Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Voyaging Society. Oahu to Kauai Channel Crossing.


    Paddle our canoe forward across the Kauai Channel in the pathway of our Ancestors.

    Hawaiian Outrigger Voyaging Society Kauai Aloha
    Kimokeo masterfully conducting the Pule

    Just yesterday on the 26th of March of 2016 I became part of the Ohana that calls themselves the Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Voyaging Society. How? Easy. We left Haleiwa Oahu at midnight and paddled to Kalapaki Kauai in 13 hours and 58 minutes. I’m joking about it being easy of course, but it was surely easy in comparison to the founders of the voyaging society. All I had to do was show up and be crazy enough to paddle all night and half the next day…

    Billy O'Sullivan Realtor Kauai Real Estate Canoe Club Outrigger
    Our Kauai Outrigger Voyaging Society’s Jersey. #Honored


    Mahalo Nui Pepe Trask, Matt Muirhead and Jamie Woodburn. These are the men who keep this alive in the name of Kendal who they lost 5 years ago. I never had a chance to meet the man but feel like I know him. Not only do I know his Wa’a Ohana but I’ve had the pleasure of selling two of my clients homes that Kendal built here on Kauai. As far as a Realtor is concerned Kendal’s work is the kind of home you feel comfortable putting your clients or your family into. They are the sturdiest and best laid out homes for family life here on Kauai. I can only imagine what kind of a guy Kendal was.

    Also thank you to Stephenie Brown who got me the seat in the Wa’a. The second she heard that there was an opening she let me know and as we all know, timing is everything. I got Pepe on the phone and bam. I was locked in. SWEETNESS!

    Kimo Keo Kauai Outrigger Voyaging Canoe Society
    Uncle Kimokeo tossing up the Shaka.

    First of all I’ll just mention that the pictures don’t really match the words here. When you are getting ready to pull something like this off, the last thing you think about it social media or being a photographer. Plus almost half of our journey is under the cloak of darkness (pics don’t turn out well at all). I didn’t use my phone for the better part of two days. For those of you who know just how hard we are working here at Kauai Real Estate Group, you know that 2 days without contact with your superstar team is… Eternity.

    Canoe Outrigger Kauai Ohana Aloha Hawaii
    A little fun in the Haleiwa rain. Stephenie Brown on my right.

    This journey is about heart and toughness. It’s also about sending all your love and Aloha out to those that need you most. Those you love most. Even though Kendal Struxness is our brother who helped put together this whole group of voyagers, but every one of us on these adventures “brought someone else” in our heart with us. My heart is heavy right now. We’ve lost quite a few people close to us lately and overall emotionally it’s been a challenging last 6 months. You’d never think that paddling 100 miles from one island in middle of the Pacific ocean to another would actually cleanse you. But it does.


    It centers you, it washes all the worries away and brings you into the present.

    Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Society 2016 Ke ei'ei' Waho

    Every year I’ll come back to reconnect with the Wa’a and be present……

    Kauai Canoe Club Hawaiian Outrigger Voyaging Society

    I had no idea what this whole experience was going to be like when I signed up but now I do and frankly its one of those times in your life you just can’t explain. It’s painful while magical and sweet. It stings today to put my clothes on because I’m so scraped and bruised, but my heart is so warm I don’t care about any of the fatigue in my core or the way my hands feel like they’ve been pulverized. I’m just happy to be alive at this point. To know that we were successful in safely crossing the channel without injury.
    My mind is a little mushy and raw, but that’s exactly why I’m forcing myself to write this now while it’s still fresh.
    Kauai outrigger paddling voyager rigging canoes
    Our workhorses Tom and Ron work on our skirts while uncle Pepe talks strategy for paddler placement.
    Before we launched at midnight we had a ceremony to bless the Wa’a (Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe) with uncle Kimokeo. This man flows more Mana from his body than anyone I’ve ever met. His eyes are soft but piercing, his body is tattooed with the marks of a Hawaiian warrior. This blessing took several hours and included drinking Kava, sharing stories and paddling the Wa’a to ensure that it was Maika’i (good or fine) for the journey. I found myself pouring words and tears about paddling for Uncle Gene from Namolokama, Michael Mons and others but not mentioning many other thoughts that raged on inside.

    More than just a physical experience crossing the Ka ei’ei’ Waho channel is all about for me is all about where your mind is at. Your body will stroke the canoe because you don’t want to look weak for your brothers and sisters in the Wa’a with you but your mind. It races. Well, it raced for a while about all the events that were occurring in my life and then… It turned on me. Or at least it did in my case.

    The first hour when we left here from Haleiwa around 12:25am was super peaceful. Both body and mind were in sync. I was relaxed and just waking up from the few hours of rest we had. I won’t bore you with the progression but eventually during the 4th hour about three inches up my arm from my left wrist I started feeling something burning. I came to find out after the paddle that it is a pulled tendon and nothing worse than that, but in the moment it hurt and that’s all my head needed to start going south on me.  By the time we were into our 6th and 7th hour every stroke felt like there was a little lightning bolt running up my arm and then back down to my fingertips. I kept practicing tuning out the pain and focusing on the stroke but time and time again I remembered, I’m a newer paddler and I don’t have the muscle memory to rely on just my stroke alone. I kept reminding myself just how much of an honor it was to stroke this canoe. To be in the front looking out into pure blue water, shooting stars, Hoku Pa’a.

     Just when things were starting to feel a little unbearable, the sun came up and revitalized my spirits!

    Kauai Canoe Club Realtor Billy O'Sullivan
    Reflecting on the night before.
    Before I knew it we could see Kauai. The crew was very tired but we settled in, mixed a few things up, ate a ton, kept each other awake and alert and forged on to finish. Part of it is a blur. Sometimes you just go so deep you tune out everything. I believe that is what Buddha called “BLISS”. I think Buddah was spot on.
    Crew finsihing Kauai channel aloha outrigger voyager
    Canadian / Maui crew finishing


    Finishing the Kauai Channel Ohana Canoe Outrigger Voyaging Society
    My crew with roughly 20 miles left to mama Kauai.

    Today I woke up a Voyager. I’m going to look at the ocean a little differently now. With even greater respect and Aloha than before.

    Mahalo for reading,

    Billy O’Sullivan



    More on Kendal: He has paddled and sailed outrigger canoes between all of the main Hawaiian Islands multiple times. Former president of the Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Voyaging Society and board member of the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association.

    In August 2006, 12 members of the Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Voyaging Society – with a support crew and boat – paddled a six-man outrigger canoe from Mokumanamana to Laysan Island in the newly created Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. For 83 hours straight, two crews of six paddlers traded off to cover 461 miles.

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    Billy O'Sullivan

    I'm the Team Leader at Kauai Real Estate Group. If you need anything Kauai related, just holler! I'll help ;). My personal cell is 808-755-5866 or you can reach out via email: billyo@billyo.com
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