Capt. Lyman won’t be forgotten
How do you say a final goodbye to an old friend? It's a question I -- and hundreds of others, I'm sure -- have been asking since hearing of the untimely death of Capt. David "Kawika" Lyman.
After all, this was too soon and too sudden for a man whose mere presence filled the bridge of a ship, a waterfront saloon or a private yacht club.
He was able to take command anywhere with his humorous, but authoritative, baritone voice.
If you somehow missed the news, Lyman, a veteran harbor pilot, died a week ago after falling from the Jacob's ladder he was descending from a cruise ship to an adjacent harbor pilot boat. He had just guided the ship offshore out of Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai.
How could that happen, we ask ourselves? Climbing such ladders was something Lyman had done thousands of times. Surely there was more to it than just a foot slipping on a rung or a missed grip.
We may never know what really happened, but there is much we do know about the man I was honored to call a friend.
Kawika was the consummate waterman. He learned his trade at the California Maritime Academy and held an unlimited captain's license. That meant he could pilot vessels the size of the Queen Elizabeth II (which he did), but there was so much more to the man than his profession.
If it had anything to do with things maritime, from Honolulu's Maritime Museum or the Waianae Maritime Academy, to skippering the Polynesian Voyaging Society's sailing canoe Hokulea, sailing his own boat out of the Waikiki Yacht Club or inspiring young people to find a career on the ocean, Kawika was involved.
When the venerable tall ship Falls of Clyde needed to be moved (as she did in 1994), or when a marriage by a sea captain was required (as it was for mine in 2000), then Kawika -- with his ever-present lauhala hat -- was the man to call.
Marlinspike seamanship -- the art of knot-tying -- is a dying nautical tradition, but ask around town about a ship's bell hanging in a place like Murphy's Bar and Grill or one of the yacht clubs and you will find that Kawika most certainly created its fancy rope bell pull.
And then there were the sea chanteys. As a youngster, I played guitar and learned a few of those musical rhymes of the working class seamen, but Kawika knew them all. His taking part in an impromptu jam was a special moment for everyone I know.
So, how will I, and so many others, say goodbye to Kawika? Each in our own way, I'm sure, but according to his sister, Marion, services will be held for him tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Central Union Church.
And then, Saturday there will be a scattering of ashes offshore, followed by an Irish Wake downtown at Murphy's and O'Tooles, of course.
Aloha Kawika -- you are gone, but most definitely not forgotten.