We had not sailed since we sold our sailboat, Keola, to Bill Finnegan, the Producer of Hawaii 5-0. One fun thing we missed was inviting the high school kids from our Sunday school class to join us sailing after church. We’d pack a lunch and eat when we anchored off Waikiki.
We were approached at the Sailing Club by Major John Fairbanks, United States Air Force, with a proposition to buy 1/2 interest, and partner with him on his 27 foot sloop, named Spectre. Quite a step up for us dreamers, but we justified it by thinking we could now bring more of the Sunday school class down to enjoy the sailing. John’s deal was he would clean the bottom of the boat, and buy gas, and we would keep the topside clean.
John crewed for us, and helped until we could “solo.” Spectre slept 6 and had a dinette, sink, ice box, stove, head, and electric start inboard/outboard motor. We moored alongside the dock, not bow on, and with the motor, I would put it in reverse and adjust our approach speed. We also rigged a catchline so docking was much easier.
On a day when storm warnings were up, we had a barbecue/picnic and a boat-waxing party for our Sunday school class at the Marina Clubhouse. (How would you wax 27 feet of fiberglass?) We traded rides for work and the kids had fun doing it. The payoff was to take everybody sailing the following Sunday.
It was a beautiful day! Specter moved gracefully along at 8 knots in a good breeze, with the hiss of water by the hull, harmonized by the soft buzz of the sail’s edge and accented occasionally by a line slapping the mast or the bow slamming into a wave. White clouds, blue skies, and a rainbow across the valley; flying fish skipping across the water, and far out to sea, we saw whales spouting. (We don’t go near to play with those big guys!)
But the soft symphony and beauty must not lull the senses to a lack of alertness. The wind dropped off, and we put up the big Lapper jib. (It laps back past the mast and over the mainsail several feet.) Going so slow it would take too long to return to the Club, so I started the motor, and we dropped the sails.
We were motoring in the channel of the lagoon when the motor sputtered to a stop — out of gas! Quick as a flash, Betty was on deck to hoist the jib sail again, and we were under sail before the wind could turn us onto the sandbar. Moving very slowly, we needed our guests to work jib sheets (lines) under pressure, because the jib had to be reset quickly to the opposite side each time we tacked back and forth in the narrow channel.
It was a bit tense, but all went well as we sailed up to the dock — for the first time. We moored with a sigh of relief!