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Impact of the Tsunami

Written by Paul Belmudes
Saturday, 19 March 2022 05:33

Camping and Fishing Tandem Style


It's been one week since the earthquake that rocked Japan. My thoughts and prayers go out to people of this country for a speedy recovery. The after affects of the tsunami has had some impacts on the Hawaiian Islands in many ways.

Last week I had the opportunity to be camping and fishing with my dear friend Chris Finch at Manuka Bay on the Big Island. Chris was the one who got me interested in kayak fishing in 2006 and it has been at least one year since I have been on the water with him. As for Manuka Bay…  it's on the southwest side of the Big Island and you need a four wheel drive to cross a lava rock road several miles that takes at least one hour and twenty minutes to get there gingerly with kayak on top that's packed for a camping adventure. What a magnificent kayak fishing location Manuka Bay is. It's been two years since we last camped there and we knew this remote area was going to be quiet… a place to get away from the pressures of being in the timeshare sales and marketing industry for Chris and I. The last time we camped there, it had no cell phone coverage and we were expecting our cell phones to be quiet for three days. We arrived Wednesday and we were the only ones in the area except for a luxury dive boat anchored in the bay. We had the whole beach to ourselves and it was the going to be our first day of the participating in the Aquahunters Makhiki tournament for 2011. Last year if you followed my blog, I finished in sixth place in this dynamic island wide tournament. With the competition tough this year, I thought it would be a fun way to enter the tournament as a tandem team with Chris. We chose "I'a Palua" as our team name which means "two fish."


After setting up camp, one of the cell phones started to ring. We looked down the shore and noticed a cell phone tower two mile south of us. Well at least we knew that we could use our cell phones and our Navionics program on the iPhone for the following day. On Wednesday night, we enjoyed the camp taking it all in which made it really easy to sleep through the night. We awoke to a peaceful sunrise and enjoyed a fantastic breakfast with coffee. Chris did the cooking as I set up the Hobie Oasis for her first maiden voyage as a tandem kayak. It was setup with six rods on board giving a 14 foot span from pole to pole on the outside lines for trolling. Chris was going to maintain those lines and I was going to maintain the two inside lines. We launched the bay and I immediately took a strike that slashed my bait in half within the first five minutes when we were 30 fathoms out in deep water. We were very excited and knew this was going to be very special day for us. Not more than 30 minuets later, Chris took a solid strike and brought in a kaku (barracuda) which we photographed and then released it. Thirty minutes later, Chris took another strike and low and behold… another barracuda that was CNR'd.



After a little more time on the water we came back to shore hungry for lunch and tired from the night before. It was a fantastic two-hour nap on the beach chair. The early run was a good way to learn how to fish together. I knew Chris was going to be the one getting all the fish that day as I trolled my lines 40 to 100 feet behind me and Chris had his lines 200 feet behind us. I think in the future we'll mix it up so I can share in some of the action. After lunch, we headed out again and we talked about catching an uku (grey snapper) for dinner. We decided to bottom fish as I navigated to a drop off and Chris had his line screaming zzzzz… what a great way to watch and video film from the aft position the strike Chris took. During the day we had many fish that won the battle and freed our lines. But this time after a 10 minute battle, Chris landed dinner… a 12.7 pound uku. We stayed out till sunset, passed a fishing boat anchor in the bay as we arrived on the beach. Chris took the fish to camp and I secured the kayak up on the beach to avoid the high tide through the night.


Day one produced two catch and release kaku's and a 12.7 pound uku. We had the uku for dinner 1.5 hours later. It was blackened and pan seared served with a side of fresh sauteed squash Chris grew. Talk about sustainability. We were enjoying the evening planning out our early launch for day two.

Then I received a "tsunami alert" text mail because of the "8.9 Japan earthquake" from a friend who knew we were camping by the shore. We were real fortunate to have cell phone coverage at this remote location and we immediately turned on the VHF radio to confirm the text message. At this time it was just an alert… we discussed the possibility of it reaching our location and Chris wanted to just blow it off and not tear down camp. So I told Chris "that we can leave the camp site the way it was and head up the road if it turned into a warning." His attitude was that he was not going to leave his new camping gear. "I said O.K. but first I was going to get my Pathfinder close to camp and unlock the kayak secured to my vehicle that was parked 1/3 of a mile up the sandy road. When I was walking to the 4x4, I called Shawn (DriftingSon) as he seems very up-to-date with the weather. He said it was an alert and I asked him to call me if it changed to the worse. Not 15 minutes later he called me and said it was upgraded and would hit the Hawaiian shores. My second text message came across as well with the update.

Since there was plenty of time to load… I secured my kayak on the roof and drove back to camp. Chris received his update and he was already tearing down camp. It took us two hours to load and we headed up mauka. When we reached Highway 11 one hour and 20 minutes later over the lava rock road, we then headed home. Our camping/fishing time might have been cut short… but it's all about safety. Especially with concerned wives who preferred us to be home. 

If you want to know more about the tournament, please visit the Aquahunters website.{mos_fb_discuss:5}


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