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Kona Kai: A Bimini Twist Adventure

Kona Kai: A Bimini Twist Adventure

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Kona Kai: A Bimini Twist Adventure

340 pagine
5 ore
May 17, 2013


Kona Kai is the ultimate sportsfishing adventure novel set in the Hawaiian Islands. The father son team of the fishing vessel Bimini Twist engage in high speed action when fighting great fish, competing in sportfishing tournaments, and against the awesome forces of nature in the form of erupting volcanoes, giant tuna and marlin, and an angry mother humpback whale.
May 17, 2013

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Kona Kai - Patrick Mansell



Max Carson fretted. His teenage sons, P.J. and Gaffer, could tell he was on edge. He had been cranky and distracted all morning. He drove the winding coast highway to Kona saying very little and picking his fingernails. Among other things, he had not slept well the previous night and he had a lot on his mind.

P.J. was now eighteen years old and his long blond hair, hazel eyes and broad shoulders on a well-muscled six foot frame got him double takes from all the girls. But his were rugged good looks, not pretty, and not the kind to make other men jealous. Right now he wished it was him behind the wheel. Being a passenger with his nervous father made him edgy. He did not like the vibes in the rented SUV. In fact the mood for the entire morning had not been good. He decided to see what he could do to help lighten things up.

Dad, you’re just about as edgy as I’ve ever seen you. You were nearly rude to our waitress this morning. What’s up?

For a minute Max said nothing. He thought about this for a moment to decide if he agreed. He had to admit that he did. He shook his head, a paradigm shift kind of thing. I’m very nervous today, he admitted. It’s on account of the boat. It’s been in transit for three weeks. The yacht skirted that hurricane and who knows what kind of damage there might be?

It’s insured, isn’t it? asked his number two son. Gaffer Carson was now sixteen and growing like a weed. He had already reached six one and still seemed to be growing. Gaffer had more of his father’s features, dark hair with much more curl to it, a strong masculine jaw, ready smile and eyes the color of bright blue that had to be seen to be believed. He, like his brother, had his share of attention from the girls, and it could be a distraction. But Gaffer kept a level head and kept that in perspective along with his studies, his relationships with the buddies he grew up with, and his time on board his precious boat.

Max nodded unenthusiastically. Yeah, it’s insured, but who wants to file a claim. I just want it to be here, in the water, safely ready to go. I don’t even want to see a scratch on it. My doubts about bringing it here are eating me alive.

Max’s concern was for his boat, Bimini Twist, a center console open fisherman runabout. It was only a twenty-five footer with twin one fifties, not really an expensive boat or a very valuable one, definitely not one that could not be replaced. He had spent years looking after it, maintaining it, tune-ups, wax jobs. How many times had he washed it and rubbed it down? Just every time he used it, which was as often as possible. He loved that boat. It had taken him back and forth from the Florida coast to the Bahamas Islands how many times? He couldn’t remember. But what he did know was that he had spent some of the best times of his life on that boat. He had watched his sons grow from children to young men on that boat. He had been through every kind of weather and had made some pretty rough Gulf Stream crossings. He and his sons, and their guests, had caught a lot of fish from it. This was not just a boat to him, it was a way of life. He knew how he would answer his son.

I’m just up-tight about the condition of the boat. Until it’s launched and I’m standing at the helm at full throttle, nose into the waves, I won’t be able to relax. At the same time, I’ll admit I don’t know a thing about the waters around the Hawaiian Islands and that adds to my edginess. There are rocks beneath the surface in some locations, and I don’t know my way around. I just have to get used to things. Maybe after a few days I’ll feel more at home.

Meanwhile do you think you might calm down just a little? asked P.J. I don’t want to see you to make yourself sick.

Max took a deep breath and exhaled hard. He nodded. All right. I’ll try. Take my word for it, I’ll be a lot better when I see the boat.

The conversation from then on was much more relaxed. Max chuckled under his breath. He really had been acting weird. He returned to one of his basic philosophies, what will be will be.

