Big South swells; an Eddie Aikau connection

Gary Kewley
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Friday - April 18, 2008
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Get ready for the south swells in town
Get ready for the south swells in town

Aloha, surfers, OK, we’re now past the middle of April and what do you know? We’re seeing what may be the biggest South of the season. Earlier in the week, Laniakea had some NNE sets up to triple overhead.Last Monday,Makapu’u had a few crazy, angry sets up to that size far outside. My conclusion: Hawaii is the rock that rocks the surfer’s world. Take your pick - North, South, East or West - there’s always something to ride ... year round. Stoked!

Last week I wrote how I’d tell a story of destiny and how my beautiful 16-year-daughter Chelsea Megumi Kamalani’s life is connected to the legendary Eddie Aikau. For those of you who may not realize, it was 30 years ago March 17 that this amazing human being,lifeguard and surfer chose to give his life for his Hokule’a ohana. They were on their 2,500-mile, 30-day journey to Tahiti for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in the double-hulled canoe called the Hokule’a. Six hours in, a leak in one of the hulls caused the double-hulled canoe to huli (turn over) in a storm. Stranded at sea, out of flight patterns and drifting further into danger, Eddie went for help toward Lanai on the only big, white tanker board with a makeshift leg rope. Neither Eddie nor the board were ever seen again.An eternal hero was born, and the rest is history.


On that fateful voyage was one female - Marion Lyman-Mersereau. She’s a published author (with a new book out next month) and has been a Punahou coach/teacher for 25 years. Before this she was doing plenty as well. Marion was program director of outdoor education at the “one and only” Camp Mokuleia on the North Shore out toward Kaena Point.I was going to San Diego State (like my mother - it’s my home-town and alma mater). I was a Camp Mokuleia senior camp counselor for its summer programs in the late ‘70s. I learned the ropes from Marion, always the consummate, passionate teacher. The people and the place created a lifetime of memories ... and something much more, yet unknown to me at the time.

Marion was not taken aback by that life-threatening night and day back in March of ‘78. Quite the contrary, she was obsessed with that canoe ... and that voyage. Courage and something more (her Hawaiian bloodline) urged her on.Marion would go ... again.This time it was in 1980 with Nainoa Thompson at the helm of the Hokule’a.

Marion would hire me to take her place. I would move permanently to Camp Mokuleia as program director. I lived in a cottage called Paradise, on the water with the Waimea Bay Steeple in view - the same place Eddie saved countless lives and rode countless waves. I’d stand on the beach in awe and dream of days out there.

I ended up at the camp for one year. Marion returned. Then our lives went on.I would go on to grad school, teach at Waialua High for a stint and play guitar at clubs around town and country. I eventually got into Surf News Network. Surfing was mandatory, of course, and I would always surf the bay when it broke.My destiny was being shaped. I was falling in love with Hawaii.

Eventually, we both married and had kids of our own. Marion and Art would have two great sons, Kaiwi and Kaniela, while Rene and I would have one amazing daughter, Chelsea.

As time flew by like a tradewind gust at advisory levels,I saw the connection clearly. I was having dinner with Chelsea and sharing Eddie’s story. Out of my mouth came words that surprised even me.


“If Eddie Aikau had not given his life for others, you would never have been born.“My daughter and I linked to that fateful trip.

If Marion had chosen not to go on the southern sojourn again, I would not have moved to the North Shore to take her place teaching outdoor ed.I would very likely not have met Chelsea’s mother years later. I may not even have stayed. Who knows?

What I do know is that courage and love for something greater than ourselves transforms lives. Eddie and Marion are two who unknowingly transformed mine.

Be here next week for my interview with Marion. I’ll post excerpts from her latest book at SURFNEWSNETWORK.COM ... stayed tuned.

See you out in the transforming lineup and back here where you belong next week!

GQ, dropping in 4 U!

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