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stoddard : canoe surfing, 1894 

Charles Warren Stoddard :  Canoe Surfing, 1894.

Stoddard, Charles Warren:
Hawaiian Life; Being Lazy Letters from Low Latitudes
F. T. Neely, Chicago, New York, 1894.

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Stoddard writes of accompanying an native Hawaiian fisherman outside the reef  in an outrigger canoe and, after diving to secure a catch, they return by riding in on a large wave.

Also see:
1874 Charles Stoddard : Surfriding in Maui.
1901 Charles Stoddard : A Trip to Hawaii.

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We sat together one morning looking far off upon the town and far off upon the sea in comfortable idleness.
We had hoped for a change in the spirit of our dream and it camepresently, for it was observed that a school of

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fish was making for the shore, In an instant several canoes were slid into the water and a dozen excited natives went in hot pursuit of the spoil.

Before the day of dynamite deep-sea fishing was an art in which few excelled, but with Kane-Pihi it was a specialty, and when we
had weathered the breakers and were out upon the swell beyond the reef, he dropped a handful of bait into the water and watched
it as it slowly sank; then he cautiously climbed out of the canoe and with fearless resignation sank after it.
It was as if he were braving all the laws of nature - as if he were defying death itself.

Breathlessly I watched him as he sank feet foremost into the depths; I saw his motionless body slowly descending, growing dimmer in outline all the while; I saw the fish circling suspiciously about him, attracted by the bait, which they were greedily devouring, and evidently filled with curiosity as to the nature of the man-fish in their midst, who, like a corpse, was fading in the horrible obscurity of the sea; then, at the moment when it seemed that life must have deserted him, with a sudden

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lunge he buried a knife in the body of a huge fish and rosé like a water-wraith out of the waves.
It was the work of a moment only, but it seemed to me an age since I had seen the sea close over him.

Several times he repeated the act successfully, and it became difficult to see through the blood-stained water, but by moving the
canoes cautiously from point to point, we still kept within reach of the shoal and avoided the crimson cloud that marked the scène of Kane-Pihi's recent marine combat.
A highly successful catch was the reward of his prowess, and with our canoe well laden, we headed for the shore.

Those who were watching us from the beach must have lost sight of us at intervals as we rosé and sank upon the rollers. Sometimes the comber that broke between us and the land looked like a precipitated avalanche of snow, and the mass behind us swelled and burst, darting forward with an impetuosity that threatened the destruction of our frail craft.
But into the wilderness of this tumultuous sea it was Kane-Pihi's intention to venture, and through the midst of it lay our

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perilous course.
With a paddle that was never at rest, we hovered upon the outer edges of the reef, hastening over the brow of a billow before it broke, for it was only upon the bosom of one of these monsters that we could hope for safety, and the one had not yet arrived. Like a bird's pinion, the paddle held us poised - suspended in mid-air, I had almost written - until, with an impulse which was an inspiration, Kane-Pihi plowed the sea with swift, impetuous strokes.
I felt the canoe leap forward before a wave that seemed rising to overwhelm us; we rose with it, on the inner slope of it, just out of
reach of the torrent of foam that hissed and roared behind us.
How we sped onward in that mad chase!
The very canoe seemed instilled with life; nervous tremors seized it; it was almost as if some invisible power were about to sweep it from under us; so fast it fled over the oily slope of the huge wave, at the top of which tumbled a world of foam - and thus, with hardly so much as a stroke of the paddle, after we were well settled on the down grade, we sprang like a flying-fish into
the tranquil waters of the lagoon and then

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turned to one another with a half-gasp, as if we had been delivered from sudden death.

This was the life of the man-fish; if he had been upset in the breakers he would have come to shore none the worse for it, but my
blood would have stained the reef for a moment and my bones found coral sepulture.

Thus he played with the elements - having not so much vanity as a child, nor so much wisdom either, though he was weather wise, knew all about the moods of the wind and waves, could do everything but shape them - and there I left him to sleep away the hot hours in the hot sun and sand; to eat when he listed and wait upon the turning of the tides, or the advent of those fishy episodes that were events in his life; a perfectly constituted creature, whose highest ambition he could himself satisfy at almost any moment ; who, I venture to affirm, never did harm to any one, and who unquestionably was, in his line, a complete and unqualified success - in brief, a perfect human animal,who was doing in his own way and in his own good time what he could towards destroying the last vestiges of the "Evidences of Christianity." 

Stoddard, Charles Warren:
Hawaiian Life; Being Lazy Letters from Low Latitudes
F. T. Neely, Chicago, New York, 1894.

Internet Archive

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Geoff Cater (2016) : Charles Warren Stoddard : Canoe Surfing, 1894.