The Velvet Wrecking Ball
Busy SwimVacation guides bopped around town today after a healthy amount of iced Kona Coffee. Caffeine makes me edgy and snarky, so Heather had to deal with most of the business until it wore off. We hung around the Pier for a bit, taking in the busy scene. It included:
Hundreds of happy people of all shapes, colors, ages. Most of them wet.
Outrigger canoe races.
A motorcycle gang of about 200 members rumbling down Ali'i Drive.
Naked toddlers playing in the surf.
Surfers and body boarders riding the massive swell, breaking in 6" of water on a razor sharp reef.
Kids jumping off the pier, then climbing back up the huge tires that line it.
A lone swimmer on the ironman course amid all the wonderful splashy chaos.
Outrigger races at the pier, Hawaiian mother and son at the shore, Hopper picking up one of our rental bikes, complete with lei from Clare and Dan.
We met up with our local go-to guy and SwimVacation Lifeguard Ryan McGuckin, did some more business around town (including a trip back to the rental van place to add Ryan as a driver: I was not allowed inside), then had lunch with Clare and Dan Bobo, our private chefs for the week. They gave us leis and our menu for our guests. It sounds spectacular.
I love to surf, and all of these perfect glassy waves (by Maine standards, anyway) has me itching to get out there and experience this big swell. Ryan offered to take me and Heather to Magic Sands beach for some body surfing. He gave us a safety/pep talk and had us watch a few sets before getting in. The waves at magic sands break very close to shore in a very tall, violent fashion. I swam out with Ryan and stuck close to him, duck diving under the first set. I dug my hands into the sandy bottom as the wave moved over me. The power was unreal.
Another big set rolled in, and I timed my strokes to ride the biggest wave in the set. It rocketed me along the face and pulled me up on the lip. I was 20 feet high. Suddenly there was nothing beneath me. Freefall, for what felt like a month, one of the long ones, like January. Finally, I slammed into the sand, forearms first (they were in front of my face), and was in the spin cycle of Satan's washing machine for about a year. I emerged feeling like I had been hit by a velvet wrecking ball. I immediately swam back out to "catch" another one.
Back in the lineup, Heather joined me and Ryan. We swam out quite far, well past the break. A massive set rolled in, and, treading water right next to Heather, I dove very deep to get under the first wave. I popped up and Heather was gone. Missing. Vanished. I looked back to the beach and her head popped up right at the shore, coincidentally next to Ryan. She's quite certain she still has some sand in her brain from the experience.
Tomorrow we meet our new guests and reunite with some former guests. We can't wait.
Aaaaaaand just because I can't resist chiming in…Heather here!
Things I feel are important to mention after Hopper's accurate and entertaining post:
1. Worry not SwimVacationers, Hopper is now banned from the coffee pot. No more caffein for that guy!
2. There's a great little tide pool right beside our guide shack that is a regular haunt for at least 3 Pacific Green sea turtles. I'll be talking with them and photographing them all week. Get used to more shots like this:
3. Thoughts from the amazing beach and surf scene at Magic Sands today: I love watching Hawaiians as they gather at the sea. They so fully embrace whatever is there - if it's flat, the swim and play. If it's big swell, they surf and play. They come to the shore with an openness and acceptance, prepared to jump into what is, and not wish for something else. Most of all, they can't stay away from the water's edge. Perhaps that's why I feel so at home here.
4. Those of you who joined us last year (or followed on the blog) know that we also got unlucky in 2013 with a very unusual swell. We picked Kona because it so rarely has big seas. And here we are again, faced with a bit of an aberration. It was fun for us to spend some time in this unusual swell today, to marvel and embrace the power of it, to let it toss us around a bit and learn how to be a part of it, safely. But assurance to our coming guests and their friends and families: We will not have you swimming with the Velvet Wrecking Ball! We have options, we have plans. We will have a remarkable week of safe, fun and sporting swimming, along with fantastic living and dining to stunning views of this great Pacific and whatever she'd like to say. It's the Hawaiian way.