I can Huli…can you?

bon-w_lifejacket-bwI’m excited about a new discovery I just made and I have to share it with you.

Outrigger canoe paddling!

My friend, Lozz, has been paddling for years and often mentioned that I should give it a try.  So recently I took her up on it.  Trouble is I’m a weak swimmer so any type of water sport has always made me a little uneasy.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go.  Speaking of wind, my first try at this happened to be a windy evening and Okanagan Lake was pretty choppy but the sun was shining so I was willing.Lozz

I was relieved to know I wasn’t the only newbie that night.  There was an athletic looking guy that was new too.  Hmm…athletic.  As we carried the six seat outriggers to the water I was trying to size everyone up.  Yep, most looked pretty athletic.  “Dear God” I thought “what have I gotten myself into?” Life jacket on, oar in hand and sitting in the canoe is too late to start having second thoughts.  Crap!

Lozz sat behind me and was calling out instructions and tips whenever she had the time but she was also the steersman and was busy with the rough water and keeping us upright and going in the right direction.  We paddled 15 strokes on one side and then 15 strokes on the other…constantly…for about an hour.  If you want a break to drink some water you have to call your seat number out so everyone knows you are out for a minute.  Well, I didn’t want to appear weak and I wanted to  paddle my share so I only went out once or twice to guzzle my water.  Nobody else took many breaks because it was just too rough to stop paddling apparently.  Wow, this is real work!  My arms and core were burning by the end of it but I have to admit I felt a thrill when the canoe gained speed and I loved the rhythm of the paddling.  It was almost meditative.

The evening paddle was a success! I really enjoyed myself and I decided to do it again on Sunday and this time I’d bring my husband along.

Sunday morning we arrived at the Vernon Racing Canoe Club house and signed our lives away waivers.  It was sunny and hot on this last day of May.  This time I wasn’t the only newbie in my canoe.  It was a canoe of newbies except the steersman and the 1st seat person.  No problem.  The lake was really calm.  We had a brief lesson and then set out.  The first thing I noticed was that the pace was much slower than my first try.  Then the steersman allowed us to stop and have a break.  He discussed some paddling tips and everyone chit chatted.  Then we paddled for a bit and then stopped for another break.  Nice.  I was beginning to get a good feel for paddling and I was really enjoying myself when suddenly…the outrigger arm started to come up out of the water…and faster than you can say “aloha kakahiaka” we were flipped over and in the frigid water.  I’m talking take-your-breath-away and get-me-outta-here-fast cold.  After a head count we all worked as quickly as possible to get the canoe upright again.  When enough water was bailed out we were able to hop back in again.  I use the word hop loosely.  It is not that easy to hoist your numb trunk and limbs up and over a canoe, but we succeeded and managed to have some good laughs in the process.  I think it was my husbands favourite part.  When you flip one of these outriggers it is called a “Huli”.  In Hawaiian, the word “huli” means to turn over.  So I survived a huli and learned a little Hawaiian all in the same day.

I don’t plan on dipping into the lake again for a few more weeks.  It has to warm up considerably before I go for another swim.   But you never know…I’m getting back in the saddle or in this case the outrigger, tonight.  Wish me luck!



History of the Tattoo… Polynesian ~


I love Tattoos!  Always have, always will.  I remember the first time I was attracted to a man with tattoos.  I was sweet sixteen.  He wasn’t your usual guy with a tattoo, we nicknamed him ‘tattoo man’ because his entire upper body was inked.  He used to hang out at the Canyon in the summer and cliff dive, shirtless of course.  I think he was my first real crush, the kind that makes you feel weird inside.  I had never met anyone who had a tattoo let alone a body full of them.  I am intrigued by tattoos and the reasons men and women get them.  The stories and meanings behind them can be so moving and inspiring or just plain quirky and odd.

I have decided to do a history of the tattoo for a post once a month until we cover the many styles and types of tattoos.

‘A really good friend of mine’ Scott has his upper body inked with what I think is the most incredible tattoo I have ever seen.  The process from start to finish took months of preparation because the entire tattoo was created  from his vision.  He went through the creative process with the artist  Cristoffer Fulton.  Cristoffer passed just days after the vision was complete.  His memory will forever live on in the art he has created. There is a unique story here that I hope to share with you one day.

The word tattoo is said to have two major derivations,  from the Polynesian word ‘ta’ which means striking something and a Tahitian word ‘tatau’ which means ‘to mark something’.  The history of tattoo began over 5000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear them.

The Rock Polynesian tattoo

Polynesian~ In pacific cultures tattooing has a huge historic significance.  Polynesian tattooing is considered the most intricate and skillful tattooing of the ancient world.  Polynesian peoples, believe that a person’s mana, their spiritual power or life force, is displayed through their tattoo.  The vast majority of what we know today about these ancient arts has been passed down through legends, songs, and ritual ceremonies. Elaborate geometrical designs which were often added to, renewed, and embellished throughout the life of the individual until they covered the entire body.

In Samoa, the tradition of applying tattoo, or ‘tatau’, by hand, has long been defined by rank and title, with chiefs and their assistants, descending from notable families in the proper birth order.  The tattooing ceremonies for young chiefs, typically conducted at the onset of puberty, were elaborate affairs and were a key part of their ascendance to a leadership role.  The permanent marks left by the tattoo artists would forever celebrate their endurance and dedication to cultural traditions.

The Hawaiian people had their traditional tattoo art, known as ‘kakau’. It served them not only for ornamentation and distinction, but to guard their health and spiritual well-being.  Intricate patterns, mimicking woven reeds or other natural forms, graced men’s arms, legs, torso and face.
Women were generally tattooed on the hand, fingers, wrists and sometimes on their tongue.  I will be inking my body at some point this year but it won’t be on my tongue!  To be continued…