CEDAR POINT — For the second year in a row, the Wrightsville Beach Outrigger Canoe Club is teaming up with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to advocate for clean water by paddling the North Carolina coast.
Last September, the club launched an outrigger canoe from Sunset Beach and paddled to Carteret County, roughly 120 miles.
The second leg of the three-year endeavor begins Thursday at the Boathouse Creek Walking Trails in Cedar Point. Paddlers will wrap up this leg two days later and 125 miles farther up to coast in Hatteras Village.
The team of 20 will take turns paddling the six-person Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe. Traditionally found in Polynesia and Hawaii, outrigger paddling has deep cultural and historical roots throughout the Pacific and is relatively novel on the East Coast. It includes fostering and preserving Hawaiian culture and practices connected to paddling, the canoes, the ocean, the land, and the people, organizers said.
During their journey, the paddlers said they will advocate for clean water, empowered local communities, pollution awareness, and the need to protect the most vital element of our lives: water. Money raised will support the Coastal Federation and its clean water advocacy work.
“Outrigger paddling is a connection to the ocean like no other, and I cannot think of a better way to tell the story of our coast than from the canoe,” said Kerri Allen, a paddler, club member, leader of this initiative and advocate for the Coastal Federation. “It is our kuleana (responsibility) to be stewards of our coast — leaving it better than we found it — and that is what we aim to do through this journey.”
A small kickoff event, including a traditional Hawaiian blessing, or pule, of the canoe, was held Wednesday in Cedar Point.
You can also follow the journey, in-person or virtually. A live tracker will show the location of the paddlers on the Coastal Federation’s webpage, and the community is encouraged to meet the paddlers at stops along the way or even on the water.
“Whether via kayak, paddleboard, or even motorboat, the paddlers welcome the audience!” organizers said.
The club thanked North Carolina Sen. Michael Lee, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for providing a support vessel, and its sponsors: Stellar Blu Construction, Aladon, Zulu Marine Services, Kim Crouch, The Coastal Real Estate Group, Primo Hoagies Wilmington, BeUnlimited Yoga, and Sea Green Natural Cleaning.