Paddlers Complete Training Trip Around Molokai

Oahu paddlers enjoy a taste of Molokai waters.

By Catherine Cluett

The Lanikai Canoe Club from Oahu visited Molokai on Saturday to complete a training trip around the north side of the island. “This is such a great opportunity for us to come together as a team and practice in a place that is so special,” said Molokai’s Carlton Helm, who now lives on Oahu and paddles with the club.

“I can’t believe how happy and excited we are to be here,” added coach Pat Erwin.

Saturday morning brought sunny skies and perfect paddling conditions, with a tailwind to carry Lanikai on their journey. The paddlers gathered to launch at Yamashita Bay, where two wa`a already awaited them. They pealed back the paper from the newly-minted Bud Light logos on the boats, displaying the company as one of their club sponsors, then Erwin gathered the paddlers together for a few words before the launch.

“This is a historic trip,” he says. “We’ve been planning for this since 2004.”

The trip was scheduled to continue the next day and end in Oahu, a total distance of about 80 miles from Yamashita Bay. The boats planned to stop at Mokapu, where the paddlers would eat lunch, switch the line-up, and maybe even take a swim, Erwin added, chuckling.

Meanwhile, a big race weekend was taking place for paddlers at the Queen Liliuokalani Race in Kona. But the Lanikai paddlers would rather be on Molokai. ‘This is a much better way to spend the day,” said one paddler. “Molokai is just such a special place,” added Erwin.

Their plan was to paddle for 4 to 5 hours then get towed to Dixie Beach, where they would rest up and spend the night before paddling the 32 miles to Oahu on Sunday. Twenty paddlers took part in the trip, with four alternates for each boat. “These boats are loaded with world champions,” said Erwin.
Supporter Camie Kimball explained the importance of bonding for the team. “This is a bonding trip, and this is a cultural trip,” she said. “You can have the best paddlers, but if they don’t have that bond, it won’t matter.”

At 9 am, the paddlers gathered around the wa`a for a pule performed by Kanoe Davis. Then all hands were on the wa`a to carry them over the rocks to meet the low-tide water. The alternates piled on for a ride to the two escort boats that waited for them in the bay.

The last paddler waded out to the wa`a and they pushed off. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said.


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