My drive along Kam highway on the north shore of Oahu was laden with excitement, anticipation and nervesÖimagine!...I actually got myself an invitation to the home of Peter Cole, legendary big wave surfer and Chairman of the Oahu chapter of the Surfrider Foundation!
My nerves were immediately put at ease upon entering the gorgeous oceanfront home and being greeted by Mr. Peter Cole and his dog Max. He was immediately kind and receptive and even curious about me, (all of this applies to Max, too)!
When entering the home, one is struck by the fantastic picture windows on one side that allow for the most striking views of Sunset Beach imaginable. And the other side of the house is warm and welcoming, laden with family portraits, drawings and paintings by his family and many beautiful paintings by Mr. Cole himself.
This kind and generous man is an icon. He is extremely intelligent, supremely educated, a passionate environmentalist, and has been a big wave surfer for decades.
We spent over 2 very pleasant hours talking, (and eating chocolate haupia pie), about some things that are important to him.
Here is part 1 of my interview with a legend:
Me: As the Oahu Chair of the Surfrider Foundation, do you have any current issues that you are dealing with?
Peter Cole: Yeah we have quite a few. It looks like we had a victory. Alexander Baldwin, which is a big family that came over with the missionaries, formed 5 companies. They proposed a plan where they were going to develop the Kakaíako, which is where the new medical center is (in Honolulu). Ala Moana Park ends right at one side of Kewalo Basin and the other side is a body surfing spot they call Point Panic. They have a park there and thatís where they built the med school. Thatís a state owned property. And they managed to defeat the plan. They got a bill through the legislature to assure that any development put on public land that is owned by the state would be for parks or for people, and not for private commercial money-making. So, they had a victory there and we were involved in that peripherally.
We also had a very major thing where they dumped a bunch of sewage in the Ala Wai. I think it was March 24th, right around that time, we had tremendous rains. We had 45 days straight of rain and they had a busted pipe in the sewage system in Waikiki. They didnít want to have the sewage spill into the hotels so they deliberately dumped it into the Ala Wai. And what happened is, I think it was 400 million gallons of raw sewage went into the Ala Wai which went out into the ocean. And it was a big, big stink. So we took action in the sense that we wanted to be proactive so we formed a working committee. We had meetings where we had all the top people from the department of health and the city. (The city didnít show up for the 1st meeting because they were worried about lawsuits). We had a very active group of 40-50 people there, so from that we formed what we call a wastewater spill working group. Thatís a big issue which was the after effects of this big sewage spill so that we donít have anything like that happen in the future. And we still have dirty water out in the ocean, and the Ala Wai is still pretty dirty but itís always been dirty. So even before the spill itís been a problem.
And then we have a development up here in Turtle Bay where they want to put in 5 new hotels and add 3500 units.
Me: Is that Oaktree?
PC: Ya, Oaktree. So we are fighting that. We fight a lot of developments islandwide. There is also a beach replenishment program going on. There are armoring problems, which is where people build seawalls illegally. What happens with a seawall is that it causes erosion on both sides of it. Itís not a natural way to prevent erosion, itís a bad thing. It only helps the people that put in the seawall, but at the expense of everybody around them. So they are trying to outlaw seawalls and jetties and things of that nature.
Stay tuned for the rest of the interview. In the meantime, please visit
surfrider and join or make a donation to help protect the surf and the ocean that we all care so much about.