With the sails up and the trades blowing, we cruised at an average of 10 knots, about 11 1/2 mph. Wind waves slapped the sides of the catamaran. Salt, deposited on the ship from evaporated seawater, caked my palms as I used the handrails to wobble around the craft. I held the railing as I stared north. Kauai was somewhere out there in the monstrous Pacific.

Nothing but white caps, flying fish and Bob Marley would accompany us for the next 85 miles.

"Some people just lose it," Jim's voice said as it replayed in my memory. "They just can't handle it."

There's a metaphysical theory that states that our universe exists in four dimensions. In other words, our universe is one infinite gelatinous pancake stacked on top of many, many other infinite plasmic pancakes. With that said, being surrounded by thousands of miles of water was not at all worrisome. There was an entire universe below our sailing vessel. We are never really alone or isolated per se.

As we drifted across the open ocean, I began to realize that this was the destination. As soon as we docked at Port Allen, I would be surrounded by the pressures of modern society — cars, cellphones, traffic lights, a boss who wants to me to work on my day off and a Labrador retriever that eats five cups a day of $60-per-bag dog food. This was an escape from it all.

"You doing all right?" Johnny asked me as I stared at the ocean.

"Absolutely. I'm just relaxing."

Johnny smiled. His white teeth contrasted against ultra-tan skin. All eight of us were burned cocoa from the seven direct hours under the Hawaiian sun.

I watched a set of gray storm clouds at the horizon's edge.

The closer we bounced and rolled toward Kauai, the bigger the dark smudge grew. I rocked to sleep on the nets at the bow of the catamaran. Lilac water "shushed, shushed, shushed" underneath as I dozed off. When I came to, Kauai was in front of us.

White water exploded against crimson cliffs. Basalt climbed out of the deep ocean and led to the dramatic, near-vertical volcanic peaks that brought the movie "Jurassic Park" to life.

As we sailed around the southern perimeter of Kauai, we passed the resorts — none taller than a coconut tree — of Poipu, beautiful coffee plantations that had recently sprung up on hillsides overlooking the ocean, and the greatest treat of it all, Niihau, the Forbidden Isle, an unimposing rocky blurb on the horizon.

As we stepped off the Makani and onto stable ground at Port Allen, I felt as though we all had l accomplished something. In reality, it was a pleasure cruise, an 11-hour tour. I realized I would never attempt it in a war canoe, even if it were alongside Kamehameha.

travel@latimes.com