A Lazy Afternoon Sketching in Kona

Day 10, South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand Cruise

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022; Kona, Hawaii.

I didn’t plan ahead for our Kona port on the Big Island, as many call the actual island of Hawaii to distinguish it from the collection of islands that make up the state. I’ve stayed on the island before and visited most of the sites, including a coffee plantation and Pu’uhonua, a sacred place of refuge for Hawaiians. I thought of returning there, but wasn’t interested in a big-bus tour.

So instead, I waited until late morning to take a tender to shore, planning to window shop in the immediate vicinity, something I remembered enjoying in the past. But I think I have become jaded about shopping, probably because I spent the last year getting rid of almost everything I bought in previous years. I wandered through the tourist and souvenir shops, admiring some jewelry but really having no need for more.

I took time to sketch the Hulihee Palace that overlooks the bay. Built in 1838, it housed a number of Hawaiian royal family members.

Across the street is the Moku’aikaua Church, Hawaii’s oldest Christian church. In front is a sculpture of Jesus healing the blind man.

After a few months away from frequent sketching, I have gotten rusty. During the pandemic I attended some watercolor workshops, which were more focused on making larger pieces of art than on sketching on site. I finally realized that I just don’t have the skills now to finish a piece of what I would call “art” without messing it up along the way. In my frustration over my lack of improvement, I set aside my paints.

Now I am using the sea days to catch up on my sketchbook, trying different techniques and styles. I usually am sketching from photographs because our tours move too quickly for me to complete the sketch on site. On my garden tour on Kauai, I tried to capture some of the plants, but didn’t finish before the tour moved on. I think I’ll just leave them in my sketchbook as rough studies. My watercolors also are lagging behind my port blog postings, so I’m only now finishing my sketches from Seattle and Hawaii.

During the many sea days on the early part of this cruise, I usually paint my sketches at a table by the Lido Pool. I had thought I would do this in my stateroom with light coming from the big window on the balcony, but I enjoy being around others, even while sitting alone. It’s probably a habit I picked up as a reporter in a busy newsroom decades ago.

After a couple of hours in Kona, I got in the tender line to return to the ship. One advantage of sailing a lot on Holland America is the perk of priority disembarking. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let me skip the line for the return trip. At least the chilled cloths and ice water awaiting us on the pier made the wait go quickly.

I thought we had left Hawaii behind when we sailed away around 5 p.m., but at 4:30 a.m. the following morning the captain announced that we had returned, for our second medical evacuation so far on this trip. Of course, we never hear any details of why a passenger had to disembark. But again the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hovered over the aft deck and whisked the passenger away. We should be able to make up the delay over the next five sea days before we arrive at Apia, Samoa.