By L. Andrew
The paddle’s blade is placed gently into the water, as far forward as your twisting spine can reach. Then, a microsecond pause, followed by an explosive pulse of force as the spine recoils and your top hand drives the shaft of the paddle through the suddenly solid water. The blade moves less than a foot through the thick water, though the boat is propelled exponentially further.
A unique boat, the Outrigger Canoe is a Polynesian craft made to traverse the open ocean with speed and stability. The long, thin design allows the vessel to nearly fly over flat water, and pierce through the violently breaking swells of larger seas. Stability is achieved with the “ama,” a float that is held several feet off to the side boat by two sturdy crossbars called the “iakus.” The ama is the “outrigger” and is set on the left of the boat. If you are in trouble, just lean left and there is little chance that you will flip the boat, or “huli,” as in huli huli chicken. If you do flip, you will need need to stay calm, so it’s a good idea to take another puff off that Super Lemon Haze pre-roll before you set off. Maybe take three puffs, as that bay wind can have way too much chill.
In the one-person canoe, you sit about 6 inches above the water. Down so low there is much less wind, and the anxiety of flipping into the abyss eases as you set off. The Lemon Haze intensifies everything. The thick bay air tastes like salt, mud, and crab. To the west the sun is melting into clouds of orange and purple, reflecting off the water like a Jackson Pollock painting come to life.
As you become part of the bay’s ecology, your connection to nature grows. You learn the graceful snow-white egrets that perch elegantly around the bay have really, really weird sounding voices. Like toads with colds. If you are lucky to find seals laying out on a mudflat during a low tide, and you quietly sneak up on them, they startle into a bullet-fast, shimmy-scoot across the mud like a fleet of chubby torpedoes. If you don’t time the tide right, you will find yourself float-trudging through deep, silky, bay mud — mud that will steal your flip-flop like a Menehune (a mischievous, mythical being according to Hawaiian legend) in the night.
The return portion of the stroke is effortless, with a slight lean forward and roll of the wrists the blade hops out of the water like a Malolo (flying fish). The blade feathers forward through the air like the wing of a pelican (there are no pelicans, or seagulls in Hawaii), returning to its starting position stretched far forward, a few inches above the water. Another microsecond pause before the blade is again submerged, and the stroke is repeated, over, and over again. Proper technique requires setting your deltoids on fire.
The cannabis helps to focus on breathing rather than pain.
Upon returning to the dock, a serene calm overtakes any discomfort from exhaustion, wind, or cold water. Putting up the boat you feel existentially accomplished, having communed with nature physically and psychedelically. A CBD infused chocolate just before bed helps the muscles recover though the night. And you fall asleep still feeling the sway of the bay’s water below you.