Tour company president carries on a tradition


POSTED: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Born and raised in Long Beach, Calif., Maggie Brown has had a love affair with the ocean from the time she was a toddler. “;I learned how to swim when I was 2 years old,”; she said. “;Ever since then, I've been passionate about anything that has to do with the ocean.”;

It's a calling that runs in Brown's family. Her great-great-uncle, Capt. Asa Meade Simpson, founded Simpson Shipyard in North Bend, Ore., in 1855. Her brother owns Sea and Go Boating magazines, and puts on boat shows in Newport Beach, Calif. Her parents have always owned boats and lived on the waterfront in Long Beach. When Brown was young, she sailed with them to Catalina Island almost every weekend.

It's no surprise, then, that she wound up being president of Body Glove Cruises, which offers tours along the Big Island's Kona coast year-round.

Two years ago, Brown supervised the construction of the company's 65-foot, 149-passenger catamaran Kanoa II. The $1.7-million vessel is equipped with a 20-foot water slide, high-dive platform, two swim platforms, flat-screen televisions and underwater lighting for evening cruises.

Propelled by twin 810-horsepower engines, the sleek cat reaches speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. Even though it's equipped with a generator, solar panels usually provide all the power used on board.





        Meeting place: Kailua Pier, Kailua Village, Big Island

Offered: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. Check in at 3:30 p.m.


Cost: $87 for adults ($69.60 for kamaaina) and $58 for children age 6 through 17 ($46.40 for kamaaina), including a buffet dinner, cocktail for those age 21 and older, soda and juice, and live Hawaiian entertainment. Kids age 5 and younger sail free.


Phone: 326-7122 on the Big Island; 800-551-8911 from the other islands


E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Web site: www.bodyglovehawaii.com


Notes: Bring a camera and a sweater. A portion of all proceeds from this tour is donated to the Kona Historical Society (http://www.konahistorical.org), which preserves the history of the Kona Coast and educates people about it.


Also: Body Glove Cruises also offers a Sunset Cocktail Cruise and a Snorkel Dolphin Cruise in the morning and afternoon. You can upgrade the Snorkel Dolphin experience with diving for an additional fee.


From Dec. 7 through April 15, morning and afternoon Whale-Watching Adventures will be added to the existing schedule. They feature commentary by a certified marine naturalist, the use of an underwater hydrophone, snacks and a no-host bar. Body Glove guarantees you'll spot whales or you can take another whale-watching tour free of charge.


Round-trip transportation between Kailua Pier and Waikoloa Resort is available. Call for prices and more information about all of Body Glove's offerings.




The Kona coast's warm, sunny weather is perfect for Body Glove's excursions. “;No matter which tour you choose, you'll be in great weather and the company of a crew who enjoys being in and on the water,”; Brown said. “;While passengers' safety and comfort is their primary concern, they like to holoholo (to go out for pleasure) just as much as our guests.”;

The Historical Dinner Cruise is a popular option. Kanoa II departs Kailua Pier late in the afternoon for the 12-mile journey south to Kealakekua Bay. Along the way, guides point out coastal landmarks, including Kamakahonu, the first capital of Hawaii and Kamehameha I's retreat in his final years, and Kuemanu Heiau, a temple where Hawaiian royalty prayed for favorable surfing conditions.

St. Peter's by the Sea Church is located on the platform where the houses of the heiau's kahuna once stood. It was originally built in 1880 about a mile away, near Laaloa Beach Park. In 1912, a bad storm shook the church from its foundation. The congregation dismantled it and carried it piece by piece, by hand and donkey, to its present location, where they reconstructed it.

Hawaii's best-preserved holua (sled) course was built on a steep hill in Keauhou in 1814 to celebrate the birth of Kauikeauoli, Kamehameha III. When it was used, the course was covered with wet leaves and grass to make it slick. In a sport similar to tobogganing, men of chiefly rank would slide down the slope at high speeds, trying hard to keep their wits and balance. Overturning or going astray could cause serious injury, as sharp lava bordered the course on both sides. The winner was the person who went the farthest.

Nearby Kuamoo battlefield was the site of a fierce 1819 conflict between the two heirs of Kamehameha I: Liholiho, who rejected the ancient Hawaiian religion and kapu system, and Chief Kekuaokalani, who supported the traditional ways. Liholiho's forces prevailed, paving the way for the introduction of Christianity in Hawaii the following year. The 300 warriors who died in the battle were buried in the vast desolate lava field.

Spinner dolphins often frolic beside Kanoa II, and this time of the year, sightings of humpback whales, Hawaii's state mammal, are an added treat. “;We set up fishing lines, and, on occasion, we also 'hook up' with an aku, ono or mahimahi,”; Brown said. “;We draw the name of a guest out of a hat, and if a fish bites, he or she is the lucky one who gets to reel it in. On a recent trip, one gentleman told the captain bringing in an aku was the highlight of his vacation. He had just chartered a boat all day for $600 and didn't catch a thing!”;

When Kanoa II reaches Kealakekua Bay, a Marine Life Conservation District, the captain turns off the engines. The boat drifts for 20 minutes, providing great views of the 27-foot monument honoring British Capt. James Cook, the first Westerner to discover the Hawaiian Islands.

On the journey back to Kailua Pier, guests enjoy a buffet dinner, a Kona sunset and dancing on the deck. “;The Historical Dinner Cruise is a great way to see some amazing Big Island sights, learn a bit of Hawaiian history and make new friends from all over the world,”; Brown said.

Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Bulletin have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.