Hōkūleʻa Update | February 19, 2017
Voyage Day: 10
Sunset update by Noe and Lehua
Speed and location:
Canoe average speed: 6 kts
12 hour estimated total: 57nm South, -4 nm East
Leg estimated total: 1144 nm South, 299 nm east
Latitude: 20.34 South (est DR)
Nālani to Noio Kona
AM: 10-12 kts; PM: 10-15 kts
Swell direction and height:
1. Noio Malanai
3. South Hema, long period 6 ft
Cloud type and %cover: Mostly low level, 15%
Temp: 75 degrees
Rig: at sunset, 23 Genoa, 36 triangle main, 36 triangle mizzen
Wildlife: lots of malolo and three unidentified blue birds
When my brother and I were little, our father used to tell us that it wasn’t practice that makes perfect (as most people say); rather, good practice is what could make perfect. I have pondered on that little nugget of wisdom throughout my life, and while I’ll leave perfection to akua, I am a big believer in the “good practice” part of the statement.
Out here on the canoe, every experience is geared towards practice through repetition. The watches require us to practice all aspects of running the canoe, from things we have done hundreds or thousands of times like adjusting sails or checking lines, to things like man-overboard protocol which we hope to never have to do again but need to be prepared to. Sometimes the conditions aren’t ideal, and that is part of the practice too. Fact is, when you look at the breakdown of the crew, there are quite a few of us that come from sectors where practice, practice, practice, is a way at which you hone your skills. From doctors to police officers to lifeguards to photographers, we all have had to use repetition as a tool to get better at our chosen craft.
As the crew continues to gel, the work gets cleaner and easier as we repeat many of the same tasks, each time gaining a little more efficiency in the workflow. At this point on the leg, we have now changed sails more times than I can count. We have gotten to know the jibs and how they fit between the stays and where the sheets route. Changing a sail by the light of the moon with minimal sail staff on deck acts as a quick quiz to check that you know what line does what and goes where. Certainly the steering has gotten much better as crew gets more time guiding Hōkūleʻa on this particular course with these conditions. Practice – good practice – helps to keep you mindful and anticipating any tasks or situations that might arise.
In that same line of thinking, the fishermen on board are constantly practicing and refining. From the time the lines go out in the morning to the when they are brought in the afternoon, the fishermen are on high alert. The waiting can be excruciating to watch, as the hours turn into days, and every nibble is treated as a potential for success. As we approached a week with still no fish caught, theories were exchanged and every single detail of the fishing strategy was meticulously planned and executed. I’m pretty sure some said silent prayers to the fishing gods.
And then yesterday – it happened. The strike came in the afternoon on our starboard lines. Immediately the fishing team sprung into action and landed the fish with expert precision. The 12-pound aku never even had a chance. Within minutes of getting the fish on board, Captain Archie had it broken down as he has done literally thousands of times. Precise, accurate, without hesitation. Each slab of fish was neatly tucked into different piles depending on the dish that it was destined for. Russell and Rex took the second shift of cutting up the fish slabs as Archie took off to the galley whipping the head and other parts into a pot to start the hours-long process of making miso-lime-fish head soup.
While Archie boiled down the head for the soup, he also fried the aku bone to the predetermined papaʻa status. As that was finishing, Russell and Rex brought a pan-full of sashimi on a bed of cabbage. Russell took the last few slabs and quickly turned them into sesame-crusted seared aku. A huge pot of rice was waiting in anticipation of the fish dishes, as were three different sauces hand-made to complement the meal.
The meal tasted as good as it looked (and hopefully as it sounds), but nine long days of humbling strikes with no fish landed made this one taste even better. The usual mealtime banter was mute with appreciation for all the great food and hard work by our resident fishermen. And what was produced out of this single fish and a few simple ingredients from the canoe’s galley were a true testament to the perspective of good practice making perfect. Special thanks to Captain Archie, Russell and Rex for making it all look so easy.
We’ll be standing by 72, lines out, waiting…
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