Together, you and I have spoken about our beginning, our spark, when the idea of ‘us’ came about in the warmth and spirit of Aloha on Hanalei Bay. You might have fought the urge to see our journey to Kaua’i as a disappointment, blown out of the water by Hurricane Iselle and the potential of Julio. I will tell you now, though, that our journey since has been anything but a disappointment. Day by day, our trip together is a feat of strength and pure will, and maybe some dumb luck sprinkled on top. We are now more than an idea, or hope for a new vibe, we are a club with a boat and a home and new members. It is time for you and I to talk story once again, so grab some POG and a plate lunch, let’s catch up with Outrigger Hoe Wana’ao.
There is No Red Tape in Paddling, Right?
On October 3, 2014 over a scrumptious poolside brunch, the instigating question was spoken, “So ladies, what are we going to do about our paddling future?” There were three of us, a steersman, a stroker and the chatty part of the engine. After some quick high math, and a little Bailey’s in our coffee, we figured, how hard could it be? Three more paddlers and a canoe and we’d easily be back on the water making our own way.
To steal a theme from one of the best baseball movies ever, we started to build it, and ‘they’ came out of the paddling woodwork; our numbers grew to five steers, a seat two, and a couple more spark plugs within weeks. Paddling experience aside, we were blessed with the perfect mix of knowledge, ideas and fearlessness that we were able to accomplish things at turbo speed and, more importantly, in the right way. The IRS, CA Franchise Tax Board, and CA Attorney General had nothing on us, and so by November 17, 2014, we officially became incorporated as Outrigger Hoe Wana’ao. This also happened to be the same day we learned that the perfect canoe for us had become ours.
Stepping back for a moment, shortly after our scrumptious brunch, all had eyes open and ears perked for any news for a used canoe. We contacted a club with some canoes for sale but that didn’t work out. But right quick, we got another lead on a club ready to part with one of their canoes. Our scout team braved the L.A. traffic headed to beautiful Santa Barbara to talk a deal. They laid out our story, our hopes for a keiki camp and small racing program, and made an offer. Something right was said and our friends up north took us up on our offer. Lo and behold, we had a canoe. Her name was Punahele (meaning “favorite one”), she was well taken care of and absolutely beautiful, and she was four hours and 218 miles of SoCal freeway away, and we didn’t own a trailer :-/.
Towing the Line
Here is where the Aloha spirit shines through again. We had found a local San Diego club willing to share knowledge with us. They offered not only guidance but encouragement and, bless them, the use of their canoe trailer; one dilemma down, another one on the horizon. None of us had ever pulled a trailer before, so we set about seeking volunteers. Most people in the know are aware, Yogurt and I together can find the one grain of trouble in the entire Mojave Desert, but they also believe that if the two of us had to heft a canoe on our shoulders ourselves, Punahele would make it in one piece. Before heading north, we whipped out the reference manuals and figured out how to tow a 44 foot, 400 pound canoe on a 40 foot trailer in rush hour Southern California traffic. One morning in December, about 11 AM, we left San Diego and made our way to Santa Barbara. When we arrived, there were SBOCC paddlers on hand to help load her up, secure her to her traveling hammock and send us on our way in quick fashion. As we started up our engine and SBOCC folks started to walk back to their cars, each and every one of them took a glance back at Punahele wishing her well – at that moment, we knew we had found a canoe with plenty of heart to carry us forward. Needless to say, Yogurt and I managed with only a couple of stops to tighten her straps, to bring Punahele back in one piece to her temporary resting point on Fiesta Island, exactly 12 hours after we left.
Woah! That's a big trailer...
Ummm...how do we gas up with this thing behind us?!
Celebrating Punahele's arrival OHW style
If you're happy and you know it...
A proper outrigger club knows you must bless a canoe new to your club before taking her out to sea. After chomping at the bit for a month after Punahele’s arrival, we planned a low key blessing at our guest home. But outrigger is a small community and as word spread of our beginning and upcoming celebration, those whom had stood with us, offered support, or watched our progress with hope in their heart, found their way to our celebration making it a loving and warm event on a rainy day, filled with the spirit of Ohana. Friends and family offered water and sea salt from Kaua’i, a koa bowl, helped to make leis and inspired the words of Aloha used to bless our canoe. Old friends and new gathered in a circle to wish us well, then we nine founding members, one by one, blessed Punahele with our hopes and dreams and let her take us out on the water.
Making leis for Punahele
Adorning our new family member
Just Five Blocks West and 20 Miles South
Shortly after the blessing, we set off on a search for a new, permanent home. And for as much shoreline as Mission Bay has, we couldn’t find an inch to set our boat in what was, to that point, the only water we knew. When it got down to the wire, we loaded up Punahele on the same borrowed trailer and trucked her a mile or two to the 60 foot driveway of one of our sterns. As we continued our endless and fruitless search for a piece of beach or a dirt lot on the Bay somewhere, we took the time to apply some TLC. We waxed and polished her hull, manus and ama, sanded and lacquered her iakos, and added a new decal with her new club name. We must have sparked good karma, because one day, with one email, we won the lottery. The Coronado boathouse had been interested in bringing outrigger down to Glorietta Bay. We talked, they liked our story and how small we were, and we were in, just like that. So remember the part where we don’t own a trailer; here we were again, stuck with a great distance to travel and no wheels to get there. But being the crazy bunch of paddlers we are, we decided to borrow a dolly, grab our blades, some bottles of water, some snacks and head a few blocks west and about 20 miles south down the coast, in our very own canoe. We created a bit of a spectacle walking down Oliver Avenue and Pacific Beach Drive with 44 foot long Punahele, but managed to find a nice small beach at Fanuel Street Park, rigged her ama and iakos, loaded up six, and made a left out of the jetty one last time to head home.
Sunday driving in Pacific Beach
Don't mind us...just walking our canoe to the park...
And we're off...
The Big Bay
It was March, we had been eating and drinking all winter like we were paddling, but weren’t really paddling that much. The trip south was hard, but the sights were very cool. We watched the surfers hit some of the more isolated spots on our coast. We passed by the best view a freshman college dorm can offer at Point Loma Nazarene. We floated under Rosecrans National Cemetery and spotted both light houses on Point Loma. We pushed it hard around the break and saw such an incredible view of the skyline and the bridge as we came around the bend to the Big Bay, to our Bay. At Shelter Island we dropped off a stern, took a lunch break, took some aspirin, and continued the last 7 miles with five. We experienced what we would come to call submarine wake, wake out of nowhere that pushes you four feet above sea level. We laid eyes on the County Admin Building, the Star of India, the Hornblower, the Midway, and some Navy Seals. We checked out potential happy hour spots, and took in all of the sights and sounds of the big city. After about 5 hours on the water, from PB to Glorietta Bay, we finally made it under the Coronado Bridge to a small welcoming party of family, friends and Boathouse staff and great adventures to come. Welcome Home.
Mahalo nui loa to all of the clubs that offered their help and Aloha, namely Santa Barbara Outrigger Canoe Club, Kapolioka’ehukai Outrigger Canoe Club, and Ikuna Koa Outrigger Canoe Club.
Ahhh...our new home waters
America's Finest City
Sunset on the Big Bay
Timmy and Tommy - our friends