Eyewitness Describes ‘Ill-Advised Beach Landing’
A group of beachgoers witnessed Monday’s outrigger canoe mishap at the Maui Canoe Club in Kīhei.
The incident occurred at the Maui Canoe Club on Oct. 22, 2018, at approximately 8 a.m. as a double-hulled canoe approached shore.
One of the bystanders, who requested anonymity, called the incident an “ill-advised beach landing.” A High Surf Advisory for south-facing shores had been in effect for the last several days and still continues. Surf at the time of the incident was reported at 4 feet.
“Ocean conditions warranted much more caution than was taken by the outrigger’s steersman and crew members,” the witness said.
The 10 paddlers aboard the double-hulled outrigger canoe approached shore riding the crest of a four-foot wave, the witness said.
“Initially, it appeared they were surfing the wave, but it quickly became obvious they were out of control,” the witness said.
The canoe approached the shore bow first at dangerous angle of approach—possibly 30 degrees from perpendicular, the witness said.
“The right hull beached in the wave’s trough at shore, while the left hull was catapulted by the cresting wave,” the witness said. “There was absolutely no way they could have accomplished a safe beach landing with their angle of approach and at the speed the canoe was traveling.”
The canoe’s two ‘iako snapped completely in half while members in the left hull were ejected from the catapulting canoe and members in the right hull were trapped under their “huli-ed” (turned-over) hull.
After the beach crash, people were scrambling all around, tending to the injured, the witness said.
“I am experienced enough to know that they made a terrible decision to land,” the witness said. “They should have known better—the pounding shore-break sets were obvious.”
“There were some people in that canoe who may have thought they were bigger than the ocean,” the witness said. “I hope they are humbled and understand moving forward that time is always on their side when making launch and landing decisions.”
The women who was rushed to the hospital broke 11 ribs, her sternum, scapula and shoulder, said the witness, an acquaintance of the injured paddler. She spent the night in ICU for observation and pain management.
Other paddlers suffered lacerations, contusions and abrasions.
“It was quite obvious they all were shaken to the core,” the witness said. “They put themselves in grave danger and are very lucky their injuries were not more severe.”