Life, Death and Paddle Outs

March 25, 2013 1 min read

Andy Irons Day paddleout

February 13th was declared by the Hawaiian government, and is forever, "Andy Irons Day”: a celebration of the life and death of a surfing legend. Immediately, deep thoughts of life and death swim through my mind. I'm reminded that every culture has their own set of traditions and rituals to honor the passing of a loved one.  We as ocean-minded, sea loving surfers have the long-honored Hawaiian tradition of paddle out ceremonies.

"My family believes we came from the ocean, and that's where we're going back." said "The Duke"

I'd like to believe the above to be true and hope that when my number is called, my life is celebrated with the ocean. 

Six Key Components to Having Proper Paddle Out Memorial  

  1. Gather your community, family and friends at the beach.  (It's best to pick a spot that is easily accessible by land, as some people will want to celebrate on shore.)
  2. If your friend was cremated, bring the ashes. Also, bring plenty of flowers and/or wreaths for each paddler. *(Some traditions also recommend having one of the deceased’s surfboards to paddle out on.)
  3. Everyone paddles out past the break and forms a circle, then clasps hands.
  4.  Allow each person in the circle to share a memory or good time of the deceased. Raise clasped hands together upon completion.
  5. Spread the ashes and/or flowers in the center of the circle.
  6. Finally have a fully stoked surf session in memory of your friend.
  7. Going forward, know that every time you "paddle out, everything is both forgotten and remembered."


Michelle Michalak
Michelle Michalak

Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.