Sailor takes to water for herself, others

Photo courtesy of GSMC(SW) Ulanka Beckom. Gas Turbine System Technician 1st Class Ulanka Beckom paddles with other members of the Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club.

Photo courtesy of GSMC(SW) Ulanka Beckom. Gas Turbine System Technician 1st Class Ulanka Beckom paddles with other members of the Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club.

Brandon Bosworth

Staff Writer

Being stationed in Hawaii gives service members and their families the opportunity to experience many new things. For Gas Turbine System Technician 1st Class Ulanka Beckom, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, coming to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam meant discovering a new passion: ocean canoeing.

A native of Chicago, Beckom started kayaking in 2004 at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. She immediately took to it.

“There’s something about being on the water,” she said. “It’s so tranquil. I like it.”

When she’s not on the water, her mind is still on paddling.

“Even at the gym I’m using the rowing machine,” she said.

After arriving in Hawaii in 2011, Beckom went from paddling on a lake to paddling in the ocean.

“It similar but saltier,” she said. “The waves can be kind of creepy, but you have to face your fears.”

She joined the Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club, located at Pearl Harbor next to the USS Arizona Memorial. They practice at the Navy facility Rainbow Bay Marina Canoe Hale. While the club is open to civilians, many members are connected to the military.

“About 60 percent of the paddlers in the Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club are military-affiliated,” said Beckom.

Beckom volunteered at the 2013 Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta held Aug. 18 at Fort DeRussy beach. It was her third time volunteering.

“Volunteering at the Wounded Warrior Regatta was a wonderful experience,” she said. “It’s always wonderful when you can bring smiles to people by helping them escape their worlds for a little while and focus on something else.”

Beckom was not the only one from her club who volunteered.

“The Honolulu Pearl Canoe Club assisted with a lot of the logistics, such as paddling through the Ala Wai Canal to pick up and drop off canoes borrowed from Outrigger Canoe Club,” she said. “We served as time keepers, score keepers, held the boats in place prior to the start of the race and dealt any other items that came up during the day.”

Beckom’s reasons for volunteering are simple and pragmatic.

“Why not volunteer?” she said. “I have the ability to do so, so why not help out?”

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Category: News