What has paddling done for you?

One Sunday morning Tom Bartlett and I we were shuttling canoes and he says to me, “Why don’t you start a blog and share your story. See what paddling has done for other people.” Here it goes.

It was a brisk September afternoon in Winter Park, Co. elevation 9100 ft. My friend Josh and I were riding to the head of our favorite trail, "Leapfrog." It was to be our last ride for the year, because the snow was coming and I was getting ready to move to Hawaii. Once we reached the trail head we "rock-scissor-paper for who was to go first. Leapfrog was a trail with lots of technical lines, rock drops, ladder bridges, teeter totters, everything a free rider needs. We prided ourselves in the fact that we could ride this trail clean. Long story short, I came off a rock, a rock that I was complacently comfortable with, wrong and broke three vertebrae in my neck. C3-4 and 5 to be exact. I lay on the ground paralyzed from the neck down. Luckily for me the feeling came back after about ten minutes. Against my friends wishes I got up. Half my body didn't work so good but I got out and got to an ambulance. Got to the hospital, they did the xrays, put bolts in my head, gave me some morphine, sent me to surgery, put some bolts and rods in my neck, a bunch of other stuff yada yada yada.
I didn't have much strength or mobility left in my neck and shoulders after that. Then began what was to be the long painful rehabilitation saga. My insurance agency would cover part of 16 visits and that took about one month to complete. After that I couldn't afford to keep going there, P.T. is expensive. I had some exercises I could do that would help with the mobility, so I did those. My finance' tried to get me to paddle. I resisted at first, but eventually I gave in and went to a practice with Niumalu Canoe Club. She was right again and I was hooked. I went out and bought my own paddle. We ran, swam, paddled, stretched and had a great time. I ended up buying myself an oc-1. Once Napali was over and the oc-6 season was over I slowly started to get to know my one-man. I've gotten to know it pretty well and I am continuing to enjoy learning it with a great bunch of people.
During this whole learning experience, I gained tons of strength,and mobility, in my neck. It is more affordable for me to paddle than go to P.T. and I get to enjoy the ocean. I continue to gain strength every time I go out. Paddling has done a lot for me, what's it done for you?

Submitted by Chuck Devaney on Mon, 02/04/2008 - 10:22pm

Wow...impressive testimony and very nice to hear that you've made what seems like a full recovery.

I've had a life-long love affair with the ocean. I've also been surfing for most of my life and am a former professional road cyclist (as in bicyclist). So the link to the water and the drive to get out and challenge my self physically are both strong.

The water was always my release, my escape. The bike was always my physical challenge and I loved to push my physical limits that way. When I stopped racing I still kept riding for the fitness. Over time it lost its appeal - same roads, same idiot drivers hassling me. I nearly quit and only rode occasionally. I did other stuff, but nothing really inspired me like the bike used to.

A few years back my wife and I lived on Oahu and paddled 6 man for a couple of seasons. It was great, we had a blast, etc, but I always wanted an OC1.

When we moved back to Florida I missed paddling. One day a friend of mine who knew I'd paddled in HI told me he was selling his OC1. I plunked down the cash the next day!

Suddenly I had the best of both worlds - my passion for the ocean and my desire to go out and hammer - rolled into one. As anyone who paddles knows, the ocean is always changing, always challenging, and you never have to deal with some redneck jerk who wants to run you off the road. Of course now and then there's the occasional boater who could show a little more courtesy...

I've been paddling OC1 now for about a year and a half and I'm totally hooked! In fact I'm doing my first race this Saturday in Miami. I'm stoked!

Paddling has added yet another layer to my already deep connection to the ocean and allowed my to satisfy my craving for that endorphin high that comes from pushing your limits.


#1 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:26am

Mahalo nui loa for sharing your experiences. I too have been bound to the ocean by some intangible, irresistible force. As my parents are divers I started in with open ocean sports at a young age, I went on my first SCUBA dive at about 7 years old off the coast of Hawai'i Moku and in that same dive had my first shark encounter. Thus began my life in the ocean, I always just felt more comfortable on or in the sea than I did on land. Growing up, all the sports I took part in were pretty individualistic...X-country, mountain biking, surfing, kayaking, wrestling so on and so forth and yet people were constantly trying to teach me the value of teamwork. I did not see it. It wasn't until I began paddling OC6 that I saw it. Being part of an OC6 crew taught me the value of working together and being in tune with not only the environment around you, but the people around you. That for me has been one of my most important life lessons learned thus far and has been the most influential effect paddling has had in my life.

#2 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 6:07am

Chuck D.
Great story, I know what a serious injury can do to you physically and mentally. The thought of not knowing if you can get back to that level. It hurts in more ways than one. I was playing baseball and took a bat to the face, long story short, I stopped playing baseball (I wish I would have kept with it a little longer) but with one loss comes the gain of something else.
I to have been a water person all my life, young as I might be my experiences match anyone. I started surfing contests at 7 and by the time I was 15 I was so fed up with judging that I lost major interest in it, combine that with not playing baseball I was becoming a lump. Until I found Paddling. In both my previous sports I was good but never the best (I always had the luck to be posting up against great athletes.)
That all changed when I picked up a paddled. Everyone who stuck with it knows that feeling, you get that tingle up your spine remembering that moment you knew that this was something special. Unlike surfing or baseball where you have to work so had to find that special feeling (surfing that one wave, baseball hitting the crap out of the ball) paddling you get that feeling with every stroke, every wave you catch, every time you finish that hard workout, every finish line you cross first or DFL. It just feels so good, nothing can match that.

