Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Paddling
By Frankie Bow
The Cursed Canoe takes readers into the world of Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling. (An outrigger is an appendage on the canoe that stabilizes it and keeps it from tipping over.)
The discerning reader might wish to know whether I, your humble author, have ever tried canoe paddling.
Yes. Yes, I have. And I was able to use my experience to write about my protagonist, Professor Molly Barda, trying out canoe paddling for the first time. This is my barely- fictionalized account:
My first challenge was to keep my borrowed swim shorts from falling down, which I accomplished by combining intermittent waistband-hitching with a John Wayne stride. I stepped into the foaming waves with knees akimbo, as five other women and I pushed the four-hundred-pound, six-seat fiberglass canoe out into the bay. I was immediately submerged to my knees, then to my waist, and soon we were hanging onto the sides of the canoe and treading water. I tried not to think about the contents of Mahina Bay churning around inside my shorts.
The next task was to get myself inside the boat. I grasped the undulating canoe and hooked one leg over the side of the boat. This brief triumph was followed by several minutes of me clinging to the side, one leg still dangling in the water.
“Just roll in,” Emma shouted at me. “Roll!” Powerful hands gripped my upper arms and I felt myself being hoisted up into the canoe. Someone handed me a paddle.
My foray into canoe paddling also included a nasty cut that wouldn’t stop bleeding, and a sprung hamstring sustained during the grueling pre-paddling “warmup.”
But don’t let me put you off; I know people who are practically addicted to paddling. My own husband is among them. He’s out on the water several hours a week. He enjoys it, and it keeps him in amazing physical condition.
One of these days I’ll try it again, if for no other reason than to get those amazing arms. But in the meantime, outrigger paddling will give me plenty to write about.
The Cursed Canoe by Frankie Bow
The Second Molly Barda Mystery
Molly is back and suffering some unusual physical ailments. Is it stress? The result of dealing with the Student Retention Office? While watching her friend Emma put the paddling crew through their paces she complains about Kathy Banks, her liaison to said Retention Office. Before Molly finishes wishing Kathy ill, shouts come out to call 911. Kathy has fallen overboard. And doesn't recover. Is there really such a thing as psychogenic death? Could Molly have somehow caused Kathy's death? And how is it that recent graduates are reportedly earning high incomes? Is Donnie thinking of making Molly's relationship with his son more than that of a former college professor? There's a lot going on at Mahina State, but is is murder?
The death of paddler Kathy Banks is at the heart of The Cursed Canoe. We get a glimpse into the world of outrigger canoe paddling and a deeper look at for profit colleges, and the fact that Mahina State appears to be transforming into one! Molly continues to find her way as an nontenured professor, trying to appease the Student Retention Office while still trying to be an effective teacher-something at odds with the current academic climate.
Frankie Bow weaves several threads through The Cursed Canoe and while many issues are resolved, there are still questions left for further exploration. The author gives us the seedier side of Hawaii in her Molly Barda Mystery series. It's not the tropical paradise the tourists see, but rather the harsher reality of island life-high cost of living, high humidity, and the horrors of Academia.
I love the sense of humor Bow brings, that self deprecating, almost fatalistic bite, and I enjoyed the intricate storyline, but am still left with some questions. The Cursed Canoe is made for the thinking reader, but while I appreciated the ending I feel as if I'm missing something. Still in all, it's a good read, especially for those familiar with the world of Academia.