My husband and I used to have dates like other couples. We would go to out to dinner at a nice restaurant ,or if we both had a day off when the kids were in school we would go out to breakfast and talk, may be go walk around the mall after. You know, normal dates. We had those, until he bought me a paddle board for a Christmas present.
I had been hinting at wanting one for a while. Paddle boarding is a fantastic sport. It’s great because you don’t have to know how to surf to paddle board. I have always loved the idea of surfing, but paddling into a wave has never really been my thing. For one, it takes way to much effort, and two, I hate wiping out. But you don’t need waves to paddle board. Its the best time to go out when its dead winds and glassy.
On my days off I would take my paddle board out to Boat ramps, and paddle out to Flat Island. Most days I would paddle shore to shore and spend an hour out, just going back and forth. It was a good overall workout, and the area I would go to was shallow all the way out. My, blonde and obviously not based in reality, logic has always been, if the water is shallow, and clear, and I can see the bottom the chances of any sea creature eating me is slim. If however, it’s deep, murky or otherwise not shallow and clear, I don’t go out.
One day, after having my paddle board for a while, I told my husband that paddle boarding is fun, but can be a little lonely. Peaceful, quiet, but lonely. I told him I had seen couples out before and groups of people, and thought it might be fun for us both to have a board and go paddling together. I told him it would combine my two favorite things, him and the beach and his two favorite things, surfing and me.
So my husband traded 3 beloved surfboards for a paddle board, from Kimos Surf Hut. Kimo, gave him a deal, and light winds welcomed us to heading down to Kailua beach the following day. At first we started at my usual place, Boat ramps, and paddled out to Flat Island.
It was fun and familiar, and most importantly it felt safe. Through the sparkling, fresh, and clear water we saw a Honu swim by without a care in the world. And we all know if you see a turtle, sharks aren’t near by right?! We paddled out together, talking about how cool the turtle looked, how pretty the sky was, how peaceful, how barely anyone was out. It was shaping up to be an amazing morning.
When we got to flat island we put our boards up on shore, making the first foot prints of the day on the sand. The island is flat, and full of holes, but you can walk all around it, in less than 10 minutes. I found shells and Justin checked out the surf. As we stopped to watch the waves off the right, my husband had an idea.
“Do you wanna go paddle out to the Mokes?” he asked me. I stood there on flat Island, looking at the Mokes, doing my Sarah reasoning. Thinking…. Is it safe? Well, the water looks just as clear and shallow. Hmmmm… Doesn’t look too far away. I remember paddling out to one of the twin Islands as a teen with my youth group. It took awhile then, but we had also come from bellows beach which was pretty far away.
“Is it a far paddle?” I asked him.
“Nah, not too bad.” He said.
Feeling brave and full of courage I said, “Yes. let’s do it, that sounds like fun”.
Justin is always my partner in adventure. He strives to get me to do things out of my comfort zone, and almost always gets me to try stuff I wouldn’t normally try. So we paddled back to shore, got in the truck and drove to Lanikai to paddle from there, to the Mokes. Justin said that would be the fastest and save time. The kids were in school and it was only 9:30 am, so our plan was to go out for a while and then come back and have lunch before grabbing the kids.
We got to Lanikai, parked, and carried our big boards down to the beach. It was a beautiful sunny day, the sun sparkled off the water like jewels as Justin and I stared out at the Mokes. From the shore the twin islands looked close, I could see the sandy shore on one of them. Couldn’t be that far of a paddle, a short swim perhaps?
Lanikai is safe, and shallow, and full of reefs. The main thing I was worried about was getting my paddle stuck in a reef, or going too shallow on a reef and putting a hole in my board. Kimo had said he had more people come in with broken boards from that reef than anywhere. I mentioned that to Justin, and he just said to be careful, that the tide was up, so it should be ok, and stay away from the big reefs. That made sense. Okay.
Justin got in the water up to his waist and prayed outloud, “Lord, let us have fun, and not get eaten by any sharks. AMEN.” I kid you not, that is what he prayed! I looked at my husband who was now climbing onto his board and beginning to paddle out.
“Uh, what… ?”
Justin just kept paddling so I got on my board and started paddling after him.
“What kind of prayer is that?” I demanded.
“Sarah, you know I always pray before I surf.” He explained, with his back to me.
“Okay. But theres no sharks, right? I mean, this is lanikai.” I said. I have lived in Hawaii since I was three, and I have never heard of anyone seeing any sharks anywhere near lanikai. It was suppose to be safe because of the reefs! Don’t forget how clear the water is!
“Babe,” He says, as I am catching up with him, “It’s an Ocean. There are sharks everywhere. But don’t worry…If one comes up, just kneel down on the board and smack it with your paddle. We are on pretty big boards, probably a lot bigger than any shark we will see out here, they are more scared of us than we are of them.” What?!
“YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?!” I screamed… probably attracting sharks from all over the place. “ARE YOU CRAZY?” “WHAT IN OUR HISTORY TOGETHER, HAS LED YOU TO BELIEVE I CAN DO ANY OF THAT?” Seriously?! Who does he think I am? I am most certainly not a shark beating surfer chick! Thats for sure.
Of course from that point on, all I could think about was sharks. I was seriously considering going back to shore, or beating the heck out of my husband! Still, I didn’t want to draw blood and attract more sharks. Plus I couldn’t have him thinking I was a complete baby. I mean, my husband knows I have fears, and who cares if fears are rational or not, they are still fears! But still, i didn’t want to be the spoil sport who ruined our fun, surf, date day.
