Crew Blog | Nov 21: Not Afraid of Storms

Crew Blog by Dr. Darragh Cormac O’Carroll

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship” -Louisa May Alcott

“Man overboard!!!” Rang out across Hikianalia, surprising us after breakfast was eaten and the last dishes were secured away.

The klaxon alarm followed as the crew of hikianalia sprang into action.

“Spotter here! Port side off our quarter”

By now we all knew what to do, it was just a matter of execution when least expected; it was one of us out there.

“Forward sail is down! Main sail coming down next!”

“Rescue poll is deployed, signal light is strobing! Dagger boards are up, and motors are on!”

We quickly de-powered the wa’a, flipped Hikianalia’s motors into reverse, and in the midst of San Diego Harbors Maritime Museum, successfully rescued our “man overboard.”

Thankfully this was just a drill, but we train as if was real. While man over boards are rare, it is important to be calm in the face of danger, resolute in the face of adversity, and skilled in sailing our vessel when we need it most. We have been training all week as a crew, getting to know our watchmates and watch-captains, bonding as a team, and by now we are looking smooth.

I am the crew physician but with zero deep water sailing miles I am by far the most novice sailor aboard. I’ve paddled on six-man canoes for most of my life, and even participated in a few of the Molokai Hoe, but until this week I was admittedly selfconscious about my sailing capabilities.

Under the guidance of all the crew, especially co-captains Kaniela Lyman-MersereaJason Patterson  and my watch captain Moani Heimuli, they have trained me up to a point where I am now able to contribute to sailing this canoe.

It reminds me of my medical training where everything began as terrifying: even prescribing a simple medication such as Tylenol. But through great teaching, personal dedication, and repetition formerly complex tasks become second nature, like the backs of our hands.

Not only am I new to sailing, I am also new to this community. The aloha every single one of the crew exudes is infectious; the minute any guest steps onto Hikianalia they are met with smiles, an embrace, and an eagerness to answer any questions.

A group of 10 youth from the local kumeyaay tribe stopped by this week; we exchanged stories and shared food. Brad Wong and Moku Chandler serenaded us on the guitar and ukulele while we enjoyed Leilani and Gary’s shoyu chicken. I watched as a young toddler kumeyaay lay his hand on the hoe and the sounds of laughter echoed about. It was then when I glimpsed the power of Hikianalia and her sister Va’a Hokulea; the power to bring people together.

Hikianalia has been nestled up amongst a few colorful neighbors as we prepare to sail her 2200 miles aina kona back home on the 21st. Surrounding her is a rusty old B-39 Russian submarine, a few replica 1500’s ships, and the beautiful 150ft square ship “Star of India” that was once owned by the hawaiian monarchy.

As colorful as these neighbors are, we are eager to depart. I don’t know what exactly to expect on this voyage, but I welcome it. I don’t know what challenges I will face, but I welcome them. I don’t know how I will feel, but I welcome it too.

But what I do know is what kumu Bruce Blankenfeld has taught us when we face the unexpected, which can be applied to all aspects of life. We are not afraid of storms, because we know how to sail our ship.

Darragh Cormac O’Carroll MD

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