I am parked in a forest next to a light blue lake (from glacier run off!) sitting in a van we rented to explore the south island of New Zealand. It’s a pre Share the Sail New Zealand inland adventure. I’m guessing this van has never seen terrain the likes of which it’s traversed this week, but that’s another story.
I just got word from our wonderful and talented editor Sue that they have found space in this issue for my Hawaii to Guam sailing adventure. As an addendum, the following is a quick recap of our visit to Guam and our stop through of Japan.
I was hired to sail a boat from Hawaii to Guam. The owners wife and dad accompanied myself and my best crew Mike Z. on the long sail. The feature story leaves off as we are arriving at the island of Guam. We pull in in the middle of the night. Sarah is able to raise her husband Tony on the radio. He is on shore and has been awaiting our arrival. Tony is with the Navy which has a large base on the south end of the island.
We contacted the Navy on the VHF and got permission to enter the secure harbor. We made our way to the dock where the enlisted kept their boats as per our instructions. We were greeted by Tony and a few of the local cruisers … in the middle of the night. How nice is that? Tony had a bucket full of iced coldies and a bottle of Crown for Mike Z. All was right in the world.
Tony called us up about ten-ish the next morning and asked if Mike and I would like to do a dive while we were on the island. Tony, an explosive ordinance diver, had a storage unit full of gear just ashore. We loaded up their black jeep and Sarah took us over the hill, still on the Navy base, and parked at the edge of perfect clear water. This coral parking lot even had a stairway for divers to enter the sea. We swam out of the small cove and found a great wall dive that dropped down 80 feet or so. The wall was covered in a flurry of corals and fish of all kinds. Visibility seemed endless. It was the nicest, easiest dive I’ve ever had.
The boat was parked in a great spot. The only problem was that if we left the base we could not get back in without an escort. Before I left home, Sue had told me to look up some friends of hers and Bob’s that lived on the island. Sue and her husband Mike had sailed with Doc Hazen and his wife Patty all the way from California to Tahiti on a Cal 34 on the first leg of their cruising adventure which led them to Guam. Doc and Patty had since set up shop on Guam, Doc Larry Hazen having started a medical practice. I was warned that Doc was a crazy one.
I got a call out to their house from the base. Patty answered. She had never met or talked to me but she was quick to offer us their truck to explore the island and insist that we stay at their house until our flight out. She met us at the entrance to the fortified complex and whisked us away.
Mike and I hit the road. We made the mandatory stop at the ocean front Jeff’s Pirates Cove for gifts and coozies. Over the next two days we circumnavigated the island. It was on the second day that we discovered the tourist beach. Guam is a pretty mellow place, out in the middle of the ocean between Micronesia and the Philippines. It has a bunch of low key islanders and ex-patriots living a blissful life in mostly simple dwellings. Out on the lee side there happens to be the most perfect white sand beach with calm turquoise water. Of course the resorts have also found the area and built huge hotels in front of a long mall stuffed with all the high end stores a Japanese tourist could want - Gucci, Prada, Dulce Gabana, Armani and on and on. We rolled up and sauntered through the lobby of one of the monstrosities making our way out front for a seaside coldie and some tourist watching.
But somehow, that left me wanting. It was just what the brochure promised but a little manufactured for my taste. We got back in the truck and headed out. At the north end of the row of big resorts was a small gravel road, not obvious at first from the main road. We headed down it. It ended up on a beach. We parked. To the north there was a cliff that jutted out into the sea. Barely noticeable was a small pathway cut into the hillside. It seamed to lead out and into the ocean. We followed it. It took us along the side of the cliff and at the end was a stairway that led down to the water. But that wasn’t the end. The path took a hard right. There was a C shaped cut through the solid rock a few feet above the sea level.
After traversing the “cut” we found ourselves on a perfect little beach surrounded on the other three sides by cliffs. In the middle of the beach we found a bunch of huts and tiki beach cabanas. We ventured into the mini eco resort. We sat down in front of a palm frond stage. A backpacker looking dude offered us beers which we accepted. On the stage two island girls swayed to and fro in an ancient island dance set to tribal music. Paradise found.
Days exploring in the truck and nights cavorting with our hilarious guests Larry and Patty, our Guam visit, though short, was wonderful. Alas, we did have to finally fly out. When Mike Z found out we had a four hour stopover in Japan he rang up the airline and extended it to three days. I got online and booked us a couple of bunks at hostels.
I'm a fan of cleaner happier living and so I instantly liked Japan. It’s not just clean it’s organized and it’s filled with those little cars that get a million liters to the kilometer. Even the houses are small, brightly colored and tidy. Unlike the Japanese I see on the TV, these people were not loud and silly, they were mostly subdued though it didn’t take much to get them laughing. It was an odd contrast. Quiet industrious people living in Disneyland.
Our second hostel was right downtown Tokyo. We got to ride the subway. It was not cheap but as long as you didn’t actually walk out of a station you could travel all over greater Tokyo seeing the trackside sites for no extra charge. We bought some food and coldies at the grocery store around the corner. I was surprised to find food prices about what they are at home. We took our loot back to the hostel where the big football (soccer) game was on. The Italian backpackers poured out of the woodwork to crowd around the TV to root their team on. We sat back a bit with people from all over the world who wanted to practice their English. It was a festive scene.
After doing some quick Christmas shopping all on one very busy block of shops I was back at the airport and on a plane. As I often do after a longer delivery I looked down in amazement from my window seat to watch the tops of the swells whiz by as we sailed upwind at over 500kts.