All in the name of research. That’s how I found myself on the Outrigger Catamaran last Thursday on calm seas and under cloudy skies.
I climbed aboard in front of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach at 3:00 p.m. While the captain turned the boat around, “Rabbit” gave us our briefing. Yes, his name was Rabbit. At least, that’s what he said. “In case of a water landing,” Rabbit said, “Put on your life jacket like this, grab two beers and jump overboard.”
I suppose in his prime, Rabbit may have earned the nickname because of his fleet footwork, but that would have been a couple decades ago. Now, the name still applies, as he hops from bow to stern, port to starboard, checking on his passengers. He tossed a beer to a visitor from Australia. He popped open a bottle of champagne. He poured a rather large cup of “POG Cocktail” for a doe-eyed woman from Japan. He tossed around Hawaiian words with aplomb, placing the stressors on all the right syllables. I suspected the Japanese words that rolled off his tongue were given the same attention to detail.
I’ve long since stopped being surprised by the people I meet in Hawaii. You can’t judge a book by its cover, they say, and Rabbit was no exception. Bleach-blonde and stringy locks. A zinc-coated nose. Salt-encrusted and frayed board shorts. He probably once traded in the jet-set world of international antiquities.
As you can imagine, Rabbit commanded all the attention on the boat. At least, that’s the excuse I use for not remembering the Captain’s name. Was it John? Let’s call him Captain John.
Captain John tacked the boat toward Diamond Head, and we motor-sailed outside the famous surf break of Waikiki. Rabbit pointed out notable landmarks on the beach: Duke’s Canoe Club. The first hotel, the Moana Surfrider, built in 1901. The Pink Palace of the Pacific, known for its Mai Tai Bar. Canoes and Queens surf breaks. Kapiolani Park. Honolulu Zoo. The Waikiki Aquarium, first aquarium west of the Mississippi River. Outrigger Canoe Club. The Nataorium.
All the while, Captain John steered for Diamond Head, and I sipped a POG Cocktail. But, wait, the research. That’s why I was on the boat: to do research for a Summer Guide to Waikiki Beach. So, I put my drink down, and I pulled out my iPhone and journal. I snapped pictures. I took notes. I even ran a photo through an iPhone app—CameraBag—and fired off a Tweet from the middle of the ocean. We passed surfers, turtles, and wedge-tailed shearwater seabirds, and I took more notes and clicked the shutter on my camera and worked. Really, I did.