Lothlorién

 

Two years ago, before I started this current blog, I created another blog that was designed to talk about my life as a sailboat live-aboard. That blog didn’t last long, because it was during those few weeks of its existence that I came up with the idea for “Lava to Lilikoi.”

So from time to time, I thought I would post something about the special time my son and I had for five years of adventurous living on a sailboat.

In the late 1970s, when Flower Power and Free Love were languishing, I flirted with trading the equity in my house for equity in a new 37′ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. Within five months, I became a “live-aboard” with fifteen-year-old Erik, my youngest child. We christened our new home Lothlorién, for the sanctuary in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy to which the Elf King and Elf Queen transported Frodo and his friends at a critical point in their adventure.

In Tolkien’s story, it was within the Lothlorién that all their healing and protection took place, while all the dangers and threats were forced to remain outside its borders. Our Lothlorién was that haven for us, our personal sanctuary of peace, safety, and healing. We needed the storms of life to remain outside. We often invited our friends to savor that sanctuary with us for a day sail, a weekend cruise, or sometimes longer. Tolkien’s famous quote was our motto – “…not all those who wander are lost.”

 

Characters who don’t know much about boats always ask, “How many does she sleep?” That’s the wrong question! We sailors usually respond by saying that a sailboat will “drink six, feed four and sleep two.” There may be room enough to sleep an army by spreading people out over decks and into hammocks, but you abandon all carnal comforts in doing so. Naturally, this can depend on just how close you are with the friends you bring along, too. My boat basically was designed to sleep six, but six people really wouldn’t do that if they wanted to remain friends after the cruise was over.

 

One summer, I hadn’t gotten paid for about three months. The insurance company that reimbursed us for most of our clients was undergoing a major change in their computer system. None of us in the clinic where I worked were getting paid on a regular basis. My boys and I were hanging on by a thread.

So what does a girl do when the going gets tough? She spends a week moored at the Isthmus of Catalina Island with a good book, and leaves her troubles behind.

 

We were really living a good life, in spite of having no money. I had a bag of masa, a hunk of cheddar cheese, a few eggs, and stuff like spices. The boys were fishing and diving for abalone. What else do you really need for food? We had lots of homemade tortillas with melted cheddar and scrambled eggs, along with plenty of fresh fish and abalone. That’s when abalone was still plentiful in California.

Someone taught us how to eat raw abalone. Instead of pounding it like you need to if you cook it, you cut the raw meat into pieces like shoestring potatoes. Dip it into a mix of soy sauce, ginger, and anything else your taste buds desired, and munch! It’s a wonderful treat!!

 

Once, when folks from our local sail fleet had a cookout, we showed up with fresh sheepshead, abalone, and hot tortillas. Everyone else was roasting wieners and opening cans of beans. Even though we didn’t have money for hamburgers or wieners, we ate well – and were the envy of everyone else.

When I feel bogged down with Life, I sometimes think about what fun it would be to live on a boat again.

A hui hou!

Metaphors

One of my readers hoped that the reason I hadn’t been blogging recently was because I was off drawing with my new-found pastel chalks. I wish I could say that was my excuse for being absent this last month, but the truth is that I have been doing my best to lift the spring semester off the ground.

One of my favorite courses to teach is “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” Not only do they learn how to use the expressive arts (writing, painting, clay, dance, music and more) in doing counseling, but to use the arts to re-discover the creativity within.

This past week I gave my students an assignment to write about one of the metaphors in their lives.

Metaphors are all around us, and I offered suggestions for my students to find them in unexpected places.

One of my personal favorites is the metaphor of sailing. I’ve used it so many times in the past that it’s almost become a cliché, and yet it is a strong metaphor for me. Those of you who have been reading my posts fairly regularly will remember that I lived on my 37’ sloop for five years.

I moved off my sailboat to the Phoenix area when I was assigned to be a pastor there. About six months into that appointment, one of the men in the church came to me and said, “This is the first Sunday you haven’t mentioned sailing.” He went ahead to say that he wasn’t tired of it, but that it emphasized the fact of how many ways sailing was a rich metaphor for our lives.