Three hours later Max was watching the huge davits on board the luxury yacht Felicity swing Bimini Twist over its top deck rail and begin lowering it. He could feel his blood pressure rise as his boat dangled in midair twenty feet above the water. This had been a crazy idea, bringing his boat half way across the world like this. It seemed like a good idea at the time. His good friends, Stan and Jamie Knight from Palm Beach, had made the suggestion months earlier and Max had agonized over it ever since. The Knights knew they would be sending their yacht to the Hawaiian Islands to spend the summer season just offshore at anchor in the beautiful cove at Kailua Bay. They had been trying for months to tempt Max to come with them. It was as simple as building a cradle for Bimini Twist and securing it to the upper deck with webbed straps. The yacht was going anyhow, it would cost nothing to allow Bimini Twist to hitch a ride. When Max had heard the Knight’s stories of big game fishing in Kona and viewed their photos from previous visits, the reasons he could come up with for not doing it seemed lame in comparison to the reasons he could think of for why this was a good idea. He called ahead and made arrangements for a slip for the summer in the well protected basin of the Konokohau Marina, a short distance from Kailua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. Now as he watched his boat dangle precariously over Felicity’s railing, he was not so sure. It was not until Bimini Twist was floating on its own alongside the yacht that Max’s blood pressure began to subside.

As Max and his sons climbed aboard the boat and began checking around for damage he began to relax. It felt so good to be standing on Bimini Twist’s deck, two feet from the water. The boat was apparently in good condition. It was, of course, a lot dirtier than Max liked it. The mate on board Felicity had run a fresh water hose over it several times during the crossing, but it had not had a good scrubbing in weeks. Relief was immediate as P.J. and Gaffer filled buckets with sea water and poured them over the decks. The two long handled brushes were used to help remove the surface dirt. There were small black streaks and splotches on the deck and it looked as if it could use a serious scrubbing and wax job.

Max’s head was leaning deep into the anchor locker inspecting for scrapes or cracks when he heard the ignition begin to crank. He pulled out of the locker to see Gaffer pumping the choke in the ignition key. He smiled as he watched Gaffer’s face turn from expectant concern to relief as the port engine sprang to life and blue gray smoke bellowed out from the engine exhaust. Gaffer gave a quick thumbs up and repeated the ritual on the starboard engine. It came to life even faster than the port engine. From behind the transom came another cloud of smoke, a sign that everything was looking pretty good. Max joined Gaffer at the helm. He checked the tachometers which were showing a steady 1,200 RPMs. It sounded very good. Max pulled the throttles back to 1,000 and the engines idled smoothly at that setting. The gas gauge read less than a quarter of a tank. This was the way they wanted it. They wanted no chance of having an overfilled tank splashing gas into Bimini Twist, or worse, out of Bimini Twist and onto the decks of Felicity.

The three Carsons looked around at the boat beneath them. It felt so good. Sure, it had some dirt that would need to be scrubbed off, and they would need to spend three or four hours waxing the finish. But it was safe and sound under their feet. They were back in control and it felt wonderful.

Max had checked the hull over every square inch from stem to stern. Not a scratch. The fine layer of dust covering everything would soon vanish. While Max and Gaffer arranged a few last minute items, P.J. moved fishing gear from the truck to the boat. But the remaining dirt was bothering everyone. It was not difficult to handle. Bimini Twist’s fresh water tank was full, which was plenty enough to fill a bucket with soapy water with enough left over to rinse the boat off. That was all they needed. Max and Gaffer took out the brushes for a second time, and this time gave the boat a good scrubbing. As they worked P.J. continued bringing gear aboard. When they looked around twenty minutes later everything was in much better shape. The rods were in their places in the rocket launcher and other rod holders, the cooler had a supply of ice and drinks. They had even managed to put a small quantity of squid and ballyhoo on board for bait should they encounter something interesting on their first journey out.

There were three wide grins aboard Bimini Twist as it moved away from alongside the yacht and headed toward open water. This was the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands. The Carsons had the summer off, a rented condo in Kona, and no agenda whatsoever. They knew those blue marlin were somewhere below their keel, as were the mahi-mahi, which they referred to as dolphin back home in the Atlantic. So were the tuna and wahoos, and who knows what else? This was the water where the ocean monsters played, every variety of whales and sharks, an ocean environment they were anxious to explore.

Max throttled up to planing speed and then further, full speed ahead. The air was crisp and felt good on his skin and through his hair. The nervous mood from earlier in the day had vanished. He felt at home standing at his helm, one of his sons at either side of him resting on the leaning post. If this summer could fulfill only half of their expectations, it would be awesome.


