Haiku: In Honor of the Tsunami Rangers

by Nancy Soares on September 3, 2018

Editor’s note: These haiku were written by Susan Whalen and illustrated with photos from the adventures of the Tsunami Rangers. Susan is the wife of TR Dave Whalen, and has had her share of extreme sea kayaking experiences thanks to her involvement with the team.

Reef Madness 2011

Race day. The sea speaks.
“Breakers” roll and whisper:
Boats or bodies first?


Sucklhole, Mendocino coast

TR Dandy Don Kiesling, Mendocino coast

Fierce seas; my heart lifts.
Doubts fade; amidst his wrath comes
Neptune’s healing touch.


Guess we're gonna need some duct tape...

Who broke my fine boat?
A death penalty offense!
A sea story born.


“Beach camps not allowed.”
So the ranger says, but he
Has to find us first.


TR Scott Becklund rocking and rolling on the Mendo coast

TR Scott Becklund rolling up on the Mendo coast

An Eskimo roll.
Salty water on my lips.
An Eskimo kiss?



The wave rises, but
My boat soars up and through like
A bright leaping fish.


Eric Soares at Point Bonita

Cmdr. Eric Soares, Point Bonita

Kayak gear: stout heart
Brave boat, tall rocks, breaking waves.
My roll of duct tape.


Race start, Reef Madness 2014

Reef Madness 2014

A loud gong sounds, the
Flaming arrow lifts skyward.
This year’s race begins!


Yes, folks, one of our tribe, photographer Rob Cala, took this photo

Yes, folks, one of our tribe, photographer Rob Cala, took this photo…

A fin near my boat!
I was not scared, but water
In my suit got warm.


Capt. Jim Kakuk breaks the barrier

Capt. Jim Kakuk prepares to break the wave barrier

The wind in my face
As, heart leaping, I thrust my
Bow through the wild surf.


Trilogy Camp

Trilogy Camp

First ebb, then slack. The
Tides beat a slow pulse on the
Clean sand. My mind stills.


Heading out to Maverick's

Rangers heading out to Maverick’s

Mavericks wave smacks my
Boat. Last thought: why did I think
I could kayak here?


Drops of water off Laura Nixon's paddle light up in the back light of a cave

Back lit water droplets from Laura Nixon’s paddle, Oregon coast  

The paddle lifts. A
Drop of water flashes like
A diamond on fire.


Tsunami retreat, 2017

Tsunami Retreat 2017

Dressed in rags around
A campfire. Can these bums be
Tsunami Rangers?


At first, a smooth ride.
Suddenly, surfing upside
Down. Mistakes were made.


Breaking the wave barrier, Sniveler's row

TRs Capt. Jim Kakuk and Cmdr. Eric Soares, Sniveler’s Row

Wild ocean riders.
They all must have a death wish.
Why else take such risks?


Got poetry? Want to try your hand at haiku about extreme sea kayaking, or any kind of kayaking? Share with us by clicking and commenting below! 


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Moore September 5, 2018 at 7:55 am

Great post, both the poetry and the photos!!!


Nancy Soares September 5, 2018 at 10:00 am

Thanks, Tony! It was super fun to put this one together. I credit TR Steve King for bringing these haiku to my attention. I had no idea they existed. FYI here is a link to a post we did back in 2012 on sea poetry. We’re romantic! https://tsunamirangers.com/2012/08/06/sea-kayakers-sea-poetry/

Glad you enjoyed the post!


Steve King September 5, 2018 at 10:34 am

Hey Nancy,

Wonderful post, so pleased to see Susan Whalen’s Haiku come to life with such great images. A classic post really in my view, art, waves, rangers, sea, much inspiration here!

Thank you as well for not identifying the person upside down in a wave, but I will confess it was me. Took a few nice rides this weekend at Mushroom rock and did re-create that moment a few times on a beautiful Monday afternoon!

Mil gracias again for pulling those elements together! More images and poetry to be generated soon I am sure.

El Rey


Nancy Soares September 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Hey El Rey,

Well, I wasn’t going to let the cat out of the bag but since you’re a good sport…and it was the perfectly appropriate photo to illustrate the poem! Thank you so much for offering Susan’s haiku for the blog. It’s been a long time since we did any sea poetry so it was good timing. Love ya, man!


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