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Kauai – July 5, 2007

Thursday

Once again we were awakened by the wild roosters outside the hotel. This time we were prepared, though. We had earplugs on our bedside tables. We put them in and went blissfully back to sleep until 7:00.

The plan for the day was to spend the afternoon on a catamaran cruise up the Na Pali coast. The cruise would include a stop for snorkeling. We ate breakfast in our room, eating the last of the Raisin Bran, and then packed our towels and clothes for the snorkel trip.

We had some time before we needed to leave for Poipu, so we found a quiet alcove in the lobby where we could enjoy the breeze. I wrote in this journal while Chris read. Chris suggested we get massages before the wedding, so we looked in the Yellow Pages for a spa. We selected Alexander’s Day Spa at the Lihue Marriott and made reservations for a couple’s massage on the beach at noon the next day.

Na Pali Coast Cruise

At 11:00 we left for Poipu. We needed to be there by noon to rendezvous with the rest of the cruise passengers, and we were taking two family friends of Heath’s to the marina in our car. On the way through Lihue, we stopped at a Subway sandwich shop and bought lunch to take with us on the boat. We arrived at the Hyatt in Poipu just before noon.

As the group assembled we met more of Heath and Mini’s family and friends, including Heath’s mum, Sondra. We also met Marg and Jonathan, who would be riding with us from Poipu to the Port Alan Marina in Ele’ele, very close to Glass Beach.

About 12:15, everyone was assembled and we took off for the marina. We had a wonderful time chatting with Marg and Jonathan during the half-hour-long drive. We checked in at the desk at Captain Andy’s and waited for our boat’s captain to meet us on the deck outside the office. When he was ten minutes overdue, Chris and I unwrapped our sandwiches. Our purpose was two-fold: 1) we were hungry and 2) we figured the best way to get the captain to appear was to start eating.

Within a minute, our captain was greeting us and Chris and I were packing our sandwiches up again.

The captain herded us down to the dock where we all removed our shoes and boarded the Akialoa — a 42-foot catamaran sailboat. It has a covered cabin area with a bar, a cooler full of water and soft drinks, several tables, and lots of seating. There are two heads below decks. The forward part of the boat has benches and two “hammocks”—large trampoline-like sections of heavy cloth that join the cat’s twin hulls to its midsection.

After a safety briefing, we motored out of Hanapepe Bay and turned west. We continued to motor as we passed the Waimea Canyon. We turned north to follow the coast and passed the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands Beach, and Polihale Beach (where we had visited the day before).

Na Pali Coast

The north end of Polihale Beach marks the beginning of the Na Pali Coast. “Na Pali” is Hawaiian for “the cliffs.” From the water, it is easy to see why. For fifteen miles, the ocean rolls up to steep, tall cliffs. There are a number of small beaches where creeks drain into the Pacific, but the rest is just steep, inaccessible cliffs and canyons. The cliffs are pitted with many caves, some of which are at the waterline.

The Akialoa hugged the coastline as the captain gave us a running commentary about all the places we passed.

Just before 3:00, a few miles north of Polihale Beach, we dropped anchor and put out the dive platform. The captain gave us a safety briefing about snorkeling, and then most of us donned our fins and masks and swam off the rear platform of the boat. We swam for about 45 minutes, looking at the coral under eight to fifteen feet of water. There were lots of small fish around the coral and lots of bigger fish drawn by the slices of bread the crew flung from the boat.

When we emerged from our swim, the captain gave us a quick rinse with a shower spray. Swimming in salt water makes me very thirsty, so I headed straight to the cooler and drank a couple of bottles of water. Once all the swimmers were back on board, the captain called the roll to make sure we hadn’t left anyone behind.

Na Pali Coast

By 4:00, we were on our way north again, with the captain continuing his narration of the sights. We saw a number of small waterfalls, one sea turtle, five goats (including a dead one in the water), several hikers and lots of kayakers.

Just before 5:00, the captain turned into the wind and the crew raised the catamaran’s sails. Since we were not going to be swimming anymore, the crew opened the adult beverage bar—beer, wine, and a mixed drink with rum called a “sneaky tiki.”

After half an hour of sailing, we reached the lee of the island and lost our wind. Down came the sails and we motored the rest of the way back to Port Allen. During the return cruise the crew served a very nice dinner with different kinds of meet, vegetables, salad, and dessert.

At 7:00, as the sun approached the horizon, the captain slowed the boat down. As we motored east, we watched the sun set behind us. As soon as it disappeared, we sped up and headed north into Hanapepe Bay and back to the dock. We thanked the crew, reclaimed our shoes and trekked back uphill to our car.

We drove back to Poipu with Marg and Jonathan and dropped them off at the Hyatt. Then we drove ourselves back to Kapa’a. When we got there, we were exhausted. We showered, read for a few minutes, and then turned out the light at 10:00.


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