Hanalei Blues (fiction)


The end of September brings Hanalei back to the locals. There are still tourists. There are always tourists, but they thin as the air cools; as the days grow shorter. And most tourists fear the looming possibility of heavy rain, flash floods and large waves as the calendar turns toward winter.

The pier belongs to the bay, which is nestled in the Hanalei valley surrounded by steep, irregular ridges, shrouded in a lush tropical green. When the sun strikes the mountains in the late afternoon, the green glows like it’s made of light. Waterfalls streak the north facing walls. They are flash flood monitors. If there are more than 7 it’s time to move the kids, cars, and farming equipment to higher ground. If there are more than 10, just get the kids to the cliffs. There’s no time for cars and equipment.

Waves lap at the pier piles as tourists march along the length of it, sipping drinks and chatting into another sunset. Mano sets the hook on a nice fish, plays it longer than needed, and hoists it to the deck. He strikes a pose against the setting sun, like he is the king of this pier, though much younger than his uncle who has four rods in the water, and sits on a beach chair, sipping something from a plastic mug, ice cubes clinking. Mano is pleased to be seen but acts like the tourists are not there. He steps on the spine of the small hammer head. The shark thrashes and shimmies. Mano whacks it hard on the head with the butt of his knife and lays it out on the picnic bench where two tourists play a game of checkers. A pool of blood gathers under the hammer head. Tourists get close to see the tiny teeth.

The last of the sunset sends the tourists back to the bars, the restaurants, the expensive vacation homes. Mano casts again and speaks in hushed tones to his uncle. They laugh as the last light brings their village back to them.

In the morning, Mano tosses a leash at a tourist who is renting a board from the Green Trees Surf Shop. He intends to startle the tourist, maybe laugh at him, but gets a look of contempt from his co-worker who is filling out a rental agreement. Mano acts like he owns the shop, but is just another worker who seems like a truant. Like he’s not working at the shop even when he’s there.

Mano hasn’t always hated the tourists. Not that it matters, but they sold the house next to his bungalow and now it’s a rental. Tourists come in with their red Mustang convertibles, their tan muscular bodies with slinky girlfriends and think they can do what they want with his beach. They make noise until late at night and their leave their haole trash on the beach.

The tourist, a thirty-something guy from San Diego, sweats as the boards are loaded. A twinge of fear gathers in his gut as he selects a paddle. He’d surfed at Hanalei ten years ago, but not on a stand up paddle board. Not at the reef. He is nervous about looking foolish. He is nervous about falling onto the reef in shallow water. He thinks about sharks.

He surfs for an hour and catches his share of waves. As he paddles to catch his last wave, a movement comes from his right. Mano is paddling an outrigger canoe into the wave. The tourist tries to back off, but it’s too late. He jumps from the board as it slams the canoe.  There is a pause, like the ocean has forgiven them. The tourist pops his head up to see the canoe sliding by, then is pulled under water and dragged behind the canoe. His board is caught on the outrigger. His leash is strapped to his ankle. The weight of the tourist pulls canoe to the left. The tourist breathes water. His knee scrapes the coral reef. The canoe exits the wave with alarming speed. It pitches into the air, nearly flips over, but Mano stands, leans into the wave and settles the canoe into the water. The tourist surfaces and sputters for breath. Mano jumps from the boat and yells at the tourist to unstrap his leash. The tourist thinks he’ll be left without his board. Mano yells again for the tourist to remove the leash, which he does. Mano pulls the leash through the outrigger stays, and pushes the board toward the tourist who is standing on the shallow reef, paddle in hand. Against the setting sun the tourist looks like Neptune. Mano tells the tourist to swim to the board and he does. Mano climbs back into his boat and paddles hard. As he passes the tourist, he stands and slows. The tourist is standing on his board. He does not know what to do.

“Haole dude. Ok now?”

The tourist nods his head. His knees shake as blood drips to the deck of his board.

