I finally got the answer.
I kept asking myself “WHY?”. Why do I keep chasing the Kaiwi channel? Don’t get me wrong, there’s fun and it’s a great achievement, but after a few years there’s also a combination of pain and injuries. There must be something special that keeps us coming back. Something that keeps me dreaming, expecting that “life changing” experience.
When I started paddling, the main and most important thing was to have a good time. It was all about being in the water, bonding with friends that enjoyed that same adrenaline. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget that purpose. We become too competitive and somewhat greedy, forgetting to appreciate the opportunity to simply “BE” in the ocean. The simple things just pass by, unnoticed. Little bumps roll under us without a glide. I must admit I had my share of LOST in the stresses of life. But it’s never too late to wake up.
It was about 10 days before the Maui Jims Molokai to Oahu Challenge when I got a text from Kai Bartlet saying “conditions looks good for next weekend”. I had given up. I was ashamed of myself for pulling out from Pa’a Solo race. The “title competition” was now in the past. The true athletes where those badass women who charged 32 miles regardless of the forecast. I was proud of them - not proud of myself at all. I had moved on to grappling, trying focus on new things (like choking people instead… haha, just kidding). Kai’s text landed on my lap like “back to the roller coaster?!?”, “Sign up for that again?!?”.
I immediately opened every wind forecast app in my phone. It was RED. Red like windy. Same kind of red that I see when a large swell is coming. All of a sudden I saw a killer surf session pop up in my mind. I got pumped as if we were going to Honolua bay to get barreled all-day-long. The excitement kicked in, I was back into the mode of “drop everything”, time to chase waves. Time to chase what keeps me alive. Time to get my fix of “one more” huge drop. One more insane surf session. One more epic downwind run.
And that’s when I woke up from the misery of being lost in the “over-thinking mode” of needing to prove things to myself and others. That text popped in my phone just hours after resuscitating a child who later died. My soul was devastated. I can’t even write about it without tearing myself apart. The pain that one feels when you witness a family suffering from a loss is unbearable. Unfortunately that is my daily chore at work. I can’t run away from it. But I also can’t sit here in my own misery. It may sound cliché, but the ocean is the only thing that heals. That’s the honest truth. From that moment on I started planning the Molokai mission.
There are may pieces to the puzzle. The logistics for a Maui-Molokai-Oahu-Maui trip with your canoe and all your crap is not as simple as one would think. Fortunately our paddling community knows the battle and helps out like one big family. This particular trip was handed to me in a very special way. Got to Molokai on a tiny boat with 20 new Hawaiian friends, feeling like I was a local girl despite my thick Portuguese accent. ( it wasn’t 20, but felt like it) ( I tend to think that if I’m Brazilian I’m not really a “haole”, ummm, not sure if that flies, haha). On Molokai I got to adopt Kea’s grandmother and spend quality time the Kimball’s family - they didn’t really have another choice - but I hope they know how special they are to me. Kai, Kea and Kaiakea gave me the opportunity to be part this great #mykaiwaalife. Molokai once again proved to be one of the most special places on earth. I’m thankful to live one channel away from it - Pailolo channel, not a bad one at all - or should I say the best one of all? Wait, this blog is about Kaiwi channel. I always thought “man, if paddling across Kaiwi could be like Pailolo...”
Well, on my point of view, it was pretty much just like it. From start to finish, there was always a bump, the canoe never stopped gliding. I promise I’m not exaggerating. I also never thought it was possible to surf the entire Kaiwi channel until this day. From the moment the start horn went off I could see little lines criss crossing, already forming connectable bumps. I feared getting ditched by the surfskis, being one of the few OC1s out there, in the back of the pack not quite knowing where to go, but surprisingly I keep surfing along them. I kept hearing Kelly’s words in my head, “stay north”, tide was rising fast. Kelly Fey is one of the main people I listen to, she teaches me to stay true to my self, to actually “feel” the water and sense the bumps. When I told her I was committing this race on those weather conditions she said “you better be smiling”. I did. Even though Kelly couldn’t be in the escort boat, Joscelyn was there, my “sister from another mister”, pretty much my twin from another life. I remember catching a long glide, looking at her while resting the paddle on my lap, shaking my head, “this is a dream”. We both had a huge smile on our faces. The whole escort boat crew seemed to be stoked. We were in our element. Stresses were dissipated. Nothing else mattered. Our minds where fulfilled with chasing bumps, tasting the salt water and gliding away. Dream on. It was reality.
I finished with my fastest time. (4:15:03). But more important that, it was a true gift to experience that. I was stoked on how I felt during the crossing, never really “bonked” like every single solo I’ve done. Maybe it was because I didn’t have to worry about competition. I had the leverage of only needing to focus on surfing. I could “zigzag” around, connecting and gliding as much as I wanted. Even the section of tough water approaching Oahu had something good moving me towards the island. I must give credit to the canoe, the Ares Pro, which is definitely a huge factor in being able to go for waves I couldn’t go before. I was able to sprint over one wave, drop into the next, surf, rest and go again.
Did I say “go again”? That’s the answer to “Why we come back to it”. Because of days like this. I don’t know if I’ll ever see these conditions again. But I loved it and I want more. I’ll be back. It’s that simple. Do what you love and you’ll never stop. Sometimes we must suffer to appreciate the good days. I would like to thank every single friend that read this “book” and influenced me into this lifestyle.
Mahalo Kai Wa’a, Maui Jims, my family and friends for getting me out there this past weekend ;-)