#3 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:11am

well said, well said.

what hasten it done should be the question for me. My ancestral name is lemchacha and means canoe builder it dates back 7 generations. my earliest memories are of the canoe shed and the men packing the canoe to the water. I even got married in the canoe shed. I wasn’t born there but got there shortly after. and will be there till .Well you get the picture if I’m not with my kids or at work you know where to find me. if asked why I would say sitting on the starting line in a singles race. And that word great always pops up,

a great paddler I would say has a great canoe family

#4 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 7:33am

Chuck Devaney
Thats a great story. Just 4 months ago I heniated 3 discs and my right arm was 80% paralyzed. Ive just started working out again this month. Ive been very leary and apprehensive about paddling but your post is very VERY inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

#5 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 11:33am

27 years with a bad back with every avenue I could try...finally last year i sat on a ice pack for the first time when its just starting up.

and it worked after all that

#6 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 1:21pm

OC has made me poorer financially, distracted at work, dorkier scouring internet for info and posting to many I do not know, shorter on space now that I have more toys, less time to surf, swim, ride, play tennis, workout, run, play hockey, windsurf, watch tv, read, write, eat, drink.

But a hell of a lot happier now that I can paddle the ocean in a fast boat.

#7 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 3:52pm

Let's see.

First the negatives:

Paddling helped me destroy one shoulder and one spinal disk. Even when unable to paddle from above problems, paddling managed to occupy my thoughts for the past 4 years. Paddling is an addictive son of a bitch that I cannot escape.

Now the positives:

Paddling has helped me find bad ass wife, as well as 99.9% of all my friends in life.

So I guess all in all it's a wash.
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#8 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 4:32pm

4 years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a radical prostatectomy and was cleared for alll physical activity about 3 months later. At the time I was working on a Tv show on Oahu. My neighbor in kailua was Freddie Tauotaha. His backyard was full of half finished 1man koa boats small models of canoes and 3 modern oc1 on the side of his house. His dad back in Tahiti is a canoe carver. One day he invited me to come out and use one of his canoes to go out to the mokes. Mind you at the time I was still wearing diapers literally. That short trip to the mokes was all it took to become a full blown paddle addict. When we got back to the beach not only was I happy but my diaper took a good soaking in the ocean and I looked like a porn star with my swollen package in my pants.
Freddie took me out a few more times while I immediately shopped for a boat. When our TV show got cancelled a few weeks later I brought my canoe back home and joined Marina del Rey OCC in LA.
I was a World champion Couch Potato before I paddled. On my way to geezerdom. My back was bad and I weighed 215 lbs at 6’2” nicely wrapped around the middle. Instead of great soul searching about my status after surgery I surrendered completely to paddling and inadvertently paddling made it easy to change my unhealthy lifestyle, because I became so passionate about it. All thoughts of cancer are gone. I weigh 189 lbs now and don’t need diapers anymore, my wife got the hots for me again and I am able to fulfill my part of marital happiness. I paddle 5- 6 times a week and I am only 4 lbs away from my target weight of 185 for the Molo Solo 08.
“Mens sana, corpore sano!”- “A healthy mind lives in a healthy body”
Paddling gave me a healthy body and therefore a healthy mind, and when the rage on the road of life get’s really bad I’m punching bumps and it all goes away like an exhaled: AAAAAHHHH
Mahalo Freddie thanks for the mana.

#9 Tue, 02/05/2008 - 5:07pm

Anybody remember that old OC promotional video where the stressed out , overworked guy in the office throws up his hands and leaves work to go paddling? I thought it was a very well done Video and really captured the essence of what paddling can do for you. The picture starts out in black and white with this hectic sounding music playing , then the guy drives in a traffic jam to the water. When he puts the boat in and takes a stroke the picture changes to color and the music changes to this beautifull Hawaiian tune.
When I saw that video for the first time I was practically drooling to go paddling.

#10 Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:54am

I just loved that feeling of gliding on the water from the first time paddling an old coleman canoe on a New England lake with my Dad. We moved to Oahu when I was 7, and when I saw the green and white boats lined up on the Buzz's canal, it was love at first sight! There we learned teamwork and respect for the boats, our elders and each other, as well as a deep love for our new home of Lanikai. I love the feeling of paddling itself, but I think the most important thing I have gotten from this sport is an appreciation of Hawaiian culture. To me the concept of Aloha is one of humanity's greatest philosophical achievements. As outrigger paddling is spread throughout the world, it takes with it these concepts. This is a good thing for everyone.

#11 Wed, 02/06/2008 - 6:10am

Paddling is my therapy just like running and working out. I get away from my normal existance and head to a diiferent place mentally. It doesn't matter if its stand up paddling or OC paddling. The ocean is a great workout venue and it's free of traffic and asshole drivers (the ones that toss shit at you and yell obsecenities when you are riding your bike) I don't ride anymore, paddling has replaced the bike and is much more enjoyable.

I could go on and on about the paddling lifestyle but I got to go paddling.


#12 Wed, 02/06/2008 - 3:02pm

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