Sailing since high school, BYU-Hawaii senior Landon Gold said he decided to push the limits and connect with nature when he purchased a 14-foot sailboat and steered it outside of Laie Bay.
A marine biology major from California, Gold said the feeling of freedom and connection with nature is what inspired him to pursue sailing here in Hawaii.
“To be going somewhere by the power of the wind at the mercy of the ocean–it’s a feeling that doesn’t compare,” said Gold.
He continued, “That’s why I go out. It’s freedom. It’s connection. It’s a challenge. Every time you go out there’s obstacles you have to overcome. Different situations you have to deal with and that’s fun. To take yourself out of what feels comfortable, and put yourself in a new environment where you have to figure things out, you’re having to be aware and learn. It’s great.”
Megan Gold, Landon’s wife and a registered nurse from California, said, “The reason I married him is because of the stuff he does like this. After meeting Landon, everyone else kind of seemed boring,” she said while laughing.
Landon said his favorite experiences have been, “[seeing] wildlife. Sailing next to a pod of dolphins is pretty fantastic. Sailing up and seeing whales while you’re out there is pretty spectacular.”
He added he enjoyed sailing his boat to several of the small islands outside of Laie Bay, including Pulemoku, nicknamed Peanut Island, and Mokuauia, which can be seen from Castles Beach. Landon said both were fun to explore because of the variety of fish and other features he hadn’t seen inside Laie Bay.
Landon recounted, “I don’t know many people who have sailed out of Laie Bay. You might go surf at Goats, or Middles but to actually go out past Pulemoku out into the open ocean is a different experience. It heightens your senses. The first time going out there under the power of the sail, just me and a friend, was kind of living on the edge. It was very exciting. It was new territory. You didn’t know what to expect or what you would find. It was a different perspective and look on the island.”
One of Landon’s friends, Cody Beckett, a junior from California majoring in finance, said he was also introduced to sailing during high school.
The two purchased a catamaran sailboat at first, said Beckett, but they now sail in Landon’s new boat, which is a monohull and is more stable in the water, according to Landon.
“Landon loves to push the limits and that’s good for me,” said Beckett. “I don’t want to say I’m the opposite, but I like to make sure things don’t go wrong. Being with Landon helps me push my horizons and see what more I can do.”
Beckett said the coolest sailing experience he’s had with Landon was sailing from Laie Bay to Waimea. The 15-mile sail took three and a half hours, which was a quick speed for such a small boat, according to Beckett.
“It was exciting because we have this little boat and you’re off shore like a mile and half. And if something goes wrong, what are you going to do? Swim back?” said Beckett.
Landon said he enjoys inviting friends not only for the company but also because it’s the way he was introduced to sailing when he was in high school in California.
“I don’t want to preach about us all getting lost from our roots and not being able to connect anymore,” said Landon. “I do think I have an opportunity to give some people something they wouldn’t otherwise have that helps them get closer to themselves and get closer to the world around them.”
Landon continued, “If someone wants to go sailing, I would love to take them. I want to give them that experience.”
Beckett continued, “He usually comes up with the crazy ideas and then I’m trying realistically [to] figure out, ‘Will that work?’ He pushes me to do things I wouldn’t do on my own. At least in my mind.”
Beckett added, “On [Landon’s] boat he’s the captain, so he’s going to make the calls.”
While he may be the captain of the ship, Landon was quick to acknowledge there are a lot of things he can’t control while he’s sailing.
“You feel really small once you get off the shore,” said Landon. “It brings me closer to the Creator and to the creation.”
Landon explained, “It’s so easy for us to get in our cars, turn the key over, and start driving where we want to go. But it’s a completely different experience to be at the mercy of nature. You have to work together to achieve a goal. You have to utilize and exploit what nature has to give you at that time to accomplish something.”
Beckett agreed, “There’s not a lot of things people our age get into where you have to understand nature. People should learn about sailing and try sailing [because] you have to understand nature. It brings you closer to what’s going on around you.”
Both said surfing is similar because surfers have to watch the waves and know the tides and where the wind is coming from.
Beckett comparing the two said, “People surf and they have to understand how waves work, but sailing is both waves and wind and rain and whatever else comes at you.”
Landon said students who want to learn how to sail “should just go for it,” and shouldn’t “trip up because of what people say or because of what you think might go wrong.”
Beckett agreed, “The only way to learn sailing is to go out and actually try. People can tell you and show you, but until you actually get your hands on the boat and on the rigging, you’ll never learn.”
Landon said, “I first got into sailing because somebody liked me enough to take me out on their boat. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for those people who have opened up their resources to allow me to have the experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I feel I should do the same with my friends.”
He continued, “I’ve been able to sail out here in Hawaii. I just wanted it badly enough to make it happen.”