Marine Corps Base Hawaii --
Children relaxed during this winter season with weather-appropriate activities: swimming, digging around for seashells and playing on the beach.
The children were part of a special winter watersports class run by the marina at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, condensing their normal monthlong schedule into a week of water activities.
“Pretty much everything you can do in summer you can do in winter in Hawaii,” said Zofia Soltys, a sailing instructor with the marina and one of the class instructors. “It’s incredible you can do that here now while the rest of the world is in a winter wonderland.”
Those activities include stand-up paddling, kayaking, snorkeling and sailing around Kaneohe Bay. The group often takes excursions by boat to nearby areas, including Chinaman’s Hat.
The class also offers safety tips about potential hazards that occur seasonally and all through the year. Hawaii’s winters feature fewer strong winds and more chances for heavy rain, said Michael Cervantes, a sailing instructor who also leads the class alongside Soltys.
“We’ve been lucky since most of the wetter weather and hard rains have happened over the weekends,” he said. “We have had to cancel adult sailing classes, and in the winter it will either be really nice or really stormy.”
Cervantes said Kaneohe Bay is a perfect location for learning watersports at any time because it’s one of the largest barrier reefs in Hawaii with calm waters. He and Soltys choose class activities based on conditions and the skill level of participants. Many of the sports covered in class are ones children can do with their families, sometimes in the same areas the class has visited.
“I definitely want them to walk away from this class recognizing their strengths and knowing what’s dangerous,” Cervantes said. “They can (learn) good judgment about their safety and the safety of others.”
Lauren Wood, 14, joined the class a few weeks earlier after her brother began taking the class and had fun learning about the ocean. During Wednesday’s session, she and the others in the class traveled to Secret Island Beach and Kualoa Regional Park. She said she enjoyed seeing several turtles in the bay during the boat ride and looking for sea creatures on the bottom of their boat.
Wood said she was surprised at all of the interesting sights she saw during her first outing with the marina watersports class.
“We went on the beach, walking along and having fun,” she said. “We were on another boat and it was fast and fun. You could see Chinaman’s Hat, and it looks different up close. You see it doesn’t have a perfectly cone shape, and there are different land features of rocks and beaches.”
Soltys and Cervantes said many in the class are repeat students who enjoy learning about the ocean and socializing with others their own age. During the year the marina offers Wednesday classes in the morning and afternoon. The two said the students can practice their skills outside of class in any of the watersports covered, since the marina also rents out boats, standup paddles and other equipment. For new students, it’s a social way to try out a new sport.
“Stand-up paddling was really fun,” Wood said. “My favorite week so far was when we went through the bay and the water was so clear you could see all the coral structures underneath.”
With the watersports class, students are enjoying winter by finding the best hot spots.