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lord byron : floatboards, 1825 

Lord Byron  : Liliah and Floatboards, 1825.

Extracts from
Byron, the Rt. Hon. Lord (1789-1868):
Voyage of the H.M.S. Blonde to the Sandwich Islands in the Years 1825-26.
John Murray, Albemable Street, London, 1826.

HMS Blonde, under the command of Captain George Anson Byron,  was sent to Hawaii in 1825 to return the bodies of King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) and Queen Kamamalu, both of whom had died of measles, aged 28 and 22 respectively, while visiting England.
Amoung the Hawaiian party were Boki, and his wife Kuini Liliha (1802—1839), who was noted for her surfing skills.
Boki (before 1785–after December 1829) was a High Chief in the ancient Hawaiian tradition and served the Kingdom of Hawaii as royal governor of the island of Oahu.

The ship's chaplin was  Richard Rowland Bloxam, who was a contributor to the the officially published account of the voyage, in 1826.
His brother, Andrew Bloxam, was one of the expedition's naturalists and his diary was published in 1925.
Extracts from the diary of Scottish botanist, James Mcrae, was published three years earlier in 1922.
Robert Dampier joined the Blonde in Rio de Janeiro, serving as artist and draftsman, his diary published in 1971.

"The ship left Spithead, England on 28 September 1824.
Following a call at Madeira, they reached Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 27 November 1824.
After spending time both in Rio de Janeiro and St Catherine's, they left Brazil on 1 January 1825, bound for Valparaíso, Chile, which they reached on 4 February 1825.
They sailed north up the coast to reach Callao, Peru, on 16 March 1825, before sailing west to the Galapagos Islands, where they remained from 25 March to 3 April 1825.
The Blonde arrived in the Hawaiian Islands (then known as the Sandwich Islands) on 4 May 1825.

The party remained in the Hawaiian Islands from 4 May to 18 July 1825.
They left planning to go to Tahiti, but actually landed first at Malden Island on 30 July 1825 and then at Mauke in the Cook Islands on 8 August 1825, before returning to Valparaíso, which they reached on 6 September 1825.
The voyage ended back in Spithead, England on 15 March 1826, after an absence of 532 days. [McCrae, 1922]"

- wikipedia: Andrew Bloxam

Accounts of the Voyage
1. Byron, George Anson & Bloxam, Richard Rowland (1826), Graham, Maria, ed.:
Voyage of H. M. S. Blonde to the Sandwich islands, in the years 1824-1825.
John Murray, Albemable Street, London.  1826.

"This work is frequently catalogued under some combination of Bloxam, Byron and Callcott.
Only Byron's name appears on the title page, although he does not appear to have contributed to the work in any way.
R.R. Bloxam is credited in the introduction.
Callcott's surname at the time was Graham."

- http://books.google.com/books?id=qawFAAAAQAAJ

The brief surfboard description is a footnote to the surfriding activities of Liliah, the wife of Boki, a member of the royal household returning to Hawaii, page 97.
Similarly, Dampier notes:

"May 3rd 1825 ... Her fame, as being the best swimmer, and one, who would go thro' a heavy surf, before any of her less daring Companions, is universally acknowledged."

- Dampier: Voyage of the Blonde (1971) page 30.

Note that in both cases, her reputation preceeds the arrival of the Blonde in Hawaiian waters.
Dampier and Bloxam both refer to Liliah as Madam Boki.

Byron's comments on several Hawaiian water sports - waterfall sliding, cliff jumping and jurfriding (page 166).
There is a brief description of Hawaiian woodworking skills (pages 137-138) and of Polynesian (Cook Island) canoes and the natives skill in negotiating difficult surf conditions (pages 209-209).

Bryon met the noted missionaries of the period, Ellis and Bingham on his visit to Hawaii (page 148), and the Blonde transported Stewart between two islands.

2. Macrae, James:
With Lord Byron at the Sandwich Islands in 1825 : being extracts from the MS diary of James Macrae, Scottish botanist.
W.F. Wilson, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1922 (75 pages, illustrated)
The Petroglyph Press, Hilo, Hawaii, 1972. (87 pages, illustrated)

Internet Archive:With Lord Byron at the Sandwich Islands in 1825. (viewed June 2011)

Macrae has only one brief reference to the aquatic sports of the Hawaiians.

