Oahu

Waking up in Honolulu was a bit strange. We were in a big marina directly beside Waikiki beach and all of the towering hotels. Not my idea of a prime vacation destination. The day we arrived my couchsurfing host Oliver came down to the boat and helped me move my stuff up to his place. I said goodbye to Dave, not expecting(or wanting) to see him again. How soon those feelings were to change…

My host Oliver was awesome. He had been living in Hawaii for about a year while training to become a helicopter pilot. He passed his test to become a pilot and immediately began working as an instructor for the same company. Interesting system, but it makes sense if you consider how fresh the essential information is in the new pilots head, in addition to the fact that with time pilots can become complacent, or function by instinct, which is more challenging to teach.

Oliver and I immediately went for a hike up the mountainside that climbs out of Honolulu. My favourite thing to do in any big city is to go up high for a good vantage point. It helps me to get my bearings and get a good idea of the lay of the land. Honolulu was a bit of a bizarre tourist trap.

Oliver made me feel at home at his place and said I was welcome to stay for as long as I needed. I was keen to explore the island and search the marinas for boats and captains in need of crew. I made up flyers and hopped on my bike to go for a tour around the island. Leaving Honolulu it became clear why people have fallen in love with this place. Oahu’s true beauty shows itself once you leave the craziness of the city. Empty beaches and precipitous cliffs with a  lush green mountain range running the length of the island. It’s not hard to escape the crowds.

I met some other amazing hosts on the other side of the island through a website that is dedicated to the community of cycling tourists. Cam and Rita quickly became good friends and I would end up doing a bit of a work trade in order to stay with them longer. I also ended up helping out a neighbour of theirs with some landscaping around town. Cam introduced to me some schools where I did a couple presentations. Cam and Rita quickly felt like family to me and I felt at home in their presence.

I continued around the island in search of a boat to take me west. I posted flyers and asked around while scouring the online crew-seeking websites. I was a bit surprised to not find a single lead. I started to seriously consider buying a boat. I didn’t have the money but I was hoping I might find some mates to join me and split the costs. Quite a few people were interested but I didn’t find any boats that were seaworthy and within our budget.

I arrived back in Honolulu when The Great Pacific Race rowboats were slowly trickling in. It’s a small community so I knew several of the organizers and participants. I would have been on one of those rowboats myself if I had said yes to the offer and decided not to sail with Dave. It was fun to meet some of the rowers and share stories of our mutually experienced torture and joy. I seriously contemplated purchasing one of the rowboats to continue on with. There was a small possibility that one of them might become available.

Oliver and I celebrated my 34th birthday and the one year anniversary on the route. Unfortunately while we were eating dinner his nice bike was stolen from outside the restaurant. Happy Birthday! Things weren’t looking very promising after a month of searching for a passage to Asia. I was feeling a bit depressed. Perfect timing for a friend to visit from Vancouver. We had a fun time exploring together and then I had a chance visit from my brother, who happened to be in Hawaii for a job. The rush I felt from their visits only left me feeling more bummed when they were gone.

Soon after I was shocked out of my slump when I got the surprising news from Dave. He was battling back up wind to Hawaii and interested in lending Dolce to me. The stars were once again aligning for Routes of Change!

Some new friends I had made helped me prepare by hooking me up with some surfboards. There were some good waves to be ridden immediately in front of where Dolce was docked. Before I took over as the official captain of Dolce I took in many events at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Congress that Hawaii was hosting. I had attended the previous congress four years earlier on Jeju Island in Korea, while working for the Canadian Wildlife Federation. I found the Jeju experience a bit troubling due to the amount of green-washing going on.

The Hawaiian congress was much more promising and it was great to connect with some friends there. I was stoked to be recruited by the folks from NatureRX to work/dress up as a Kangaroo on a new project of theirs. Me and a bunch of National Park mascots had an epic dance party. I feel sorry for the person who wore that suit after me. I was swimming inside of it.

I owe huge thanks to all the folks on Oahu who made me feel at home and took care of me for the duration of my Marooning. Especially Oliver. We had quickly become friends for life and were planning on an adventure together in the near future. I was hoping he would join me for a paragliding journey through the Himilayas. It was with disbelief and pain when I was recently informed that Oliver and a student of his are presumed dead after their helicopter crashed into the Ocean off the north coast of Molokai. Cheers Oliver. You are forever flying in the hearts of all those who had the pleasure of knowing you. Big Respect. 

RECENT UPDATE:

I just found out that my cycling friend and host Cam passed away. He had a heart attack while doing what he loved. He was riding his bike up a steep hill with a bunch of cyclists half his age struggling up behind him. It's a sobering thought that both of my hosts on Oahu have passed on, while doing what they were passionate about. Sending big love to Rita and all of Cam's loved ones.