Ex-Bedford resident hopes winds carry him home to Hawaii

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

For most people, going to Hawaii means shelling out some cash for a ticket, heading to the airport, and sitting in a cramped airplane seat for a few hours. And the food? A rock-hard roll and all the peanuts you can eat.

For Steve Fisher, going to Hawaii means shelling out some cash for a custom-built windsurfer, heading to the beach, and spending a month hoping for a good winds. And the food? Thirty days of granola and all the fish he can catch.

This morning, Mr. Fisher, 37, a former Bedford Township resident, is expected to leave California on a 2,500-mile sail to his home in Hawaii. Windsurfers have twice crossed the Atlantic, but this would be the first time anyone has crossed the Pacific to Hawaii.

Mr. Fisher has been windsurfing almost 20 years, since his days on Lake Erie in 1979. After graduating from Bedford High School in 1978, he eventually moved to Hawaii, where he’s been ever since.

In response to the question he’s most asked – “What, are you nuts?” – Mr. Fisher says he understands the risks involved and knows he might join the food chain below his usual rank. Twelve years ago, two Maui residents tried the same journey in a catamaran sailboat and were never seen again.

“Am I worried? No,” he said. “Do I accept the fact it could happen? I know I’m not going to live forever. If you walk into an undesirable part of Toledo, you run the same risk.

“I don’t want to just live. I want to excel.”

He plans to cover about 80 miles a day. His longest trip to date has been 300 miles around the Hawaiian Islands.

He has packed a propane stove, a desalinator to make sea water drinkable, and a Walkman.

They’ll all fit in an 18-foot-long, 250-pound windsurfer specially made for this trip. Mr. Fisher said it cost more than $4,000 and is virtually unsinkable.

He plans to sail about 10 hours a day, resting and enjoying the view for the rest of the time.

He’ll follow prevailing trade winds the whole way, so he expects the trip to take about a month. Just in case of slow winds, he’s packed enough food for 40 days.

He had the idea for the trip about 10 years ago and first planned to go in 1990, but he couldn’t find a corporate sponsor to fund his trek. Undaunted, he began raising his own money.

Mr. Fisher has taken six months off from his job as a time-share marketer to train and build his vessel, Da Slippa II, and he says it’s better in every way than the one he built seven years ago.

“It’s lighter, stronger, longer, and faster.”

Not too surprisingly, Mr. Fisher’s family in Toledo has tried to discourage him from making the trip. But he says their efforts are futile.

“They can’t stop me. So they’ve got to support me.”

If he makes it home to Hawaii, what will await him?

“Babes and a bubble bath on the beach,” said Mr. Fisher, who obviously is not married. And perhaps an even greater goal: a California-to-Japan voyage.