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Richard Roshon explores his life’s work in new book

By Staff | Jun 21, 2012


LAHAINA – For Lahaina naturalist Richard Roshon, silence is, indeed, golden. For this is a man who has spent a good portion of his life in the ocean waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands and around the world, nurtured in life by the harmonic melody of the sea in concert with the land and humanity.

Roshon, 66, was born in Pennsylvania and raised there to his late teen years, when he joined the Navy. The ship he was aboard served a stint in Vietnam before returning to Hawaii.

As the ship rounded Diamond Head, Roshon experienced a life guiding epiphany, fell to his knees in prayer, and his inner spirit whispered, “You are home.”

He served out his Navy commitment living in Honolulu and was enthralled by the Hawaiian lifestyle, particularly the sport of kings: surfing.

The Kahanamoku family, royalty of surfing, mentored Roshon as his passion for the ocean deepened to the core of his psyche. He rode waves throughout Hawaii and traveled the globe to South Africa, South America, the Society Islands and Central America with only board and backpack as his traveling accouterment.

After moving to Maui, the next adventure at sea for Roshon involved crewing on Transpac race boats and deliveries in the South Pacific, as well as an introduction to what would turn out to be his spiritual life vessel: the ocean kayak.

He was introduced to kayaking in the early 1970s at Port Townsend, Washington, and since then has spent most of his days – and nights – in the ocean aboard a 20-foot Feathercraft two-man kayak, his only companions being the soothing silence of the sea and his adopted family: all the creatures of the ocean, most especially whales.

Along with daily excursions in the channels, bays and currents surrounding Maui over the past 35 years, Roshon has embarked on countless circumnavigations of the island, sometimes taking three weeks to circle the Valley Isle in his counterclockwise course, casting off from his home shores of Lahaina.

And there are more adventurous trips, such as crossing the Aleniuhaha Channel between Maui and the Big Island that took 20 hours to complete.

He has developed a deep and reverent relationship with the seas and its inhabitants in those 40 years, and Roshon has documented that education within journals and photographs of his excursions.

Roshon has made the sharing of those experiences his life work through lecturing at The Mauian in Napili, Kapalua Bay Hotel and, most recently, at The Maui Prince in Wailea.

“Now that my kayaking is coming to an end, I’m turning my attention to lecturing and books and practicing yoga,” he explained from the breezy comfort of his lanai-living room at the Nakata homestead in Wahikuli that he has called home for 32 years.

“I’ve logged over 30,000 miles in the kayaks – I’ve since sold two of them – and I maybe have one more trip to Lanai to go. I’ve been working on a book for 30 years, and I hope to put together an hour-long documentary film through multimedia of stills and film to complement my lecture series, ‘From the Eyes of the Kayak.’

“I’ve had a wonderful life, and it’s been a most wonderful blessing to have lived here on this property with the late Haruko Nakata, who was my best friend. We worked the orchid farm here, she would cook me dinner and lunch, we would drink tea together, talk story, and I would give her massages. I still can hear her yelling for me from her house or scolding me. We had so much fun together! She would sit in that rocking chair every night; sometimes when I’m in my hammock, I can hear that chair rocking slowly – she’s still there. It is the best thing that ever happened to me to live here, to do my life’s work here.”

Now, the expression of Richard Roshon’s life work is available in his self-published book, “Ka ‘Aina, Ke Kai, a me Ke Kanaka, He Mau Kako’o Nohona Mau a Mau; The Land, Ocean, and Man, Partners for Eternity. Maui & Beyond.”

With the first printing selling out in two months, the second edition is now available at www.hawaiiwhalesrus.com.

Noted naturalist Jean-Michel Cousteau said of the book, “Richard’s life is one many can only dream of.”

Nane Aluli, general manager of The Mauian Hotel, added, “Richard, I so greatly appreciate your sensitivity and deep feelings about your work and your love of this beautiful place we call home Maui and her warm and spirit-rejuvenating surrounding waters. You have such a feel for the essence of our home. Keep on doing what you’re doing in sharing your experiences and wisdom. Only good will come out of your efforts, because they are shared from a very special and deep place within you. Your spirit is special and your knowledge awe-inspiring.”

Roshon concluded, “This is a self-published volume for those that love and cherish each breath of life, and the absolute privilege of living on Planet Earth. My philosophy: Walk lightly, leave no footprints. When my time has come to leave this life, I shall leave only words, no footprints.”