SALT

We are now officially done with LTP! But before we tell you all about that we would like to recap our last adventure trip; SALT (Sailing Adventure Leadership Training). SALT was an amazing experience filled with both challenging and beautiful moments.

Getting up at the break of dawn, we met in the parking lot on the morning of the 28th of February. Our leaders explained that we would be sailing on two different boats; the Whistling Swan and the Naia, and announced the teams that would be sailing with each other. Junia and I were thrilled to be on the same boat. As soon as they were done explaining the teams we threw our backpacks and snorkeling gear in the truck and drove down to the harbor in Honolulu. After a short wait in the harbor we met up with our captains and got to see the boats we would call home for the next five days. We, along with Lucy, Kat and two leaders, got assigned to the Whistling Swan, an approximately twelve meter long monohull. The other half of our class and leaders were assigned to the Naia, an approximately twelve meter long catamaran. After being introduced to our captains they explained that the wind was too strong for us to sail to the other islands; we would have to stay around Oahu. The wind was gusting to 35 knots in the channel between Oahu and Molokai. Our captain explained that this, combined with a big swell, would be too risky to attempt with an inexperienced crew. None of us have much sailing experience, and as we made up the entire crew, we were happy to take the captains word for it. As soon as we had finished meeting the captains we loaded our gear into the boats and set off towards the west coast of Oahu. The first couple of hours were exciting as we got introduced to the boat and how to sail it. After about two hours at sea reality struck. All of us — besides Junia and Captain Matt — started getting seasick. In no time at all half of us were laying on the deck with our heads over the side, ‘feeding the fish’. I just sat like a ghost on the deck fighting the nausea. Thinking that it would get better after the first day; I didn’t take any seasickness medicine. I would only come to realize the stupidity of my decision on the fourth day when I finally gave in, after three days of perpetual seasickness, and took seasickness medicine. Our first day was mainly sailing and getting used to our boat. While sailing we got approached by a school of dolphins heading in the same direction as us. It was awe-inspiring to see them glide through the water with complete grace as they passed by the side of, and underneath, our boat. We made it to Pokai Bay, our first stop, just in time to anchor down and go for a swim before sunset. Pokai Bay is located halfway up the west coast of Oahu. As the bay was well sheltered we could tie the boats to each other. This made a fun evening of playing games and talking story, for Junia at least. I was exhausted from the day and went straight to bed after dinner.

The Whistling Swan anchored in Pokai Bay The Whistling Swan anchored in Pokai Bay

We did not get a lot of sleep on SALT. Nightwatch, combined with eating breakfast by six thirty every morning meant that there was almost never a full night’s sleep. Luckily we did a morning swim every day to wake us up. On the second day, after our morning swim and quiet time, we sailed further up the west coast. By midday we arrived at a FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) located off the northern shores of the west coast. These are buoys placed in deep water off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands to attract fish. Upon arriving at the buoy we got into the water with our snorkeling gear. This deepwater diving is part of the SALT trip and is meant to push us out of our comfort zones and help us overcome our fear. We knew it was coming and it was one of the parts of the trip that I was looking forward to. Junia and I love snorkeling and do it as often as time permits. We have been snorkeling in lots of different places and there’s always a little bit of fear, or respect, that comes along with it. Being in the middle of open water and jumping over the side of the boat is actually quite frightening. However; once we were in the water it soon became a tranquil experience, unlike any diving we had ever done before. All we could see was blue water with the sun’s rays reaching down to the vast depths below us. This moment was one of, if not, the most memorable of the entire trip. We didn’t see many fish but caught a glimpse of a big Mahi Mahi as it came closer to investigate us before disappearing back into the blue. When we were done the boats picked us up and we headed to where we would anchor for the night. We decided to anchor as close to Kaena Point (the north-west point of Oahu) as we could because we were planning to sail along the north shore the following day. This meant that we dropped anchor for the night in Yokohama Bay, which is not really much of a bay. The water was choppy and our boat, being a monohull, rocked back and forth quite vigorously. As it was around four in the afternoon we decided to take the dinghy to shore and go for a hike. In order for the dinghy to avoid the waves we had to jump into the water and swim the last thirty meters to shore. It was weird to stand on land after two solid days at sea and as we walked it still felt like the earth was moving beneath us. We walked towards Kaena Point but did not have enough time to make it all the way to the point before having to turn around in order to be back at the boat before dark. When we got back on the boat we cooked dinner and watched the sunset. The boat was rocking so much that by the time dinner was done we had all lost our appetites. We decided to head to bed so we could get the night over with and move on to calmer waters.

