Plantation: You like fish?

One constant at Nawiliwili Bay is fishing and surfing. Two who know are Hobey Goodale and Cheryl Lovell-Obatake. Hobey grew up at Kalapaki in the 1930's, while Cheryl's memories begin in the 1950's. What is the effect of "hanging five" on the ahupua'a of Nawiliwili Bay?
Photo by David Boynton

Hobey was one of the first in modern times to surf Nawiliwili. His great grandfather, William Hyde Rice, bought the makai section of Kalapaki from Princess Ruth. From the age of 5, Hobey was there.

Nawiliwili Bay, ca. 1892. Photographer: Alfred Mitchell
Photo courtesy of the Bishop Museum.


Hobey reminisces:
"In about 1932 or '33, my grandfather brought home three surfboards for us kids, and we didn't know how we were gonna handle them. One day, Doris Duke came down on her boat and Sam Kahanamoku was with her. He saw us foolin' around and said, 'Hey, that's not the way you come in on it,' and he showed us how to surf. I caught on quicker than my brothers.
Nawiliwili, Kaua'i, ca. 1890's. Photographer: Theodore P.Severin.
Photo courtesy of the Bishop Museum.

"When the surf got big, then we'd go out to Donkeys, the lighthouse out there. And then surf all the way to the beach. In those days, no leashes, huh? You lose your board, you swim.
I was on a board one day, and I see this kaku (barracuda) about five feet long, right in front of me. I go right over it. The kaku finally woke up and took off."
Nawiliwili Bay, ca. 1892. Photographer: Alfred Mitchell.
Photo courtesy of the Bishop Museum

Here is the text of a letter that Duke Kahanamoku wrote :
"To Hobey, from Duke. Office of the Sheriff.
Dear Hobey:
Your grandpa, the Honorable Charlie Rice, has informed me that you're very much interested in surfing, that you're encouraging the boys around your place to take up this sport. I'll tell you that surfing is a sport equal to none in this world. It's in a class by itself, and if one starts as young as you have, it will make you a healthy and clean young man and the exercise you get out of it will come in handy in your later life. I owe my swimming strength to surfing, and from what your grandpa tells me, you're quite an expert. I invite you whenever you are in Honolulu to come up with me to the big surf at Waikiki and I am sure you will have a thrilling time. Peter Makee, one of the beach boys, is making you a very nice board and we are all helping him and I'm sure that when you get it, you will be very proud of it. Again, I wish you luck as an expert surfboard operator.
Remaining always your friend, Very truly yours,
Duke Kahanamoku, Sheriff, City and County."

Duke Kahanamoku in diving stance, ca. 1919.
Photo courtesy of the Bishop Museum.

Expert surfboard operator? Wow! When Hobey wasn't surfing, he might go fishing, or just pick up 'opae and fish off the beach. When the famous pau pili (end of your pili grass roof) rains of Lihu'e came, Hobey tells of an interesting effect on the native stream animals and ocean life.
In the picture below, a flooded. Nawiliwili Stream broke out of its normal channel and carved a new entrance into Kalapaki Bay.

When it flooded, Hobey says: "You'd get a double dose. You'd get this fresh water rush of like catfish and other `opae and stuff like that. They'd get out in salt water, they'd get groggy, they'd come up on the beach. OH! The Hawaiians were going at it. But then, with all the fresh water going out in the ocean, the he`e (octopus) would get groggy, and they came up on the beach."

Here's another angle on the same break out of Nawiliwili Stream. The boy in the boat looks like he has his bucket ready.
Hobey continues: "Starting right in the middle of the Depression, say '33, '34, the plantations couldn't sell all their molasses, so they dumped it. From the Lihu`e Mill, they dumped it in the stream. And when that stuff started to come down, you'd go down there and you'd pick up buckets of 'opae, all groggy. Knock 'em out. They'd come down easy, just catch 'em by hand, huh? No need net or anything. ."
Hobey continues:
"But still, the water was real clear, because during the war, right below some of those cliff cottages, where it's kind of shallow - I used to go in with a throw net. There was a coconut tree that came out--big, bend, you know, and I'd climb up in that in the afternoon with the sun coming at you, hard to see, yeah? But I'd stay up there and I'd watch, watch, watch: pretty soon you see the shine of the mullet.So you watch and watch and watch 'em how they move, and then you go down, get your net and go CHEW [sound of throwing net]. Throw the net and catch--I'd catch two or three, and then go home." (Hobey)
This is the area Hobey speaks of today.
Cheryl speaks about the same area: "It's fresh water, too. Gotta have some resources, like the fresh water by Kalapaki. The fresh water was important cause the wa'wae'iole, the limu (seaweed), the green one that needs fresh water. It needs the combination of brackish. Now the spring has been removed. And overfishing - they take the small kind, too. They often go over there, just pick, but small kind. So how can you multiply? Two things - the water was taken away, and overfishing."
Jails in the '30's weren't like now. Hobey tells us why: "The jail was where the bulk sugar plant is now. On the Papalinahoa side, there was a trail that went down the hill to where Hale Kauai is now. Before the breakwater, Hale Kaua`i was the edge of the water. That was a beachfront, a little beach like that."
Hobey continues: "The jail's warden, Kalei Montgomery, would look out in the afternoon and see the mullet flashing down below. If he had somebody in the jail that knew how to throw net, he would give 'em the net and say, 'you throw that on them. When you get down there, I'll tell you where'. You know, he'd point where. He'd say, 'You go catch some mullet and come back, you know, bring em back for dinner tonight'. He did that all the time."
Cheryl Lovell-Obatake has surfed all the spots at Kalapaki: "Pockets, Peaks, Shoulders, Ammonias, Sidewalks, Donkeys, Sandbar.... My father would bring me out surfing with him and my mother was going ballistic on the beach. Learned to swim very young. My dad had 16ft. & 14 ft. gigantic plug boards. My cousins would have to throw the board in Nawiliwili Stream by our hale (house), and paddle it out to the mouth to get to the beach easily."
Photo courtesy of Jace Monroid

