Vocations: When Paddling Is Just the Start

The double-hulled sailing canoe, called wa’a kaulua, are 65 to 75 feet long with a sail in the middle. Those babies weigh more than 2,000 pounds and take 20 people to handle them. There’s also a one-person canoe. The one we use for resort guests is a six-person outrigger. We have two lateral support floats called “amas” fastened to both sides of the main hull. Traditionally these canoes only have one ama, but ours at Fairmont Kea Lani have two to provide extra safety and stability for guests.

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A canoe gliding back to shore with, from left, Jacob Abeytia, a hotel paddler; Jason Cho, Christopher Cho and Jay Raxenberg, hotel guests; and Mr. Pali.

Credit
Marco Garcia for The New York Times

Is there a ritual you conduct before you paddle?

Yes, we do a chant, an oli, to ask permission to enter a world that’s been here long before us. We ask for blessings for safe passages and guidance on the water. We ask only that — except that, with open heart, hopefully we may learn something.

What have you learned from the ocean?

It’s taught me how to be calm, how to sit still, look around, be grateful for things I have, not for the things I want. As long as I can wake up every morning and see my reflection on the water and enjoy one more beautiful day, I am happy.

Do you paddle outside of work?

Definitely, I paddle with some of the Maui clubs that have been around since the 1960s, including Lahaina Canoe Club. We participate in local and inter-island races. There are cash prizes, but they are really hard to win, because they attract the top professional paddlers from around the world — from Tahiti, Samoa, China, Japan, Germany, Australia, even a group from Chicago, Ill.

I am not one of world’s top paddlers — just a guy who loves to paddle.

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Catching a wave, with Mr. Pali in front. Behind him was Wil Galinato, followed by Ralph Valite and Mr. Abeytia.

Credit
Marco Garcia for The New York Times

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