KA MO’I – THE KING
The Koa Canoe Ka Mo’i has a long and storied career at the Outrigger Canoe Club
First fashioned in Kailua, Kona circa 1931 from a single koa log from Hualalai, it was probably intended to be a large fishing canoe. When acquired by OCC, it weighed 650 pounds and reputedly needed 14 people to carry it to the beach. It was re-finished in 1933, removing nearly four inches of thickness from the hull to make it manageable in the surf at Waikiki and giving it the beautiful lines it retains today.
Outrigger used Ka Mo’i in attempts to revive the sport of canoe sailing in the late 1940s and in 1954 a beachboy crew paddled it in one of the first Moloka’i to Oahu canoe races. But primarily the canoe was used at the Club as a surfing canoe. Its great size allowed for 9 seats and room for passengers to be taken out by Club beachboys to catch waves. It served in this capacity for 30 years until the Club moved to Diamond Head in 1964.
After tourist beach services were left behind at Waikiki, Ka Mo’i fell into disuse. Following Duke Kahanamoku’s funeral in 1968 Ka Mo’i was placed on display at the Ulu Mau Village at Ala Moana Park. When the village closed in 1977, it came back termite-ridden to an uncertain future at OCC. A heroic effort by dedicated Club volunteers to save their one-of-a-kind treasure gave Ka Mo’i a new lease on life and the canoe returned in all its old glory to its former surfing spot in Waikiki for the 1978 Annual Club 4th of July canoe races.
That would be the last time Ka Mo’i would be paddled for decades, once again a canoe without a dedicated purpose. It languished in storage until 1982 when the Club leased it for a display to a hotel in Po’ipu, Kaua’i where, unbeknowst to Outrigger, it ended up being used in the restaurant as a salad bar!
The indignity came to a sudden end that same year when the hotel was damaged by Hurricane ‘Iwa. Ka Mo’i was rescued by the Hanalei Bay Civic Canoe Club, repaired and subsequently re-displayed properly in several North Shore hotels, miraculously evading destruction a second time in 1992 from Hurricane ‘Iniki, and finally ending up suspended from the ceiling of the bar of the Hanalei Bay Plantation Resort – a solution soon to be emulated at Outrigger Canoe Club.
In 1998, at the request of the OCC Historical Committee, a search party was sent to Kaua’i to locate and retrieve Ka Mo’i. To its astonishment, the group learned the resort was in the process of being sold which would include the canoe unless Outrigger took immediate possession. That they did and in January 1999, Ka Mo’i came home once again – this time to stay.
Time had not been kind to Ka Mo’i and a complete restoration began in the fall of 2000 — done entirely by volunteer labor. The overhaul took more than 1,100 man-hours, and one and a half years to complete. On 25 February 2001, Ka Mo’i was blessed in a simple Hawaiian ceremony on San Souci Beach, placed in the water, paddled out to sea, then back to the Club for a homecoming blessing. The next day it was suspended from the ceiling of the bar where it resides to this day — its bow pointed out to sea — ready whenever needed. In its honor, the unnamed Club bar was dedicated as Ka Mo’i’s perpetual home — the Boathouse.