to go to a point “about 20 miles east of Kauai”. The most enthusiastic, if quizzical, response was from Captain Don Jones of Captain Don’s Sport fishing. Since we were to be on the island for about a week and the weather and wave conditions change frequently, I thought that it would be a good idea to leave the exact date of the expedition somewhat open. As he mentioned, the seas around the islands can be quite rough and a few days might mean the difference between rolling 3-5 foot waves and 8-10 foot crashers. In a 30-foot sport fishing boat this means a lot.
Needless to say Don follows the ocean conditions closely. On big wave days why fish when you can surf or foil board? We decided that the 2nd of July looked like our best bet, weather and waves permitting. Amanda arranged for a sitter for the children, we packed up our supplies, checked out the GPS on our phones and found our way to the Nawiliwili small boat harbor near Lihue. We met Don and Calvin, his deck and fishing hand, sitting in their office, a picnic table underneath a shady tree.
After the usual minor formalities we were off. Barely out of the harbor and heading due east, the 4-6 foot waves started to toss the boat around like the proverbial cork. I looked over at Amanda and saw instantly that she was not up for 2-3 hours of this rolling and pounding sea journey. As gung ho for adventure as she always is, she has had some pretty bad experiences on the ocean and draws the line at seasickness. We turned the boat and headed back to shore.
With much regret, and for me half the enjoyment left standing on the dock, we caste off again and set course.
The video was taken about a mile offshore with 21 miles to go. It will give you some idea of the conditions. I didn’t manage to capture any of the dozens of high thrusting leaps followed by a pounding crash and shudder that made the boat feel like it was going to dissolve at its seams. But then, I was holding on with both hands. No worries, bro, our captain assured us, he had been out in much worse! It didn’t change much for the 3 hours we were heading east into the wind and the swell.
Now I know why more of the confluences around Hawaii haven’t been visited. It was a 3 hour bumping and twisting ride standing up the whole time and hanging on to the railings. Of course Calvin, who must be more used to such conditions, lay down in the middle of the point, the point that moves the lease and promptly fell asleep! Don told tales of some of the other strange trips he had been on. Divers looking for WWII mines in the ocean and windsurfers, paddlers and swimmers all attempting and some succeeding at sailing, stroking or floating from Oahu to Kauai.
Several times I thought about the only previous known visitors to this confluence, Chris Varner and Todd Hammons who FLEW over it on 20 Sep 2002. Great story guys!!! It is very interesting to read the account of their visit 10 years ago. How things have changed! Their aircraft didn’t even have GPS and now I have it as an app on my Galaxy Nexus phone!
There must also have been any number of native Hawaiians who paddled and sailed past this point on their way between the islands, as well as explorers like Captain James Cook, whalers in the 19th century and freighters and cruising sailors today.
Arriving at the confluence was more of a relief than a climax. We slowed our way and closed in on it from the north. After a few circles and nearing as close as 10 meters, we shot our photos and headed for home. Although we had fishing lines out the whole way, the only thing we landed on this day was a good story. At the end, it was a beautiful day on the water. A little rough but no rain. It would have been a lot more fun with Amanda along and the little confluencers. But that will have to wait for the next time. We are planning a trip to Honduras in the fall and as it happens there is confluence just off the coast…