by Morgan Hoesterey

My life as I know it started in the basement of a retirement home. And while this probably seems an unlikely place for any wanderlust-obsessed-challenge-seeking-semi-nomadic existence to start, that basement is really where my adventure story began.

Right out of college, I landed a dream job as a naturalist aboard a 42’ Catamaran on the west coast of Oahu. Every day, we would take people out to see and swim with dolphins, turtles and to watch whales when they were in season…it was awesome.

When this job ended, I was faced with one of those “make it work” type situations, and took a job as a wellness trainer that a friend of mine was nice enough to hook me up with…not so awesome.

Time to dream

Each morning, before my day of leading senior yoga and water aerobics, I had a couple of hours of downtime. This time was spent alone in a dark basement, watching a mostly empty pool, except for the occasional early bird lap swimmer.

Needless to say, going from the best job ever to the retirement home wasn’t exactly my favorite idea, so in an effort to keep myself sane, I spent those lonely early hours in the dark reading books and blogs about amazing things that other people were out doing. While ocean-based journeys were definitely my favorite, I wasn’t picky about what kind of adventures they were; anyone out living life to the fullest was inspiring to me.

I read about adventures and plotted my own

Among others, I was inspired by Liz Clark and her solo sailing adventures around the world {link: http://swellvoyage.com/}, followed along as Roz Savage crossed oceans {link: rozsavage.com} completely solo and under her own power, and read every book that Audrey Sutherland (Books by Audrey Sutherland ) ever wrote . It was there, in that basement that I decided that one day when I got out of there, I would create my own adventures, ones filled with stories worthy of being told.

The good news is that life often offers up opportunities when you need them the most, and mine came in the form of a job at a standup paddleboard retail store in Honolulu. A former employer of mine, Karen Chang Lar Rieu and her brother Jeff Chang had started Wet Feet, the first standup paddle specific retail shop on Oahu. Despite the fact that I knew nothing at all about standup paddleboarding (in fact, until this point I had sort of resisted it,) I jumped at the chance to do something new.

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In the spring of 2008, not long after I started at Wet Feet, Jeff Chang was in the shop having a conversation about standup paddling the Molokai Channel with a local paddler. At the time, only a handful of men had done the crossing solo on a standup board, and the more they spoke about it, the more appealing it sounded to me. I looked over at Jeff and asked if he thought I could ever do a race like that and his buddy looked me straight in the eye and said the words that launched my standup paddle “career:”

“Molokai is a race for Watermen. You could never finish that race.”

I will write more about that first Molokai crossing later, but for now, the short story is that luckily; Jeff didn’t feel the same way. Without hesitation, he agreed to teach me what he knew about it (which wasn’t a lot at the time) and to help me train for it. A few short months later we finished together after struggling for almost 9 hours in the channel on rudderless boards.


It was that first Molokai Channel crossing that sparked my love affair with paddling across open ocean, dowinwind paddling in particular. I appreciated the challenge of it all—that feeling of setting out to do something you are mostly sure is possible, but aren’t entirely sure will work out…my friend Will Taylor calls this “Type 2 Fun:” maybe not so much fun while you are in the throws of it, but fun you can appreciate almost immediately after you have done what you set out to do.

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Destination 3 Degrees

Chasing the challenge is what later led to Destination 3 Degrees, Jenny Kalmbach and my journey across the channels that link the Hawaiian Islands, along with several paddling adventures and experiences since.

Destination 3 Degrees from Fin Film Company on Vimeo.

The SUP Movie of the year 2011 that was called by the Santa Barbara Independent “an inspirational and at time harrowing documentary” – Destination 3 Degrees is the story of Jenny Kalmbach and Morgan Hoesterey’s 2010 expedition attempt to cross all the Hawaiian Island Channels on Stand Up Paddle Boards. Along the way they discuss the cause that drove the entire journey – plastic pollution in the ocean. An incredible journey with a purpose. After a successful run in festivals internationally, we are pleased to finally offer this title on demand here on Vimeo.

There is so much to be learned from time spent in the ocean, and these trips are hardly ever easy. However, as time has gone on, dealing with adversity in the middle of an ocean adventure is where I feel most like myself. In a weird way, those tough situations have become the ones in my life where I genuinely feel like I am in the right place at the right time, and I am grateful for each one of them.

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Anyway, here I am, eight years later, living the dream. Well, sort of. I don’t have a lot (of material things) to show for it. I definitely won’t be on the cover of Forbes anytime soon, but I did made it out of the retirement home, and I do have a few stories to tell—stories that I am hoping to share here, with you.

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Each paddleboard race, channel crossing, surf trip, and camping adventure has helped to shape who I am and has helped me learn about and to fit a little bit better into the world around me.

—Morgan

About Morgan Hoesterey

From Irvine, California
SPONSORS: SIC, Quickblade Paddles, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Kona Brewing Company, Futures Fins, and Vertra Suncare

BARK: Drop in with Morgan Hoesterey from Fin Film Company on Vimeo.

Morgan Hoesterey gives us a little tour of the new Bark factory and introduces some of the crew

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