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The Ocean

Aloha All,

There's nothing like the ocean on Kaua'i. It's loud, raucous, dangerous, beautiful, and, yes, soothing to the mind, eyes and ears.

Long before we'd ever imagined going to Kaua'i, let alone spending part of each year there as we now do, our old clock radio allowed me to go to sleep at night to the sound of the ocean and wake up in the morning to that same soothing sound instead a loud, shrill buzzing or beeping.

But truth be told, I much prefer the real sound...along with the stunning views that go along with it.

One of the first things we say each time we arrive on Kaua'i is, 'I need the water...'. But since we usually land on island after dark, we at least go to bed that first night to the soothing sound of rolling waves against the rock cliffs just blocks away. At first, we have to figure out that the loud roar and crashing is, in fact, the ocean, not a plane or loud vehicle.

The next morning, we're up early and out the door, heading to Hanalei Bay for our first glimpse of the water, usually with coffee and a treat from the Hanalei Bread Company. We'll stay for hours, perhaps with Jim fishing from shore or the Hanalei Pier while I just take it all in. It's an almost daily excursion to one or another of the numerous public beach areas around the north shore.

Now that I'm back east, I'm working on the third Emma Prince book, Beneath Still Waters. Since this mystery is more focused around Hanalei Bay, I've been doing research connected to the ocean and mankind's proclivity to explore the far-reaching waters of the Pacific. Coincidentally, our recent month-long adventure to French Polynesia has offered a correlating perspective of the Pacific Ocean for this next book.

Davida Malo, a nineteenth-century historian and author of Hawaiian Antiquities, included a chapter on the 'Divisions of the Ocean'. The well-known, ancient Hawaiian name given to the ocean is kai. From there, he speaks of various 'belts' or areas of the ocean, which move outward from the beach, ae-kai toward kahiki-moe, 'the utmost bounds of the ocean'. I thought I would share the Hawaiian names for these various 'belts' from Malo's book.

The strip of beach over which the waves stream after they break was called ae-kai. A little further out, where the waves break was called poina-kai. The places where the shoal water extends out a great distance was called kai-kohala. And the belt outside the poina-kai was called kai-hele-ku, kai-papau, or kai-ohua, 'the shoal water where one could stand'.

Beyond this was a belt called kua-au, where the shoal water ends and the next belt beyond begins, known as kai-au, ho-au, or kai-o-kilo-hee, for 'swimming deep' or 'sea for spearing squid', as well as kai-hee-nalu or kai-kohala, a 'surf-swimming region'. Outside this was another belt, kai-uli, 'blue sea'; kai-lu-hee, 'squid-fishing sea'; kai-malolo, sea-of-the-flying fish', and kai-opelu, 'sea of the opelu'.

The next belts included kai-hi-aku, 'sea for trolling aku', then kai-kohala, 'where swim the whales, monsters of the sea'; and the deep ocean, moana, variously listed as waho-lilo, 'far out to sea'; lepo, 'underground', lewa, 'floating', or lipo, 'blue-black', which reached Kahiki-moe, 'the utmost bounds of the ocean'.

Portions of the sea that enter into the recesses of the land are kai-hee-nalu, a 'surf-swimming region', also known as kai-o-kilo-hee or kai-kuono, for 'swimming deep, or sea for spearing squid', or pu-ao or ko-aka, a belt of 'shoal where the breakers curl'.

The rising of the ocean tide was called by various names, including kai-pii, 'rising sea'; kai-nui, 'big sea'; kai-piha, 'full sea', and kai-apo, 'surrounding sea'. When the tide remained stationary, neither rising nor falling, it was called kai-ku, 'standing sea'; when it ebbed, it was called kai-moku, 'the parted sea', kai-emi, 'ebbing sea', kai-hoi, 'retiring sea', or kai-make, 'defeated sea'. A violent raging surf was called kai-koo and when the surf beat violently against a sharp point of land forming a cape, lae, it was called kai-ma-ka-lae.

Finally, a calm ocean was called a lai, malino, pa-e-e-a-e-a, or pohu. When the sea was tossed into 'billows', they were called ale. The rolling breakers were nalu and the current moving through the ocean, au or wili-au.

Phew! Who knew? I hope you appreciate the breadth of detail - but I promise there won't be any tests.

More simply put...the ocean is the color of every shade of blue and green. It lulls you in. It's pleasant to swim in one of the calm pools - which for me is saying a lot since I, like Emma Prince, have never been easily lulled into the water. But I'm always careful to respect it and try to never turn my back on it, because it can change in an instant and I'm all too aware that one can easily drown in paradise. What looks peaceful and tranquil one moment can become a raging set of waves the next, with pounding shore breaks, angry backwash, and dangerous rips currents. Its force can surge onto shore out of the blue, easily knock you down, and, in an instant, drag you out.

And yet, despite that danger and tumult, whenever I need a bit of mind-soothing or can't seem to fall right to sleep at night, the ocean is usually the place I go to in my mind. I can listen to its endless roar and almost feel the heavy mist and sea spray cascade over me as I let its awesome beauty and the turbulent power of the waves take over. It soothes the soul.

I've attached a video to share the sights and sounds of the ocean with you.


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