Deepwater diving Deepwater diving

After a rocky night we were ready to start sailing again. As we were eating breakfast a school of dolphins passed between our boats. After finishing our breakfast we got ready for our morning swim. Just as we were about to get in the water the school of dolphins passed by once more, right underneath the people from the other boat who were already in the water. Even though we didn’t see the dolphins in the water it was still an awesome experience to see dolphins again on our third day. After getting out of the water we immediately started sailing as we were all, Captain Matt included, sick of the boat rocking back and forth. Heading for Kaena Point, we soon passed it and started up the north shore towards Haleiwa. It was a calm day and we made it to Haleiwa by early afternoon. We were all exhausted after the night at Yokohama Bay and most of us took a nap after having a late lunch. After our quiet (nap) time we walked into the town of Haleiwa. Haleiwa is the closest coastal town to where we live, so we know it quite well. Somehow we still managed to end up in a ice cream shop that none of us knew existed. We sat down as a team and ate one of the best bowls of ice cream that I have ever had. I think the fact that we were enjoying the ice cream on dry land probably made it all the more sweet. That evening we gathered together to have a short Bible study. Afterwards we listened to some worship music and just enjoyed a time of worshipping and praying for one another. We ended the evening with a cup of hot chocolate as we played games together.

Sunset behind the Naia Sunset behind the Naia

On the morning of the fourth day my will was broken. I finally gave in to common sense and took seasickness medicine. I continued to take the medicine for the rest of the trip and, to my delight, didn’t get nauseous anymore. The first thing we had to do was exercise on the beach close by the harbor. We were divided into teams and had to compete against each other in a number of challenges on the beach and in the water. After completing all of the challenges we started sailing back to the west side. On our way back to Kaena Point we sailed by a whale and its calf that were headed in the same direction as us. It was breathtaking to see the two of them from up close and we marveled at their beauty. As we rounded Kaena Point we kept heading down the west coast, all the way to Electric Beach, where we anchored for the night. We arrived at Electric beach a couple of hours before dusk and could still go snorkeling. Electric Beach has its name from the electric plant that is located on the shore. The plant uses seawater for cooling and as a result pumps warm seawater back into the ocean. We anchored right beside the outlet pipe where there is always an abundance of sealife attracted by the warmer water. It was interesting to see large schools of fish around the mouth of the pipe and even some sea turtles chilling on the ocean floor. After snorkeling we cooked, ate and talked about life with our crew. We also played cards and just had a relaxing evening in the calm waters of Electric Beach.

Junia and Isak on the Whistling Swan Junia and Isak on the Whistling Swan

As the last day dawned we started on the final stretch back to the harbor in Honolulu. After about twenty minutes of motoring the engine suddenly made a loud clunking noise and stopped working. The captain tried to fix it but after struggling for a while he said that we would have to sail all the way back to the harbor. We had to sail almost directly against the wind and this meant that we had to sail in a zig-zag pattern. The wind was strong and the the Whistling Swan was leaning over so far that her port and starboard side were almost in the water. On our first tack away from the coast we started sailing into deeper water where the swells got bigger. The captain was on the radio and didn't notice the swells getting bigger. All of a sudden we were hit by a huge wave that washed over the entire deck. Those of us on deck where all completely soaked and some of us almost got washed off the boat. The main hatch was open and the captain was surprised by a wave of water coming down the hatch. After this wave we tacked back to shore and the captain told us to stick closer to shore where the swells were smaller. We sailed close to shore for the rest of the way. Just before getting to the harbor we called all hands to deck as we prepared for sailing into the harbor, to our slip, without an engine. The captain said that it was possible but we had to be fast with tacking and listen to his every word. As we entered the harbor we took a wide turn and sailed on the outside of the entrance buoy by a group of surfers who looked at us with puzzled looks on their faces. Once inside the harbor it was a series of tight tacks and near misses that got us all the way to the Whistling Swan’s slip. On the final tack we quickly dropped the mainsail and hopped onto the dock to stop the boat from bumping it’s bow on the dock. The moment the boat came to a halt we all let out a loud cheer and captain Matt did a little dance to celebrate a successful docking. As our boat was faster than the Naia we were docked about two-and-a-half hours before her. In this time we unloaded our stuff and cleaned the entire boat. Once the Naia arrived we helped the other half of our team unload their stuff and then headed home.

SALT was an amazing experience in God’s wonderful creation, not only filled with challenges but also breathtaking moments of awe at the beauty of our island home.

Evening swim Evening swim

We will have another post up soon to let you know how the last part of LTP went and where at STN we will be working. It’s the start of an exciting new season for us and we can’t wait to share more about it with you. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to our mailing list to receive an email every time we publish a new post.

The 9th of April 2018 marked the fourth year that Junia and I have been together. It has been an amazing journey filled with patience, adventure and most importantly — love. Thank you to everybody who has encouraged us and stood by us since the beginning of our relationship.