Garrett & Co., New York, 1854.
Second edition, somewhat condensed with five plates, printed in the same year.
Kessinger Publishing: Legacy Reprint Series,
In Chapter XX (1850?),
he visted Keahou (He'eia Bay) on the west (Kona) coast of the large island,
On arrival, the pleasure of their aquatic skills is demonstrated by welcoming native girls in their outrigger canoes.
surfriding at "on the northern side of the harbor at Keauho, the black
point of lava extends for a considerable distance into the sea".
Finney and Houston (1996), page 29, record two ancient surfriding locations at Keahou, one of of which is "Kaulu, 'ledge' ".
Realistically, and replicating modern experience, the surfriders use the point for easy access to the surf break: "children might be seen running out on this point with their surf-boards.
Watching their opportunity, they would plunge into the sea between two rollers, with exceedingly nice judgment".
He also attempted
prone surfriding, on a four foot board and adopting native dress, under
instruction from two of the older girls.
This may not be at the same surf break described above.
There are similar accounts by Lt. Henry Wise (1850) and the more famous accounts by Mark Twain (1866) and Jack London (1907).
When paddling out,
the surfriders intially slip over the incoming lines of white water,"The
spent rollers we suffered to pass beneath us", but as they near the
breaking zone they are forced to duck-dive,"we dove beneath it, while
it broke and foamed above us".
Most commentators only report the duck diving technique.
he dramatically writes of the approach of a cresting wave from the viewpoint
of the surfrider:
"It is a strange sight to see the horizon of vision contracting before you and rising rapiply towards the zenith, until you look upon an impending wall of liquid blue, imperceptibly melting to a delicate pea-green with a snowy crest.
There is a commingling of beauty and sublimity, of stern majesty and power."
Perkins is less than
succesful in his exertions and concludes " the art of surf-riding
is not so simple as it would seem".
His session is terminated by a severe wipe-out.
Rinsing with fresh water after swimming in the sea was a common practice across Polynesia.
On the east coast,
in the Hilo hinterland, Perkins observed young Hawaiian's leaping or diving
from a considerable height, encouraged by the tossing of coins into the
"We have often amused ourselves by tossing 'reals' or 'medios' into the water, and seeing the children leap from an elevation of twenty or thirty feet, and catch them before they reach the bottom."
LOITERINGS IN A HAWAIIAN VILLAGE.
EARLY in the morning
the anchor was weighed, but the breeze being light, we did not reach Keauha
before ten o'clock.
As we entered the harbor, the sight, was anything but tranquillizing to weak nerves.
We were steering for an iron-bound shore, where the surf was beating with a noise like thunder, and bursting upwards in sheets of foam.
Had the wind failed us, it would have been unpleasant to anticipate consequences.
Though the entrance was narrow, we had a commanding breeze that carried us safely in, where we anchored and moored the schooner by ropes made fast to cocoanut-trees.
From the sensation
produced among the natives, I should judge that arrivals were unfrequent
at Keauho, for the adjoining rocks were covered with curious idlers, and
re-echoed theIr boisterous welcome.
The water, which does not exceed two fathoms in depth, is beautifully transparent; and over the white sandy bottom are scattered clusters of coral and shells.
Floating upon it were canoes filled with girls, who paddled around us, laughing and singing in high glee.
Frequently, when the outriggers came in collision with each other, the occupant of one canoe, by a dexterous movement, would capsize those of the other into the water; a joke that was taken in good part, and some of these amphibious damsels seemed to manifest a preference for the briny element.
a dozen heads were dotting the surface on one side of the schooner; then,
by a simultaneous movement, all would disappear and presently be seen shooting
upwards on the opposite side.
They swam about, plashing the brine in each other's faces, and when fatigued rested themselves by clinging to the outriggers.
One of these girls, perhaps fourteen years of age, possessed an ornament that might excite the envy of our belles at home, and which so enhances female beauty.
This was the most exquisite (indulge the word) head of hair I ever beheld in Polynesia.
While swimming, it was either trailing behind her or hiding her face; but was only ...
... seen to advantage
when its possessor was basking on shore, where she allowed it to float
loosely upon her shoulders.
Black, wavy, and glossy, and unrivalled in fineness, its peculiar beauty was noticed by all on board, from the owner to the sailor.
The juvenile portion of the community seemed greatly to preponderate, and our deck was soon encumbered with them.
On the northern
side of the harbor at Keauho, the black point of lava extends for a considerable
distance into the sea, and in connection with a slight indentation in the
shore, it forms a cove, where
the surf rolls heavily.
