Still a few falls left for this beach boy
A few readers were alarmed that, at least according to the photos that ran with my column Tuesday, I have become so uncoordinated in my old age that I can't even stand up on a stand-up paddle board seemingly big enough to hold the entire front line of the UH Warriors football team.
The sight of a seasoned waterman like myself falling so dramatically from an idle paddle board in a pond-like boat basin moved one reader to equate the sadness he felt upon seeing Mohammed Ali's decline in the boxing ring or Joe Montana no longer being able to throw a football 98 yards.
It caused another reader to wax nostalgic for the seemingly bygone days when I was in my prime as a water sportsman.
"You are an amazing adventurer," she wrote in the blog at the bottom of the online version of the column. "I still think your best ocean accomplishment was paddling in high tide in Mapunapuna."
I dare say, that nearly brought a tear to my eye. Yes, they still talk about the time I dragged my kayak to a gritty industrial section of Mapunapuna and paddled along a street that floods twice a day at high tide, even though it is a mile from the shore. Like Edmund Hillary conquering Everest, I was the first person to paddle a kayak through Mapunapuna. (Hillary not only was the first to climb Everest but the first man to paddle a kayak made of goat hides through a Katmandu drainage canal.)
So I felt the need to assure my legion of admirers (Is seven a legion?) that the photos of me falling from the paddle board painted an inaccurate picture of my physical prowess on the water. I submitted several photos to run with the column and only two of them showed me falling off the board. I'm sure the editors didn't decide to run just those photos (one of them nearly life-size) of me looking like a spastic gondolier simply for their amusement. But, then again, you never know.
The fact is that I mastered stand-up paddling quite easily. Ray Sanborn, my coach and owner of a company that offers a health and fitness class built around stand-up paddling, said he had never seen someone become so proficient in the sport so quickly and that, from a distance, in the right light, some onlookers might confuse me with Duke Kahanamoku.
I point this out not to blow my own fog horn but to put to rest worries that I am soon to be confined to a rattan recliner on the lanai of the Moana Hotel with a drool bucket and ear trumpet.
My days as an intrepid waterman are far from over. Despite the photographic evidence, I have not been relegated to splashing in the baby pool. Mapunapuna residents should not be surprised to look out their windows early some morning and see a solitary figure paddling a kayak through the oily, noxious waters of Ahua Street at high tide.
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