Monday, January 31, 2011

SUP Paddling Adventure with Dolphins -posted by Robert Stehlik

photo: Nicole Madosik
Paddling is a great way to connect with nature.  If I get too caught up in surfing busy lineups or training hard for the next race, I sometimes miss out on this connection.  Yesterday was a great day to re-connect.
My friend Nicole asked me to join her for a paddle from Makapuu to Hawaii Kai.  Her boyfriend Jared was going to go with us but he partied too hard the night before and missed out on the early morning launch.  I had done the paddle around Makapuu point several times.  I have to say I was not a big fan of it because the water can be very rough and not much fun on a stand up board.  Usually it's a struggle just to keep from falling in with waves coming from all directions.  This morning though, the conditions were calm with light variable winds and I was glad Nicole had talked me into going paddling.

photo: Nicole Madosik
We started at the pier and paddled across the bay, Nicole was in a OC1, I was using my F-16 SIC board.  Close to Makapuu point we came across a pod of spinner dolphins.  I put on my gopro camera with head strap and we paddled with them for a bit. On this video, some of the dolphins were cruising right by the nose of the board.

We paddled on to Sandy Beach but the light kona direction headwinds got stronger and we decided to turn around and head back downwind to where we started instead of paddling into the wind to Hawaii Kai as originally planned. We came across more spinner dolphins or maybe the same group coming back.  I got it on video and Nicole took a couple of great shots, including the one at the top of the page.

Spinner dolphins always seem to have a good time, some are always leaping out of the water like there is a wild dance party going on down there.  It's really just an exuberant thing to do, has nothing to do with survival or reproduction, it seems to just be an expression of fun and enjoyment.  On second thought, maybe it does have to do with reproduction- are they showing off for the opposite sex?  Anyway, they are intelligent, social and fun loving, live in harmony with nature, glide through the water effortlessly and don't use fossil fuels. We have so much to learn from them.

We also saw some whales breaching close by and some jumping and slapping their tails off Rabbit Island.  Unfortunately, they were too far away to get on camera. We decided to paddle around Rabbit Island, neither one of us had never been around that side which is often pounded by big waves and we were hoping to see more of the whales.

Backside of Rabbit Island, photo: Nicole Madosik
Coming around the Rabbit Island we hit a headwind and current and had to paddle hard to make it back to the pier.

This whole adventure seemed to go by quickly but we ended up at the car three hours after we launched.  A good paddle.

Robert Stehlik

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