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A Stand-Up Guy

November 6, 2012
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Bart de Zwart
Lauren Garceau

>****Nobody had ever done this. Not between Big Island and Kauai. My first idea was a paddle across the Atlantic. But I figured I’d start with something a little easier — like a 350-mile ride in a windblown Hawaiian channel, sleeping on a 32-inch-wide board, all while hauling 120 pounds of food, water and safety equipment.

>****There was no warm-up. I’d planned to leave early in the morning, but instead, to keep my wife from being restless all night, I left the night before at 9 p.m. Just jumped straight into one of the world’s roughest chan- nels and got to work in the dark. I’m not sure the head start helped anyone.

>****My best friends were the birds. The only people I saw were on fishing boats, but they never noticed the little speck (me) out there. I paddled right past orcas and dolphins, and the birds — brown boobies and pelicans — would fly up to arm’s length and check me out. When I’d sit to eat, they’d land on the board to watch.

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>****The hardest part was being wet. After a day on the ocean you just want to dry off. It was impossible. The wind was a constant 25 knots, with squalls, so I couldn’t even open a dry bag for more than 10 seconds to get an energy bar.

>****One second I’d be asleep, the next I’d be swimming. The only way to sleep on the board was in 20- to 30-minute stretches. On the first night out there, I got rolled four times.

>****My cell phone worked. I had an EPIRB, a VHF radio and two GPS units. But I was surprised to have decent cell reception out at sea.

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>****I forgot how to stand on dry ground. Going into this I knew I’d get seasick. But what I didn’t expect was hav- ing a hard time walking after 124 hours and 47 minutes of balancing on a board. When I stepped onto solid ground, I almost fell over. Then I gave my wife and daughter a hug.

>****Will I ever do this SUP trip again? Never.

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