Tag Archives: Canoes and Kayaks

The ins and outs of outrigger canoe racing

An outrigger canoe entering harbor in Hawaii
An outrigger canoe about to change paddlers in Hawaii
An outrigger canoe changing paddlers in Hawaii
An outrigger canoe changing paddlers in Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Afloat.’ See more responses here.

I had a different canoeing post lined up for this, but a couple of days ago I happened on this scene at Kawaihae harbor early in the morning. I noticed an outrigger canoe heading in and thought it might provide a photo opportunity, so I readied myself for the canoe’s arrival. While I waited, I heard voices. I looked around but didn’t see anyone. Then I realized the voices were coming from the water and there were three people not far from shore, only their heads visible above the water. They can just about be seen in the top photo, to the far right.

At first I thought they were taking an early morning dip, but when the canoe zipped into the small harbor, I thought they were probably there to help bring the canoe to shore. Sure enough, the canoe curled around to where they were and I snapped photos. But where I expected the canoe to slow to a halt, it didn’t. Instead it curved back out toward the harbor entrance and I was left wondering what just happened.

It wasn’t until I looked at my photos that I realized what I’d seen. What the canoeists were practicing was changing crew while still in motion. In the second photo, the moving boat comes alongside the three people in the water. The third photo shows three of the boat’s crew toppling into the water on the other side of the boat. Photo four shows the trio in the water climbing aboard to take the now empty seats. Finally, the bottom photo shows the canoe heading back out into open water with barely a break in speed.

The purpose of this exercise was practice for long-distance canoe racing. During a race, a support boat takes fresh crew ahead and drops them in the ocean. At a certain point the crew change will be made in the way I’d seen. According to Wikipedia, “Longer races involving the OC6 (Six-person outrigger canoes) often involve paddler replacements, which involve exit and entry to the canoe directly from the water while the canoe is underway (this is called a water change). Typically, nine paddlers form a crew, with six paddling the OC6 and the other three resting, drinking, and/or eating on an escort boat. Replacement typically occurs at 20 to 30 minute intervals; the escort boat drops the relief paddlers into the water ahead of the OC6, which is steered toward them. The relief paddlers climb in on the ama side as those they are replacing roll out into the water on the opposite side. The escort boat then picks up the paddlers in the water so that they can rest, drink, and/or eat before they, in turn, relieve some of the paddlers in the OC6.” Wikipedia has more information about outrigger canoes and canoe racing here.

I knew about this practice, but hadn’t seen it before. I think it says something about how smooth this crew had the exchange down, that I didn’t even notice it at the time!

An outrigger canoe leaving harbor in Hawaii

On the water

Water lilies at Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Garden in Hawaii
A sailboat off the coast of Hawaii
Two outrigger canoes off the coast of Hawaii
A surfer in Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Water.’ See more responses here.

First up is a patch of water lilies on Lily Lake at Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Gardens, which reopened at the beginning of April after being closed all year. My wife and I visited last Friday and it was great to be back. As usual, I took a bunch of photos most of which still need processing.

Second is a sailboat running before the wind on the blue Pacific.

Below that is a pair of canoeists paddling along the island’s northern coast. Yesterday, I saw several vehicles going by with canoes, probably headed for Keokea Park, where they can put in safely, possibly for a race. One of the vehicles pulled in to the likely landing spot, where surf was crashing over the parking lot. The driver didn’t look too enthusiastic. I don’t know whether the race took place or not.

Fourth is that quintessential Hawaiian pastime – surfing. Watch out for those rocks!

Finally, a pair of northern pintails coast on a pool of water at Upolu. These used to be seen in large numbers in Hawaii, but not so much these days.

A pair of male northern pintails in Hawaii

A walk around Kiholo Bay

Kiholo Bay sits midway between Kailua Kona and Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island. There are two main access points to the bay. One is via a gravel road south of the Kiholo Scenic Overlook on the main highway. This road takes you down to Kiholo State Park Reserve where there’s a campground and access to the beaches. I usually go that way, but on my last visit I wanted to try the hike from the main road.

There’s an unmarked parking area north of the scenic overlook. From there it’s about a mile to the coast, along a dirt and gravel road. This passes through scrubby trees where it’s likely goats will be encountered. They’re abundant in this area. The private property alongside the road is well marked, as is the public trail through to the beach. This trail comes out near a funky building decorated with things the tide washed in.

I headed to the right, along the beach towards Wainanali’i lagoon. There are a couple of houses along here, a palm-circled pool, and usually a canoe or two under the trees. Beyond the houses, a small bridge traverses a channel which connects the ocean to Wainanali’i fish pond. This is believed to have been built by King Kamehameha I, as part of an extensive fish collection and farming operation in the bay.

A bit farther along, a blue Kiholo Bay Fisheries Management Area sign marks where the trail forks. To the right, inland, it follows the old King’s Trail to Keawaiki. To the left, it hugs the shoreline heading north alongside Wainanali’i lagoon (top photo). The trail is loosely marked with white coral and/or cairns, but it’s not vital to follow them. I stick to the shoreline.

The lagoon is the remnant of a much larger fishpond, which was around 2 miles across and protected by a 20-foot wide lava rock wall. Much of it was destroyed by a lava flow from Mauna Loa’s 1859 eruption. Today, the lagoon is a prime area for seeing green turtles. They haul out on a rocky island marking the mouth of the lagoon and on the spit that separates it from the ocean. This is where they rest so it’s important not to get too close and disturb them. I also usually see turtles in the water. They putter along the edge in blue-green water, which can give them a wavy appearance. Small fish are abundant here and are often seen.