So we started to paddle…. and kept paddling and paddling, and paddling. I looked behind me, and could barely see the shore we had left behind in the distance. We weren’t anywhere near land. Not Lanikai’s shore, or the Mokes shore. We were kind of in the middle of both. The Mokes still seemed pretty close, almost as close as they did on shore. In fact it seemed like we weren’t any closer to them. Hmmm…. Panic was beginning to set in.
“Justin…. how long is this paddle going to take? It feels like we have been paddling for a while now.”
“Yeah, it’s a bit farther out than flat Island is.” he tells me.
Ya think? Uh, great. Thanks for the heads up. So now i have been paddling for about 20 mins? And we aren’t even close to the shore? I could go back but that will take another 20 mins back, or I could keep going and who knows when I will arrive? Will we ever see land again? Will JAWs eat me first?
His next comment goes something like this:
“So, I don’t want you to freak out or anything, but we are coming up to some pretty deep water. ”
uh….. “How deep?” I ask him. My heart is already pounding, my legs are getting tired from paddling this long.(I don’t know about you, but whenever anyone begins a sentence with…. “Don’t freak out…but…” I immediately FREAK OUT!)
“Dunno, it’s a channel. It’s definitely over head. Probably deeper. You won’t be able to see down its pretty dark blue….. but don’t freak out.” (First of all, Justin is a surfer. Everything is described this way. Its not a useful description for us non- surfers. And I am no good at numbers, but I can tell this channel is very deep. And big things live in deep water.)
I can’t tell you what I said next, because it’s not nice. But lets just say, I was angry, and felt a little tricked. This obviously was no easy, fast, fun, un-scary date paddle. This was serious business. What was my husband thinking taking me out here? This was not a paddle for beginners, which I clearly was.
Justin kept looking at me as we paddled along through the deep. Me repeating my mantra “Oh God, please don’t let me get eaten.” I could hear the tune from Jaws playing in my head. Dun Dun. Dun Dun. Dun . Dun dun dun dunnnn. DUN DUN!
Somehow… finally after about 35 minutes of non stop paddling, we made it to the island. When we got there I felt relief. I was exhausted, but happy to be alive. I had never paddled so long in one direction, fighting currents and the fear of sharks. My legs felt like rubber and as I pulled my board up the beach, I collapsed not too gracefully, on the sand.
Justin on the other hand, ever the adventurer, was all… “Come on, let’s go explore the island.” So we did. We left our boards and being the only ones on the island, began to explore. There was a small trail and we started to follow it up the side of the island. One of the first things i saw was a baby bird in its nest. There were so many nests with eggs in it because the island had become a bird sanctuary. It was really neat.
We explored a little and came to where the trail ended. I thought we would turn back, but Justin wanted to keep going. Keep in mind, im in a bikini, no shoes… and he wanted to explore the non trail area. Lined in rocks… but it was our date day… so I said “OK”. We climbed around and scaled rocks. I followed Justin who said he knew the way, that he had been here before, and told me I would just love the other side of the island.
“Just wait till you see it, it’s totally worth it, its really cool.”
Well, after about another 30 mins of my wobbly, tired legs scaling cliffs, me scratching my feet up, falling and slicing up my knees and God knows what else, we finally get to the backside of the island. And can I just say? Yes, you guessed correct, ….. a straight drop down. There was no way around the island, not unless we were swimming. We would have to turn around and go back.
I told my husband what I thought of his climbing adventure… nothing nice again. Did I mention I do not like heights. Or falling to my death? No? Well yeah, there it is. So we have to go back the way we came. The whole time he’s explaining how the last time he came to this island he was a lot younger, and could have sworn it went all the way around. But wasn’t I having fun?
Whats weird is I actually was. I was tired, sore, bleeding, and scared for most of it, but surprisingly it was pretty fun! When we got back to the beach part of the island I decided to lay out and get some sun and rest. I had earned it!
Justin went for a dip in the water and washed off. In the distance another Paddle boarder was coming up to the island. He came up and sat on the beach, saying very little. Then, he pointed at something in the water. “Look at that!” he said.
We looked at the shore but because the water was deep even around the shallows it was pretty dark. All we could see was a big shadow. Oh my word. Is it a shark? The shadow got closer to shore and then a Hawaiian monk seal jumped out of the water, and onto the beach, rolling in with the crashing waves. He rolled back and forth with the waves, up and down the beach,…. playing in the water.
I have never seen anything so amazingly beautiful! I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was so close to us, and completely oblivious to us. We sat there and watched him, and finally he came up an rested in the sun on the shore. Our cue to leave the island and head back.
What a day! It was literally the best date I had ever had. And to think, I could have missed it. If I had let fear win, or familiarity hold me back, we would have just gone to the same place and done the same thing, missing out on a bunch of new amazing things.
Hanging out with my husband on the water, conquering fears, climbing and scaling cliffs on an island, and seeing nature up close and personal, was a day and a memory, I will never forget. We ended it by having breakfast at Fatboys in our swimming suits, sand still on our bare feet, talking about the adventure we had, and when we would do it again.
I have heard it said, “Once you’re in over your head, it doesn’t matter how deep you go.” It was a truth I realized out in the middle of the ocean. You always have the option to quit, to give up, to go back. Or you can commit to keep moving forward, keep going, and just …. go for it. Sometimes the beginning of a great adventure is losing sight of the shore, and trusting someone else to lead the way.