The fact he took the stupid motor shows just how absurdly unprepared and magical thinking he was.
No need for a motor! 9 foot boat. What range could he get? 50 miles? Oars make more sense.
While I do agree taking the motor along was stupid. Your link to father's day shows that guy took a motor along. My guess is he's worried about getting into harbor in Honolulu (if that was the destination).
I have never understood the fascination/allure/fixation with tiny boat crossings. Eventually some mook is going to strap a pair of pool floaties to his (her? although it seems to usually be a guy) arms and hold up a scrap of cloth for a sail and take a stab at it.