This describes the amazing support Saito-san received while he was undergoing repairs to the boat -- and himself -- in Honolulu.
About Our Wonderful Friends in Team Hawaii
Throughout, Team Hawaii has been fantastic to Saito-san, and that continued right up to the moment of departure (and after). At every point, in every aspect, there has been one display of selfless help after another from people who, like many others all along the route, have been drawn either to the man and the historic challenge of this 8th solo circumnavigation, or both.
At the risk of leaving out much information, here is a snapshot of the help they provided over the past year.
The list is long and seemed never-ending: Rescue towing, rigging and mast repairs, major engine & electrical work, cleaning, maintenance, painting, bilge and emergency pump repair, sea trials, troubleshooting, and repair or replacement of parts, spares, and equipment.
Also, regular detailed updates and accounting to Saito 8 in Tokyo so we could get more than the occasional "It's bad!" reports from Saito-san.
Judging from their comments there was a lot of shared admiration and friendship between the two veteran sailors.
All costs were carried by Dave until recent reimbursement totaling nearly $12,000 in parts and materials, at cost and usually at a special discount. Dave also arranged major discounts, the donation of a $5,000 Harken roller furler system from the manufacturer ("the president is an old friend," he informed us), and helped coordinate other members of Team Hawaii as well as recruited several helpful members. Oh, and in the end, he conservatively calculated 425 hours of labor, all expertly done, worth at least $21,000 -- all donated.
(Not least, we express again our deep gratitude to Dave's wife, Nancy Terrell, for releasing him as often as she did from his self-described "Honey Do" list on their own beautiful motor-trawler Swan Song. Nancy is an experienced bluewater cruiser herself, and something we personally find fascinating was that she, in a former land-bound existence, was "Miss Nancy" of Romper Room, a popular ABC-TV program in the US.)
Scott was our first contact after we determined that Saito-san would reluctantly make a "brief" repair stopover in Honolulu. Previously we had gotten to know Scott, a sailboat owner, during the purchase of the vessel and original prep before Saito-san left for New Zealand in 2008. When we contacted him this time, Scott began seeking the help of others in local cruising groups, and Ed Abbot and Dave were the first to respond. Scott, as an RN surgical nurse, has been invaluable in helping Saito-san attend to various medical issues, including replacement of a lost upper dental bridge, doctor visits for recurring bouts of colds and bronchitis, followed later by orthopedic surgery on his knee after a disabilitating injury (below), and visits to the rehab clinic. Scott has also acted as a booster of the skipper's sometimes flagging spirits, and Scott and his wife have treated Saito-san to several home-cooked meals. Along with Dave he also kept us up to date with encouraging progress reports. As well, he could be counted on to spend a lot of sore-muscles time wrangling sails off and on the boat as well as cranking Dave or Saito-san high up the mast.
Scott also footed some of Saito-san's clinic bills along the way and we can't get him to say how much... Scott?
Ed was also acquainted with Saito-san, as a live-aboard sailor in the marina they shared for a time as the boat was being prepared in 2008. Ed works as chief engineer at a geospace operation in Honolulu, and often devoted weekends to helping Saito-san. He's also been our main go-between for sending heart pills, delivery parcels, and reminders to Saito-san to buy more time on his rental cell phone. Ed was a hero, we (and others) thought when he joined Dave on an overnight tow to muscle NBSDIII the last 50 miles through strong opposing winds and heavy seas. Without their help it was later determined that NBSDIII's badly cracked mast had, at most, only a few hours left in an upright position. After the March 11 tsunami, Ed had to chase his boat (and home) as it was sucked out into the bay with a number of other vessels, still attached to its floating finger pier!
Naomi was getting close to finishing her second tour of duty as the Commander of the Honolulu Sail & Power Squadron when she found herself caught up in the "challenge." This was about the time a motorist turned into Saito-san as he was waiting at a pedestrian crosswalk, and Naomi became one of the crew tasked with getting Saito-san to doctor's appointments, then later the surgical hospital and rehabilitation therapy for badly ripped tendons in his knee. She's also helped introduce Saito-san to the local boating community, and arranged get-togethers, including for his 77th birthday celebration.
Kimmy came on board soon after Saito-san made his second Hawaiian landfall, and with prepared dishes and her beautiful smile kept al least some of the gloom away. A friend of Ed's, she helped as well in getting Saito-san to clinic visits and was the person who recommended Derek Nakamura, who has one of the more specialized jobs of Team Hawaii.
A third-generation Japanese-American, Derek is a well-respected lawyer and insurance litigator who began assisting Saito-san on a pro bono (later contingent) basis in negotiations with the insurance company of the motorist whose vehicle sent Saito-san to the emergency room. More details will come out later we assume, but for the moment Saito-san faces hefty medical bills from an accident the Honolulu police attributed 100% to the motorist. (The insurance company does not disagree.) Saito-san still walks with a limp and occasional brace, as well as a heightened understanding of the hazards of pedestrian walkways and late-afternoon Honolulu traffic.
Derek also invited Saito-san to his home to wait out the tsunami waves on March 12, as they wondered whether Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III would still be there in the morning. With no working engine, she could not join other vessels that were leaving for sea to escape the worst of the approaching waves. She was fine, though a number of vessels in adjacent marinas were damaged -- including Ed's.
Other members of Team Hawaii
We have caught the names of several others who have helped in big or small ways, so hope to be able to expand this list if one of the Team will kindly send us that information.
So that's the "short" version of the fantastic assistance Saito-san received from his friends in Hawaii. No wonder, as Dave said yesterday, that he was "a bit misty-eyed" as he made his farewells.
We are still beholding to the also crucial support Saito-san received in Punta Arenas in 2009 from "Team Chile," comprised of Rose Bliss, her husband Pablo, and Hitoshi Hanaoka. Together they kept the skipper warm, safe, and -- finally! --able to leave the frosty environs of Cape Horn -- but not until after nearly 9 months and three hard-fought tries.