Kayak Paddling, a terrific ocean sport in Hawaii

Today I would like to talk about a wonderful ocean sport that I recently picked up…kayak paddling . My husband moved over from the mainland in 1990. He became an avid paddler while living at the Moana. Can’t beat the convenience of getting up early each morning, stepping out on Waikiki Beach and paddling for an hour before work. It’s healthy because you lose weight and build muscles. It’s refreshing out in the water, feeling the waves and the breeze. And it’s just beautiful, gazing at Diamond Head, the other boats and the blue sky!

We had talked about it for many years. We finally started paddling on a regular basis last month. It’s addicting. Of course now that we live in Makiki, it’s not that easy. We have to load the kayak on our car, make sure it’s tied down just right, go to Magic Island, unload, carry the kayak to the waters…you get the picture. But I have thoroughly gotten into the whole thing. I figure that even the setting up with all the lifting is a good work out. And I make sure that I have plenty of sun block on, a long sleeve shirt, a huge brimmed hat and sunglasses. Not a pretty sight, but who cares. I cannot believe that it took me this long to start enjoying Hawaii’s ocean.

Lucky to have a good teacher who is very much into safety. Safety First! We got a float that looks like the ones used by the lifeguards on “Baywatch.” It is strapped to my ankle so that I can use it in case I fall out. A leash connects my husband to the kayak. The paddles are also strapped to the kayak with different leashes. Yes, safety is most important. My husband learned from his mistakes and is making sure that they are not repeated. He even made me practice climbing into the kayak just in case I do fall out. Balance is the key so that you won’t tip your partner and the kayak.

We have the Ocean Kayak Malibu II, 12 feet in length and 34 inches in width. Did you know that nearly one of every three kayaks sold today is a sit-on-top (SOT)? It is basically a paddleboard equipped with a seat. The brand that we have is one of the most popular compact lightweight tandem sit-on-tops in the world. It can be paddled solo or tandem, good for two adults plus a child or pet. We took our dog Mulan for a spin in the marina at Hawaii Kai where the water is calm. She seemed to be enjoying it although she wouldn’t leave my husband’s lap which made it a bit difficult for him to paddle. I’ll let you know how Mu enjoys Waikiki’s waves when we attempt that in the future.

So let’s talk about the SOT kayaks. They have similar hull shapes as their traditional counterparts but instead of sitting in the kayak, you sit in a molded-in depression on top. Some are made of fiberglass but most are made from durable plastic like ours.

The SOT is easier to use than the sit-inside and is less expensive. Most of the SOTs are built for multi-purposes such as for fishing, surfing, touring and scuba diving. They are recreational and built with beginning paddlers like me in mind. It is very comfortable because your legs are not confined. It is also easy to rescue yourself because you are on an open deck therefore aren’t trapped in any part of the kayak.

I like the tandem kayak that we have because I feel safer paddling with my experienced teacher. He sits in the front and I follow his movements and try to paddle in synch. I like being in the back so I can cheat a little and rest when I get tired and my husband won’t notice. Actually he’ll notice right away, but still, he won’t be able to see me resting right away!

So what is the origin of the kayak? It was first used by the native Ainu (indigenous people of Japan), Aleut and Eskimo hunters in the sub-arctic regions of northeastern Asia, North America and Greenland. Historically and to this day, paddlers use double bladed paddles. Kayaks are referred in some parts of the world as canoes.

The term “kayak” seems to have come from the Inuit, a group of indigenous people who inhabited the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland and Alaska. Their language is considered an Eskimo-Aleut language. The natives hunted sea animals from a single person, covered seal-skin boat called “ qajaq”. The Europeans copied their design and the name. Wooden kayaks and fabric kayaks on wooden frames were first made. The fiberglass ones were introduced in the 1950s and then the rotomolded plastic kayaks in 1973.

Kayaks sure have come a long way. And boy, am I glad that we have them today! Remember…Safety First! Check out Go Bananas Watersports in Honolulu on Kapahulu Avenue. They have kayaks, paddles, stand up paddle boards, racks for cars and trucks, camping gear and accessories for ocean sports. You will find everything you need there, including a wealth of knowledge about ocean sports. Ocean sports in Hawaii, it’s the best!

Honolulu Festival
Go Bananas Watersports

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And now stand up paddles which have been traditionally a single bladed paddle are moving into double bladed stand up paddle experimentation.