When Max looked down at his GPS he was shocked to see that they were twelve miles offshore. He had been looking back every few minutes from the time he left the port at Kona and the island never seemed to get further away. Right away it came to him how this had happened. The land looked as if it were right in his wake, receding only slowly. He realized that twelve miles offshore in his native Florida waters meant barely seeing land. In fact, the flat Florida shoreline could not be seen from such a distance, but some of the highrise office and condo buildings could be seen on the horizon. The Hawaiian Islands, were the tops of mountains and volcanoes jutting from the sea, many of them thousands of feet high. Land was clearly visible, and it did not appear that far off. Max throttled back and shifted to neutral. He shook his head. P.J. and Gaffer had been enjoying the ride. They were wondering why they were stopping.

What’s up, Pop? asked Gaffer.

This is going to take some getting used to, said Max.

What? asked P.J.

For one thing, the calmness of the water. How peaceful the surface is.

That’s why the Hawaiians named this area Kona, said P.J.

Kona means something like peaceful or calm. They add to that the word Kai and it means something like calm or peaceful sea.

Gaffer looked at his brother. Where did you learn that? he asked.

P.J. shrugged. He couldn’t remember. He turned to his father. So why’d you stop?

It’s tempting to keep going, he said. This is easy running, but there’s one problem.

What’s the problem? asked Gaffer.

Max pointed at the fuel gauge. It was pointing at a spot somewhere between a quarter tank and empty, a little closer to the empty side. I forgot that the tanks were so light. We’re miles offshore and I’m not so sure we have enough gas to get back. We also have to find the green number one buoy that marks the entrance to the marina. I know that’s a couple of miles north of where we started but we have to find it, figure out how to get into the marina, and then make it to the gas dock, wherever that is.

Gaffer looked at the gauge and groaned. You better head back at the most economical speed you know.

Max turned back toward port and slowly throttled up. At twenty-two knots he leveled off and hoped for the best. For the next fifteen minutes the three sets of eyes never left the fuel needle. This was tense. Now the gauge was past the red and leaning against a small peg on the right side of the instrument, and Bimini Twist was still five miles offshore. It wasn’t a life or death situation. There were plenty of boats around and hailing a tow back to the marina should not be too much trouble. It was just that running out of fuel was an amateurish mistake, not one normally made by experienced boaters. A tow was OK if the motors broke down, that kind of thing happens. But it would be embarrassing to be towed for something as dumb as running out of gas. On top of the fact that they were nearly out of gas and expecting the engines to sputter to a stop at any minute, there was sheer dread at the thought of being rescued by a sailboat. It would be one thing to hitch a tow from a passing sportfisher or even a runabout. It would humiliating to return to port tethered to a sailboat.

All three of them looked at the fuel gauge and looked away again. It was unbearable. So near, but still so far from port, and the needle offering little hope of making it back unassisted. But soon enough they had another two miles in their wake, and then another. Now they could see the channel marker in the distance and the mouth of the marina entrance. They were no more than a half mile from the entrance when they saw the opening to the marina at Konokohau. It was but a small sliver of an entrance no more than two hundred feet wide and cut out of the low lying lava flow. All they needed to do was clear the distance between here and there. All they had to do was keep it going for a few more minutes.

Max looked at his depth finder and saw that the depth at this location only 800 yards offshore was hundreds of feet deep. He mentally compared this situation to what he would find at home. Back in the waters of Florida, or the Bahamas Islands, to be so close to shore would usually also mean that if he were to run out of gas, the water would be shallow enough to drop anchor and wait for a passing boat to toss him a line. Here there would be no anchoring up, which meant he would be adrift with no power. As he searched the shore line for an answer his anxiety worsened. A heavily pounding surf against jagged volcanic rock awaited him the minute his engines cut out. What had earlier seemed like a serious but manageable problem when he was offshore, was now a critical situation. He knew he was only seconds away from using the last drops of fuel. When he ran out, his fate would be to land on the rocks placing his life and those of his two sons in extreme jeopardy. Should they manage to make their way through the pounding waves and reach the safety of the land, they would at least lose their boat on the rugged shoreline.

But so far the engines were still good. They were receiving the fuel they needed and there was no sputter yet. But Max could feel it coming. They had to stop soon. The needle had been pegged for over ten minutes. Their fuel had never lasted this long. Why should they hope it would last a minute longer?

Gaffer took a deep breath. I can’t stand this. And then he laughed and shrugged. It’s so tense waiting to run out.

We’re not out yet, said Max. We’re still under weigh, and as long as we’re moving I’ll just keep pointing the boat at that opening. A couple more minutes and we’re done. Who wants to take bets? asked P.J. cheerfully.

I’ll bet we make it, said Max.

I’ll bet we don’t, said P.J.

I’m not betting, said Gaffer.

