Shuttling Paddlers Saves Precious Time

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - November 10, 2010
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Paddlers load up one-man canoes at Kaimana Beach after a recent race

It’s called the “Hawaii Kai Run,” an eight-mile, downwind ocean journey from Maunalua Bay to Kaimana Beach in Waikiki. For canoe paddlers, it is the perfect run to test your wave-riding skills.

But like any one-way course, the challenge for paddlers when it comes to the “Hawaii Kai Run” is getting to Hawaii Kai and having a vehicle waiting for you and your vessel when you’re done. In order to accomplish this, paddlers often “load up” one-man canoes on one truck, but eventually someone has to drive the “driver” back to his or her vehicle.

(A logistical nightmare, especially when your spouse tells you to figure it out.)

“You spend so much time organizing and finding a way to get to Hawaii Kai you lose time in the water,” says veteran paddler and longtime paddling coach Denise Darval-Chang. “Somebody had to do something.”

So she did. With encouragement from crewmates Theresa Felgate and Margie Kawaiaea, Darval-Chang started a shuttle service in late October for paddlers who want to make the run from Maunalua Bay to Kaimana Beach. She named the company Ocean Playground Shuttle LLC.

“I thought it was the perfect name because that’s our playground,” says Darval-Chang, a longtime coach at Hui Nalu Canoe Club. “The shuttle is open to OC-1, OC-2, kayaks, stand-up paddle and paddleboards.”

The shuttle can hold 16 to 18 one-man or two-man canoes and stand-up boards. The cost is $10 per person, or you can purchase a punch pass card for $100 for 12 rides. Darval-Chang says she’ll eventually include Magic Island as a pickup point and Makai Pier as a drop-off point once paddlers get deeper into their season and require longer training runs.

Ocean Playground Shuttle saves paddlers loads of time

“It’s not like I don’t have enough on my plate,” laughs Darval-Chang, who also is a health and physical education resource teacher with the state Department of Education, a kayak coach at Punahou School and a driver’s education teacher. “I thought, ‘I’m going to jump into this and see how it goes.’”

She received a crash course on the Public Utilities Commission, liability insurance and the basics of starting a business in Hawaii. She’s also had the support of the paddling community during the entire process.

“Several paddlers wrote letters to the PUC stressing the need for the business and how much time is wasted on the road,” says Darval-Chang. “My friend Kelly Moore runs a similar shuttle on Maui and she’s saving paddlers a ton of time. People have been talking about doing this on Oahu for years. I thought the time was right.”

Darval-Chang says her son will eventually help with the driving with hopes it will “help pay for his college.” To secure a spot on the shuttle, she’s asking paddlers to text or e-mail her two hours prior to pickup times: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Load trailer at Kaimana at 3:30 p.m. and depart promptly at 3:50 p.m. for Maunalua Bay.

“It really makes doing a downhill run so convenient,” says Darval-Chang. “I’m not a marketer, but I’m learning. I have magnetic stickers on a used van that I purchased. I figure out of pocket, I’ve invested $18,000.”

To book a spot on the Ocean Playground Shuttle e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or text 741-6379.


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