Posted by: First Mate | December 7, 2011

What makes your BEST day?

From the Captain himself –
Sunday December 4, 2011 was my best day sailing.

We spent Saturday night aboard Air Bender and (as typical) my girls were up at the crack of dawn. We agreed to get an earlier than normal start and were out of the harbor before 8:00 am.  But that didn’t make it the best.

Just outside of Kewalo, winds were light and there were no noticeable white-caps in the distance, so we put up all of our sail and headed out with a heading just south of Diamond Head buoy. Along the way we saw a couple whales including some great spouts, tails and backs. But that didn’t make it the best,

As we exited the shadow of Diamond Head it started to really blow (not atypical), and Anne, in her conservative fashion, started asking if we needed to be reefed. We were doing 8+ and sticking the bow in a few waves, taking splashes that would have gone over the house had the wind not been at 60+ degrees to port. We went out a couple miles, then tacked and headed in towards Waikiki.

This day was the running of the Waikiki Double Roughwater swim. Two good friends were competing (Jane and Kelly), being escorted by other good friends (Tony, Mary, Gail) on kayaks. We planned to anchor near the Outrigger Canoe Club where the competitors could swim/kayak out to join us for lunch. So by 10:30 we set anchor West of the Aquarium as near shore as possible to hang out. Anne was quick to hit the water, to get some exercise and check the anchor. It had actually been a bit chilly that morning (apologies to those in Washington State to redefine chilly to include 68 deg F), and Anne was a bit reluctant to dive in and complained of the temperature when she hit the water. Clarity was so-so and neither Ruby nor I were interested in joining her this day.

Ru and I started snacking and just hanging out. After 5 (big) laps of the boat, Anne was out of the water and we watched as the swimmers were finishing the race. Where we were anchored, the wind was coming from the north side of Diamond Head, but the waves and swells were at 90 degrees. The boat was rocking quite a bit more than usual and by 11:15 (or so) I declared that we weren’t having much fun at anchor and it was time to go whale hunting again. We called Kelly (who had called us earlier) to say that we’d be leaving soon, but she had already departed by car and was driving away. No idea if our other friends had a phone or were still planning to come out. Before we departed Tony showed up on a kayak. The other girls were waiting to hear the race results and awards. Tony chatted for a while and we were off.

Simple plan. Head South away from shore and look for whales. The waves and wind had actually died down a lot. For the first 1/2 mile, we had almost no wind at all and I considered restarting motors as we crawled along at ~3 kts. Then it started picking up, approaching 20 kts, but no white caps now and much calmer than it had been at 8:00 am. Eyes peeled for whales, they were all hiding well. nothing YET to make it a best day,

As we approached ~4 nm offshore Ruby joined me at the helm and said, this is boring what can we do? You see, unlike most days on Air Bender, we had no guests today. No kids nor any other adults to entertain Ruby. I asked her what did she want to do. Her reply:

“What can we do with the boat? You just have it on autopilot.”

So, for the first time in the nearly 2 years that we’ve had Air Bender, she decided today was the day to learn how to sail. “Can I do it?” …. “Just tell me and show me.”

So together we repositioned the traveler, reefed the genoa and Ruby made a hard turn to starboard. As she tacked, I let out the genoa and she tightened up the port sheet. We tweaked the traveler, as the wind, coming off our starboard bow was blowing 13-20. It didn’t take her long to get the feel of our big boat. Making slight adjustments to the helm and giving it time to respond. 5 kts….accelerating to 6 and then 7 and with the 2-3 swells to our starboard aft, Ruby was getting the boat up over 8 kts, peaking at 9+ a few times. She brought up how Tony had said he and Paul were having trouble getting 7 kts and she smiled.

It is amazing to both Anne and me that our daughter is so competitive.

Ruby steered the boat all the way to the Kewalo outer buoys. She turned the boat into the wind and we dropped the sails. She wanted to turn around and do it again, but I remembered the adage “keep them wanting more”. Since returning to dock, Ruby is now excited at the idea of sailing to Palmyra or ?? As long as she can be at the helm.

Ruby made it the Best Day.



  1. That’s how it starts…. perhaps one day you will be a parent to a grown daughter who can’t get enough sailing and seeing the world! welcome to the “club”, Reed!

  2. Amazing! How wonderful to be able to be just the three of you together and find a perfect day together.
    I am so proud of Ruby, and thrilled that she shares your passion. Its every parents’ dream!

  3. Just reading this entry now – you have a great crew!

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