One day Willie decided that he and I should take the 14-foot Boston whaler and row it over to Makena Landing across the bay. It was a really nasty, rough day. It was not a nice day at Big Beach. There were big shore breaks, there was lots of crashing water, and there was foam. It was just a rowdy surf day with strong wind.
I really didn't like it. I didn't want to be out there. But, Willie was just insistent that we should take this boat over. I kept objecting, "These waves are just going to cream us, man. We can't get this boat out through this surf. It's too rough! And if we get out there, the wind's howling. We're going to have to row like crazy along the beach to make it over there. It's coming right at us. This is nuts!"
But, Willie, being a relentless sort kept on me about it, and on and on he went about wanting to row the boat. Finally I just said, "Oh, the hell with it. Oh, all right! We'll take the boat! Against my better judgment, but let's do it. You wanna do it that bad, we'll do it."
We dragged the boat down to the beach with a bow line off it. The plan was for Willie to sit in the boat and row while I towed the thing.
Willie and I waited our time. It looked really calm. It looked like it would be okay. There was a break in the swells and we thought we could probably make it. So, off we went.
We launched the boat into the water. I was dangling on a little line off the bow and Willie was at the helm with a couple of oars paddling like a madman, trying to get this thing to start moving. I was towing away. Off we went.
Willie leaned into it and we got halfway out through the swells. Then I looked up, and there in front of us was the swell of the day, a monster with a 10-foot face. It was headed straight at us. It came out of nowhere and we were in the trough. We were going to eat it. There was no two ways about it.
I freaked out 'cause it was right on top of us. I turned around and looked at Willie. He didn't even see it. He was still paddling like a madman trying to get the boat through the waves and out where we could head on to Makena, and the swell….
I tried. I hollered, "Eh, Willie!"
I don't know if he turned around and looked over his shoulder, but the big swell was upon us. I ducked under the water and tried to hang onto the rope at the bow of the boat, which was ridiculous.
The wave just ripped the rope out of my hands and lifted the boat straight up on its tail. The boat shot up into the air with Willie still paddling like mad. The boat launched 180 degrees until it was completely horizontal, only upside down in the air, on the front of the wave with Willie still paddling like crazy, upside down in the air.
Then, down came the whole shebang with a big plop noise as the giant wave enveloped the boat and the whole scene disappeared in six feet of foam.
I popped up out of the swell and looked around for Willie. I didn't see him anywhere. I could see little bits of the boat as it was bobbing up and down in the foam. I was scared.
I just took a deep breath and dove down under the foam and headed towards the boat, feeling my way through foam, hoping I could find the guy. I didn't know what had happened to him. He could have very easily been knocked unconscious by the boat or gotten stuck at the bottom of the wave or any number of things. It was several potential calamities that were ensuing.
Just about as I got over to the boat, up popped Willie's head. He looked at me and said, "Hmmm. Guess the surf's too rough today, huh?"