The conditions at flemmings this day were less than safe, but I wasn't going to be talked out of it. Brian followed me to the north end of the beach, I pointed out the rip which would help with getting out, as well as the strong currents heading south along the beach as you got further out. Today would be as good a day as any to learn the oceans power and give it respect.
I watched the waves, trying to find a rhythm with the madness and then headed out. Paddling was easy the rip was a conveyer belt of water taking me exactly where I needed to go. Each wall of white water higher than a house that came at me, uprooting rocks off the ocean floor tossed me back. I kept paddling, Brian was already out of sight, and I only hoped that his instinct for survival would keep him alive. After an age of a paddle I got out behind the line up, and was met with somewhat calmer water.
I was immediately looking for a wave, to ease my nerves; I caught the last wave of a set, made the drop and rode it a ways before pulling off the back as it closed out. The currents were strong and I could feel myself drifting south to Golfballs, where a large tiger shark was said to inhabit, perhaps no more than a legend but definitely a shadow that played on my thoughts. So I kept paddling north, watching the waves light up on the point, it looked perfect.
Another age of battling currents and I made it out to the point, as I positioned myself relative to the reef, I saw, literally out of the corner of my eye a monster set. FRANTIC, with one single goal I raced towards them, I got through the first one by the skin of my teeth, I felt myself getting sucked back by the falls but managed to fight my way out if it. I kept paddling but my heart started to sink as the next one was breaking, closing out, a few metres intront of me. It was an explosion I let my whole body go limp and relaxed as much as I could. I then got the experience of being rag dolled and pushed so far under that my ears popped and then I went further. It was dark, so dark the foam layer on top of the water made it impossible to see which way was up, no sun; I decided to follow the only thing that floated better than me, my board. I popped to the surface just in time to grab a breath before the previous waves big brother beat me down again, in the chaos I felt a POP! and my board was gone, thrown the half kilometre back to shore.
No board, not a whole lot of buoyancy, I sank and exhausted from the ocean ripping at my limbs and twisting me, I thought things might be ending for me; I found a deeper sense of calm in my insignificance to everything going on around me. My absence wouldn't change a thing. I've never known how long I could hold my breath, but so far it had been long enough. I started to swim slowly up, i thought...up and to air, no light! I felt something hard, rocky. Wrong way! I had hit the bottom. almost laughing with the ridiculousness of it all I pushed off and headed surface-ward. I made it, surfacing was one of the biggest surprises of my life. I treaded water there, taking in everything. The beach was a long way away and I could feel myself being pulled south, I started slowly swimming in.
Almost an hour later with cramps in both calves and thighs a bedraggled shadow of a man dragged himself on to shore. I looked up to see some people running towards me, 100 or so tourists and employees of the Kanapali hotel were standing on the sand watching me, some clapping, some with worried looks on there face some just pointing; a struggled smile creeped onto my face and I chuckled to myself; to the dismay of the onlookers. Two guys ran over and helped me to my very weak legs and I slowly limped, stumbled and fell my way up the beach. Brian stood there laughing at me. Glad to see that he had made it, he handed my board, dinged and beaten; but I was happy to have it. The fire crew were there and they had the coast guard on radio, who were flying over head in a helicopter. One of the fire guys said to me "Aye you crazy, braddah goin out der!" another one, laughed and said, "Eh we saw your wan wave, no more small kine, was it wort da swim in bra?" I laughed coughing some water, yeah man it was good I replied. We all laughed, warmed to be there, humbled by Kai, the ocean my biggest teacher. I didn't say a word on the drive home, nor the next day, there was nothing to say, words seemed so meaningless.
Mahalo nui loa Kai.
a humbled kid.