"Bathing is their chief amusement and alone induces many of the higher ranks of them to leave their houses, where they spend most of their time sitting or lying down asleep on mats.
But the whole tribe is so fond of bathing that the sea shore is seldom seen without numbers of both sexes swimming with perfect ease, as if some species of aquatic creatures," page 20.

3. Bloxam, Andrew:
Diary of Andrew Bloxam, Naturalist of The "Blonde" On Her Trip from England to the Hawaiian Islands 1824-25.
Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special Publication Volume 10.
Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, 1925.

Bloxam gives a broad descriptive account of Hawai'ian culture., with comments on:
- Hawaiian canoes, pages 21.
- surfboards stored in royal household, page 26.
- Blonde officers adopt native bathing practises, page 34.
- land sled, page 42.
- surfboard riding at Waikiki, page 46.
- purchase of Hawaiian antiquities, page 47.
- canoes at Hilo, page 52.
- natives dive for lost guns, page 54.
- waterfall-sliding at Hilo, page 54.
- canoe construction  in the Cook Islands, page 84.

See Source Documents:
1825 Andrew Bloxam : Sandwich Islands.

4. Dampier, Robert:
To the Sandwich Islands on H.M.S. Blonde
University Press of Hawaii for Friends of the Library of Hawaii, 1971.

Dampier comments on:
- the aquatic skills of Madam Boki, page 30.
- Hawaiian canoes, pages 30 to 31.
- the demand for Hawaiian antiquities, and the production of counterfeits, page 44.
- the replacement of stone tools with the iron English adze, page 47.
- surfboard riding, page 51.
- canoe surfing, experienced by Dampier, page 51.
- Blonde officers adopt native bathing practises, page 57.
- waterfall-sliding and cliff jumping at Hilo, page 57.
- canoe construction  in the Cook Islands, pages 74 to 76.

See Source Documents:
1825 Robert Dampier : Sandwich Islands.

The Authors
George Anson Byron
"Admiral George Anson Byron, 7th Baron Byron (8 March 1789 – 1 March 1868) was a British naval officer, and the seventh Baron Byron, in 1824 succeeding his cousin the poet George Gordon Byron in that peerage.
As a career naval officer, he was notable for being his predecessor's opposite in temperament and lifestyle.
He was the only son of George Anson Byron and Charlotte Henrietta Dallas, and grandson of the admiral and explorer The Hon. John Byron, who circumnavigated the world with George Anson in 1740-44."

- wikipedia: George Byron, 7th Baron Byron (July 2009)

Richard Rowland Bloxam (1798–1877)
Ship's chaplin and elder brother of Andrew Bloxam.

James Macrae
Scottish botanist

Andrew Bloxam (22 September 1801 – 2 February 1878)
"... an English clergyman and naturalist; in his later life he had a particular interest in botany.
He was the naturalist on board HMS Blonde (his brother Rowland Bloxam was the chaplain) during its voyage around South America and the Pacific in 1824–26, where he collected mainly birds.
Later as a Church of England minister he lived in Warwickshire and Leicestershire and made significant contributions to the study of the natural history of the area.
His special interest was in fungi and the genera Rubus and Rosa.
His botanical author abbreviation is 'A.Bloxam'.

- wikipedia: Andrew Bloxam

Robert Dampier (1799–1874)
Robert Dampier  served as the artist and draftsman who joined the H.M.S. Blonde in Rio de Janeiro
On returning to England, Dampier, like fellow mariner Andrew Bloxam,  became a clergyman.

- Wikipedia: Robert Dampier

Boki (before 1785–after December 1829)
He was a High Chief in the ancient Hawaiian tradition and served the Kingdom of Hawaii as royal governor of the island of Oahu.

Madam Boki- Liliha
Liliha: the wife of Boki, companion to Kamehamaru on his visit to England in 1820?
She was occassionally refered to as "Madame Boki".
Ellis (1831) page 457.

Additional Source Documents

1765 John Byron : Tuamotus and the Gilbert Islands
Extracts from John Byron in Hawkesworth: Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, (1773), Volume 1?

1911 Lord Byron : Childe Harold.
Extract from The Mid-Pacific Magazine, Volume 2, Number 2, August,1911, frontpiece.
Byron, the Rt. Hon. Lord (1789-1868):
Voyage of the 'H.M.S. Blonde' to the Sandwich Islands in the Years 1825-26.
John Murray, Albemable Street, London.  1826.