We’ve seen many sailing metaphors illustrated on posters or key chains and the like. I am reminded of one metaphor in particular that continually comes into my life, and that is the way we have to maneuver the boat in order to get to our destination.

You know that a sailboat cannot go directly into the wind without being stalled. The sailor must tack back and forth, sailing just off the wind, yet never losing sight of our goal.

The same thing is true of my life. When I am not able to sail directly toward my goal without getting stalled, I don’t need to let that stop me. I can veer off course a little as long as I keep in mind where I ultimately want to go.

This has been true so many times – with education, career, home, relationships. How easy it would have been to give up, rather than to let the wind carry me in a different direction!

A hui hou!

Christmas Parade of Lights

Honolulu Parade of Lights
Honolulu Parade of Lights

 

From 1979 to 1996 I owned a 37’ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat named Lothlorién. Five of those years, I lived on board in the Oceanside Harbor of Southern California. Each year in December, the sail fleet of the Oceanside Yacht Club had their Christmas Parade of Lights. Just before I moved to Hawaii, I sold that boat and I still miss her.

The first Christmas I spent in Hawaii, I went to the Annual Parade of Lights and stood at the Aloha Tower Marketplace to watch after dinner. It brought tears to my eyes, remembering the joyful times I’d had on the Lothlorién. The photo above is only one of the boats that night. It was dark, so I’m not sure you can see it clearly. But look at the crowd of spectators that gathered at the docks to watch!

There was a great ritual around that parade. Because we were sailboats, we didn’t have the electricity that the powerboaters had. So there was the process of trying to locate a generator to power up our lights. Then the night of the parade, there was a big scuttle to see in which order the boats would go.

Of course, all the boats were always moving, so lining up wasn’t an easy task. Once we were all in position, the local Coast Guard cutter led us out to sea and along the coastline. We all finished up at the Yacht Club for a little more celebration.

I love the simple beauty of sailboat Christmas lights. We would string up lights fore and aft making it look like a giant triangle, or Christmas tree. It was rather stately, I thought.

Please pardon the bias, but the powerboats were usually too loud and gaudy. You might already know that there is a friendly rivalry between sailors and powerboaters. But in the spirit of Christmas and human kindness (Mitzvah), it was all in fun!

A hui hou!

Honokohau Harbor

 

Five years of my life were spent living on my 37’ O’Day sloop-rigged sailboat. It was something I’d dreamed of ever since I was a young girl. I remember reading many books about sailing and people living on boats, even though I’d never really been on a boat.

 

There are a few stories of my life of being a “liveaboard” on an old blog of mine. I sold that boat just a few years before I moved to Hawai`i, and I still miss it!

 

So when Judy Jones asked me to do a memorial service at sea for her husband, Bob, I jumped at the chance. Judy is a close friend, as well, and I assisted with the organization of a beautiful send-off out of the Honokohau Harbor here on the Kona side of the Big Island. Bob suffered a fatal heart attack while he was fishing on Christmas Island.

Here are a few pictures I took of that trip out into the Pacific Ocean when I wasn’t busy officiating. This first one shows some of the boats in the harbor as we pulled out.

 

This was the first time I’d seen Honokohau Harbor from the ocean side of the entrance. There is a mountain behind all that mist. We’d had small craft warnings all week. Then on the day of the service, it was calm and beautiful.

 

Here are a few more shots of the harbor from the ocean side. I probably should have put these into a collage, but I prefer looking at the bigger pictures of the ocean!

 

 

 

 

Friends joined us on their boats. When we were about five miles out, we had the ceremony and tossed leis into the water. The boats circled the leis several times, then headed back to the harbor. A beautiful Hawai`ian ritual! I wasn’t able to get a picture of that because I was in the process of officiating. I’ll need to leave that part to your imagination.

 

 

 

The skipper of the boat I was on had been Bob’s fishing partner on Christmas Island when Bob had his heart attack. He helped with the funeral the local Christmas Islanders held for Bob, and he placed Bob’s trusty fishing pole on top of the casket.

 

When we got back to shore, there was a huge potluck feast for everyone. It was a moving and yet joyous celebration of Bob’s life. He was well-loved by many.

A hui hou, Bob! You were well-loved by all!