Outrigging Customs

A number of the customs listed below have been a part of outrigging for all the years there have been outrigger canoes on the water.  Some of the customs have their origins with the Hawaiians, the Polynesians, the Melanesians and Maori people.  Some of the customs we have developed at Cairns Beaches.

  1. No swearing in the canoe – if you do you must apologise to the canoe and kiss the canoe
  2. Avoid stepping over the canoe – if you do you must apologise to the canoe and kiss the canoe
  3. Avoid standing up in the canoe unless you are canoe surfing or you are steering and trying to see what is happening upfront of the canoe – if you do stand up other than in the situations outlined above you must apologise to the canoe and kiss the canoe
  4. Avoid stepping over paddles – if you do you must apologise to the paddles
  5. Avoid digging your paddle into the ground like a shovel – if you do you must apologise to the paddle
  6. Always enter and exit the canoe from the left-hand side – except where it is impossible to do so eg when the canoe is alongside the pontoon
  7. Canoes should be stored upright and facing the ocean – traditionally, this is so they are ready at all times for battle
  8. Avoid dragging canoes, lift whenever possible.  Following these customs will help to bring good karma to you and those you are paddling with at that time.

Outrigger canoes were traditionally made from timber.  The process of selecting the right tree was a lengthy one.  It is because canoes were once only ever made from timber – a living entity – that it is believed that each canoe has a spirit/a tree fairy.  It is the fairy or spirit of the tree that watches over those who paddle in the canoe.  You will notice that some canoes have a small notch at the back, this is the place the tree fairy/spirit sits when you paddle.  Canoes were once a living entity and so respect must be shown.

© 2016 Cairns Beaches Outriggers Club