They were now only 300 yards from the fuel dock and Bimini Twist was still running smoothly. What do you want to bet? asked Max.

Ten bucks, said P.J.

You already owe me ten bucks from before, remember?

He did. He had borrowed the money from his father so he could rent two Xbox games at Blockbuster. Ten dollars that he would probably forget and that Max would never ask for.

Double or nothing, said P.J.

Max shrugged. You’re on. This was a bet he really wanted to win. Not for the money but because the other stakes were so extremely high. He had to win this bet for all the other reasons. Anyhow, the bet was a nice, if temporary, distraction. The little side bet took his mind off the problem for the few seconds it took to pass the number one buoy and slip into the Konokohau Marina opening. He made the immediate right turn around the outer jetty and was now in the calm protected water of the marina. His anxiety level dropped from the ‘off the charts’ level, to something much more manageable and comfortable. As he looked ahead it appeared as if there was space for him at the dock and there were no other boats waiting to fuel up. At least if he made it before running out of gas he would have a place to tie off.

He knew things were going too well. He had made it all this way when the sputtering began. At first it was the starboard engine gasping. He knew immediately that this was the sign they were empty. He also knew that it was not quite over yet. He pushed the throttles forward for a last gasp. The engines continued to sputter, but little by little the boat picked up speed. Max held his breath as Bimini Twist’s bow cut through the still waters of the marina. The boat was doing about six knots when the starboard engine cut out. Always that starboard engine. But the port engine still had some kick in it. Not much, as it was sputtering badly, but it had not yet cut out.

Now there was only twenty yards separating the boat from the dock. Twenty yards and Bimini Twist was still chugging. Max hurried to the transom and quickly grabbed the fuel bulb leading to the engine. He squeezed it five times. It was now nearly flat. The engine gave one last gasp and finally cut out. There they drifted, only twenty feet from the dock.

P.J. began with the teasing. He had won the bet. Nothing is nothing, he said. I don’t owe you anything.

Max thought fast. They were still not at the dock and they had no source of propulsion. He quickly rummaged through the locker containing the dock lines and retrieved two of the thirty foot lengths of black nylon rope. Moving quickly he tied the two together and created a large loop at one end. He was going to try to lasso a dock cleat or piling so he could pull the boat in. The wind was mild and there was no current, but Bimini Twist was still slowly moving away from the dock. Max made a couple of tosses with no success and he was beginning to think he was going to need that tow after all.

P.J. was the one with his wits about him. While Max was trying to rope the dock and Gaffer was standing by watching, P.J. was donning a pair of fins that had been stored in the forward deck locker. He had fastened a line to the spring cleat on the port gunwale and in an instant was in the water swimming toward the fuel dock. The distance was now about forty feet and he covered it in seconds. A moment later he had the line wrapped twice around the grimy piling that supported the dock. He tied the tag end of the line in a knot around the standing end and then swam back to the boat. They were not at the dock, but they were attached to it, and it was now a simple matter of pulling themselves in. By the time P.J. had climbed back on board, Max and Gaffer had pulled the boat into the dock and were tying it off at the bow and stern. Max acknowledged that P.J., standing there soaking wet and grinning proudly, had won the bet and they were now even.

A friendly young Hawaiian girl who looked to be perhaps ten or eleven years of age, and wearing a bright red hibiscus flower behind her ear in stark contrast to her light brown skin and jet black hair, came to greet the boat and offer assistance. Apparently she was the dock mate. She introduced herself as Leilani and welcomed Bimini Twist and its crew to her fuel station. Her manner was very warm which in turn caused the three on board the boat to react with appreciation and warmth.

While Gaffer filled the gas tanks, P.J. rinsed himself off with fresh water from the dock hose. When he was rinsed down and feeling clean, he placed the hose into the fresh water filler opening and topped off the fresh water tank. Leilani was curious about this boat with the strange name.

May I come aboard your boat and visit? she asked.

Max looked at her quizzically. Her big smile and open curiosity was so adorable that he could only say yes. She came onto the boat by holding onto the t-top and swinging down to the deck with a thump. Max looked at the young Leilani and smiled. What a perfectly beautiful and innocent little girl, he thought. These Hawaiians were really something.

Leilani stood at the helm for a moment and took it all in. There was no great array of instruments, only the Furuno depth finder and a small Garmin GPS unit. But none of this mystified her. She nodded her head as if she now knew everything about the boat. She looked at Max. How did you let yourself run out of gas? she asked.

