300 Mile SUP Journey for Algalita Marine Research Foundation
Santa Barbara-based lifestyle apparel company, Horny Toad, sponsored Jenny Kalmbach and Morgan Hoesterey in a journey titled Destination 3 Degrees. The journey consisted of a stand-up paddle adventure across Hawaii’s nine legendary open-ocean channels. This April, the team of two elite female paddle boarders put their skills to the test and ventured over 300 miles to raise awareness for the protection of marine life, with proceeds benefiting the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. DYLA Magazine is proud to report on their amazing feat. Surfers and paddle boarders have historically been very protective of the ocean. But not everyone turns such passion into a personal mission as you two have done with your open-water voyage. Was there a particular event or experience that triggered your awareness about pollution and your decision to do something about it? Back in 2006, I (Morgan) had the opportunity to travel to Midway, the penultimate atoll in the Northwest Hawaiian Island chain. There I was able to see the effects of plastics in the ocean on the Laysan Albatross firsthand. It was one of those life changing experiences for me. This adventure was a really great opportunity to raise awareness for an issue that I have really become aware of over the past few years, and a good chance to support Captain Charles Moore and the Algalita. One of the better parts of this trip was seeing Jenny have a similar experience to the one that I had a few years back. When we were on Shipwreck beach on Lanai, she was able to see for herself the state of a beach that lies in the currents that pool the plastic around the ocean. Since that day, she has become very interested in sharing her experiences and leading by example in regards to reducing plastic usage on an everyday basis. Having a desire to take action is one thing. Preparation and execution can often be the biggest challenges in carrying out a plan. What were some of the toughest hurdles you faced along the way, and did you ever have any doubts that you could pull this off? In the early stages of planning this trip, we learned that logistics are more difficult than they seem. It seemed like all we would need were some boats, and some places to stay and we would be all set, but we quickly found that a trip of this magnitude has a lot more to it than we ever would have thought. Learning how to anticipate problems before they come up was a bit hurdle that we faced. Learning how to deal with the word “no” was also a big hurdle. Although we both really believed in what we were doing, it was not always easy to convince sponsors and those kind of people that we were serious. We heard a lot of no’s before we got our yes, and it was sometimes really difficult to continue pushing our idea out there. Despite all of the unpleasantness associated with getting rejected, it made us a lot stronger, and made us believe in our dream even more.Why did you choose to benefit the Alagita Marine Research Foundation, and how much money have you raised so far? We chose the Algalita Marine Research Foundation because we really believe in the work that they do to quantify and research the plastics in the ocean problem. Both of us have a strong connection with the ocean and we both really want to make sure that we give back to the thing that has given us so much. We are still in the process of raising funds at the moment, and as of right now we have raised a few thousand dollars. We are hoping that through video and print projects we can make people aware of our trip in hopes that they will then want to support our cause. Aside from Hawaii’s obvious historical significance in the surfing world, were there other reasons you chose to paddle the channels running between the islands? And did you consider other places/passages before settling on the 3-degree route, or was that the plan from the very start? The plan was to paddle the Hawaiian Island chain from the very start. We both live here, and know the islands, and it was an idea that we were both really excited about. The channels that separate the islands are known for being challenging and unpredictable, and we were both really willing and eager to take on that challenge and do something that was bigger than ourselves. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to do from the get go, so we never really had time to or allowed ourselves to think about the possibility of something else. Having said that though, we are excited to think about what adventure may be coming next. How much more rigorously did you train for something like this, as compared to your usual regimen? Take us through a typical day of workouts. (Answered by Jenny) The biggest change in my training was paddling longer distances than I would typically paddle. Before I would go on 5 to 10 mile paddles with the occasional 15-20 mile paddle. When training for this I tried to get in multiple 15+ mile paddles. Aside from that, my workouts were pretty similar to what I usually do. Three days a week I'd do an hour of strength training followed by an hour of intense cardio. Twice a week I would go on 2hr paddles with intervals and once a week I would go on a long endurance paddle, anything over four hours. It takes a lot of energy and dedication to train for an adventure like this, but it was so worth it. What did it take (manpower, boats, equipment, food etc) to carry out this feat, who were your sponsors