By Bob Kaster
On the first morning of my three-week stay on the island, I started my walk along the Kaanapali Beach Walk at 5:00 AM, earlier than usual, because I was still functioning on Pacific time. It had been six months since I was last here, and I was definitely ready. A little out of shape, I planned to start with three miles, working up to five or six by the end of my stay. I headed south toward the Starbuck’s beyond Whaler’s Village. It’s revealing about my dedication to physical fitness that my exercise routine usually involves a stop at Starbuck’s.
Feeling good, I didn’t stop at Starbuck’s, and kept going. That’s when I saw the beached sailboat. It was there six months before, and I was surprised it hadn’t been removed. I know nothing about sailboats, but it looked like an expensive one, maybe forty feet or more in length with a single hull. In its present state it was battered and decrepit, a bare shell with no masts, helm, wheel, or other pieces of equipment normally seen on a sailboat. It was lying on its side at a forty-five-degree angle, half buried in the sand. I assumed it had broken loose and was swept up onto the beach in a giant storm. I was amazed that it was still there after all this time. All of Hawaii’s beaches are public, and surely the authorities would have leaned heavily on the boat’s owner to remove it. But it would have been expensive, and maybe the owner didn’t have the money. Meanwhile, it was a public nuisance, as it was only about thirty feet from the beach walk. The two hatch doors were wide open, and people had draped their beach towels across the hull to dry. I thought the boat might be an attractive domicile for homeless people, but saw no indications of their presence. Personally, I would be afraid to sleep inside. An unusually high surf could flood the boat, making it difficult for anyone inside to escape.
My curiosity overcame my common sense, and I walked across the sand to the boat and peered into the hatch. It was dark inside, and I couldn’t see anything or anyone; but strangely, I heard voices. Faint female voices, more than one, that seemed to be singing. I couldn’t make out the words to their song but the melody and their voices were pleasing to the ear, and alluring. I hadn’t intended to actually enter the boat, figuring it was probably dank, smelly, and dirty, but I couldn’t help myself. There was something about the sweet, sensuous sounds emanating from below that pulled me in. I was now on my hands and knees, crawling toward the larger of the two hatches. My body was doing it on its own, despite my brain’s best efforts to stop it. I crawled through the hatch and was now moving downhill into the darkness, head first, at a gradual descent. There were no steps and there was no ladder; I was crawling on soft sand, quite comfortably, going ever deeper into the bowels of the boat. As I descended, the female voices sounded closer, and sweeter. The force that had taken control of my body got so intense that I was now completely unable to resist following the sound of the songs. I traveled at least ten feet, which seemed impossible, given the hull’s obvious dimensions. I was now in total darkness, well beyond any light that might have passed through the hatch doors. Although the voices increased in volume, they never became shrill or unpleasant. On the contrary, they were soft and seductive, beckoning me to keep moving toward their source. I was feeling physical sensations I hadn’t felt since I was a young man experiencing the naked flesh of a young woman for the first time. I was Odysseus, unable to resist the lure of the songs of the Sirens. I couldn’t stop and kept moving … down, down … twenty feet, forty feet, sixty feet. How could this be? The boat is only forty feet long. The Sirens’ voices became sweeter, more tender, and more sensual, the further I crept. Although I was in total darkness, I was overcome with a feeling of bliss and ecstasy beyond belief. Wherever I was, I wanted to be there forever. I curled up into a fetal position on the wonderfully soft sand, and all was quiet.
I don’t know how long I was in that position. It could have been hours, maybe days. Then, without warning, the sand beneath me trembled, like an earthquake. I was violently jostled, and the sand tilted so much I had to brace to keep from rolling downhill. Then I was lifted upward.
Suddenly there was light above me, blindingly severe, and the sound of men’s voices, which seemed to come from all directions. “Raise the stern another two feet!” shouted one voice; “Now two feet for the bow!” shouted another.
From directly overhead came a different loud voice, apparently directed at me: “Who the hell are you? What are you doing in there? Get the hell out of there! Are you the owner of this boat? We have a work order here to get it off the public beach. The order was obtained by the mayor of Maui County and signed by a Hawaii Circuit Court judge. You’re obstructing a court order. We can have you arrested!”
I was stunned. Abruptly the soft sand underneath me was gone, and I found myself in an enclosed cramped space that smelled like urine. I tried to stand up, but couldn’t because of being jostled around and because the ceiling was too low. There was a metal ladder that I grabbed onto, and with difficulty pulled myself up through an open hatch. As my head popped up through the small opening I was temporarily blinded by the sun. Then I heard people cheering. As my eyes adjusted to the light outside, I could see people, maybe fifty or more, lined up along the beach walk. They were looking at me, and laughing, jumping up and down, and clapping. Many were taking pictures of me with their cell phones.
After I carefully lowered myself off the hull of the boat down onto the sand, a guy with a camera came up to me. “I’m from the Maui News,” he said. “What were you doing inside that sailboat?”
“It’s a long story,” I said.