Reece Senda bought his sloop, a Coronado 34, on Craigslist for $6,000 in 2011. It came with the name Zorba. It has homemade sails that he made over the course of five months, spending his nights on Kaua‘i at a neighborhood basketball court or in his mother’s backyard with dozens of yards of canvas spread out, pushing a needle through the thick material with a piece of cardboard taped to his hand. Senda didn’t set out to be a craftsman; it was the only way he could afford them. Making these sails, he says, is one of the greatest accomplishments of his life.
Why did Senda buy Zorba in the first place? “I thought you just get the boat and you go,” the 28-year-old says. “I wanted to sail around the world, but it was way harder than I thought.” Shortly after paying up, he realized there were things that needed fixing. He bought an engine, and it was promptly stolen. He discovered he got seasick. He even posted the boat on Craigslist a couple of times that first year. Not long after he bought it, the 2011 tsunami caused by an earthquake in Japan nearly took old Zorba out. A few months later, he made local TV news when he saved the boat from a near wreck on the rocks at Magic Island. In the night, it had broken from its anchor due to the combination of onshore winds, a small swell, and heavy rains. He swam out to it and sailed it away from harm with the meager skills he had accrued.
Once Senda took the leap from boat owner to boat inhabitant three years ago, moving offshore and sleeping in the tight quarters below deck, he got used to the sway of the ocean and his motion sickness vanished. He fixed enough and learned enough to sail to Kaua‘i, where he grew up. He has made the trip twice now and is planning to head out again soon. He discovered the magic of glowing plankton, and of watching sunsets from the swaying, narrow deck of his new home. Now, the idea of moving back onto land is something Senda responds to with a long pause, then a no. The freedom of living untethered, the idea of being able to wake up and go, all your meager belongings onboard, is one that has him sold.