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LaunchingWest Side Story 2009

By Sailor Steve Harris

The Second Annual Lana`i Rendezvous was a super success for the small group of four who enjoyed the six day adventure. Tim Baltzer, Chalsa Loo, Anne Ashford and I set out from Kaumalapau Harbor late Thursday morning, the 8th of October.

We then paddled a mere 3 miles to our first campsite at Nanahoa with its distinctive sea stacks.

The paddle itself was easy, especially since it turned out to be downwind, but the landing on the boulder beach was memorable with the beach being very steep and a solid swell running. It was a project to get the fully loaded boats up the rocks. We made it though, and set up camp for three nights. That was followed by a fresh barbeque dinner featuring uku (gray snapper) sashimi, King Salmon, rib eye steaks, and salad. Image top-right: Launching at Kaumalapau Harbor

ChalsaThe next afternoon Steve came back from a long fishing run and met Tim, Chalsa and Anne snorkeling in the bay. When he stopped to talk to them he got a strike on his live moano bait. Image left: Chalsa celebrating her arrival at the pinnacles of Nanahoa

The sleigh ride was on as the big fish towed him back out to sea and down toward the harbor. She circled back around into the bay and was soon on the boat – a 32 pound ulua aukea. She was too big for the four of us to eat in a couple of days so Steve released her to make more eggs. We had no way to get her to market or keep her cold, and the bigger fish produce many, many more eggs than the smaller fish. It was the ecological thing to do.

snorkelingSteve had caught a smaller omilu before the ulua so he sashimied that for pupu before a delicious okra Creole stir fry main dish. As we finished dinner we all decided to stay another day in order to snorkel the back side of the sea stacks. This was agreed to on the condition that we’d have pancakes for breakfast. That was a good decision because the Kodiak / Aji Nori Furikake pancakes prepared by chef “Julia” Loo were delicious. That was followed by a great morning of exploring in the water. Image right: Anne snorkeling at Nanahoa

snorkelingAs we snorkeled out along the islands we found some opihi to pick, and Tim spotted a big lobster skittering down the underwater wall of the outside island. The water was clear and very blue as it dropped off into the open ocean. Image left: Steve, Tim and Chalsa snorkeling at Nanahoa

AnneAs we rounded the point of the furthest island, a pod of dolphins went swimming by. What a thrill! They were so close you could almost touch them, but they were gone in just a minute or two.

Anne and Steve climbed out onto the middle island to pick more opihi as Chalsa swam in the bay. Anne noticed a fin by Chalsa and we soon saw it was lone dolphin checking Chalsa out. This one hung with Chalsa for a long time. As we watched, we suddenly heard a loud snort from behind us. We jumped before turning to see a big monk seal about 50 feet away, intent on taking a take a nap on the rocks. She came very close as we stood motionless for at least 10 minutes. She left after a few more minutes, uncomfortable in the company of people. Image right: Anne at Nanahoa

We went back in the water too, and headed over to the rainbow blowhole. That was another great time playing in the spray and watching the sunlight turn it into one rainbow after another. Anne discovered a back entrance tunnel into the hole and we played around in the cave for awhile.

sunsetOn the way back to camp, we ran into the monk seal napping on another island she had found in our absence. We hung out for awhile in the shade of a shallow cave nearby and watched her as we ate our opihi out of a diving mask dish.

A green flash sunset preceded another collaborative dinner of Pasta Primavera as we discussed the details of the next day’s paddle. Image left: Nanahoa. Sunset

We woke up to the sound of birds in the keawe trees and packed up our boats for our next camp site. The swell was now negligible and we got off the boulders very cleanly for our paddle back to the harbor. At the harbor we loaded up on water and took a lunch break.

Kaunolu BayThe wind really came up on this paddle, which made it more of an adventure. Fortunately it was at our backs, or our sides, which actually helped us. We also had only 4 miles to go. After we rounded the last point and the wind dropped way off, Steve caught a nice 3 pound omilu. This was a great run of quiet paddling on clear blue and green water with the 1,000 foot high Palikoholo sea cliffs over our heads to our left.

Looking into KaunoluSoon we pulled into Kaunolu Bay and our next campsite. This is a great spot with a sandy river bed beach that was a great relief after the rocks of Nanahoa.

We set up our camp and watched a solid green flash sunset while enjoying the beautiful lava landforms of the cliffs, the stream valley, Palaoa Point and Kaneapua sea stack. Image right: Kaunolu Bay

Chalsa was the lead chef on cooking the papio and we had a great dinner. Image left: Looking into Kaunolu

The beach without the trees made for better stargazing and we spotted Capricornus, the Andromeda galaxy (2.2 million light years away and the furthest you can see with the naked eye), Jupiter, Sagittarius and Scorpio to name a few. This biggest hit though was the three blazing shooting stars we saw. Another thrill.

Yellow TangThe next day was a mellow snorkel dive, a short hike to the Palaoa Point light, checking out the heiau and house sites, and of course Kahekili’s leap.

looking outThe only two other people we saw at our stop, came by that afternoon on their way to overnight ulua fishing. That night was another delicious team effort dinner followed by hot chocolate and a bon fire. Image right: School of Yellow Tang in the bay

At 6:00 the next morning it was the famous “Rally, Rally, Rally, time to get out of the Valley!” wake up call and we started packing up. Image left: At the leap looking out toward Shark Fin Rock

The hour and a half paddle back to the harbor in perfect conditions with beautiful water, sunlight and no wind was a fitting conclusion to a very fun and relaxing trip. Not much can beat fresh fish, dolphins, lobster, opihi, a monk seal and clear skies with glorious stars. It was indeed a trip to remember.

Author Steve Harris is a long time member and Treasurer of Hui Wa’a Kaukahi Kayak Club.

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For further information about paddling in Hawaii:

D.L.N.R. Dept. State Parks P.O. BOX 621 Honolulu HI 96809

Hawaii Tourism Office (808) 586-2550

Hawaii Visitors bureau (808) 923-1811

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