In preparation for a voyage to the South Pacific, I reached out to Steve at Waihana. Our departure date was nearing and wetsuits were in high demand for the winter season, rendering Waihana’s inventory nearly bare. Steve and I ended up chatting for over an hour, as if we were old friends catching up. It was after business hours on a Tuesday evening. He was beachside watching his son surf on the north shore of Oahu. I was scanning the surf from a picnic table on the north shore of Kauai.
After connecting with Steve, I could already feel the glass slipper effect of Waihana wetsuits, though I had never tried one on and they were still illusively unobtainable. It came down to intention. And recognition. And understanding. As people of the sea, we shared a common ground that was more liquid than land. Our messages were exchanged fluidly via the conducive medium imbued in our saline-saturated blood. We spoke the same language. It was a perfect fit.
Ten minutes later, Steve called me back. There was one woman’s wetsuit in my size at the dive shop on the east side of Kauai. Done.
Casting off from the Hawaiian North Pacific seas, the s/v Wild Thing was laden with surfboards, SUPS, spearguns, pole spears, snorkels, fins, provisions, and six salty sailors. 17 days later and a little saltier, we made landfall in the far eastern reaches of the Tuamotus. Above sea level, there wasn’t much to see: a thin, doughnut-shaped strip of land encircled the inner lagoon, creating a coral-studded halo that protected us from the open ocean. Inside the lagoon, we built a mooring next to a dilapidated pearl farm structure stilted atop a shallow coral head. This would be our pirate outpost home for the next four months.
For the next four months I practically lived underwater. I kicked more than I walked. I dove more than I sat. I spent more minutes holding my breath than breathing. In the lagoon and out on the open-ocean ledge, I learned the local fish species and their behaviors. I coasted along currents and explored the extensive networks of intricate coral structures. I fished and swam and surfed and sank into the sweet surrender that I am, indeed, born from water.
Although much of the voyage was bikini weather one particular evening the elements were crisp enough to warrant a thicker layer of insulation. I excitedly armored myself in my Waihana wetsuit top, grabbed the pole spear, and slid right off the stern. That very evening, as the florescent sunset turned to a pastel dusk— that one time I adorned myself with Waihana’s mana— was the first time I speared a fish. Me and that tati (unicorn fish), we connected. Just like Steve and I had connected. We’re all born of the water.
From this place of shared understanding, of reverence and respect for the ocean, is where life flourishes. It’s where connection is found— where the threads of eternal truths are woven together by intuition and consecrated by salty serendipities. It’s where it all makes sense. Distractions of land subside and the senses come alive.
Now that I’m back on the north shore of Kauai, nestled on a floating home in the grand cathedral of Hanalei Bay, the Hawaiian waters are beckoning. My Waihana suit is waiting. Deep-seeded connections are calling. And, after sailing 8000 nautical miles of the Pacific, I’m ready to experience the silky embrace of these familiar seas with the zest of fresh perspective and the satisfaction of a proper, intentionally-crafted suit.