Shark Punching

I don’t make this stuff up, people.


From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:


Joshua Holley says he’s not upset that a tiger shark bit him while he surfed Tuesday off the North Shore, and plans to get back int the water as soon as doctors say it’s OK . . .

[He} was paddling back out through a channel to a surf spot called Alligator Rock . . . when he felt an ‘unreal push on the left side of my body. Its whole weight came at me,’ he said of the 8- to 10-foot shark. ‘I could feel the body on me pretty much.’ . . .

After the initial bite the shark came around to the front of [his] board, and in a moment of panic [he] grabbed the shark’s gills with his left hand and punched the shark’s snout twice with his right. Then the shark ‘submerged like a submarine and just disappeared.’


He got 42 stitches in his left foot. The article is here, but you have to sign up to read it.


(Yes, I know where that surf spot is, and yes, we sometimes paddle down that way and even at times jump in the water thereabouts to cool off. It’s their ocean.)

(I originally posted this on Tumblr.)

APEC comes to Hawaii

We’re avoiding town (what those of us in the exurbs of Honolulu call Honolulu) because of the APEC conference which has so far involved much road closure and gridlock. There have been other signs of the conference here as well: long overdue improvements and beautification put into the airport; rousting homeless and moving them out of any place where they might be seen and thus diminish the allure of paradise; the killing of a local man by a federal security official here for APEC, a bizarrely disturbing situation in which very little information has been released about the incident in contrast to how much information we would usually know given that shooting deaths are quite rare here. Also, Iolani Palace has been closed for the duration of the conference because of security concerns about Hawaiian Sovereignty protestors. Let me know if you’ve read about any of these elements; I’d be curious to know if they are being reported outside the local area.

Tomorrow we will drive into town but will as always avoid Waikiki. Should be interesting.

The Queen Lili’uokalani Race & our koa canoe, Kupa’a

The outrigger canoe race held in honor of the birthday of Queen Lili’uokalani runs on Labor Day Weekend. This year was the 40th Queen’s race and had a record number of entrants: 137 women’s crews and 142 men’s crews. 40% of the entering crews were international crews, from places as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, and the UK.

Here is the beach before the start, with a very few of the six-seat canoes rigged and ready to go. Note the difference between the koa (wood) canoes and the colorful (fiberglass) canoes.

There are actually three days worth of various races, but the main race is on Saturday. To quote the Honolulu Star-Advertiser article (which I can’t link to because it is behind a firewall):

The main race goes between two historic landmarks: Kamakahonu Bay, King Kamehameha’s capital for Hawaii in 1812-1819; and Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Natural Park, 18 miles away. Six-man crews may either paddle the race “iron” with six paddlers for the entire distance, or nine paddlers, who change out form an accompanying escort boat.

As an aside, if you ever visit the Big Island, I strongly recommend you visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park (aka The Place of Refuge), because it is stunningly beautiful, historically significant, and with enough information to give the visitor a basic sense of what it is and why it matters in Hawaiian history and indeed in the history of humankind.

Na wahine o Manu o Ke Kai (the women of the canoe club Manu o Ke Kai) took two nine-paddler (change)  crews, one Masters 40 (all paddlers over 40) and one Senior Masters 50 (all paddlers over 50). Our Masters 40 crew won their division; we came in third in ours. Two Manu men’s crews, Open and Grand Masters (over 60) also participated as “iron”- Our Men’s Open crew had a phenomenal finish, coming in 10th overall out of 142 men’s crews. Also, most crews in this race go iron. We go changes because we just like the water too much; the water off the Kona coast is clear, warm, and lovely.

This is not a hard race if you’re doing changes. The water (waves, currents, winds) is not usually challenging, the distance is not long compared to most races with changes (like the Molokai’i-Oahu race, at 42 miles), and the weather is usually cooperative.

What made it particularly special for our crew this year was our opportunity to paddle the race in a koa canoe. Again, I’ll quote from the Star-Advertiser article:

The race has a high number of traditional koa canoes attending, because the generally calm waters of the Kona Coast are safe for the prized treasures.

Here is Kupa’a (strength, steadfast), in the water during the race with Karen, Gloria, Yolie, Jane, Julie, and Faith (Cindy, Manu, & I are in the escort boat). [Hmm: our timing is a little off, that happens sometimes, but usually we’re totally in sync.]

Most canoes these days are made of fiberglass. They’re “light” (350-400 pounds) and have a certain way of gliding on the waves. Koa canoes are different; you have to stroke them differently (our race coach said, “You have to caress her to get her going.”)

Here is a view of Kupa’a before the race, before she went in the water. You can see the beautiful grain and the personality of the canoe. This photo is taken from the front of the canoe.