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Patagonia Ka'iwi Channel

May 25, 2017

Patagonia Ka'iwi Channel

I've paddled and chased fish on some remarkable bodies of water, but no place is more special to me than the Ka'iwi Channel. I've crossed it by plane, motorboat, sailboat, canoe, and came darn close to trying to swim it after a miscalculation about what a small craft advisory means. Whatever the mode of transportation, traveling between Oahu and Molokai is always an adventure.  --- Dave Chun

The Cleanest Line

Patagonia

Crossing Ka‘iwi

Ben Wilkinson   |   May 8, 2017

Eight hours earlier, we were a canoe team without paddles. After a last-minute transport change, the Bad News Bears of outrigger racing had arrived at the start of the Moloka‘i Hoe having forgotten our most important equipment in another truck.

It was a tense hour or so until our paddles finally arrived. But now, halfway across the Ka‘iwi Channel, the pre-race butterflies are long gone and we’re locked in battle with a fleet of 94 canoes carrying almost 1,000 paddlers from Moloka‘i to O‘ahu. Out here, the ocean beneath us has an electricity to it—a bright electric blue I haven’t seen anywhere else in the world.

There’s more to it, though, than just the color of the water. The Ka‘iwi, meaning “channel of bone,” has mana—power, strength or supernatural force. Changing out paddlers every 10 minutes, our team knows that the middle of the channel is where the 41-mile Moloka‘i Hoe is won or lost. Twenty miles in, this is where the real race begins. We dig deep for each other and haul the canoe forward.

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