October 17: Blog from David Komine / A Night to Remember
Going into our 9th day of sailing, we all have been blessed with a great crew and favorable conditions. Everyone is finding their groove while under sail, as we all have acclimated to both our canoe and climate conditions. What was once new and different is now familiar and routine. The cold wind we only feel on the highest mountains at home is now the norm.
Our voyage started out with a mellow introduction as the winds and seas were very light, allowing us to get a gentle feel of Hikianalia. The first few days were great, but the forecast was for a front to move in and change everything.
On day 5, conditions changed dramatically as the predicted front began to hammer away at us to the point where our sails were fully reefed or had to be dropped. We were sailing at a reach to hold course, which was hard on Hiki. The pounding built up all day and through the night. As the hours passed, a banging and cracking noise we had never heard before got louder and louder to the point where it sounded like someone was pounding the hulls with a baseball bat and like beams were breaking apart. There was an unspoken concern on everyone’s expression, but at 2 am there was nothing we could do about it. The canoe was holding together, and no water was breaching the hulls.
The banging was so loud at our bunks that I went up to the captain’s hale on the deck and lay on the floor to try and get some rest, as my watch started at 0600 hours. I needed sleep, and after 45 minutes I remembered I had a pair of earplugs in my gear bag. I went back down to my bunk and found them, along with the Father Damien pendant my wife had given to me for luck and safe passage. The thought of limping to Tahiti wore on me, but the earplugs did the trick as I fell asleep quickly after putting them in.
I went up on deck early to start my watch and waited for first light. I wanted to see with my own eyes what was causing all the noise. Visions of planks and line dragging in the water between the hulls crossed my mind, and I was willing to bet that was the problem. I hooked my safety line onto the jack line and hung over the forward deck to get an upside down view of what I didn’t want to see. What I saw was a total shock and surprise to me.
Nothing! Absolutely nothing.
I hung there for about 5 minutes, expecting to see something slam against the hull, but it all looked rock solid.
After reporting back to Bruce and the crew what I saw, we came to the conclusion that the minute twisting and flexing of the new canoe’s iakos against the gunwales and deck planks caused a loud cracking and banging noise that is magnified within the hulls. When we later sailed hard downwind, there was almost no noise at all.
It was a pleasant relief to all of us that Hikianalia was sound, and a reminder that the ocean can make any vessel speak clearly to you.