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Life of Pi meets The Bachelor

“A second-chance story to watch on TV

Her words and her laughter lingered long after. They eclipsed all other thoughts as I sat there, struggling with how to tell the deeper story behind our recent sailing adventure together aboard Kalea. Surely, trickster gods (humans plan; the gods laugh) must have been at work gumming up the gears of hotshot Hollywood producer SlimC’s production of a novel reality-TV show.


Life of Pi meets The Bachelor. That could work.


I had already scribbled down some loose lyrics for a song about those rolling, yawing, sea-sprayed days at sea:

A cast from the Mainland sailing the sea
A second-chance story to watch on TV
From island to island with captain and crew
Exploring new places on waters deep blue

Out on the ocean with no land in sight
Questioning old ways from darkness to light
Stories of power and profit and greed
Warnings of peril and limits to heed

Oh, Beauty and Wonder left in our wake
Must be recovered, so much is at stake
Finding the balance, weighing the worth
All of us, Islanders, on this Good Earth

But telling this story was turning out to be no smooth passage of fair winds and following seas. Sure, I could simply write about Captain Bob’s remarkable seamanship skills and his exquisite attunement to winds, waves, and weather during our week-long ocean voyage together. Or I could have great fun comically chronicling the clumsy antics of our passengers — a cast of deliberately ill-matched landlubberly reality-show ‘actors’ — who gifted us with many memorable moments of humor, befuddlement, and drama. But it was those many short, scattered, random conversations with culinary crewmate and ukulele songstress Chef Lua that had the profoundest and most enduring impact on this seasoned soul. Surely, the story had to be about her.


We had gotten to know each other pretty well, or so I thought, in the few days we spent island hopping from Moorea to Rarotonga aboard Kalea, a beautiful handcrafted Polynesian sailing catamaran lovingly built by my old friend Captain Bob over a period of four years in Tahiti. Our minimalist crew of three had hosted six, or perhaps really five, … (it’s complicated) reality-show cast members from the U.S. mainland looking for a second-chance romance aboard Bob’s gorgeous hand-built 65-foot cruising catamaran. As a singer-songwriter, former fellow beach-cat sailor, amateur boatbuilder, and nautical jack-of-all-trades; I was recruited by Captain Bob to serve as first mate and provide some light entertainment for cast and crew along the way.


During those memorable days at sea, our humble and unassuming chef from the islands had imparted much good advice and wisdom on essential attitudes and behaviors for crafting healthy, creative, productive lives and maintaining balance and perspective when confronted with life’s inevitable obstacles and challenges. And from her unique perspective as an elderly islander, Lua also warned of gathering storms on the horizon — of what would surely be culturally jarring and disorienting flips and reversals in mainland norms, customs, and priorities in response to imminent collisions between our full-charge endless-growth ambitions and hard ecological and financial limits.


Those many eco-enlightening dialogues with Yoda-like Lua kept emerging as oases of calm and clarity in my mind as unruly thoughts, scenes, and memories flailed about — like torn fragments of a storm-shredded mainsail — while I struggled to capture in words the enthralling experience crewing aboard Kalea. The more time I spent anchored in my favorite chair by the large front window at WorldBeat Café, the more my thoughts gravitated toward those rich conversations. And to how destiny had brought us together, for a short precious time, from opposite sides of the planet.


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​© 2021 Rich 'Rico' Leon