Getting out on the water


This article originally ran on HMSA’s Island Scene website. I am employed as a writer by Hawaii Medical Service Association. It’s a great place to work. (Yes. I drink the Kool-Ade, LOL!)

On Mother’s Day 2003, my husband gave me a 9-foot-2-inch surfboard. Bright and shiny with red hibiscus on the deck, that surfboard means so much to me. It marks a return to the sport I loved after taking time off for pregnancies.

Now that my girls are 9- and 8-years old, I’ve been able to go surfing more, but not nearly as much as I did when I was younger and single. My husband encourages me to get out in the lineup as much as possible because he knows it results in a happy wife. You should see me after a good surf session.

I began surfing in 1981, when I first came to Hawai‘i and was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base. When it was time to re-enlist,   I opted for civilian life in Hawai‘i. It wasn’t always easy, but I usually managed to make time for a daily surfing session. Once you have a board, the sport is generally expense-free.

This Mother’s Day, my husband treated me to a two-hour stand-up paddle (SUP) lesson just to see if I would enjoy it as much as surfing. He didn’t want me to invest in a board and paddle unless I was certain that I’d use them.

My desire to take up stand-up paddle boarding was piqued by two things: It looks easy and is touted as an intense core workout. It seems counterintuitive that something so demanding can only succeed if the participant is relaxed. The boards are built for stability with wide decks and angled bottom rails that keep the board upright no matter how wobbly the paddler or how bumpy the waves or boat wakes. The padded deck works like wax on a surfboard, giving something to dig one’s toes into while slicing the water with the long-necked paddle. Some paddles are custom designed, but adjustable paddles can be lengthened or shortened as desired.

I used to surf all over O‘ahu and a few places on Kaua‘i. Now that I live in Hawai‘i Kai, I surf in Maunalua Bay, usually dawn patrol on glassy weekends. I surf with friends who have told me not to bring my SUP out to the lineup. Typically territorial, typically resistant to something new, those guys don’t need to worry. My goal isn’t necessarily to surf waves with my paddleboard. I do it to stay healthy and fit, enjoy the water, and paddle a few laps in the bay, with the added bonus of spotting sea turtles or monk seals popping their head above water.

Even if I were to take the paddleboard into the lineup, I told the guys that they had nothing to worry about. I might have an advantage standing up and facing the swell with paddle in hand. But I still have that good surfer-girl etiquette.

We say aloha on our last wave of the day to let friends know we’re going in. But every wave should be an aloha wave. It keeps the session light-hearted and fun. If you’re not having fun while surfing, then you shouldn’t be surfing.

Author: lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer is my new opponent. Writer, super sub teacher, triathlete, awesome cook, ocean girl with head-to-toe sun protection.

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