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Everyday Heroes of Kaua'i

Updated on June 29, 2013
Brother Charlie's Spearfishing Haul Four UHU (Parrotfish) and Two Kala (Sturgeonfish)
Brother Charlie's Spearfishing Haul Four UHU (Parrotfish) and Two Kala (Sturgeonfish) | Source

Reel Life Heroes

My wife and I carefully maneuvered the stairs and then the foyer of the movie theater and headed for the exit, our eyes slowly adjusting to the post-movie transition into the light of the late southeast Washington afternoon.

For the last two and a half hours, we had watched the red-caped Man of Steel figure out who and what he was just in time to save Earth from the villainy of the last remaining people from his world of origin.

The reviews have been harsh. Personally, I liked the movie. Unlike the majority of movie critics, I had not gone into the experience expecting a parallel of the rejuvenated Batman as Dark Knight genre. It is true that the movie attempted to cover too much ground. The action was hyper-extended. What mattered to me the most were the character development scenes--Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) counseling his confused adopted son, Clark; Superman (Henry Cavill) conversing with his Kryptonian father (Russell Crowe); Lois Lane (Amy Adams) interviewing Superman, and other scenes that were void of over the top action.

These were the scenes that hinged on how well the chemistry of the actors and their raw acting talent would help the audience members engage in willing suspension of disbelief for over two hours.

This, of course, is REEL LIFE. There will be the obligatory sequels that will improve upon the weak points. I truly believe that the next Man of Steel installment will focus on the character development scenes. And that's when Superman will really fly!

In REAL LIFE, character development takes place day after day. Heroism isn't as obvious, not until we pan away from the details and adopt a big picture perspective.

The concept of heroes remained a fixture in my mind for several days after watching the movie. What I felt was reminiscent of those moments in my youth upon closing a book and feeling sad that the literary drama had come to an end. It's a yearning to find that proverbial X-factor in real life that I can hang onto, reveling in the joy that the phenomena of happy endings, good triumphing over evil, and heroes need not be relegated to the world of make-believe.

Great Fishing All Along the Island's Perimeter

Aku and Ahi (Bonito and Yellow Fin Tuna)
Aku and Ahi (Bonito and Yellow Fin Tuna) | Source

Real Life Heroes

They love the ocean with a fierce devotion.

They are well-educated from both blood and calabash (related spiritually, not genetically) ancestors in the ways of the ancient Polynesian natives.

They awaken in the pre-dawn hours, their very souls set to the Automatic Pilot Who quietly urges them from their dreams, Who whispers in the trade winds that it's time to get ready, and Who arouses their vigilance with the sound of the multi-colored rooster, the scent of orchid, pikake, and plumeria wafting through the window screen, and the taste of ginger and garlic--and, for some, maybe even beer--in their mouths from last night's late meal.

They prepare their gear, lovingly attentive to each and every detail. Their equipment, most of it having weathered hundreds of dives, are like mistresses to these men. Upon the proper functioning of each mask, each speargun, each spear, each pair of fins, each wetsuit, and all other tools of the diving trade rests their success. They know they will be treated well if they take good care of their diving gear.

If they have families, they quietly kiss their wives and children, careful to take a lingering look just in case the sea decides to keep them for an extended visit today. There is time for a private prayer or moment of meditation asking for grace, for safety, and for a good catch. These men struggle to make a living, and they are very dependent on the ocean to supplement their paycheck to paycheck existence. They vow that they will do everything in their power to ensure a better life for their children.

If they are bachelors, they pat their dog on the head or pet their cat. They silently whisper, "I love you!" to their nuclear as well as extended family members. And, just as they do after their diving, in their own unique spiritual way, they acknowledge the Maker and thank Him for the joy of the simple life they live.

Each heroic diver has his own ritual, but it all amounts to the same thing--a spirit of aloha and mahalo for the natural abundance of the islands.

And like island soldiers marching to a very laid back drummer who pauses to grab a riceball--the kind with the ume (sour pickled red plum) in the middle--they make their move. Slowly. But always with a definite goal in mind.

It's more than just diving, after all. It's about the perpetuation.


