NAWILIWILI, Hawaii — Bart de Zwart expected to be in more pain after paddling 300 miles from the Big Island to Kauai.
"I'm not even sore," he said Monday morning from his Kauai hotel room, where he slept in a bed after arriving to Kalapaki Beach the night before onboard a stand-up paddleboard.
The 41-year-old Maui man spent five days alone at sea attempting what he believes to be the first-ever solo crossing from the Big Island to Kauai on a standup paddleboard. He was headed to a Kauai clinic Monday to have swollen, infected blisters on his feet checked out. Aside from the blisters and losing about six pounds, he said he felt fine.
"This was by far the hardest thing I've done in my life," he said. "I'm glad I did it but I don't think I'll do it again."
The married father of a 12-year-old daughter said he was inspired to embark on the passage by ancient Hawaiians who voyaged in simple canoes. Originally from Holland, de Zwart has lived in Haiku, Maui for 11 years, where owns Kahana Kai Maui surf shop.
Strapped to his 14-foot longboard were enough freeze-dried meals and water for 7 days in watertight containers. He slept on inflatable water mattresses glued together to form what resembled a kiddie pool, he explained: "At night, I blew it up and strapped on the board." The choppy waters and windy conditions would occasionally flip the board over, startling him awake in the water.
It was more mentally challenging than physical. "The hardest part was survival," he said. "Being wet for five days and five nights." He had to focus most of the time on navigating and staying on the north side of the islands, but the solitude allowed his mind to drift to minor details in life such as recent conversations with friends.
He estimated the trip involved more than 215,000 strokes with an 82-inch paddle.
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