At any hour of the day, children might be seen running out on this point with their surf-boards. Watching their opportunity, they would plunge into the sea between two rollers, with exceedingly nice judgment, reaching the wave at its culminating point, and just as it was "combing," shoot in upon its crest, amid foam and spray, with the velocity of a race-horse, and shouting in wild delight.
What the sled
is to the child at home, the papa, or surf-board, is to the juveniles of
I determined one morning to join them in their sport; and having signified my intention, about twenty girls, of various ages, and a dozen buys, promised to give me instruction.
I preferred confiding myself to the management of the two oldest girls, who were more experienced. A board, four feet in length, and rounded at both ends, was provided for me.
This, when used, is placed beneath the breast and held firmly between the extended arms, at an angle of about fifteen degrees with the level of the sea.
The boys wore malos, the girls, loose gowns; and not wishing to be encumbered with superfluous "gear," I adopted the fashion of the former.
The shore receded quickly, so that at a distance of ten yards we were beyond our depth.
The surf rolled in heavily, and with my two instructresses on either side, I swam seaward.
The spent rollers we suffered to pass beneath us, but as our distance from the shore increased, they were not to be disregarded; and when we saw a wall of water rise up before us, and come rolling in like an ...
we dove beneath it, while it broke and foamed above us.
I should have said that I dove, for, like fishes, the girls could sink at will, and without any apparent effort.
This peculiarity I have also noticed among the pearl-divers of the Southern Ocean, who, by giving a slight spring upward, sink easily, and turn beneath the surface.
I have frequently attempted it, but without success, though by trial have remained under water as long as expert divers.
The breakers were
Though a good swimmer, and familiar with winds and waves, I would never think of buffeting voluntarily such a formidable array of cataracts without a host of guardians.
The roar was incessant, and almost deafening; still, we kept on.
It is a strange sight to see the horizon of vision contracting before you and rising rapiply towards the zenith, until you look upon an impending wall of liquid blue, imperceptibly melting to a delicate pea-green with a snowy crest.
There is a commingling of beauty and sublimity, of stern majesty and power.
It is the mighty bolt that shatters the groaning timbers of the ship, and scatters the fragments upon the froth of its rage.
But my fair guardians mocked its impotence.
With a laugh and a shout, saying, "Lu kakou," (let us dive,) each clasped a hand, and in tranquil depths we hid from the billow that thundered above us.
a suitable distance, we waited for a roller, and started upon its crest;
but the art of surf-riding is not so simple as it would seem.
With my companions on either side, I flew rapidly along for a few seconds; but somehow or other the wave always receded and left me in the lurch, while they shot ahead in a sea of foam.
I sported in this way for fifteen minutes, until a roller caught me as it broke, and wrenching the board from my hands, whirled me along in every conceivable attitude; and on recovering from the shock, I was compelled to abandon my aquatic sports for the remainder of the day.
After bathing in the sea, the girls always pour fresh water over each other, carefully washing their dark tresses, for they say salt water impairs their beauty.
All who have visited
Hilo concur in admiring its scenery.
The harbor, or bay, derives its name from the town, and is situate on the N. E. side of the island, forming a safe anchorage for vessels against all winds, except from the northeast.
Near the southeast shore there is a rocky islet covered with cocoanut-trees; and from this towards the N. E. extends a shoal for a long distance so that the entrance is on the western side, where the land is bold and the water deep.
During a strong northeast wind, the sea rolls in heavily; and the shore is lined with breakers.
On these occasions boats from vessels, instead of effecting a difficult landing on the western side, which is most thickly settled, usually resort to the southern shore, where a small stream affords them a secure retreat.
This is called Waiakea, and waters the district of that name, constituting the southern boundary of Hilo.
Not far from its
mouth, and where it is intersected by the road passing through the town,
the course of the stream is among rocks, frequently broken by miniature
cascades and foaming rapids; in
one spot there is a broad, deep pool, bounded on the left by a precipitous cliff.
During the latter part of the afternoon, its banks are lined with boys and girls, who resort here to bathe.
We have often amused ourselves by tossing reals or medios into the water, and seeing the children leap from an elevation of twenty or thirty feet, and catch them before they reach the bottom.
Na Motu: or, Reef-rovings in the South Seas.
A Narrative of Adventures
Hawaiian, Georgian and Society Islands;
with Maps, Twelve Illustrations, and an Appendix.
Relating to the Resources, Social and Political condition of Polynesia, and subjects of interest in the Pacific Ocean.
Pudney and Russell, Publishers,
Number 79 John Street, New York,