The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

In keeping with this, a universal heroes' mission statement--I EXIST TO MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION--is deeply embedded in the very core of these men.

And for that reason, they are the real unsung heroes of the islands. They do what they do because they are in love with the ocean and with their island paradise.

You can have your mainland and its maze of traffic jams; gigantic skyscrapers; racial, sexual, and class bigotry; and unnatural disdain for all that is natural.

The real heroes of Kauai are content with the eternal sea and her abundance. They study the charts and the tides and the stars and the moon and the island meteorology. They know when the ocean is not to be tampered with. They know when she can be approached. With exquisite timing and patience, they woo her and win her affection. And in response to their attentiveness, she is faithful in her gifting.

She is Everywoman, after all, and it is for good reasons that she is honored and respected. All life sprang from her nutrient-rich soup. Eventually, all life returns to her.

In the beginning, there was only water. In the end, that is all that may be left.

Water. Living water.

So there is wisdom in the ageless sea. Ride her currents, and she will be gracious. Fight her currents, and she will overcome. The goal, then, is to watch and be patient, listening to and learning from the island elders They were able to grow old only because they had the gravest respect and reverence for the sea. They learned how to love and adore her, harness her unyielding energy, and take from her only as she saw fit to give.

The heroes gather together, their conversation growing only as they fully awaken. The familiar aroma of freshly brewed coffee poured from stainless steel thermoses overrides the smell of highway fumes. The conversation grows in direct proportion to each man's biorhythms finally getting into sync with those of his partners.

Heroes. Every one of them.

Put that in your commercially saturated tour guides.

The real heroes are the building blocks of the real Hawaii.

I'll take the real over the plastic every single time!

Looks dismal...can I make it?
Looks dismal...can I make it?


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  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, Sue! Ever since I was a little boy, this was a common scenario for me to observe and then, later, be a part of. No matter how simple the fishing task might be for the day, the ocean is unpredictable, and thus there is always a level of concern. The elements of fun, adventure, and the fulfillment of providing for one's family and friends make it all worthwhile. I'm grateful that you stopped by and shared your gracious comments. Aloha, Sue!

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Hazelton 

    5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Awesome hub. I like the lead in to the real heroes of our world. interesting look into the life of a much ignored group of people that supply us with so much.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Lisa!

    What a wonderful, heartwarming story about Keith! He landed the fish but not the fishing tournament! Auwe! 'A's why hard, yeah? Thank you so much for sharing that memorable fish tale (sorry! LOL!) People go north to Hanalei or westward to Waimea in pursuit of the prize ulua, and Keith caught it right there in front of the marketplace. Long time ago, that used to all be pasture land. I remember the Brahman bulls grazing there. Thanks for the good memories your comments pulled up for me. Lisa, have a great rest of the week, and thanks for stopping by. Aloha, my dear friend!


  • Rusticliving profile image

    Liz Rayen 

    5 years ago from California

    Okay...okay... okay... now I'm hungry for ulua, or anything else our braddas (and sistas) catch! I am not sure if you remember this story about Keith or not. He and his father told me about it and I still have the newspaper clipping of it. (Can't remember the year) This was one of the fishing tournaments during Memorial Day weekend, you know, the one that lasts for 3 days? Keith signed up for the tourny, but needed to help his father at Big Save with all the fish that was coming in and could only fish early morning hours on Friday. (Tourny started at 12 midnight) Keith landed his first ulua offshore with 16# test line and his first pole he wrapped. He caught it 15 minutes before the tourny started, weighing in at 93 pounds....... The winning fish was 91 pounds....Keith made the news.. not the tourny winner..*L* He caught it right off Wailua beach in front of Market Place. Love how you incorporate Superman with Kauai's heroes. Not to mention that Keith's nickname from High School was "Super"..... ahhhhhhh....what wonderful memories. Love your hub.. you are amazing! Voted up and shared!


  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, thumbi7!

    Kaua'i boasts the wettest spot in the world--Mt. Waialeale. These are some of the rain clouds that are commonly drawn to the island. It was an awesome photo taken by one of my family members. Thank you very much for stopping by and sharing your gracious comments! Aloha!


