After 21 days at sea, almost to the minute, the crew of Stay Gold has made landfall. Now, a few days later we have dispersed from the island to all parts of the world. Less than 100 hours ago we were prepping to make our arrival, still with salt in our eyes, wind in our hair and the sea in our hearts.
Coming home from sea is a strange transition. You’d think it’s the opposite of leaving life on land to a life beating to the rhythm of the ocean but it’s different – at least for me. After a decent period at sea, you become accustomed to your new reality. You learn to lean into it. To trust it. To enjoy it. It becomes warm and inviting, safe. The boat is not only your home but your best friend. It’s easy to see why sailors of the ancient times referred to ships in the feminine form – something we still do. It’s because you grow fond of them. To love them. Look at them with affection. It might sound strange at first, but when you’re 1000 miles from land in any direction it becomes clear.
Knowing landfall is approaching causes the ship to take on a different vibe. Talk shifts to what we will do when we hit port, what we will eat, drink. Concerns become land based, a mental aspect of shifting from sea-going to land-bound. Part of the transition. At first, I resist it. Then it takes hold and I long to see my family and eat a decent meal. It’s not instantaneous though. For a week or so after getting back from sea I still feel like I’m in transition, but soon it passes. Very strange.
We hit port after a rough day and half passing through some restricted channels between Molokai, Lanai and Maui. The winds were compressed and contemptuous. The swells were frustrating and the wind waves pushed us around. Beau had to fight 30 foot breaking swells off Molokai and I had 35 knot gusts of wind pushing to boat to over 10 knots of sustained boat speed – but we made it. We hand steered 2500 nautical miles all the way across the Pacific.
We were towed into Pearl Harbor by Michael of Vessel Assist who did a bang up job of getting us into port. We had to be towed because I made some very simple, easy to fix mistakes (always do your maintenance on your batteries and ALWAYS have the proper fuel filters on board!). I’ve learned so many lessons, but feel free to learn these from me – maintenance is CRUCIAL. Even for your car. I’ll write more about those later.
After hitting the dock we were welcomed be an awesome welcome home party, put together by my wife Ashley. Family flew in from all over to welcome us – very heart warming. It’s bittersweet when an adventure comes to a close, but Willy, Chris, Beau and I have taken and given so much of this experience that even a book wouldn’t cover it all. And that’s quite ok. Some of what happened out there will always remain between the four of us. Maybe a book will arise…we will see.
For the foreseeable future, the crew of Team Stay Gold is going to tend to family and career obligations but will be back soon with a new adventure. I’ll be writing more, as I can, to fill in some details of this story, so stay tuned.
We do want to thank Chief Phil Ryder, USCG ret, for his wonderfully colorful updates on Tropical Storms Fernanda and Greg along with his musings on life at sea from the East Coast. Also, thank you to Erica and Rich at Rainbow Bay Marina for helping us get sorted out upon arrival and during the trip. A hearty thank you to Eric for helping Ashley work out logistical details for the Homecoming Party and making her feel like part of the Navy Ohana. And, as always, thank you to our families for always supporting our dreams.
A VERY special thank you to Ashley for organizing a Bon Voyage and Homecoming Party, in two separate states. Ashley was also our outstanding Public Relations coordinator who worked with the Navy, multiple news outlets and other entities in Washington and Hawaii. She ran the Facebook page and talked on our behalf to families and others while we couldn’t. This expedition wouldn’t have happened without her tremendous support and self-sacrifice of time and energy. She’s the heartbeat of the team and we love her endlessly for it.
Finally, a special thank you, to you, dear reader. As much a part of the team as we are, you gave this voyage an extra depth that wouldn’t exist if we kept our adventures to ourselves. Thank you for following along, liking, commenting, sharing and providing encouragement. We hope you have been changed a bit, like we have, from the experience.
Again, please stay tuned as we have just begun. Until then, Stay Gold
Brian, Willy, Chris and Beau