The Giant Turtle Emerges
by Tom Gebhardt  


As the morning sun rose higher in the sky, I knew time was burning quickly.  I still wanted to check a million things before getting underway.   I had cleaned the bilges and got the oil leak all cleaned up the day before, and as always, there were not enough hours in the day.  I ran through lists of ice, beer, food, fuel, sleeping provisions and medicine. “It’s only overnight,” I thought, as I continued ticking off my list.

I finally got underway about noon and headed for a short sail up toward Diamond Head buoy before turning down toward Hickam Harbor.  The wind was fresh, 20-30 knots and I made good time aboard “Giant Turtle”, a Lancer 29 sloop.

She was happy to be at sea and I was even happier.   After weeks of fitting her out with batteries, alternator, regulator, belts, and standing rigging, then fixing an oil line which sprang a leak while testing the rigging, I finally felt I was ready to cruise a little.

 I passed the “H” buoy marking the entrance to Honolulu Harbor and gave a yell to the silly birds hanging out there.  They looked at me as if I was nuts.  Okay, I was a little, but this is single-handed sailing.  You got to pick your moments.  I kept myself entertained.  I spotted Leon aboard Alchemy, out for a daysail.  I don’t think he saw me as I acted a fool, whistling and yelling at them off the Keehi Harbor entrance, again being a nut.

I sailed outside of a tanker moored just south of Keehi Harbor and I noticed, a little too late, that “Moonshadow” was on the inside.  We were both headed toward Pearl Harbor entrance and I soon found myself running them down.

Cruising Fleet
Giant Turtle, Moonshadow, Seaquel and Millie D

We both headed toward the Hickam Harbor entrance together.  The wind was blowing stink and it was a job to get the sails down.  We entered under power and headed back into Hickam Harbor, dropping anchors in 15 ft. of good soft mud.  “Giant Turtle” held fast and I let out 100 ft. of chain.   It felt good to settle back and roll with the swell.  Now, to pop a cool one to take the edge off.   Ah, that’s it.  Cruising again.

Fleet Captain Bill Beadle offered up his boat “Millie D” to host a potluck dinner at 6 pm or so.  Bill and Barb had the BBQ roaring and the chicken smelled great.  After a few dinghy trips, courtesy of Mike and Patti S. from Seaquel, everyone                                                                                      came aboard the “Millie D”, dry and on time.

The sailing vessel “Moonshadow” provided the lion’s share of the crew:  Patty and Jeff Naus, Leslie Moore, Ralph and Jackie Sprague, and Glen Pang.  With myself aboard “Giant Turtle”, and Patti and Mike from Seaquel, and Bill and Barbara aboard Millie D, we had about 11 sailors from 4 boats, each bringing pot luck dishes.  We talked and laughed and ate and drank into the evening.

Morning came, as it sometimes does with the sunrise, and the coffee in the cockpit was calming as the body worked out the stiffness of the cool night.  Few planes had roared last night.   Hard to believe we are only a few hundred yards from a major airport runway.  I slipped into the water “due to the slick morning dew on the deck” but a hot shower sure felt great.  Bill rowed over and wished us a good morning and pointed out that he had seen his old boat out in the crowd of boats moored in Hickam’s basin.  As I turned to look for it, suddenly my eye went right to my 2nd boat, “Meridian”, a Chris Craft 26 sailboat, swinging on a mooring ball.  Haven’t seen her in a few years.  She looked sweet.  It’s funny how you just never know where an old boat, like an ol’ flame, will show up.

Giant Turtle

As I was finishing up the breakfast dishes I noticed “Sequel” was heading out the channel.  Up came my 100 ft. of dirty chain.  The white, almost clay bottom holds good but is messy.  I had to wipe down the deck before raising sail.  Soon I had both sails up and was making way under motor sail toward the outside.  Another boat (a big green thing) passed inside and exited the narrow cut before I did.  I think they stayed aboard last night too, but we did not notice them. “I hope they did not think us rude for not stopping by,” I thought to myself.

The wind on the outside was weaker and soon I decided to put up the Genoa.  The sail change improved my performance greatly and I flew toward Diamond Head.  In short order I doused the sails and headed into Ala Wai Boat Harbor and motored to the slip.   Jumping off and tying up was the last hurdle for the “Turtle”.

Home again, it’s clean up time, and I am tired, yet very content. Again I am so glad we could do this as a group, they are all a great bunch.  What a fantastic way to waste a weekend.  Keeps me looking forward to the next weekend.

Capt. Tom Gebhardt
SV “Giant Turtle”

Editor's Note:   Tom has recently moved up from an O'day 26
which he sailed singlehanded interisland
and around Oahu. He has been a frequent
contributor to this web site.