My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Friday, January 9, 2004

30 minutes only

>> Off the Big Island

The injured Japanese fisherman Hideki Hirai remained unconscious as the 12 illegal Filipinas transferred him from the yacht Wet Spot to Mano Kekai's fishing boat.

It had been three days since he'd jumped seven stories from the deck of the Tuna Maru and landed awkwardly, breaking three ribs and slightly puncturing a lung. His breathing was shallow, but still it gurgled.

"Not too good," Mano said. "Bruddah got the gangrenes already."

"What're you going to tell the authorities?" Sonya Chan said from the wheel of Wet Spot.

"I'm one fisherman," Mano said, winked. "Good already at tall tales."

"Thanks, Uncle Mano," Sonya said. "I didn't want his life on my conscience, and there's things that we have to do ..."

Things, Mano understood, that would be jeopardized if she called the Coast Guard to pick up the injured ship jumper.

Mano tapped the cell phone on his belt. "You need anything, bebbe, I'm just a call away."

"Thank you."

"And so is the other Mano."

Sonya turned, watched the giant fin continue tracing a path around the yacht. "That Mano? The shark?"

"My aumakua. He'll be staying with you. Help protect you, bebbe."

With that Mano gunned the engine and his 35-footer turned and sped back toward Kona. Agnes, the Filipina for whom Hideki had leaped, collapsed in tears.

Sonya engaged the prop of Wet Spot's electric motor and steered toward Pele's Bath. She knew the land formations here, she'd been this way with Daren in his boat. They were just 30 minutes now from their rendezvous with Daren and Sushi Leclaire. Half an hour only to figure things out.

>> Big Island

As TV outdoorsman Virgil Root, Daren Guy's long-lost cousin, and his cameraman Jim Birdley had breakfast at the King Kamehameha Hotel, Root asked their waiter if he had any favorite local places for outdoor recreation.

Kimo Felez suggested they visit a magical place called Pele's Bath. "Get da bes' snorkeling on da island, brah. Plus, da kine hot springs."

When Root asked how to get there, Kimo replied: "I no can tell you. The way there not even on one map. Only way, somebody got to take you there. Must be your luck day, my shift is pau."

The cameraman drove their rented 4x4 Explorer, Root in the passenger seat taking notes, Kimo in back giving directions. They passed Captain Cook, then continued on through coffee country, and turned right on a rough paved road, descending a steep hill, the road full of switchbacks.

"Only about another 30 minutes to Pele's Bath," Kimo said. "I telling you, brah, you not gonna believe what you see."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at


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