via Ha'a Keaulana's Instagram @haakeaulana
Sponsored by Blue Hawaii Surf:
This week on the #ATHPodcast we have on the legendary waterman Brian Keaulana. Brian is a big wave surfing pioneer, ocean safety expert, and son of waterman Buffalo Keaulana. Having grown up by Makaha Beach, he became an innovator of water rescue tactics using the Personal Water Craft to rescue big wave surfers in trouble.
One of his most notable rescues occurred as a lifeguard in 1993 at Kaena Point's Moi Hole. A tourist on his honeymoon was taking pictures of the large surf crashing into the cliff. The only problem was his back was towards the ocean and he was standing on the cliff. A monstrous wave hit the cliff creating a 20 foot high swell that crashed over the couple. The receding surge sucked him off his feet and into the ocean. The remaining waves crashed against the shoreline shoving him deep into a lava cave called the "Moi Hole."
The Moi Hole on a calm day
The surf was so large that day that the entrance was completely closed off with water. In between crashing waves, a pocket of air would appear. Brian and other lifeguards were a mile or so away at Yokohama beach training with the PWC's they got the radio call. Over the net, he was informed that a tourist had been swept into the ocean at the Moi Hole.
With the surf so large he immediately thought they'd be doing a body recovery instead of a rescue. But when they arrived on scene, they could hear the cries of help whenever the surge receded enough for a pocket of air to form in the cave. Then when the waves crashed into the cave, they could hear his body slap against the roof of the sea cave. For two and a half hours this tourist was trapped in total darkness, only being able to breath in between waves.
Quickly Brian & his lifeguard partner Earl developed a plan. Because the water was so turbulent, the tourist could not swim out. Each time he would try to swim out, another wave would push him deeper into the cave. But with Brian's experience, he knew that with water crashing in, there had to be a way for the water to suck out. He knew this lava tube well having dove it on calm days and feared the tourist might be in the very back where it wraps around. The Moi Hole is actually a sea cave from a lava tube that wraps around to the left traveling deeper into the cliff. If the tourist was stuck in the way back, it would be next to impossible to get him out.
With lifeguards on the top of the cliff and Brian & Earl on the PWC in the water, they coached the tourist to dive to the bottom and wait for a wave to hit. With the wave crashing on the top, the water would be sucking out on the bottom of the cave. If he timed it correctly, he would be able to catch the riptide out. Finally, he was able to time the swells and shoot out from the cave. As soon as he emerged, Brian swoopt in on the PWC to drag him out of the sets.
Having been in the pitch black cave for around two and a half hours, the tourist had numerous lacerations on his back, ruptured ear drums, and couldn't see.
Moi Hole Picture: http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/coasts/data/oahu/pictures/ground_photos/index.php?offset=24&dir=Leeward
MAHALO FOR LISTENING!
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