Boats in Hawaii get lei too

Last Saturday my boyfriend Rick and I went to a friend’s birthday party in Kanehoe by bus. On our return, we changed busses at the junction of Kamehameha Highway and Kalanianole Highway with a young back-packing couple from Hungary.

Upon boarding the bus to Kailua (our home), a young man across the aisle noticed our red ball caps that say “Transpac 2009”. He asked, “Did you come across on a boat?” Transpac is a sail boat race from Los Angeles to Honolulu that takes place every other year. It has just concluded for 2009, in fact, the wrap-up party for the 600 local volunteers was Monday. “Oh no,” I said. “We just welcomed those who did.” I figured he was someone who knew that Transpac means the Transpacific Yacht Race. It has been going on since 1906, after all. “So you hosted a boat?” he asked. At this point, I knew he had participated in some manner. “Hosting a boat” is when local yacht clubs or other groups welcome a boat and its crew as they finish the race. People keep track of exactly where the boats are as they cross the ocean and when your boat hits the 100-mile mark they call everyone to get the party ready (day or night). Details differ but they always involve leis and Mai-Tais.

The young man on the bus had come across on a boat in the race and was leaving the next day for the return voyage. He was going to Kailua from Honolulu to try to find a friend before leaving the island. He and Rick had a discussion about sails and weather for the rest of the (brief) bus trip. I can hand out Mai-Tais and pretty much stay out of trouble on a boat but Rick is the sailor in our partnership.

I did enjoy seeing the really cool boats as they arrived and along the dock at the Ala Wai boat harbor in Honolulu. Everyone has such a good time and they are all so happy to arrive in Hawaiii I wasn’t surprised at the abundance of good spirits, or the lei that seem to mark every significant occasion in Hawaii. But I have to admit the boat lei caught me off guard. Hosting party people make a very large lei that they drape around the front of the boat (yes, I know it’s called a bow).

This year, a really fast boat made by Alfa Romeo zoomed across the ocean in record time. We got a peek at it while it was docked at the Aloha Tower. The race is over until 2011, but next summer there is a race called the Pacific Cup. It is also in July and I’m looking forward to finding out what it is like.