To fly over water for 17 days: Sharon’s Maui report

Maui is not a place where we would wake in the morning and wonder if we might have wind – Maui is a place where we would wake in the morning and ask how much wind would we have.

We went to windsurf and we did more – for 17 days we flew over water.

Green sea turtle (honu)

Green sea turtle (honu) Photo courtesy Bruckner/NOAA

“If you can sail in Maui you can sail anywhere” …..Alan Cadiz, June 2011. Alan Cadiz has inspired us from the first day we tried to water start about 5 years ago (I remember one thing he taught me then that I use to this day – ‘look where you want to go’). Alan is in love with the wind and capturing the wind so he and others might make passage across the sea.

Maui demands that every moment, you watch that wave form and flow, you see that gust of wind long before you feel it, you move your body, dance with your feet, and play with your hands – your body, wind, and water become one, working together, fueled by the energy of those powerful 35 knot winds that charge into your sail, and form waves, daring you to sail up, over, and down them. It is both a dance and a battle between man and nature over ownership of a board and a sail. These become one and the dance begins.

“Let’s sail in control” …………Karen Bennett, June 2011. Karen has inspired us for 5 years, her precision in rigging, her ability to spot that one detail in your sailing that needs adjusting and then you go perfectly, her ability to show you how to enjoy sailing through chop ( and our memories of her telling us 5 years ago ‘hang like a baboon off the boom’…..this has saved us so many times).

We stayed in a one bedroom condo overlooking a manicured garden, and just beyond, the ocean. Every evening we would sit on the balcony enjoying a well-earned beer, watch the sun paint beautiful pinks in the sky as she slid behind the horizon. We watched the other holiday-makers cook dinner on the communal barbecue in the garden. They all seemed so happy chatting away, meeting for the first time.

The drive from our little condo to the windsurfing beach was about 30 minutes across the island, we would drive through a corridor flanked on both sides by majestic mountains whose job it was to form clouds as the sun rose and so make the wind. As we drove through the corridor the wind was strong, the two windsurfing boards were lashed to the roof rack and the strong wind passing over them would make a loud humming noise, the louder the noise we knew we were in for a day of plenty of wind. Driving back was an artist’s dream, with massive powering clouds all the greys and blues of any palette and one day we saw not one, but three rainbows, one after the other, so strong – psychedelic colours.

In Maui you rent your gear and a very clapped out vehicle and drive it to the beach and rig it in a beautiful park full of red and orange little birds. We would do this every day. Rigging the gear was a bit of guess-work for us, often getting it wrong but wow do you get skilled and fast at changing sails. After the gear is rigged you walk a little path to the sandy beach…walk…well not so much walk but rather push, lean, battle the powerful wind to get to the beach. David always carried the sail as I think I would be hang gliding if I did !!! and I would carry the board that did all in its power to escape my grasp, then join them, them back for the second rig, and finally launch and off across the bay …hurray!

We would often walk past the locals to see and talk about what they were rigging. However, more often than not, everyone seemed to have their own idea…we would laugh at that….then from one local guy we learnt that if the sand was exfoliating his legs he would rig a 4.2 ….mmmm interesting rule of thumb !!!!!

The windsurfers in Maui come in many, many varieties, but the common bond is the love of the sport, their commitment to one another, a life on the water, and the smiles on their faces. The feeling of community is strong and on many occasions they offered advice, help, and a friendly “Good morning” to David and me. ( I remember a bunch of old guys helping us separate a mast that would not separate. At first we had a sort of tug of war: no success, so then they helped us fix two booms either side of the join, and by working these back and forth, hey presto! The mast separated…..we use this technique all the time, thanks.) There are so many people on the beach from the pros, the almost pros, the racers with sails as big as skyscrapers, to beautiful ladies with long blond hair and nail polish, to those who touch the years of 80 and 90 and still go out, to those drifting as they learn the water start, to those throwing themselves off their rigs as they try to claim a carve gybe, to those hunting with their toes as they enter foot straps for the first time, all glow with the spirit of Maui.

Box jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war

Box jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war

Maui’s Nature is always ready to remind you of her strength. In order to move up the beach I dragged my windsurfing rig through the water, lifted it to sail off, but wait, what is all this thread on my boom and mast and sail, is my sail unraveling ? I will just wind this thread around my finger and break it off. Hmm, no luck. OK, I will place the thread in my mouth and bite it off….BANG….in a split second I was stung by the jellyfish I had placed over my own body …how stupid but the human mind sometimes forgets. I ran to the fresh water shower then on to our car, to pull from our lunch sandwiches pickles in vinegar. The pain would not go and now I could not speak and my heart was racing and David was on the horizon sailing. Suddenly Franze was there to help – what a man, a star at 85, he was there to windsurf. He dropped everything, piled me into his car, and whispered in my ear as we drove like 007 he would not be stopping for lights neither would he give way … mmmm Franze, I might be OK from the jellyfish, but a car crash mmmm … any way we got to emergency MAN the PAIN was intense but after sitting and waiting and waiting the pain subsided and I decided I was OK ….David was still sailing but at the end Franze returned to the beach got David and brought him to the emergency ……it’s not good separating a husband and wife over a jellyfish ..lots of kissing needed !!!! There are good people out there, thanks Franze.

Then Maui’s Nature gives you a gift you will always remember. I was sailing out from the beach and saw in the water what looked like a large piece of bamboo or wood ???? I sailed closer but knew I must avoid it, then as I got closer and closer WOW such an incredible sight the most beautiful head of a turtle looking straight into my eyes – speaking to me with those eyes, before majestically diving deep below my board. Was Nature saying sorry or having shown me a bit of a tricky character was she now showing me her beauty ?

David and I learnt to fly over the ocean in Maui, we learnt to love and play with the waves rather than fear them, I discovered speed and how to carve and control my rig, David learnt to make many of his carve gybes. We learnt to sail without gloves and shoes we learnt to feel and see the wind.

Thank you Maui

Sharon


[Sharon sent this writeup of her recent Maui vacation. She and her husband David live in Hong Kong, and sail in a variety of destinations.]

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