Glorious Humpbacks


We are feeling the first hints of spring and  winter whale season is slowly winding down. This is the time of year when the Humpback calves  are practicing jumping, tail slapping, head pops, as well as nursing to grow stronger.  The whales are enjoying the  friendly waters of the Hawaiian islands for another month or so before they start their arduousness journey , 3000 miles north to Alaska. 
Last week, Kekoa, Virginia and I, paddled out in the 6 man Outrigger Canoe celebrating my birthday, quietly watching and enjoying the morning light. A mom and calf pair circled us for 2 hours nursing and resting, while we drifted. It was such a treat... very peaceful with with no other boats around.
I used to  train and race with Hawaiian Canoe Club,and being in an outrigger canoe connecting to the ocean was pure birthday bliss,..
 We could see breaching males  further out in the channel competing for the females. With the  ratio being two males to one female, it can get rather competitive as they vie for a female's attention in the hopes of mating at the end of their Hawaiian "vacation".
Kekoa Cramer, a Maui waterman, from the Wailea Canoe Club ,had been on the water the week before with some visitors when they experienced the surprise of their lives.  South Maui had alot of rain the evening prior so the ocean was quite murky. A Go Pro was mounted on the canoe to catch this extraordinary footage. This photo was taken by Laurent Lebihan and it's one of the most spectacular close encounter shots that I have ever seen.

 Check out Kekoa flying in the air off of his seat in the canoe..It looks as if the adolescent whale came in close enough to be surprised as well. Thankfully,  everyone was fine.. This link to Youtube is on the way to a million views...So, check it out, and enjoy. 
Humpback Whale Love Taps Canoe. Indeed.

Looking forward to the next paddle out in a few days...keeping it real !
With lots of Aloha, Cherie

Outrigger Canoe Paddling


Today I want to share one of my favorite sports that is in full swing during the summer months.

This is outrigger canoe racing season in Hawaii.... only a couple of races are left before the last regatta culminating in the State races. Canoe races are great fun to watch, and even more fun to participate in.

Each canoe club has divisions from the keiki (kids) to the Golden Masters. I paddled for Hawaiian Canoe Club in Kahului for many years. My club has always been very competitive ,often winning the State Races. We have done a lot for the kids in our community, and we take racing very seriously. Even though I have not raced for years, I still feel a kinship with my canoe ohana. The camaraderie and bonding is born out of a deep respect for this sport and the Hawaiian culture. It is a lifetime connection.

Racing in and watching the State Races is awe inspiring, as this is when the revered koa canoes come out to shine. Members of our canoe club hiked through upcountry forests until the perfect koa tree was found. After prayers many hands brought the tree down the mountain to be lovingly fashioned into a beautiful vessel. Getting the koa canoe up and running takes finesse and a lot of hard paddling, it is heavier, but once it is going...................

When the regatta season is over, comes long distance paddling. After training for short races, it is time to get out into the open ocean and go for distance. At this point of the summer paddlers are in good shape and jumping at the chance to get in the zone and become one with the ocean. It is a hypnotic rhythm with a very particular stroking method and pace. I used to sit seat one, the stroker of the boat, the person who sets the pace. When in long distance it is important to be able to feel the waves in order to catch as much of a push as possible. There is a special point when you feel that the boat is about to lift ..and that is when the stroker can dig deep and change the intensity of the pace. It is such an amazing feeling.! I have raced accross a few channels in the open ocean. The 40 plus miles Ka'iwi Channel runs between Molokai and Oahu. The pictures posted here are from that amazing race in of my favorite photographers Mike Elhers took the shots from the escort paddling buddy with an AMAZING reach, Susan Ramos, seat four, is in the boat racing her way across this awesome challenge.

My daughter's family used to have a 4 person canoe and we spent some great times surfing the waves in the canoe........oh, how incredible to dig in hard and feel the canoe lift up on the face of the of my all time favorites feelings rushing down a wave in an outrigger canoe !!!!!!!!!

Outrigger canoe racing caught the attention of the ali'i (royalty) during the later part of the 1800's. It was reported that canoe competitions were fierce with intense betting and high stakes.

The early seafarers made their way across the oceans in sailing and paddling canoe. Great distances were covered in large well stocked double hull canoes. The warring Hawaiians would paddle across dangerous channels, fight a battle, loose, and have to paddle back.

That put some perspective our our races, one of our coaches used to remind us of this fact.

So, state races are in Oahu this year, coming up soon...check it out, and island hop over to Maui for a different pace.....You'll be very happy that you did.

See you out there, and remember to tell the special people in your life just how much you care.

" Ho O Makaukau. Hoe Hapai. Imua~ Huki": "Get ready, lift paddles, forward... pull!"

Commit, and go for it!

Much Aloha,