Page 97

[Location? 1825]

About one P.M. we came up with some fishing canoes, which were immediately hailed by Manuia, one of our passengers; and the fishermen, hauling in their lines immediately, paddled alongside.
Although we find that, in her youth, our shipmate Liliah had been accounted one of the best swimmers in the island, and was particularly dexterous in launching her float-board* through the heaviest surf, yet now her sense of modesty, awakened by her residence in a civilized country, induced her to withdraw into her cabin at the sight of her almost naked countrymen.

* Float-board: this is a board a little longer than the human body, feathered at the edges, on which these Islanders stretch themselves and float for hours on the water, using their limbs as paddles to guide them, or at other times trusting to the impulse of the waves: the very children have their little boards; and to have a neat float-board, well kept and dried, is to a Sandwich Islander what a tilbury, or cabriolet, or whatever Iight carriage may be in fashion, is to a young Englishman.

Page 137

[Location? 3 May 1825.]

... the workmanship executed with the stone impliments is beautiful: the carving of the ancient ava bowls, the formation of the canoes

Page 138

show that good workmen will make good work in spite of their tools.

Page 166.

[Wairuku Falls,  ? 1825.]

At these falls we were often amused by looking on, while the natives enjoyed themselves in the water.
Some of their exercises, indeed, were almost fearful: they would strip even their maro, and then plunge into the river above the first fall, and allow themselves to be carried down into the deep pool below, in which they would disappear, and then rise again at some distance and draw breath to be ready for the second fall, down which they would go, and then return to the upper rocks to renew their sport; nay, some of them, would ascend the cliffs above, a height of thirty or forty feet, and leap from thence into the water, seemingly enjoying our terror at their daring diversion; but they are like the amphibious animals, accustomed to the water from infancy, and whether rolling about in the surf on their float-boards, or dashing down the cascades along with the waters, seem equally at home.

Page 206.

[Mauti, 8th August 1825.]

On the 8th August, to our great surprise, land was descried from the mast-head; and as we were uncertain, from its position, whether it was one of the islands discovered by Captain Cook, we bore up for it, and about 3 P.M. we were within two miles of the nearest point.
A heavy swell rolled towards the land, and broke on a long chain of coral which appeared to surround the island.
Within, it appeared to be wooded, but our glasses were turned landwards in vain to discover either canoes or huts.
At length, as we sailed slowly along the north-west side, we were suddenly gratified by the sight of a native emerging from the woods, and placing himself upon a rock, whence he continued to look steadfastly on the ship.

Page 207.

Next morning we proceeded to the lee-side of the Island and perceiving several canoes coming off to us, we lay-to about three miles off the shore.
The first that reached us was a single man, whose, costume soon convinced us that we were not the first visitors of this solitary place.
He wore a straw hat, shaped like a common English hat; and besides his maro or waist-cloth, he wore a cloak of tapa, of the same form with the South American poncho.
The language of this man seemed to bear some affinity to the Hawaiian, but not sufficient for any of our people to comprehend him fully; however, we made out that the Island was called Mauti.
While we were questioning our visitor, another canoe, of very singular construction, came along- side of us.
Though double, like the war-canoes of the

Page 208.

Sandwich Islands, its form is very different.
The prows and waists were two, but the sterns united, so as to form but one, and this stern, curiously carved, was carried up in a curve to the height of six or seven feet above the water's edge.
Two persons, who, by their dress and appearance, seemed to be of some importance, now stepped on board, and, to our great surprise, produced a written document from that branch of the London Missionary Society settled at Otaheite, qualifying them to act as native teachers in the Island of Mauti. They were very fine looking men, dressed in cotton shirts, cloth jackets, and a sort of petticoat of very fine mat instead of trowsers.
As soon as their curiosity was satisfied, we determined to avail ourselves of their local knowledge as guides, and to go ashore.
We embarked in two boats, taking one of the missionaries in each; but we found the surf on the beach so

Page 209.

violent that we got into the natives' canoes, and trusted to their experience to get us safely through: this they did admirablele dexterity, and our passage in the canoes convinced us that no boat of ours could have effected a landing.
Our path lay through a shady wood, on the skirts of which, in a small open space on the left, two handsome canoes were building.
They were each eighty feet long; the lower part, as usual, of a single tree, hollowed out with great skill.


Byron, the Rt. Hon. Lord (1789-1868): 
Voyage of the 'H.M.S. Blonde' 
to the Sandwich Islands
in the Years 1825-26
John Murray, 
Albemable Street, London, 1826.

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Geoff Cater (1997-2013) : Lord Byron : Surf-riding at Waikiki, 1852.