Gallivanting the globe sans Swell: 3
Via the wonder of air travel, I was back to Cali just in time to celebrate Sean and Beth’s union, where an owl feather and a night with fantastic friends helped ease the launch into 5 weeks of solitary book-making confinement in Goleta (thanks to the Ault family for providing me with the most amazing platform to do so). Simultaneously, up close and personal with the harsh reality of human impermanence after many hours spent in the skilled nursing facility with a dear friend and mentor who suffered a stroke while I was away in Bali. We can only learn from those who go before us, carrying on their goodness and love into the future. Her life an inspiration to me always…suffering is so difficult to understand. New lessons, new perspectives and a day in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
A few good sessions at the points and the islands and north of Conception to keep me from shriveling. Surprise visit from mom and dad in Goleta makes for a meal to celebrate all holidays at once!! Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday! Body surf sessions at Sands…odd to be back in Isla Vista…smells of tar and dust and crisp air and purple mountains at sunset and the islands I love so much rest quietly offshore. A day in the shaping room with Jason, after realizing that a surfer is not complete until she knows what goes into making her surfboard. Laying on the grassy cliff in the dark, nibbling chocolate and watching a storm slowly come in off the sea and cover the twinkling stars, lights of the city, the oil rigs, and the squid boats…raindrops on my head. Yogurtland!!!!!!! Lunching and learning with Barry. Rendezvous with Pablini, lawyers are scary, a few more days in Portland to wrap it all up, is it what I really want? Go do some hot yoga and meditate on it…
Precious final hours with Mom, Dad, Sis, Rita…until a hard drive crash adds some parting spice…
After reading ‘Paddling My Own Canoe’ in 2007, I began writing letters to the author, Audrey Sutherland, legend in women’s adventuring. And so it seemed the perfect time to go meet my hero as my plane ticket back to Tahiti routed me through Oahu, where she lives. So it was back to Hawaii, where Aunty Marsha and Uncle Russel await full of aloha. Russel even lent me his car to head to the North Shore where one week became two.
Audrey, in her late 80s, still pondering the next adventure with a twinkle in her eye. Hardly having put her paddle down after 8,000 miles of paddling Alaskan waterways alone. Humble, beaming, decided, rich in memories and satisfaction, life worn well, stories over chicken luau and chocolate ice cream. Lessons from Jock, brimming with aloha and expertise, showing me where to skirt the rocks to get out at his spot. The house exuding the character of more than 50 years of housing its legends, sessions at the rare Jockos sandbar, and following Gavin out to Lani’s when I wasn’t sure I want to be out there…broken 6’4” boo whooo.
And the ‘Esalen’ on the North Shore: Crystal and Dave’s place a dream: outside bubble baths with tea, greens from the garden, homemade kombucha, Coconut Bliss!, biomat relaxing, every meal a gastronomical masterpiece, generosity and positivity spilling over! Crystal leading me out to bodysurf Pipeline! Big wave bodysurf sessions galore to test my swimming skills: dolphin dives out the back of the waves changed my life forever!!!!!!, and the SAND!! the most amazingly beautiful sand!!, Little Haven almost made procreation look enticing, sailing with Cole, Jen’s Lilikoi pie, hide and shriek with a herd of kids at the BBQ…another BBQ?! More to recording music than I ever imagined…listening to Jack strum his new album barefoot in the studio, curry and bike riding with Jaime and pushing my bodysurfing limits even further, Royce chocolates: heaven can wait, getting to my feet on Crystal’s Alaia—what a feeling!, surfstoke with Russel, Indie Pyzel: an afternoon on the North Shore through the eyes of one rad 12-year-old girl means treehouses and fruit plundering, handfuls of guavas, fins stuck in the tree and tugging on lilikoi vines.
Couldn’t be more grateful to Crystal and Dave…hard to say goodbye after so much fun. One last afternoon with Audrey, and a stop at Yogurtland…And somehow I bust out a little French and get my boards on the plane for nearly nothing…big hugs and thanks to Russel, my adoptive Hawaiian dad…its off to Tahiti.
Welcome to French Polynesia! The square-faced customs official pushes my bond papers and Swell’s documentation back at me. “No way, this paperwork is not valid…you must have a return ticket to enter the country.” He shut the gates to the outside world and it appeared I would be on a plane back to Hawaii if I couldn’t get him to understand…half hour later…he comes back to apologize. He was able to contact the bank. My bond was valid. And there was Prisca waiting patiently outside…
The following evening I walk across the deserted boatyard to find my dear Swell, waiting patiently for me under the rising moon.
Ken PainterDecember 19, 2009
Thanks for sharing your adventures. I also graduated from UCSB, enjoy sailing and surfing (and all things water), and am disappointed at the rapid decay of our planet and our collective limited ability to protect nature. I am also interested in self sufficiency and a minimal carbon footprint which can be achieved aboard a cruising sailboat.
I look to people, like yourself, who are living my dream, and find inspiration to keep working toward cruising on my 32′ Gulf Pliothouse Sloop now located in Seattle.
Please let me know when your film “Dear and Yonder” will be hitting Seattle. I look forward to seeing it.
Best Wishes During The Holiday Season,
AlisonDecember 29, 2009
Wow! I went to Hawaii this summer and was lucky enough to catch Dear and Yonder and learn about your travels- truly inspiring! While in Hawaii I met someone who knows the Sutherlands and took me to see the turtles in their yard (lucky again!)- he told me about Audrey’s book, and I found an original copy in a bookstore in Kailua (more luck!). Read it on the plane home and was flattened.
I teach in Canada and have shared your Youtube clip with my travel and tourism geography students as an intro to a lesson . They loved it, and I wanted you to know.
Dorothy MillspaughMay 2, 2010
Enjoyed your website. I’m a friend of Audrey Sutherland’s from the 1960’s. I have no idea how to reach her. I am 82 and am now blind, but in all other ways healthy and hearty – my daughter is writing this for me. Do you have contact information for Audrey? I would so love to be in touch with her again. Thanks for any help you can give.
Ainee BelandJuly 25, 2012
It is important to have hero, mentors and coaches. I think Audrey is a pioneering woman who seem to have done it all and solo; well the paddling anyhow. She is brave heart. As said: A pioneering woman!
judy BlightSeptember 17, 2012
I am a sea kayaker from Perth in Western Australia and I am really keen to make contact with Audrey Sutherland. She has always been my hero as far as kayaking goes and I was wondering if you would have her address or a way of contacting her.
I would be thrilled if you could do that for me as I just wanted to thank her for being an inspiration
One Bad-Ass Woman—Audrey Sutherland | Angler's TonicOctober 10, 2012
[…] Audrey Sutherland is the author of Paddling Hawai’i and Paddling My Own Canoe. She was raised in California and has lived in Hawai’i since 1952. She raised her four children as a single mother, supporting her family as a school counselor. In 1962 she decided to tour the coast of Molokai by swimming it – and towing along an inflatable raft with supplies. She has ever since been an inveterate water traveler, during the past several decades in inflatable kayak because it’s transportable, light enough for her to handle comfortably and relatively inexpensive. [Photo: Patagonia ambassador Liz Clark (left) and Audrey Sutherland (right) from Liz's 2009 blog post "Gallivanting the globe sans Swell: 3."] […]