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.