A sailor's intuition is it's strongest tool
I had been on the beautiful island of Oahu almost 2 months and had stood up on a surfboard maybe a handful of times. I had assumed after watching Lilo and Stitch that I'd be a natural, but it was just like everything else in life. Practice was the only way to perfect.
Something that had come a little more naturally to me had been learning to sail. From the first week to where I stood now I was finally able to take a boat out by myself for a little tour of the island. It was important to make sure everything from the gps on my tiny rented sail boat was operating, to making sure none of the ropes were suffering from massive erosion. Every detail counted and I couldn’t wait to triple check everything.
"Are you sure you're ready for this?" My instructor Josh had asked me, ready to revoke my privileges to his vessel with the slightest inclination that I was nervous.
"Trust me, I've got a great teacher." I joked sending him a smile, hoping to convey how excited and dedicated I was to making sure his baby was in good hands.
We reviewed the few docks between Waikiki beach and where I was headed, double checking everything with him still on board. His hesitation thick on my skin leaving the greasy feel of my sunscreen invisible to the torment of his gaze.
I looked over the keel and though practically taboo to compare any boat to another, it was eerily similar to the boat that made me fall in love with watercrafts in the first place. The very one described in the book Charlie St. Cloud, and I felt as if I was living my very own dream.
I steadied the mast and followed the wind to get myself aligned with my compass and set sail for what would be a 6 hour voyage total. I turned on the stereo to play some lo-fi music and welcomed the mist from the ocean as I sat with my thoughts.
I curled around the beautiful mountains of the island and let myself become completely captivated with my surroundings, no other one moment of my life coming to mind besides the one I resided in. I welcomed the slipping away of the faces in my life and instead replaced them with each new wave curving around the front of the boat.
Knowing it would delay my arrival, I stopped to eat off the side of the island only a quarter way into my journey, always eating with the sun rather than with the moon. Feeling the anchor dig through the sand and steady us to a stop as the island stood place as a giant parasol shading me from the sun. I sat quietly picking at the packed sandwich I had as I watched several boats pass me by, some gracing me with a look, others too deep in their own moment to steal a glance at me.
One boat in particular caught my eye, a yacht near my same size and model coming in my direction before docking close enough to yell across the space between us as I watched a man busy himself with the anchor. He tied the necessary knots as I looked for the craft's name but found instead a detailed embellishment of a shark in black against the red color of his vessel.
“Mind if I come over?” A man yelled across to me as I weighed my options. From what I could see he looked to be a man about my age, and from the technique he just displayed in anchoring the boat a well rounded sailor with nice arms.
“That depends on what for!!” I yell back, keeping my tone light and unbothered looking at the vessel and deducing it’s voyage wear that showed many unattended scratches and barnacles, signs of a longer voyage than I had ever been on.
“Out of clean water!” He yelled back before positioning the plank from my boat to his as I waved him across and watched cautiously as his feet hit the white wooden deck, my knife used for cutting the ropes in my back pocket as a safety measure.
I make use of the time to grab two fresh gallons from under the deck and reappear to meet the man now on board my ship. A matching tattoo to his vessel on his forearm, my eyes scanning his appearance. He looked to be around the age of 26 (my age) with dark brown hair that showed the grease and sweat of what living at sea entails. His white tank top holding his well sculpted body with evident tan lines that complemented his light eyes causing me to rock back and forth with unease in the presence of such a beautiful man.
He took the water hurriedly and drank as much as he could, drinking in my appearance as well, probably wondering what journey I was yet to embark on.
“A fan of sharks?” I ask mostly making small talk, speaking to attractive men hardly something I consider myself good at, focusing on my sandwich as I wait for his response.
“I could ask you the same thing.” He smiled displaying perfect teeth and dimples. I shoot him a confused glance before he continues, clearly catching on that I have no idea what he’s implying. “You docked in sharks cove, one of the most popular shark destinations near the island.”
I look around me, now very aware of what he’s talking about having talked about this particular destination with Josh since a ship had crashed against the rocks earlier in the year.
“Just stopping for a bite.” I say raising my hands in mock surrender. “I think we both know that a shark isn’t likely to attack a human even if I were to fancy a swim.” I say sitting on the small seat the front of the boat offers, my feet sitting pigeon toed as I searched for my next question. “And you?”
He nods before sitting next to me and we both sit looking back and forth at each other, our light eyes dancing with the water with the unanswered questions just about every sailor has for the other.
What made it so you ran away?
“Sharks, as you mentioned, are mostly misunderstood creatures.” He stopped looking at the mountain to my right.”...and I guess I feel like I’m one of them as well.” he chuckled, shooting me a glance. “Though I may have a bloodlust towards fish, I mostly stick to my own and like the feel of the water against my skin.” He smiles again causing me to smile in return.
The wind sprays some water into the air between us as if asking us to continue as I oblige after holding eye contact for too long once again.
“Where are you headed?” I ask watching the sun lower in the sky, this stranger's knee touching mine allowing me some warmth I didn’t know I was lacking.
“Do you believe in coincidences?” He asks not answering my question, a hint of mischief in his eye that I grab onto ready to play whatever game he hints at.
“Well, I believe in intuition.” I respond quickly. “They say intuition is the first thing you need to learn while sailing, even before you trust the ropes. So, if you follow that intuition it won’t lead you to any coincidences if they do exist.” I finish trying to catch a glimpse of understanding as he listens. He runs his hands through his hair before smiling once again and dropping his hands back to the water I had given him before standing up.
“Well believe it or not, your spot on.” He replies, causing both of us to laugh, though I note the ignorance in the statement. “I think intuition is what led me to this spot, so I have to ask… why did my intuition lead me to you?” He asks. It takes my breath away from a moment, a statement that feels endearing in every way as he starts walking back to his ship with a jug of water in each hand.
“What makes you so special I let you get on my boat?” I call in response as he removes the plank between the two boats, his laugh carrying past the waves as he begins to start preparing for some other place his intuition leads him.
I prepare my boat to sail as I watch him sail in the opposite direction and shake my head before focusing on my journey ahead and getting back on track. I sail until the next morning my hands raw from the ropes, and heart high from the encounter and the ocean that all share the same message of following wherever the water (or life) may take you.
As I dock at the next harbor and meet Josh to tell him about my journey and what difficulties I had faced I finally tell him about the encounter as he listens intensely before answering.
“That’s the sailor we call hammerhead.” He explains with a smile on his face. “Interesting though, he’s about your age and one of the most anti-social sailors I’ve ever met. Got even worse when that boat crashed earlier this year in that area, some people gossip it’s because he saw the crash and couldn’t stop it.” He says as we walk towards the docks.
Nearly a week later I had walked towards the main dock of the island towards the facebook market contact selling their boat, letting them know of my need for a payment plan rather than giving them the money flat out.
Though it had no picture of the vessel, or seller, but rather a picture of sharks cove it was the only account willing to answer to a payment plan option.
Having met Hammerhead the week before and replaying the connection in my head every morning and night since, I asked my intuition what it thought and wasn’t the least bit surprised when it led me to the same stranger, selling the same red boat with a shark print on the side, and not the least bit surprised when he asked me to dinner that same night.
“Meeting you made me want to give people a chance again.” He had smiled at the beachside cafe we had settled on. His dark hair now in a styled wave with a striped half unbuttoned shirt that made me touch our knees under the table regaining the same warmth I found only a week earlier.
“Funny, meeting you made me want to buy a boat to find people like you again.” I smiled back as he ordered two sandwiches similar to the one I had eaten on the boat the day we met.