Palisadian Christian Williams Sets Sail to Hawaii for a Third Time
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Palisadian sailor, author and social media influencer Christian Williams set off to sea once more, single-handedly sailing from Los Angeles to Hawaii for a third time this past summer.
The Upper Alphabet Streets resident recalled first being exposed to sail boats when he was about 5 years old because of his father’s interest in sailing after returning from World War II. Williams took his first solo trip when he was 11 years old, and never looked back.
In 2014, Williams single-handedly sailed from Los Angeles to Hawaii, a venture that he said wholly encapsulated solitude in the most unique way—and that was the lure.
After 20 days at sea, Williams reached the island of Kaua’i and spent two weeks catching up on sleep, rejuvenating and putting his boat back in order for his return.
Williams then headed back to LA from Hawaii. Only this time the wind blew less, causing speed to decline, and he arrived in 28 days.
In 2017, Williams returned to sea and solo sailed to Hawaii again. This time to the island of Oahu and in a brand-new Ericson 38, Thelonious II.
“I bought another boat and did it all over again, and I was a little less scared and a little more experienced,” Williams shared. “I was able to look at this remarkable, expansive ocean and sky and clouds and be a part of it.”
This year, Williams took to the Pacific Ocean again on Thelonious II to embark on his third solo sailing trip to Hawaii and back—what he described as his most challenging trip to date.
“I’m 78 now, and it was an interesting sort of challenge and much rougher this year than last time,” Williams said to the Palisadian-Post. “This was a much less contemplative voyage than my last two … the ocean is always different and the ocean made it clear to me that I better hold on tight this time. I lost 16 pounds, I was physically challenged more than previously.
“So the question is, ‘Can a 78-year-old guy do this?’ I was confident that I could but I didn’t know the answer. I’m not as muscular as I once was and I don’t rely anymore on physical strength, I rely on experience and planning.”
Over the course of over 40 days and roughly 6,000 miles of travel, Williams kept a daily log of his trip with notes describing his journey. He explained his logbook extends an invitation for others to join him on this voyage—as does his YouTube channel.
Williams has amassed a following of 55,000 subscribers, and his 66 videos have a collective total of 7.5 million views. His videos highlight his sailing experiences, while offering his book recommendations and more.
Williams said thousands of people from all over the world followed his journey and daily updates, sending him messages via email to “keep going,” or leaving comments on his channel like “bon voyage, Christian” and “fair winds.”
“There is a curiosity about learning to sail and also about the adventure aspect about doing it alone that appeals to people,” he explained to the Post. “Many of them say, ‘I would never do this but it’s interesting to see how it works.’ This is the YouTube culture and I think it’s great.”
Palisadians can look forward to watching the footage from his latest voyage in the coming months.
“I’ve been making movies since I was 12, I grew up with an 8 millimeter camera in my hand,” Williams said. “Then I spent 25 years in television … I came back from this trip with 420 gigabytes of video, which I am currently editing into a video. The video of this voyage, I think, is going to be feature-length and 90 minutes long.
“It’s a good feeling to have done something that you said you would do, a much better feeling than while you are doing it … this trip was categorized by very strong winds and a good feeling of discomfort for me. My goal is to communicate what it’s like, sometimes at my own expense. It’s very revealing.”
He said the video should be out by early December.
Beyond the physical challenges, Williams also admitted that he might not take on the voyage again after leaving his family concerned for his safety while out at sea.
“Single-handed sailing, which is what I do, is one of the most selfish acts,” Williams shared. “I was gone 19 days out and 26 days back, something like 46 or 47 days alone at sea … That puts my daughters, granddaughters and sons … concerned about their father. Is this wisdom or just him?
“And for your spouse, it not only means that they have to take out the garbage and do with the lost internet passwords, but it also means—I learned only upon my return—that my wife would wake up in the middle of the night worried. You only become cautious of the weight on other people when you get back … this is an element of solo sailing that doesn’t get discussed a lot.”
Williams has proven that travel can be one of the most transformative experiences of your life, and he encouraged others to act on their dreams while they are able.
“I learned something about age … I call it ‘What You Don’t Know About Being 78,’ and that is that you are the exact same person inside that you were when you were 17,” Williams said. “The world as it appears out of your eyes is exactly the same world that appeared out of your eyes when you were 17, for better or for worse. When you’re 78, you’re going to see the same world out of your eyes. You still have the ambition, you still wonder about your capabilities and you have the same fantasies … we’re not our ideas or our maybes or our somedays. We are what we do, our whole self-definition, our sense of self is what we do … so you better get busy doing things.
“If you want to sail away, just do it.”
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