  • thumbi7 profile image

    JR Krishna 

    5 years ago from India

    Your last photograph of the sea is very scary.

    I admire people who dare to go out in the sea challenging many dangers

    Enjoyed reading your hub

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Blond Logic

    Hi, Mary! What great adventure you must encounter living in an exotic country like Brazil!

    Thank you very much for reading this hub and sharing your wonderful comments. I was reviewing your profile and your fabulous hub repertoire and was so impressed with your wide array of interesting topics. I was curious as to your presence on Zazzle and that other site. Maybe someday you'll write about those experiences. Sounds very interesting.

    Aloha, and have a good, productive, and memorable week ahead!


  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 

    5 years ago from Brazil

    Hi Joe,

    I see much of the same here in Brazil. When a jangada (Brazilian fishing boat) returns, the people on the shore rush down to assist the fisherman. Just up the beach is a cemetery for fishermen who never returned.

    This way of life is fading fast here as well as the younger generation want easier work.

    Although I was confused about the picture of fish whilst reading about Superman, you nicely pulled it all together. Beautifully written.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Some stories have me flowing with word pictures. This was one of them as it was so dear to my heart. I thought of my father, my brothers, my ex-brother-in-law, and a whole bunch of locals from the islands,..heroes, every one of them!



  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Wow, I got hungry just thinking about some fish dishes Mom used to make for us! Thanks, ignugent, for stopping by and sharing in this hub experience. Aloha, my friend!


  • xstatic profile image

    Jim Higgins 

    5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

    This is great Joe, a real tribute to the humble heroes who brave the sea almost daily for their livelihood, nor for sport. The cinematic hero was a good lead-in to the tale.

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    Yes very true! The real heroes are just around the corner. Thanks for sharing an eye opening hub. I would appreciate eating fish and thank the heroes who caught them.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thanks, Liz!

    Sometimes, because I remember all too well the thankless jobs I worked at over the years, here and there, I will spontaneously thank someone, especially customer service employees, or a janitor or a sidewalk maintenance person, etc., and ask how I might leave a good word with their shift supervisor or employer. Their eyes light up, reinforcing my hunch that they are somewhat "stuck" in these thankless jobs.

    You and I can make a difference by working hard ourselves and sharing with others that there's freedom, whether part time or full time, in the hustler's life.

    I am temped to be discouraged more often than I care to admit, and so the next feeling I experience is a level of anger...but it's the good kind, the kind that motivates the heck out of me.

    That little one there in your profile picture. My "little ones" indelibly stuck in my heart. I want us to do whatever it is we need to do now so that someday, they will say of us: "[S]he was my hero!"

    Cheering us on, Liz!


  • Radcliff profile image

    Liz Davis 

    5 years ago from Hudson, FL

    Look at those fish! How beautiful!

    There are so many "quiet" heroes whom we forget to acknowledge. Thank you for reminding us to think of those who risk their lives for others each day.

    Great job, Joe! Keep on truckin'.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, Sally! Ah, yes, there's great fishing in your lovely part of the world. For a season of my life, I tied a lot of fishing flies. In the process of doing my research, I read a lot about the English tradition and influence. Maybe someday you'll consider writing a story about your fishing days. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your wonderful comments, Sally. Always a pleasure! Aloha!


  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you so much, Brad, for your kind words. I do hope you will be able to see Man of Steel before too long, and I also hope that anything I shared did not come across as a spoiler for you. Both my wife and daughter thought that Henry Cavill is hot, and I do respect their opinions. Have fun in early July when you do get to see it.

    My heart will always favor the Aloha State. I always get excited whenever a rare opportunity comes around when I can see members of my family of origin. So, yes, when I do write about Hawai'i and its people, I do tend to write highly of both. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your great comments, Brad, and I'm honored that you favored and shared my work with others. That means a great deal to me. Aloha, my friend!


  • prospectboy profile image

    Bradrick H. 

    5 years ago from Texas

    Hello good sir! Another super hub that you've extracted from that wise mind of yours. I really enjoyed reading the tribute you gave to the men that you consider to be heroes of your native Hawaii. Your sense of who you are, and your love for your native homeland really pours out through your words. Thanks for educating me on what it's like where you are from.