Once at the head of the lagoon I watched humpback whales splashing and slapping offshore. It’s possible to walk down the spit (not disturbing the turtles), and if it’s calm you can wade or swim across the lagoon entrance back to the trail. Following the coast northwards will take you to Keawaiki, but I retraced my steps until I got back to where I first reached the coast. Then I carried on along the beach.

The waves were rolling in, good news for surfers. The beach here is sandy and vegetation borders it. If the tide’s in a bit of paddling is required. On the other side of this, some private houses border the beach including the Bali House and a sprawling, yellow structure.

Farther along, behind the beach, is Keanalele waterhole, also known as Queen’s Bath. This is a collapsed lava tube, filled with a mix of freshwater and saltwater, where it’s possible to take a dip in the manor of Hawaiian royalty of yesteryear. The parking area for Kiholo State Park Reserve, back in the trees, is followed by the Loretta Lynn house and the campground.

Here, along with several places along the walk, a fair number of birds can be seen including black-crowned night herons, wandering tattlers, Pacific golden plovers, yellow-billed cardinals, and northern mockingbirds.

The southern end of the park is marked by Waia’elepi anchialine pool. Anchialine pools form in volcanic rock and are connected underground to the ocean. The water is brackish, but the pools can be home to a wide variety of species. I saw goats drinking here as well as a variety of birds and insects flying about.

From there, I headed back to the car on the gravel road which parallels the coast and connects to the trail I came down on. My walk was about 5 or 6 miles, but I took more than 4 hours to cover that distance since I do tend to stop a lot!

For more walks worldwide, see Jo’s Monday Walks. Also posted in response to the current Friendly Friday challenge theme of ‘On The Way.’ See more responses here.

Outrigger canoes in the channel

On my walk the other day, I saw an outrigger canoe heading west just off the North Kohala coast. The sea wasn’t too rough, but I was surprised to see it because it was a long way from the place it probably launched to the first place it could safely be taken out.

A few minutes later I saw two other canoes, and they kept coming. Over a span of about 15 minutes, at least a dozen of the same kind of outrigger canoe hove into view. Some were brightly colored, such as the one in the top photo, but they all looked very small when seen from a distance.

The one bring up the rear, at least as far as I could tell, was all white and it made me think that if the sea got rougher and the canoeist got into trouble, his boat would be awfully hard to spot in a sea of whitecaps.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

Kayak fisherman

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Color Harmonies.’ See more responses here.

I like the colors in this photo of a kayak fisherman, with his red hat and yellow kayak. He has a fairly typical setup, with two or three rods attached in one way or another. He’ll have some bait in the kayak and probably a few beverages and snacks.

I was surprised to see him passing so close, but figured that he’d seen me and was being careful. In the end, I was glad I stopped to take this photo because just after I started swimming again, a large lure and hook passed in front of me on his unseen trailing line. Had I not stopped I’d probably have been hooked, reeled in, gutted, and barbecued. Not a bad way to go, really, I guess.

Canoe racers

Canoe racing is part of a resurgence in traditional Hawaiian culture and activities. Before contact with western civilization, canoe racing was widely popular. But missionaries, who were among the early western arrivals on the islands, didn’t like the races and the gambling on them (along with pretty much every other enjoyable activity). Finally, Queen Ka’ahumanu, influenced by the missionaries, banned canoe racing.

In 1875, King David Kalakaua reinstated the sport, leading to renewed participation in the activity. These days, canoe racers come from all walks of life and take part in the sport for the exercise as well as the racing. Many of the boats, based on traditional designs, are made from fiberglass, but most canoe racing clubs have at least one canoe made from koa wood as it would have been in the old days.

In these photos, a group of local women train in a double-hulled canoe, zipping into Kawaihae Harbor ahead of one of the inter-island barges.

Posted in response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge on the theme of ‘Sports or Hobbies.’ See more offerings here.

Outrigger canoe

An outrigger canoe off the North Kohala coastAn outrigger canoe off the North Kohala coast

I saw this little outrigger sailing canoe off the North Kohala coast. The two men had obviously been fishing, possibly still were, but though the canoe wasn’t too far out, I couldn’t figure out which way they were headed. I guess they must have made it safely to shore since I didn’t see anything in the news about missing mariners.

Inter-island barge and Makali’i

An inter-island barge and Hawaiian voyaging canoe Makali'i at Kawaihae harbor.

This week’s posts are in response to the WordPress photo challenge on the theme of ‘transient.’

There are two commercial ports on the Big Island, Hilo on the east side, and Kawaihae on the west. This is a view of Kawaihae harbor with the inter-island barge unloading at the dockside. In Hawaii, many goods are shipped to Oahu and then distributed to the other islands on barges.

Also at the dock, beyond the barge, is the Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Makali’i. This boat had just returned to the water after a long refit on the island. The following day, it set off to join other boats in Oahu, welcoming home the Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hokuleʻa, from its 3-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Two wildly different vessels, but both engaged in the very transient business of crossing open waters.

For more information about Hokuleʻa and the Polynesian Voyaging Society, go to www.hokulea.com.