Outriggers add Hawaiian touch with boat blessings
KANALOA, the Hawaiian god of the sea, smiled on the Port Douglas Outrigger Canoe Club on Sunday.
A sunny sky and calm seas greeted the paddlers as they headed out of Dickson Inlet and around to Four Mile Beach to officially name the club’s four canoes.
A crowd of interested locals and tourists watched as wreaths were laid in the sea and blessings spoken over the canoes on a postcard-perfect morning.
The club used a cosmopolitan mixture of languages to officially name their craft.
“It’s traditional to use sea-salt for purification,” said Wendy Morris, who led the ceremony.
“We used the salt to purify ourselves and the canoes, said a prayer in Hawaiian, then we named the canoes and spread the salt and fresh sea-water from a baler shell.”
The grand dame of the fleet will now be known as Irene in honour of the club’s founder Irene Denholm.
The two newer six-seater canoes have been given Hawaiian names, Nalu or “ocean waves” and Ali’i kai, “ruler of the sea”.
The smallest canoe, a two-seater, was named Jalun, the Kuku Yalanji word for sea.
“Coming up with the names was a joint effort really,” Ms Morris said.
“We wanted to recognise Irene for her huge contribution to paddling in the north.”
Although the canoes have all seen service in outrigger carnivals and as training boats for years, the club had never got around to naming them before.
Ms Morris said it was possible the canoes would go faster in the club’s next regatta in Innisfail starting August 28.
“Maybe we will go faster,” Ms Morris said. “Paddling is a very spiritual sport. “Each person brings their own energy, their mana, to the canoe, but there is a seventh mana, that of the canoe.
“When a team manages to reach that incredible oneness, with each other and the canoe, and that’s when you hear the canoe sing and you can harness the mana of the ocean, the eighth mana.”
Anyone interested in joining the paddling club can come along to basic training at 5.15pm on Mondays at the clubhouse next door to the Port Douglas Yacht Club.