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Summers were spent on Catalina Island and it was there that Devoe fell deeply in love with the ocean and the pace of life on the island.
Never one to be limited by her age, Devoe took up yoga when she was just eight years old. By age twelve she had her teacher certification and began teaching local classes, both on land and on the water atop standup paddleboards. By age fourteen, she’d founded her own business, SeaVibes Yoga.
Fast forward two years to the summer of 2018 and Devoe was ready to take on yet another challenge. She was working at a dive shop on Catalina when she decided to give prone paddling a try. One month later, she set off on a journey to circumnavigate the island alongside her friends, Natalie Foote and Emily Homolkee.
The trio completed the 58-mile paddle in just three days, becoming the first women to circle the island via paddling.
Here, Devoe shares how she trained for the paddle, the challenges the group encountered along the way, and her advice for planning an expedition paddle of your own.
What inspired you to circumnavigate the island?
It was one of our days off and we were in Shark Harbor on the backside of the island.
We were looking over toward the west end and I was asking Natalie if she’d ever paddled from Two Harbors to Cat Harbor, and said yes. She was telling me about the one time she did it and how awesome it was and I was like, “Yeah, we should do it!”
And then we just kept talking about it and she goes, “We should also paddle around the island.” It sounded super gnarly but also really fun. We kept coming back to the idea and then we just decided to do it.
How did you get into prone paddling?
This past summer I worked at a dive shop with Natalie; she was born and raised out on the island. She put me on the board and took me out. It was a really amazing experience and it was really different than anything I’d ever done before – just the way the board glided and the different viewpoint of being on the water.
A month before we took off was the first time I ever even got on a prone board. I think my background of being on the water and surfing was a huge help because I probably couldn’t have done it otherwise.
What did your training look like?
Natalie is actually a personal trainer and nutritionist so she laid out a plan for us. We worked out a lot; we’d do a couple miles before and after work each day.
We also did a lot of muscle training on land with 4-mile or 6-mile paddles every other day. The longest paddle we did before taking off was 8-10 miles – we mostly did short, sprint kind of things.
Other than that, it was really just being on the water and reading water currents and wind and trying to figure out all the different routes we could take.
The west end of the island is where we trained so we knew it really well but it was all pretty new on the backside. It was all about mentally preparing ourselves to be able to focus on one thing and power through, but also to enjoy the beauty of the island and all it had to offer.
Can you give us a play by play of the expedition?
Day 1 we started in Two Harbors at the isthmus and paddled around the west end going towards the backside and ended in Little Harbor – that was 19 miles. We camped at Little Harbor for the night with our boards next to us, which was so amazing.
The second day was our longest day; we went from Little Harbor all the way around the backside of the island to Avalon – that was 21 miles. Avalon is like the little city on the island with the casino, hotels, and shops, so that was pretty iconic.
The backside was new territory for us and it was some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on the island because it was so raw and untouched and the water was so energized and blue.
Day 3 we went from Avalon back to Two Harbors where we first started – that was about 15 miles. Normally, that’s where the most wind is, so we woke up super early and powered through it.
What was the feeling when you came into Two Harbors on the final day?
When we came around the corner, all the pain of the ribs, rashes, and sore muscles just faded away. It was crazy realizing how much ground we had covered by just having a fun idea and being ready to go explore and adventure.
We were all so stoked that we could accomplish something like this. We were all so in tune with the water at the end of the trip; it was a crazy feeling for sure.
What were some of the biggest challenges along the way?
The biggest challenge was reading the weather, tides, and the current lines going around the island. But we did do a lot of planning and just growing up on the island helped with that a lot.
Other than that, I’d say sore ribs was another crazy part because it was three days in a row of long paddling. All of us were in a little in pain but we just pushed past it for that greater purpose.
Before we took off there were reports of a hurricane coming in. Originally, we were supposed to do the paddle in four days, but we did it in three. The second day, we paddled 21-miles, which was the craziest experience for all of us because it was the longest paddle. We were all kind of nerves with the hurricane coming in, but it worked out to be super amazing because it pushed us past our limits.
Was having the trip be all girls intentional?
A couple of guys wanted to join in with us but we wanted to focus on making this a girls’ thing and inspire other girls to get out in nature and push themselves. We thought it was a great way to empower other women that want to go explore and push past their limits.
Why was picking up trash along the way a priority?
At first, it was just planned as a super fun adventure but then we brought in a greater purpose of raising awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean. One of our good family friends runs the Changing Tides Foundation, which brings awareness to single-use plastics and how all of it is ending up in the ocean and hurting the planet.
She has a couple options for reusable bags and straws, so we used all her stuff for the paddle and tried to do a plastic free voyage.
Paddling around, we’d see a bunch of plastic in the tide lines and it was really sad but it inspired us to push forward and bring awareness to how bad single-use plastics can be to the ocean. So, we’d see trash and pick it up and we also did beach cleanups in all the spots we camped.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to take on an endurance paddle?
I would say just think of the idea first and as crazy as it sounds, just go for it. The idea of our paddle was super crazy to us, but we thought it was such a rad idea. So, just find an idea, focus in on it, and plan and train as hard as you can. Then, when it comes to the day you’re doing it, give it your all and have an open mind about it – especially when something goes wrong just keep pushing toward your goal.
Also, connect with nature. The biggest thing I got from this paddle was being in tune with the ocean, the island, and the water.
Any plans in the works for another expedition paddle?
Right now we are thinking we may do a Channel Islands paddle on one of the other islands up north. We don’t have anything set but we definitely have some ideas brewing.
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