“Dat some kine ride brah,” says Mano. “Betta you paddle in brah. Sharks like sunset. Sharks like blood.”

Mano paddles toward the setting sun. As blood drips onto the deck, the tourist paddles toward shore, scanning for the fin of a reef shark.

30th Anniversary SUP

Donna and I celebrated on the eve of our 30th.  We paddled around Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai.  We rented 10-6 Laird Hamilton SUPS.  They are big and heavy, but I caught my share of waves at the reef and Donna paddled to the end of the Hanalei River.  I took a little break, ate a cookie, then paddled up the river to find her.  That’s what I do.  Find Donna.

There were fish, turtles, herons, egrets, flowers, rain, and DONNA.  I found her just below the bridge.  We paddled back in the rain to another stunning sunset.  Even caught a few outrigger canoe teams working their stuff.  Check out the scene with this 1 minute video.

30th Anniversary SUP from Tom Adams on Vimeo.

African SUP

It’s been at least two weeks since I stepped foot in the surf.  The waves have been large and unruly but it rained which is good. My ten week workshop with the San Francisco Writers Studio has been fulfilling. This class ends Tuesday. I signed up for the next one which starts in two weeks. Between now and then I plan to publish some of the work I’ve done in the class.

Yesterday I got wet and it solidified the notion that SUP days are better than others.  Even though I lost my footing more than once, I caught waves and paddled the length of the beach. After an hour session I left the water with a clear head and sore muscles.

So why the title African SUP?  Watch the one minute video: It’s the music.


Close Encounters of the Orca Kind

Back in the fall I shared a post about a couple in a kayak that had a breath-taking encounter with a breaching whale in the Monterey Bay.  You can see the post here.

Today a friend from my writing group shared a post that was just as close.  It’s a guy on a Stand Up Paddleboard keeping cool while being frisked by an Orca.  You can see it here.

And he was recognized by GoPro for his heroics.



Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Anything that Starts with the Letter S

SUP Days are better than others, and this afternoon I may just SUP, but in the mean time, here are some coastal black and whites that start with the letter S.

Clockwise from upper left, Sandy Steps, Skimboarding, Surfing, Seagulls, & SUP Surfing



Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Anything that Starts with the Letter S

Near Solstice Light

File Dec 17, 7 56 09 PMWinter solstice is right around the corner and the late afternoon light is kind of errie.

My cold/flu/virus/tired-to-the-bone “whatever it is” seems to be waning.  So I walked the 3/4 of a mile to the spot where I’d seen one stand up paddle boarder from my window.  He was still there.

The tide was just starting to ebb so some of the wave’s punch was pulled back.  BUT, there were surfers from one end of the beach to the other.  The light kept slipping in and out of the clouds.  One moment it was on the water, then on the hills, then gone.  I sat on a piece of plywood someone had left on the rocks.  I didn’t take the time to anchor it so I teetered and tottered a bit, which makes shooting video with a long lens a challenge.  There was one guy on a fat orange board who caught one wave while I was watching.  Mostly I was happy to smell the salt air and hear the hollow roar of waves crashing.

I got one shot of the scene as the light lit up the Rockaway Headlands.  That was the last of the light, so I headed home.

Wild Ocean

The ocean is big today.  It was bigger yesterday.  The water is a good 10 degrees colder than it was in September.  Fall is here.  Winter is coming.  I’ve been fighting a bug which has kept me from the water.  But I still need a fix to overcome my hopeless addiction to the ocean’s charm.  Whether it’s a walk on the beach or making a short video of the current conditions, it’s all about the ocean, its size, its smell, its moods.


SUP Video with just an iPhone

It was a long day and the surf was outstanding, but I wasn’t near the surf until sunset.  I still had chores to complete and no time to get my “real” camera so I walked in close to the shore and shot some SUP footage using my iPhone 6S+.  The only paddleboarder in the water caught a couple of waves while I watched.  Add a little music, a little creative editing license and voila.  A short video.  A very short video.