Kalani High paddlers rescued after wave swamps canoe
March 22, 2018 | 73° | Check Traffic

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Kalani High paddlers rescued after wave swamps canoe


    Parents of Kalani High School’s paddling team wait on the shore before crews rescued and bought them back to Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai.


    Barbara Hara gives her daughter Kaylyn a hug after coming ashore.


    Kanani Oyakawa, a member of Kalani High School’s paddling team recounts incident where their canoe was swamped in waters off Hanauma Bay.


    A Kalani High School paddling team’s canoe was swamped in waters off Hanauma Bay. Crews are rescued and bought to Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai.


The Kalani High School Paddling Team had a bit of a scare today when an ocean wave inundated a double-hulled canoe with 12 of its members near Spitting Cave in East Oahu, prompting fire and Ocean Safety crews to help rescue them.

The swamping happened around 10:30 a.m. during practice with the double-hulled canoe and a separate single-hull canoe, according to team members still huddled with parents and family at Maunalua Bay Beach Park. Nobody was hurt but some members were sickened in the rough conditions, they said.

“It just like swallowed us,” recounted Mika O’Shea, a 17-year-old Kalani senior.

“We could see people off shore and we were waving for help,” added Kanani Oyakawa, a 14-year-old freshman. “All the water flooded in and we couldn’t get the water out.” A mix of boys and girls varsity and junior-varsity paddlers were in the two canoes, the two girls said said.

The single-hulled canoe with five paddlers was farther ahead, so it didn’t see the swamping and kept going, Oyakawa said, but nearby paddlers saw the team in trouble and called emergency officials for help.

The 12 stranded paddlers drifted for about 15 minutes back toward Hanauma Bay — “it kind of felt like a long time,” she said.

Ocean Safety officials responded on jet skis, and a family in a private boat nearby collected the paddlers and brought them back to Maunalua, Oyakawa added.

Kanani’s mother, Debbie Oyakawa, arrived at the beach park at 10:30 a.m. to pick up her daughter, who was supposed to finish practice there by 11 a.m. The team didn’t arrive, however, and Honolulu Fire Department Engines then rolled into the parking lot around 11:15 a.m., she said.

“I kind of freaked,” Oyakawa said. She didn’t know what was going on and “I started praying.”

Her husband and Kanani’s father, John, said that fire crews were then very informative of the situation.


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  • What were they practicing for? Molokai Hoe? That’s some seriously rough and unpredictable water in that area. Wouldn’t take a crew out there unless preparing for a channel crossing.

    • Itʻs no big deal and in conditions like this especially so. Huliʻed plenty of times in worse conditions, no biggie. Unless this is just for Staradvertiser to print something then those who were there donʻt belong on team and/or they need more oversight. Like I said, with a little bit more than a “little experience” this is no big deal. Aloha

    • You are right – especially in a double hulled canoe. No way to get water out of the hull once it’s under water. The coach had no business sending those kids out there in that particular canoe set-up especially without an escort boat!

    • It’s not if, but when, a canoe paddler is seriously injured or drowns when a 6 man or double hull canoe hulis. Although these are traditional boats, there is zero safety gear required. If the DOBAR or Coast Guard inspected my boat and the safety items were not on board I would receive a citation. Further, the Coach, Kalani High/State of Hawaii put those kids in a perilous situation. No escort boat. Lucky, being a holiday, a fellow boater came to the rescue. If there had been an incident of injury/death, the lawyers would have an easy case. As the guy on tv says, “think about it”…

  • It was a holiday, maybe the students wanted to go on a long paddle?. Maybe next time gotta bring a escort boat, or life vest for all in the canoe so everyone is safe.

  • Transport Canada requires at a minimum a Personal Flotation Device for each paddler on canoes, kayaks, etc.
    Maybe Hawaii needs to look into that simple protection, especially for MINORS. Of course, since Hawaii allows school buses to transport students without having the protection of seat belts, we already know how unimportant the safety of our youth is to legislators.

  • Glad everyone is safe. That’s the important thing. But what a bad caption: “Parents of Kalani High School’s paddling team wait on the shore before crews rescued and bought them back to Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai.”

  • Yesterday was a beautiful day. As an adult paddler we also flip and it takes time to turn the canoe over and then bail. As for a double haul canoe it is worse. Coaches would one man next to the double haul in case of trouble. Not sure what happen but glad they were all safe. Always remember, look out for your crew.

  • When I watch paddlers practicing…I don’t see any of them wearing floatation devices which is essential if the canoe swamps or flips….these paddlers were minors so I thought it would be mandatory that they would have some type of floatation devices ….