Like he does on most Sundays when there are waves at Kalapaki Bay, Liko Villatora, 32, of Puhi, was in the water, surfing.
On Easter Sunday, an all-too-familiar scene played out for Villatora, who works for Unlimited Construction Services, Inc., and by his count has saved at least eight people all across the Pacific.
A female visitor, he thinks off the cruise ship, was getting sucked out to sea by a rip current along the east side of the bay.
He jumped on one of the longboards that he shaped, and “chased her down.” Kalapaki Beach doesn’t have a lifeguard, so “I was him,” he said.
“The waves were up (around four feet in his estimation) and the current starts ripping to the point by the lighthouse,” said Villatora.
“She had no clue what she was doing,” and the current took her and her rented body-board seaward. Employees of the company who rented her the board didn’t give her fins, or any cautions about the conditions, Villatora said.
“They don’t know about the rips and currents. They don’t understand that somebody’s life is at stake, and it’s people like me who have to notice this and be a good Samaritan and go save those people,” he said.
Villatora said he has saved people in Japan, Guam, Yap, at Lumaha’i, Waiohai (at Po’ipu Beach Park) and, now, again, at Kalapaki, one of his favorite surf breaks.
And, frankly, he’s getting a bit tired of the routine, and wishes those renting the equipment would also equip the visitors with at least some basic ocean and beach safety information.
“If they’re calling themselves ‘beach boys,’ they should be beach boys,” and have some basic knowledge about changing ocean conditions, rip tides, and currents, he said.
“I shouldn’t be the one responsible to get the lady.” Those renting the gear should have some understanding of ocean conditions, and tell the visitors, he added.
“The ocean can change in the flick of a finger. Someone could drown,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be all about making the money. This is Kaua’i. Kaua’i is different than other places in the world,” he added.
“We care about our visitors.”
The visitor, naturally, was appreciative of the rescue, he said.
“She couldn’t say anything but ‘thank you,'” was crying, and offered to buy Villatora and his friends dinner.
Villatora politely refused.
“It’s Easter. It’s priceless,” he told her. “Just enjoy the rest of your stay,” he said.
- Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com.