and did they foot the bill for everything? (Answered by Jenny) It's not easy traveling through the islands with 6 people, 5 boards, paddles, camera equipment, etc. It was a constant struggle having to pack up our belongings at every stop and load and unload the boats, but we had a lot of help and we were amazed by how willing total strangers were to give us a hand when we needed one. Not only was this trip a logistical nightmare, but there were a lot of costs involved. Fortunately, we had amazing support from Horny Toad Clothing and Brazen Hazen Kona Coffee. I truly believe that this trip would not have happened without their support and contributions. Aside from the financial support they gave us, it was their belief in our adventure that gave us the boost we needed to see this through.What were your biggest fears as the first day approached? My (Morgan’s) biggest fear as the first day approached was the fear of failure. For so many months, I had been so focused on the dream of crossing all of the channels, I had some moments where fear took over and I began to doubt myself. Both of us trained in conditions and situations that prepared us for the channels, so fear of the water or conditions was not really that much of a factor. What I thought was scary was the thought of having the first channel not go well, which would set a negative tone for the rest of the trip. Once your epic paddle began, what was your routine in the water? For example, did you try to stay a certain distance from each other, would you stop to eat on the support boat(s) or refuel with power bars and gels? During the paddles, we both just paddled at our own pace, and the distance between us would change a bit, but for the most part we were pretty close the whole way through. Whenever we would get hungry or need to change out our water packs, the people on the boat were there to support us. We would paddle up to the boats and they would hand us food and water; we never actually got on the boats, we just ate on our boards. Both of us were big fans of peanut butter sandwiches during the paddles. One of you said that the key to surviving your trip was to accept that nothing would go as planned. How did that play out? In similar vein, what were your favorite and roughest moments/stretches of the trip? Did the conditions ever get so bad that you thought “Whose crazy idea was this?” Learning to roll with the punches was a huge part of this trip. During the planning stages, you have this clear vision of how everything is going to go, and then it never goes that way at all, so you learn to anticipate what is coming next. We were really lucky in terms of weather for this trip. Weather would have been the one thing that could really have messed up our schedule, and we were extremely fortunate that conditions were in our favor. One of the only times when the conditions were not perfect was the last channel from Kauai to Ni’ihau where the wind was coming from the side and the ocean was big and choppy. Because we were so close to finishing up the chain, this particular paddle was mentally challenging for us. There were several times throughout the trip when we were asking ourselves “who’s crazy idea was this?”. Jenny would say “Morgan, this is your fault because this was your idea,” and I would return with “no, it’s your fault because you agreed to come along.” Although there were some times that were a bit challenging, we never felt like we couldn’t handle the adversity and we learned how to push through it and come out stronger on the other side. What sea life did you encounter along the way? On the flip side, did you come across any trash or other ocean pollution? We saw humpback whales, paddled with false killer whales, spinner dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, turtles, reef sharks and a lot of flying fish and seabirds. The crazy thing is that aside from the occasional clump of fishing line and rope, we rarely saw trash in the ocean but we found plenty of trash on the beaches of each island. What was the basic message of the presentations you gave during your trip, and the underlying message of your journey? What steps do you recommend people take on an everyday basis to help your cause? A major realization I came to during our trip is that we are not helpless in making a difference. There are things we can do and choices we make that will help keep plastics out of our oceans. A couple of ways to help are to stop using plastic water bottles and say no to plastic bags by bringing your own re-usable ones. Also, the more people who are aware of the problem, the better - so tell your friends and family and check out Algalita Marine Research Foundation (www.algalita.org) for more information. What did you learn about yourself, and the ocean, that you didn’t already know before you undertook this challenge? (answered by Jenny) What I learned about myself is that no matter how challenging something may be, if I decide I'm going to do it and I believe in it, I don't give up. Quitting was never an option for us, no matter what challenges we faced; we kept going. One thing I love about the ocean is that no matter how many times we may cross a channel, it will always be different: you never know what to expect. It is a place of beauty and mystery; it is full of surprises and a multitude of personalities and it continues to amaze me. What’s next? We've dreamed up a few more crazy adventures....we'll let you know which one we choose.