Wednesday, December 22, 2010

outrigger canoe surfing

When i first found out that i'd be going to Hawaii, I decided that while i was there i would take the opportunity to do one truly new, adventurous thing that i really couldn't do anywhere else.
Though i'm desperate to parasail after my chance in the Caribbean was cancelled do to high winds, i know that i can do that at just about any beach.
I really want to fly in a helicopter and that is a traditional, touristy thing to do in the islands, but I wanted something different, something that you just don't hear about often, so i went for outrigger canoe surfing.
These multi-person canoes are based on traditional, Polynesian designs with a floaton attached for extra stability in hard chop. They are beached right in the thick of Waikiki and you launch in the middle of swimmers and surfers and everybody.
It is a little frightening, but cool. BTW, if you are ever swimming in Waikiki, canoes have the right of way so if one hits you, technically it is your fault - remember that.
There was a crew of paddlers and a captain who steers and chooses our waves. We paddled out beyond the wave breaks,
and then worked on getting the boat properly turned and positioned to catch waves. The four paddlers are working on alternating sides to provide the power to move against the tide and every so often the captain calls Switch and you change the side that you are working.
It is all about timing and teamwork; here is a clip of me in action:
Inspiring, no?
Once the boat is in position
facing the shore you wait.
And wait.
And wait some more.
After all the paddling it is a nice break to sit and gently rock in the boat as little waves move under you. When the captain spots a swell he wants to catch he orders Paddle Fast and you pull as hard and fast as you can, still keeping in sync with the lead paddler until the captain orders Stop and you are flying across the water under tidal power

Is it super fun?
Oh, yes; yes it is.
After the ride, you start paddling out again and do it all over. The tour i booked was for catching 3 waves. It was nice that instead of a time limit it was an experience limit; you stay out however long it takes to get 3 good rides so you are guaranteed a great experience regardless of how long it takes with the weather conditions. Also, since i booked online i got a free CD of pictures and video.
How was that shot? you wonder.
Dude on a surfboard. Really.
A dude on a surfboard with a waterproof digital camera was keeping pace with us. I had no idea that he was even there until i heard someone in the water calling my name and the other paddlers told me to turn and wave.
It was hilarious.
This was really an experience like nothing else.
I highly recommend it.


Debbie said...

Niki, you rock! What an awesome-looking experience!

Never Too Busy said...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! That looks like so much fun! :-D

Rea said...

You finally got your camera man!!