SIGHTINGS the harbormaster of hanalei
pitch darkness, in the middle of the ocean, After Jim Kellam finished second overall in the 2004 Singlehanded and he can’t open the hatch. TransPac (he finished first overall in the 2002 race), he left for a “Yeah, yeah, it was more comic relief cruise around the world in his Spencer 35 Haulback with only one than a problem,” he admits. After thinking scheduled stop: Be back in Hanalei Bay in time to greet the Solo about it for awhile, “I figured I had two TransPac Class of ‘06. A week before the first boat crossed the finish options, I could beat the s**t out of the line, Haulback dropped anchor in Kauai’s sapphire-blue waters. hatch and hope the catch would open, or How’s that for perfect planning? Kellam, a logging crane operator in his homeport of British Columbia, has an unconventional philosophy toward cruising. “I don’t want an idyllic anchorage with a crystal-clear lagoon surrounded by coconut trees and no people,” he said. “When I get to land, I want a little village to wander around in.” But for Jim, it’s not the destinations that drew him to world cruising, it was the sailing. “I really love the passages,” he explained. “People talk about nine-year circumnavigations — I’d shoot myself!” Kellam’s love for ocean passages is evidenced by the itinerary he sketched out: Vancouver to San Francisco to Kauai to Raritonga, and that was just the beginning. Above, ‘Haulback’ hauled back to Hanalei to be there when the Solo TransPac race ended. Right, ‘Lord Jim’ He slowed down to kick Kellam, sporting a few new ‘tats’ since we saw him last. around Tonga and Fiji before heading to New Zealand and Australia, where he was unexpectedly forced to spend some time when his mast “fell off”. “It couldn’t have happened at a better place,” Jim said, never losing his sunny outlook. “It could have been worse — it was just some bits of metal and a little money. Besides, everyone likes new sails!” From Australia, he picked his way to Bali, Cocos Keeling, and finally to South Africa, where his daughter flew in to get married. By the time the festivities were over, he was on the verge of losing his weather window so he got into passage mode and kicked Haulback into high gear. “The passage from Cape Town to Panama was 47 days,” he related. “I got there and wished it was another 2,000 miles away. It was lovely sailing and I was having a ball.” Of course, he had the 36-day jaunt from Panama to Hilo to look forward to, not to mention the upcoming trip home to Vancouver. Just what is it about passages that Jim finds irresistible? “It’s a real luxury not to have to do things,” he said. “You get to just dork around on the boat — adjust course, fiddle with the sails, read. You can really reflect on your life and think about stuff.” While Kellam does have an introspective side, he’s also something of a class clown. As unofficial Race Committee Comm Officer, Jim spoke with the racers twice daily during check-in. During one checkin, he detailed his plan for clearing out the anchorage to make room for the fleet: He’d run up and down the beach waving his arms and making funny noises . . . naked. If that didn’t do it, nothing would. Fortunately for everyone, it didn’t come to that. Despite his campy nature, 54-year-old Kellam was front and center in the committee boat for each finisher, clambering aboard with the agility of a 12-year-old. “I like to grab the helm while the rest of ‘em do all the work,” he laughed. In reality, Jim had already scouted out the perfect spot for each boat before they arrived. Without exception, the sleep-deprived sailors were grateful to put their boats in Kellam’s capable hands. The race committee expressed their gratitude by giving Kellam special recognition at the awards party and officially dubbing him ‘Harbormaster of Hanalei Bay’. continued on outside column of next sightings page Page 114 •
• August, 2006
The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.