Max was taken aback with the girl’s directness. He was also embarrassed for having to admit to what had happened. This is our boat’s first day in the Hawaiian Islands. We went farther offshore than I realized with only a quarter tank to begin with. We’re from Florida where the coast doesn’t look so close as it does here when you’re far offshore.

The girl nodded. You have to watch that in these islands. Many boaters from all over the world tell the same story. They can be ten miles offshore and think it’s four or five miles. It gets a lot of people in trouble. She then looked at the GPS and without asking hit the ‘enter’ button. When the menu appeared she scrolled down to the waypoints list and hit the ‘enter’ button again. Up popped an alphabetical listing of two hundred different locations that were stored in the memory of the GPS unit. Leilani’s brow furrowed as she read down the list and recognized none of the waypoints. She frowned and asked, What is all this? I don’t recognize anything.

Max was nearly patronizing as he answered. These are sites we visit when we’re back home. Most of these waypoints are either in the Bahamas Islands or the Florida Keys. That’s where we boat and fish.

Leilani was not impressed. She was not trying to show off, but she had the whole subject of GPS coordinates hard wired in her head. And she was no stranger to the Garmin either. She played with the buttons on the instrument for a moment and could see that most of the waypoints listed were upwards of 5,000 miles away.

Would you like some local waypoints? she asked. I know many coordinates.

Now she had Gaffer’s attention. He was still filling the gas tank but he was riveted on what this young girl was saying.

You know coordinates for different places, and you have them memorized? he asked incredulously.

Leilani shrugged. I have memorized more than twenty spots and their coordinates, she said.

Max gasped. You have the coordinates for twenty locations memorized? He couldn’t believe it.

Tell me what you want and I’ll store it for you. How about the gas dock? You should always know how far you are from the gas dock.

Max regained his composure. That would be a good place to start. Here, I’ll show you how to add a waypoint.

Not necessary, said Leilani. I know. Her fingers danced across the buttons entering the numbers for the current position. In no more than a few seconds the GPS was reading out ‘marina 0.00 nautical miles’.

Gaffer looked into Leilani’s childlike face and shook his head. I couldn’t do that if I tried, he said. I don’t even know the coordinates for my own marina back home.

What else would you like to see? asked the girl.

Max decided to push it. How about where the best place to catch blue marlin?

OK, said Leilani cheerfully. I have four good places for that depending on the tide and current. I’ll call them blue one, two, three and four. Too easy. Again her fingers danced across the buttons and in three minutes all four waypoints for the best marlin fishing on the Kona coast were in the memory of the GPS.

You’re amazing, said Gaffer. I’ve never seen anything like that.

Leilani beamed. It pleased her to be recognized for this talent. Her girlfriends at school only thought it was odd, so Leilani was always much more comfortable around fisherman and yachtsmen who could appreciate her skill and who were interested in the same things she was.

My cousin was a professional mate and he taught me how to fish and navigate. He used to take me fishing all the time before he quit to become a mechanic. Would you like to see more? she asked.

What kinds of things? asked Max.

Beaches, marinas, fishing spots, dive sites, caves. Leilani shrugged. Stuff like that.

You’re welcome to put in as many locations as you like, said Max. I’ll make a list so I can keep track of them.

What’s the most important to you? asked Leilani.

Max and Gaffer looked at each other. Max shrugged, Let’s start with the basics. We’re going to be staying mostly here in Kona, so how about some of the areas where we can buy gas, bait, ice and fishing supplies.

While Leilani entered coordinates into the memory of the GPS, Max took notes in his GPS log book. Gaffer had filled both gas tanks and P.J. was finished with the fresh water fill. They watched as the fingers of the little wizard moved swiftly across the face of the GPS. It was all Max could do to write his notes as quickly as Leilani entered the numbers.

Do you know everything there is to know about the offshore waters around here? asked Gaffer.

Nobody knows everything, she said. But I think I’m pretty good.

Well, said Max. You certainly amaze me.

Leilani beamed. Maybe I can go for a ride with you and show you some places while you’re here, she suggested. That’s my favorite thing.

You’re welcome to come with us any time you like, said Max. We can always use someone who knows the local waters, and then he added, and you’re so pleasant. You’re always invited.

On a slightly different subject Leilani asked, You like to catch wahoo?

Gaffer nodded. We love wahoo.

I know the place that very few people know about. It’s far from here but the wahoos are all sixty pounds or bigger.

No way! said Gaffer. Could that be possible?

"It’s true. I’ll prove it.

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