Hokulea crew members take the plunge with ancient practice of cold water bathing

The group met at a Juneau beach to take part in an ancient practice called Dushooch cold water dipping or bathing
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 10:05 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 13, 2023 at 11:21 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dushooch, or cold water bathing, is an ancient indigenous practice.

And members of Hokulea’s crew along with a special Hawaii delegation in Alaska got to take the plunge recently.

The crew and delegation members are in Alaska ahead of the voyaging canoe’s launch Thursday for a four-year Pacific voyage. The group met at Lena Beach in Juneau to take part in the practice of dushooch.

Hokulea crew member Kala Tanaka had never done this before and said she was feeling a little anxious.

“I’m from Lahaina. It’s the warmest place on Maui. I know it’s coming,” said Tanaka.

Salves were offered to protect the skin.

“Both of these are meant to help folks be able to withstand the cold water a little bit more,” said ‘Wáahlaal Gíidaak (Barbara Blake), a member of the Alaska planning crew.

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Ancient warriors endured the cold water to prepare for battle.

They were also beaten with thorny devil’s club branches to toughen their skin.

“This is not that type of practice,” said La quen naay Liz Medicine Crow, drawing immediate laughter from the group.

Chris Blake, a Hokulea crew member, says the water is around 40 to 45 degrees.

“Take your time,” Blake told the group. “It is not a polar plunge,” she added.

There was no pressure to go deep and people went in at their own pace. The practice is said to be healing and have immune system benefits.

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“You forget about it after you are in it for a bit. You acclimate to it. It’s good,” said Blake.

As some went deeper, the meditative practice led to a cleansing, physical calming, and spiritual awakening.

Some came out quickly, while others stayed in for 15 to 20 minutes.

“It was really cold, but I feel really alive, and it made me dig deep inside,” said Tanaka.