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That Sinking Feeling

Nick Beck
Summer 2010

The waterline was definitely rising. The bow lifted over the waves more slowly, the hull buried more deeply in the troughs with each passing minute. We were mid-channel in the Tahitian islands in a 30-foot sailing canoe. We had visions of a week-long idyll on the outer islands, but the reality was we were sinking.

Our safety bag contained a CB radio, a GPS, flares, a signal mirror, an extra knife, a cell phone and an EPIRB that was only to be used if our lives were in danger. We had sailed through some heavy conditions in our home Hawaiian waters without needing to be saved by the authorities; we weren’t going to request their help this time either. We fired off a quick series of cell phone calls without success.

Over the past few years we had extended our sailing canoe adventures to Tahiti – crystal clear lagoons, balmy trade winds, friendly locals – the stuff of every sailor’s dreams. But we were finding out that the channels could be as wild as anything in Hawai‘i, the passes often poorly marked and the currents sometimes too strong to enter into the lagoon beyond.

About the Author
Nick Beck has spent much of his life designing, building, paddling and sailing outrigger canoes. Nick has paddled and sailed across every channel in Hawai‘i and Tahiti. His story is a wake-up call and a vivid reminder that ocean voyaging can quickly turn from a dream cruise to survival at sea. Visit his Web site See a slideshow of Nick’s Tahiti trip in the Tin Shed.