Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 23:17:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Origin of Moloka`i Ho`e
David Nu`uhiwa (Sr.) told me a story today that deserves writing down. The occasion of our meeting was an interview with the BBC Educational TV people who are here in Long Beach putting together a Pacific Rim educational TV series.
David was one of the six on the Moloka`i entry in the first Moloka`i Ho`e race in 1952 and some of the details he revealed are absolutely unique to paddling in Hawai`i.
There had been discussion for some time led by Toots Minneville on the prospect of a Kaiwi Channel race but no one quite knew how to overcome the opposition and sketicism to get it off top dead center. David at that time was head of lifeguards on Waikiki, and a lot of the prospective paddlers would have been drawn from the lifeguard ranks.
One day in February 1952 Bill Thompson recruited David and five others to accompany him on a fishing trip supposedly to the east side of Oahu. They loaded and lashed the big fishing canoe Hanakeoke owned by Doris Duke on top of Bill's sampan Blue Dolphin, ostensibly to act as a support boat assisting in hauling in the fish. Judging from David's description, Hanakeoke must have predated the Malia configuration, being volumnous and heavy.
They left pre-dawn, passed Diamond Head, kept on going - "just a little more," Thompson kept saying, passing Portlock, Koko Head, and out into the channel. By 8:30 or thereabouts they had crossed almost the entire channel, being just 2 or 3 miles from Ilio Point on West Moloka`i. "Far enough," said Thompson. He then had the crew launch the canoe, told the guys to get in and paddle. "Where to?" they ask. "Back to Outrigger!" says Thompson and headed back himself.
Everyone was a little scared, but they started paddling back towards Oahu. They got stopped by the Coast Guard outside Portlock for running without lights after sundown "you guys could get killed out here in Steamer Lane no lights at night!", finally arriving at Outrigger at 9 or 10 PM.
"Where you guys come from?" "Moloka`i!" "No can be!" "Was true!" "What, you guys crazy?"
So that was how it was proved that crossing the Channel was possible. From that point, Noah Kalama kept pushing and organizing until it looked like 5 or 6 clubs were ready to commit to the race, that fall.
In the days just before the first race, all backed out but three - Waikiki Surf Club, a combination team named Hawaiian Surf Club, and the West Moloka`i crew that David was invited to join.
They launched from Ilio Point at dawn. The Moloka`i crew actually tracked up along the Moloka`i coast for an hour or two before heading out across the channel, intending to get a better following sea; the other two struck out straight across the Channel. The Hawaiian Surf entry suffered failure of the iakos not far into the race and the canoe had to be loaded onto an escort boat. The Moloka`i crew eventually won, singing "Kaimanahila" all the way to Waikiki once Diamond head had been passed. All of the crews were 6-man only, no relief.
Anyone who was involved ought to check the facts and add what they know - this was given to me by David but it would be interesting to get additional perspective or specificity on dates and crew. David remembers perhaps half of the crew names from all three of the entries.
Do we have an electronic scrapbook or some other place where we can keep jewels like David's story, and others that other people might be able to contribute?
Hele On Back