Last week and again today, I went paddling. I am going to join the canoe club and do this regularly. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get off my butt! I continue to blame by tennis elbow which I’m sure will be much stronger going forward!
Paddling is a Hawaiian cultural experience. For kama’aina and malahini alike, if you have never paddled before, you must join in the fun. Meet Tues/Thursday at 7am at the Kihei Canoe Club to ensure a spot on the canoe and sign the disclaimer (that you know how to swim). I’m not sure how they get around the coast guard regulations but only a few people wear floatation devices. It’s free though they do ask for a donation. They’ll provide the canoe and the paddle. In return you get:
- The traditional conch shell blowing and chants. Remember how the Hawaiians learn —observe, mimic, listen and be quiet. I recognized a few words and chanted along as best I could. I’m sure they were asking for calm waters which we got.
- A short course in the parts of the canoe, proper paddling and foot positioning and procedures for getting in and out of the canoe. It is very easy.
- Time to get out and swim and/or snorkel out at Turtle Town. It is a turtle feeding station where there were dozens of curious turtles.
- Today we had up close and personal whale encounter. Ok, I’ve had great encounters on the big whale watching boats. Each one is better than the last. But there is something amazing that happens when you are in a 40 foot canoe with 6 other people and a 45 foot humpback whale (w/friends) heads straight in your direction, dives down and swims under the canoe! See barnacles up close on the “wings”. Truly enchanting.
- A great workout. We were only on the water maybe 70-80 minutes but took many rests. The “rowing pace” is good but not too fast, except if your boat decides to race another boat. If you get tired, you just stop paddling. It works out your back, legs, butt and arms. Doing it right is the best way to avoid injury (keep back straight and use strength of legs).
- The hardest part is hauling canoes in and out of the water. All teams help each other, more people lifting a canoe makes it easier.
- To experience the true spirit of the sea.
Side note: Although you may stay dry, don’t count on it. On the way out, one canoe took a nose dive into a wave and had several inches of water in the bottom. On the way in, we got sided by a pretty good wave and I can see that a roll (huli) was possible! Next time, I will bring my camera with underwater enclosure though! It is ok to bring a non-waterproof camera, as long as you have it in a waterproof bag that floats. When you see whales and turtles, boats will stop and you can pull your camera out. Don’t bring anything else you don’t need!