Welcome to Wanderer Wednesday! I am happy to to have Steve from More Kids Than Suitcases
humiliating himself sharing with us this week. More Kids Than Suitcases has quickly become one of my favorite new blogs, not only because it gives a rare glimpse of the traveling dad in his natural habitat, but also because it makes me laugh out loud. Check out his series on How Not to Act at the Plaza Hotel to see why you should be reading this every day.
Crazy Catamaran on Waikiki Beach
~More Kids Than Suitcases~
Sometimes really great ideas, aren't really great ideas. If you're lucky, somebody will point out to you that what you're about to do probably isn't all that wise. For instance, on my wedding day, my best man thought that it would be entertaining if we were to stop at a pub on the way to the ceremony. My wife was kind enough to point out to him that it wouldn't be a really great idea.
Sometimes nobody tells you that what you're doing isn't a great idea, even though they know it probably isn't. In high school I bleached my hair blonde and then dyed an inch on each end pitch black. I'm pretty sure that even my fashion challenged friends could figure out that this wasn't a great idea, but for some reason nobody tried to talk me out of it (To my wife's chagrin, I have no picture to post here.).
Occasionally though, you've got to figure it out for yourself. It was a learning experience like this that had our family out on a catamaran off the coast of Oahu a while back. Doesn't sound like a bad idea does it? Getting on the boat itself probably wasn't a bad idea. The chain of decisions that I made after that however…
|The Hyatt towering over Waikiki Beach|
I should say that it wasn't just me who wanted to get out on the catamaran. All week we'd been watching from our balcony at the Hyatt across the street from Waikiki beach as this big yellow catamaran would pull up on the beach, load up with tourists, and head out on the ocean. My girls in particular really wanted to go for a ride, but it seemed like the boat attracted quite a party crowd, and that's not usually the kind of atmosphere I like to put my kids in. From our vantage point though, we noticed that the very first sailing of the day at 10am was very sparsely populated, so we decided that on our last full day, we'd get up early and hit the high seas.
We got to the beach about five minutes early, spent a few minutes trying to figure out who to pay for the tour (Hint: it's the lady with the beach chair and umbrella on the beach. Don't bother looking for signs.), then climbed on board. We took the seats in the main part of the boat, figuring that the other people joining us would probably prefer to be out on the net at the front of the boat, but by 10 o'clock we were still the only people on board. We waited a few minutes for any stragglers but got no takers, so off we went, our public tour having turned in to a private charter. Since there was nobody else on board, my oldest daughter decided that she wanted to climb out on the net, and being the responsible Dad that I am, I made her brother go out there with her. Eventually though, I was persuaded (by a slap on the back of my head from my wife) to go out on the net with my kids. This is where you start the count of bad decisions.
The journey out was actually really fun. They took the boat out towards Diamond Head, and we got a chance to relax in the sun while admiring the beauty of Honolulu from the ocean. The odd wave would splash up occasionally and give a little misting to those of us out on the net, but generally just enough to keep us cool. I could hear my wife and youngest daughter laughing at us, but I wasn't too worried about it as I was really enjoying myself.
Since the ride was seeming fairly calm, my kids and I decided to lay face down on the net and look for some sea life. Go ahead and mark off bad decision #2. Waves that splash your back feel very different from waves that blast you in the stomach and face. Each time we felt the boat rise up a wave, we would brace ourselves because we knew we were about to get slammed with salt water when we came down. It was still fun, but I was beginning to worry a little about swallowing so much sea water. At one point, over the ever increasing laughter that I could hear from the girls in the back, I heard the captain call out to me "Are you getting really wet?" Not wanting to turn around, I let go of the net with one hand and gave him the thumbs up.
And there you have bad decision #3, as apparently what the captain really said was "Are you ready to get really wet?" It took a couple of waves, but then things got a little nuts. We started climbing up a wave, but unlike the the other waves, this time we just kept climbing. Knowing that eventually we were going to have to come down the other side of this massive tidal wave, I grabbed my daughter and pulled her in real tight so that I could keep a grip on her if the boat flipped. The boy was on his own now (that'll teach him to mock my swimsuit) but I could only do so much. I could hear the laughter reaching hysterical levels behind me, and while I was worried that they were breaking down with fear, it was already too late for me to help as just then, we started to drop.
I don't know if you can actually "get air" with a boat, but that's what it felt like. The descent seemed to take forever, as we got to watch the flat of the water coming towards us through our not-at-all protective netting. When we hit, it felt like I'd done a belly flop off a high dive board into a pool that was drained of all it's water. The sea ran over our heads and it seemed like we were sinking to the very bottom of the ocean, but eventually we resurfaced, and I began to survey the damage. My daughter was still with me on the net, but was trying to spit out a couple gallons of sea water. The boy had flopped over on his back next to her, gasping for air, but still intact. I spun around to check on my girls, expecting to see a scene out of Gilligan's Island with the captain and the first mate fighting to stop the wheel from spinning. Perhaps the captain had even been knocked unconscious by the blast of the wave and Lori would be trying to hold the course of the ship while my youngest daughter bailed frantically. Yes, that's what I was expecting to see. Instead…
OK perhaps I had overestimated the size of that last wave. A second glance revealed that the boy was on his back because he was laughing too hard to face down anymore, and my daughter was actually trying to get the taste of my hand out of her mouth after I had tried to cover it to prevent her screaming (or breathing, who really knows what I was thinking). There was no damage to the ship, and the only water that needed bailing came from my wife's water bottle which she had knocked over while laughing at the crazy people out on the net.
Fortunately (for me anyways) that was as far out as we had time to take the boat, and after we turned around to head back towards Waikiki the waves were moving in a different direction, making the ride back the equivalent of a nice, smooth, glass bottom boat tour. We got to relax on the net, dry out, and admire the scenery, although I will admit that I kept an eye out for any stray tsunami waves that might be in the area. Within a half hour we were back on the beach in Honolulu, trying to figure out the appropriate tip for a crew that had tried to commit you to Davy Jones Locker (the correct answer is 25%).
I don't know if the head on assault of the ocean is normal for the catamaran or if the captain felt he could be a little more aggressive with just the one family on board (less witnesses if something goes wrong). I suspect that there may have been some words of encouragement for larger waves given by my wife and daughter back in the seated area. In any case, the journey seems to have been a huge success. All three of my children reflect fondly on being out on the water in Hawaii, and my wife has told me time and time again how much fun it was. As for me, I promise you that this is the last time I want to talk about it.