    By the way, I attempted to go see 'Man of Steel' last week while I was in Ft. Worth, Texas. Me and my godfather tried going. Unfortunately, the movie was sold out, and it was too late for us to wait around for the next showing. The movie theater in my city shut down a couple months back, so I've yet to see the movie. I'm hoping that early next month I'll take the hour drive to the next city to check it out. I heard it was good. Anyway, great job again on your great hub. Voted up, rated awesome, shared.

  • sallybea profile image

    Sally Gulbrandsen 

    5 years ago from Norfolk

    I love this one. My family were all big on fishing and we all had our own rods and reels . We also learned to respected the sea and even now it still calls for me - so I very much enjoyed this fishy tale, thank you Joe.

    Another one bites the dust - have a great week-end

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hey, Mary!

    I would love to say that no fish were hurt in the making of this hub. In a way, that would be true because the fish were already dead. Yes, the uhu, or parrotfish, sport the brilliant colors of the rainbow. While I've only seen them measure in at a foot, in some places of the world, these fish can grow up to 3 feet long. The aku and ahi at the bottom of the hub are actually pretty good sized fish. I think that was a sink that the fish were staged in for the photo.

    A common practice among the locals is to share their catch with others after they've provided for their families. This community-oriented lifestyle perpetuates the life of the land, as eloquently expressed in the state motto.

    Thanks for stopping by, Mary! I'll see you again when I come up for air! Aloha!


  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 

    5 years ago from New York

    There is wisdom in the ageless sea and wisdom in a sexy genarian Hawaiian as well! Beautifully done my friend. Your introduction with Superman lays the ground work nicely for the real heroes of the day.

    I have to admit, the photo of those beautiful fish is amazing. If I didn't know better I would think they're fake...maybe that's why I don't eat much fish, I'm not sure they're real ... hey, that's a good excuse isn't it?

    Anyway, this is a superb hub and a nice tribute to the brave fishermen in Kauai. Thank you for bringing them to us.

    Voted up, awesome, interesting and shared.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, WND! My brother speared the fish in the still photo. He videotaped the fish he and his friends speared. And my other brother caught the aku and ahi with his son and a friend in my brother's deep sea fishing boat.

    Aloha! And have a good night's rest!


  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    You're very welcome, Bill, and back at you for being one terrific and inspirational friend. The fact that you're tired is a great sign...the athlete gave his all on the field until he had nothing left. That's you, Bill! Hope the other issues are getting resolved or at least dealt with. On my end, we made it through another week, and that's gotta be a victory in and of it itself. Aloha, my friend!


  • hawaiianodysseus profile imageAUTHOR

    Hawaiian Odysseus 

    5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    I''m hoping I will have only 7 or 8 by the time I go to bed. I finished two thus far, but am holding back on one of them until the last second. Still may want to check a few facts first. Got half of a third one done, and I have a good idea what I want to do with the fourth one. Then 4 more tomorrow and 3 on Sunday, or vice versa. Then...a break! : ) Thanks for being a sweet leader and friend throughout this challenge. Have a good night's rest, and continue to heal well!


  • wetnosedogs profile image


    5 years ago from Alabama

    I can feel that ocean beckoning me. I don't eat fish and I don't swim. Would that matter? Somehow and I don't know how, but I understand that love affair man has with his ship and gear and and the water and such.

    Superb hub and look at you. You are getting it done.

    I enjoyed this very much.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm tired, buddy, and I've got just enough left in me to praise you on another chronicle of the truth as I know it.

    There are heroes everywhere if we are willing to look for them and notice their accomplishments.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friend. Thanks for ending my Friday on such a positive note.



  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 

    5 years ago from Georgia

    I love it when you write about your native Hawaii because I can feel your Hawaiian spirit and that of your ancestors coming through in your words. This was like a 2 in 1 Hub...not only did we learn about the these heroic fishermen, but we also got a free review of Superman as well. Great work...keep it up. Only 10 more to go. Do you think you will write 10 more hubs in the next 2 days? I know I won't write 16 hubs in the next 2 days, but I'm still plugging away!


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