"I surfed during my pregnancy with daughter and son. Surfed up to the 8th month. Was body boarding on the side cause opu was big. My husband was tripping out with me, all nervous. That was my crave to body surf. The waves were ono (tasty) back in those days. Right across the bay."
Photo courtesy of Jace Monroid
"Fish, yeah, mahele, you work together and you eat together."
The community was still strong.
Fishing was not for sale - was for people to eat in the community,
mend the nets, fish together.
'Oleleo Pau Kini

"This area is unique because of its reef, and the resources, the fish. Aunty Sara Kailikea says: 'so much fish.' My grandmother says: 'so much fish' - the awa she catch with her holomu (loose dress) - throw ‘em up on the beach."

"Hukilaus (net fishing) - Niumalu was the place. Use to carry a chop stick in my hair. My uncle would come in the morning to tell me 'get hukilau'. It was routine, no questions asked. The chop stick was to hemo (separate) the akule from the net. Must have basic understanding about taking fish out from the net, bumby bust up the net."

Hukilau. Photo courtesy of Annette Kaluahine.

"My uncle was the kilo (lookout) for the akule boats. I used to be the runner in my younger days for my uncle on Kalanipu'u. My uncle would be on the mountain with flags."
Hobey describes the kilo's flag action in the early days.: "If he saw the fish, he'd raise one flag - they (net boats) get ready. Raise the other one, then they came out. Then he'd direct them like this, you know, and then when he went like this, that means drop."
Cheryl, talking about her uncle on Kalanipu'u: "What I used to bring him - food and water - he was up there all day. Then started to get real modern technology. They had walkie talkies. After that, then, later on the airplanes came. This was a major akule fishing ground."
Photo by David Boynton, pilot Casey Riemer of Jack Harter Helocopters
Net boat
Photo courtesy of Annette Kaluahine.

"This park over here, as I can remember when I was young, yeah when I was 5 years old - ’59 - was like one community thing. You mahele (share), you help. Used to bring all the nets over here in the park, stretch 'em all out. All the Hawaiians used to sit over there, patch net, and then dry the fish, you know, the akule, all drying. In the trees, you know, the coconut trees you see over there, line by lines of akule, drying because the sea breeze, too, eh."
Photo courtesy of Annette Kaluahine.

"A`ama crab was my favorite. My haole cousins use to trip out when I use to eat it with the crab legs dangling out of my mouth. They ate BEANS! One of my cousins used to think I was eating spiders. Ate plenty fish and plenty poi. Now, hardly any opihi, ha'uke'uke, pipipi and limu around the seawall."

"You know that break water over there, oh, in the back, plenty moi we used to catch before. We used to go over there, my uncle, almost every day during the summer - and we used to go and pick 'opihi, all the way out to the point over there. There’s a beach in the back of that sea wall - oh, the moi before. I remember one time he threw - thirty something moi. Oh, moi just jumping up and wacking him in the face when he bring it up. So what we did, you know, he missed half of the school, had plenty, so we dug holes in the back by that beach over there to throw the fish in to preserve it for awhile. He threw again, another thirty. So he said all pau, enough for the family. Took it all out of the sand. Then this guy, Martin, came - the guy run Palm Haven. He was thinking, gee, what were we taking out, right, out of the ground. Was the fish. He couldn’t understand it, but he would ask, and my uncle go -'you like?' He wouldn’t tell him anything else - 'you like fish?'"
Uncle Buddy Lovell
Uncle Buddy photos courtesy of Mary Lovell
You like fish?
Gordine Kaluahine, photo courtesy of Annette Kaluahine.
This puka moi (moi hole) should be our secret. Moving right along, in our next section we return to our discussion of the ahupua'a of Nawiliwili Bay today.
Created June 2001