Big Island Piddle Paddle

From our house on the Big Island it's 40 miles to the nearest stop light. As I hit the road at 3:30am in a hard rain I had a long stretch of uninterrupted road to ruminate on the day's up-coming paddle. I was leaving the southern most point in the U.S. for the third pinky on the northern most tippy toe of the Island. Originally I had hoped to paddle from Waipio Valley to Kēōkea, a 16 mile one way trip with the wind at your back, past some of the island's least visited areas. Everyone says that's the trip to make, but they also all mention the difficulty of finding a ride down the 25% grade 4wd access road. I had struck out.

So the plan today was to head out of Kēōkea Bay and head SE to Waimanu Valley, a nine mile journey into the wind. I had checked out the bay a couple days earlier and it looked like conditions were good. The forecast for the last couple of days was also favorable with winds unusually light for this, one of the windiest sites on the island. But now this little storm kicked up. When I made it to Kona, it lived up to its nickname, the "dry side". The rain had stopped and hints of light tinged the mountain tops. I headed towards Waimea to pick up my rental boat from Plenty Pupule. It was a 17 ft Manta SOT. As I drove the last 30 miles the wind swirling under the boat created an alternating two tone squeal that sounded like two bickering blue whales.

As I drove, I could already tell that the conditions weren't like what they were the other day. The wind was not going to cooperate. When I got to Kēōkea the sea was twice the size of my earlier visit. Before I loaded the boat up for what was supposed to be an overnight stay, I decided I would head out empty to test the waters outside the bay. That's when I knew I'd have to plan on a future paddle. Clearing the point brought the full force of the wind and the very large swells that always seem right behind. To paddle solo into unknown conditions and water that might be even worse than this just didn't entice me. I made a few trips in and out of the bay, always surprised by the size of the swells that greeted me in the outside water. I abandoned my chance for the obligatory, soul searching, solo paddle to commemorate my 50th birthday.

Guess I'll have to try again at 51.

Polo'lu Valley would have been one of my stops.

This is the Waipio Valley, where I wanted to start my paddle.

A calm Kēōkea a couple days earlier and the day of the paddle.

Maui off in the distance-the emergency landing site. Those who chose to ignore the wind!


Mauna Kea

Pu'u O'o vents-Hazards to navigation

The Green Sand Beach is about a 5 mile round trip hike not too far from our house.

Mark Sanders