Tue Jul 16 01:34:44 2002 (rr)
Book: Hidden Hawaii
Location: North Shore, Kaua'i
Yesterday we kayaked the Na Pali coast, formed when a huge chunk of Kaua'i fell into the ocean (refer to Roadside Geology of Hawai'i for details.) Tall narrow green ridges and gorges plunge breathtakingly to the sea below. We started off the day launching into surf and having our rudder break. We lurched to the right towards breaking waves. We shouted at each other to paddle to the left and get the rudder up, etc.
Once we got out farther into the water (and fixed our rudder), a school of spinner dolphins put on a show, against a backdrop of double rainbows. This actually happened. We paddled along the coast, past lots of sea turtles poking their heads up out of the ocean, and the fabulous scenery.
At some point, despite earlier precautions, I began feeling queasy. Queasiness soon turned into a bout of seasickness, and resulted in my feeling better (temporarily). This event occurred three more times across the next five hours. It got worse each time, as little remained to be unearthed, so to speak. Still, I got to focus my eyes on the steep red cliffs and emerald valleys. I tried to spot animal shapes in the clouds, but they didn't look like anything.
Along the way, we paddled into a couple of sea caves and tunnels, which were churning with water and very fun and cool. We paddled for about twelve miles before lunch, and by this time I was rather glad to be back on land again. I took a Dramamine, drank water while I could, and even ate most of lunch, and was fine the rest of the day. A monk seal beached itself, rather, it kind of plopped up onto the beach looking like it had been seasick itself and was also grateful for the lack of up and down motion. I liked this seal.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty but uneventful, until it came time to land on Polihale Beach. There were quite a few breaking waves, so we landed one kayak at a time. We sat offshore watching the other kayaks in the group land on the shore, and waited for our turn. Finally the time arrived. We paddled in towards the shore, and were told to paddle hard in. Then Ivan (the tour guide) swam out to us, grabbed our bow and waited for the right time between waves to guide us in. That time would never arrive. We had to ferociously back paddle to avoid waves breaking on us. After two such times, Ivan just stared rather wide-eyed behind us, and didn't tell us to back-paddle. I was compelled to look behind me to see what exactly inspires silence in a guide. This was just in time to see a huge wave starting to crash right on us. Enough time to take a deep breath and say "Here goes." If you were surfing, this would have been the right place and time to catch the wave. However, we aren't big surf-kayakers (not yet, at least). It was in the next few seconds that we learned both broaching and maytagging, but not pearling* (fortunately). We shot forward with the wave at a hundred miles an hour, nearly impaled Ivan, and rode with the wave. Soon the boat turned sideways, parallel to the wave (this is broaching), and shortly afterwards rolled over, taking us with it. This is maytagging. (capsizing in a churning wave). As the kayak fell on top of me and scrubbed me into the sand while simultaneously being transported forward by the wave, I felt slightly worried. It was kind of like boogie boarding -- sometimes the wave sucks you under, tosses you about and you don't know which way is up (also maytagging!). Of course, this time around I knew that the kayak was on top of me, and hence, which way gravity was pointing. I finally figured out that I should roll out from under the kayak, towards the shore. It seemed to work. At the same moment another guide appeared, asking if I was okay. I was. Nathan appeared shortly thereafter. He also seemed okay. And Ivan did not get impaled by the kayak. He said it was like boogie boarding on the kayak. It was an interesting end to the trip.
*pearling -- when the kayak flips end over end, the long way.
See the pictures.
View the original itinerary