TransPac 2019 Crews in for Big Surprise When They Get Here

TransPac Crews in for Big Surprise When They Get Here

Bring Lots of Alcohol Wipes, Learn Self Defense, and Be Prepared for Silly Answers

Sally Ingstrom takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the fate that awaits all TransPac-50 participants


As of this writing the 100th competitor has just signed up for the TransPac 2019 race across the Pacific to Honolulu.   Aloooooha Ragtime!  Such an iconic boat history, we should be honored to host such a prestigious boat, in such a prestigious race with a half-century of history.

But, alas, this is Hawaii.  And, anyone who is familiar with our island reputation for boating will feel a tinge of cringe, maybe even fear.   All these honorable competitors, competing in this most honorable of all trans-oceanic races, will, when they get here, need to be aware of a few caveats before the celebrations begin.

Number 1:  Bring lots of alcohol wipes with you.  Yes, I know that this additional cargo may account for some added weight on board, perhaps putting your vessel at a slight disadvantage on certain points of sail, however, not being prepared may have some dire consequences.  On certain occasions, the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, and surrounds, like the iconic Waikiki Beach, are the last destination of millions of gallons of raw human sewerage that leaks from a system that the State has truly tried to repair, for decades.  Apparently, good engineers are in short supply here, and so the problem persists -- so much so that, last year, nearly six million gallons of the poopy stuff found its way into our bays, canals, some harbors (like the Ala Wai), and our ocean.  MRSA infections can be deadly, as some unfortunates have learned posthumously.  We recommend wiping yourself down with alcohol wipes -- do they have towel-sized wipes? -- after coming in contact, in any way, with the water in the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor or its surrounds.  Oh, and, by the way, if you're looking for a place to dump your own poopy tanks, no problem: the somewhat antiquated and intermittently functioning pump-out facility, the only one in the entire area, is located on private property over by the would-be wedding chapel property formerly known as the Texaco Dock.  Good luck with that, as access might prove to be a navigational nightmare.

Number 2: While being escorted into the Ala Wai, keep a watchful vigilance on the foredeck for floating debris, some the size of trees:  If you're one of those who believe that the whole plastics-in-the-ocean thing is one big conspiracy theory, be prepared to witness this phenomenon first-hand.   Along with the poop, every year, there comes literally thousands of pounds of plastic of every imaginable description -- childrens' toys, Slurpee cups, plastic buckets, and nearly every other item typically found in the American home today.  You'll probably clear a path through some of it on your way into the Ala Wai, when you arrive here with your crew.  Please be careful, though, as Hawaii has no law that prohibits the tossing of logs, fresh-cut from the properties of the wealthy up in the mountains, into its streams, rivers and canals, as the threat of a collision with one of these, at certain times, is very real. You see, our wealthy here, as is common in most places in America,  purchase our government leadership, and rules tend to be skewed in their best interests.  In Hawaii, money talks, everyone else walks.

Number 3:  No, they're not kidding:  dealing with the harbor offices in some harbors is an interesting lesson in creatively altered human logic.  Do not, by any means, honestly believe that someone in a harbor office here will provide a logical, concise answer to a question that is critically important to your vessel's and your crew's well being. Welcome to the world of the DLNR, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, chaired by Suzanne Case.  Oh, by the way, Ms. Case is a famous environmentalist who seems to have chosen to ignore, at least for now, the poop, the plastic and the logs (not to mention the frequent oil, diesel, and gas spills in the harbor).  In all fairness, she's overwhelmed with board meetings that are mostly consumed with blessing the avalanche of commercial permitting that is turning Hawaii's ocean environment into an amusement park-like nightmare, mostly for the benefit of the rich, while screwing it up for everyone else.

Number 4: Who are those crazy people on the dock?!  Don't panic.  We've got a little drug epidemic going on here that we're trying to work through.  Dave, our governor, hasn't gotten around to finding a solution for that quite yet, but we like to think he's working on it. What is particularly interesting about the Ala Wai and its surrounding environment is that this area, for some reason, attracts an overwhelming preponderance of drug addicts who also seem to have psychological disorders. The combination is pure magic.  One lass of this ilk just recently went to prison for willy-nilly breaking into multiple vessels in the harbor, over a year's time, in search of the ship's paperwork. In addition to having a personal battle with drugs and a certain, yet unresolved psychosis, she has been involved with identity theft activity and has an avowed mission to make a case for ownership of your yacht.

Number 5: No room at the inn:  That's right folks, there may not be a spot for your boat when you get here.   This may be one of the largest fleets ever in the TransPac, at well over 100 boats.   The fly in the ointment is harbor management in Hawaii.  No one in Suzanne Case's DLNR, the folks who administer the harbor system, really cares about TransPac.  Actually, not at all.  So when the DLNR was first alerted to the fact that they will be overwhelmed this year with TransPac participants, the reaction was, "What . . . me worry?"  And while this sounds funny when associated with Alfred E. Neuman, it won't be so funny to a tired crew that has just raced across an ocean only to find there's no room at the inn.   Bring ground tackle.  Anchoring off the harbor entrance is not so bad in the winter, when there are only small waves to contend with.  But summer, when you'll be coming, not so small.  In fact, some boats couldn't even get into the Ala Wai channel during the 15' swell that closed out the entrance during the last TransPac.  On second thought, anchoring here in the summer, um, maybe not an option either.   The good news is that they may have a spot for you in the next nearest location, Fanning Island, in the Kiribati island group, about 1,000 miles south of here.  Bring suntan lotion.  Their harbor environment is better managed down there and, while English is not their first language, they seem to understand it better than administrators here.

Hawaii is still paradise . . .  just don't take anything for granted.  Our current leadership seems to be MIA, so we who live here in Hawaii look forward to your positive contributions to our beautiful ocean recreation environment.

Oh, and as it says at the bottom of the sign in the park next door, the one with the long list of caveats, warnings, and restrictions . . . Have Fun!

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