Eric Two Corks



Photo: The Mercurial Texan

Eric Two Corks, skipper of Maluhia, was adamant we should go and see the Judge. We could somehow free Horst, skipper of Awenasa, from appearing in the Kona Court. So we rode off in Eric’s car to set things straight and I imagined it rather like two cowboys riding to the Sheriff’s jail to free the condemned outlaw about to be hanged. I saw there was already a rope in the back of the car which, I figured, could be used to free the hapless Horst if things took a turn for the worst. This, I thought, was going to be fun…

Horst had fallen foul of the authorities in Kona on the big island of Hawaii. Refused entry into Honokohau Boat Harbour, Awanesa had been directed to Kailua Bay by the harbourmaster where, Horst was told, he could drop an anchor. He set his anchor in the designated area as instructed but, unfortunately for Horst, Awanesa’s chain swung when the wind changed, dragging over live coral at the moment a conscientious and enthusiastic eco tourist was photographing the wonderful sea life that lives in Kailua Bay. The swimmer caught it all on film and promptly informed the Division of Parks & Ocean Recreation who subsequently called the police. Only the previous day, the State of Hawaii had issued a new law protecting coral. Poor Horst, the German who spoke with a severe speech impediment, was duly issued with a citation and summoned to appear in Court. He was distressed and distraught.

Every condemned man needs a champion to fight his cause against his hanging. We’ve seen it countless times in the movies and on TV. The hapless victim sits terrified before the all white jury who’ve already condemned him, the brilliant lawyer stands and strides around the court, makes an impassioned speech and everyone in court, including the jury, stand and cheer and the judge bangs his hammer down hard freeing the condemned man. Luckily for Horst he had Eric Two Corks, the mercurial Texan, on his side.

I followed Eric through the imposing court house doors and listened intently as he informed the security guard we were here to right a ferocious wrong. Floor 3, we were told. We strode purposely to the elevator, with Horst in tow, and presented ourselves to the Court Clerk at the counter. Eric instructed Horst to say nothing which, in any event, was irrelevant as Horst’s English was almost unintelligible with his impediment. Both Eric and I could understand him but it took time. Eric designated myself as Horst’s official translator which was duly noted by the Clerk of the Court. This, I beamed proudly, was going exceedingly well.

The Clerk listened as Eric related the facts in his confident Texan drawl. This was clearly a miscarriage of justice, he said, that Horst doesn’t speak English, has a severe speech defect and would not get a fair trial. The lady clerk was extremely sympathetic but said we’d have to speak directly to the Judge in the court house in Kona. She gave us the phone number. We called the Kona Court and was told emphatically the trial was set and the fight was irreversibly on…

Horst forlornly sought legal advice from a Lawyer but was told the costs would be prohibitive. No matter, Eric decided, he would call a council of boat skippers residing in Ala Wai Boat Harbour… our combined maritime knowledge would outstrip the expertise offered by any obscure suburban lawyer. Of course, Eric Two Corks was unquestionably right. Every skipper invited to the discussion eagerly contributed his opinion, myself included, and the question of coral survival didn’t feature much in our fiercely opinionated world. By this time Horst was feeling confident he would escape his lynching, but what would happen, he worried, if he left Hawaii for Alaska with a criminal record? Eric played his masterstroke, pulled the card from up his sleeve and went to consult the legal mind of Mac McDonald onboard Why Not.

This was indeed a canny move. Mac McDonald was a self confessed expert on the matter of international maritime law. To Eric and myself this could easily be construed as official legal advice… maybe not of the highest order but legal counsel nevertheless. We told Horst we’d consulted a fine legal mind on the subject of his impending trial, damaged coral, international maritime law and local municipal laws… it was now a simple open and shut case. Horst beamed a great smile, realising he would be set free by the Judge on the day in the Kona court house. Not surprisingly, Eric Two Corks, Horst, Sergio the Sailor and myself continued to discuss the subject relentlessly over many beers and we have become good friends, fighting the common cause of maritime injustice…

Horst duly appeared before the Judge on the big island of Hawaii, confident in his innocence, believing wholeheartedly the Judge’s hammer would be brought down hard in his favour. We had done our work well, or so we thought…

The full story of the trial of the unfortunate Horst, skipper of the German yacht Awanesa, can be viewed and read at and at Meanwhile, life in Ala Wai goes on.

My very good friend Eric Two Corks will leave one day soon, with Claudia and his surf boards aboard Maluhia for the Marquesas Islands, south of the equator. Sergio the Sailor and Impulse are heading south too and I’ve heard rumours Maluhia and Impulse may sail south together. We ourselves are leaving to go north to British Columbia and to Alaska. Horst is heading north too, to Alaska on Awanesa with his new puppy dog Ginger. Peter, skipper of the New Zealand yacht Salamander has already departed for the Aleutian Islands and the wily old surfer Bill, skipper of Pegasus will stay in Honolulu with Shirley. Fat Annie left for Mexico and it’s yet another sad, sad parting of the ways.

Goodbye magical Hawaii.

Dave & Marie Ungless are currently sailing their boat Sänna around the world from west to east. Their nine year voyage so far has taken them into the North Pacific and to Alaska where they are now located. Dave is a freelance writer and journalist writing about their travels and the social aspects of their journey.

You can view their sailing website at and their sailing blog at

You can also Like their Facebook page at

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