Heirloom Technology — Island Tricks

Heirloom Technology — Island Tricks

These are the Wailea Canoe Club’s 6-person racing canoes (Figure A). The canoe never touches the ground. The paddlers pick it up in the water, carry it onto land, and set it on tires.

The Wailea Canoe Club has this slick homemade dolly for putting boats in and out of the water. Purpose-made beach wheels are expensive. Wheels from junk golf carts are free (Figure B).

As seen on Kite Beach, the flags are different lengths and possibly different weights (Figure C). If a flag is flying straight out, it’s easy to read the number. That’s the wind speed. If a flag is hanging and wagging around, there’s not that much wind.

Johnny V, the surfboard guru, has a Surinam cherry tree in his yard in Haiku (Figure D). Here’s how you harvest them: put some sheets under the tree and let it dump cherries on them. He says, “If I don’t rake them up every day it’s like walking through a pile of mush. And you can’t kill these things. Want some saplings?” He points to a forest of Surinam cherry tree shoots sprouting under the tree.

Even very young green coconuts are full of “coconut water,” or coconut juice. Before I knew anything I’d try to open them with a hammer, a hatchet, or by banging them on the ground. By the time I got them open, all the juice had leaked out.

Here’s how to drink a coconut with a knife:

1. Take your shirt off. Coconut juice and sap will stain your shirt yellowish brown.

2. Stab the side of the coconut. This is easier than it sounds, especially if it’s a young coconut. Probably a little bit of juice will squirt out, since the coconut is under pressure.

3. Make two more stabs to make a triangular hole. Rock the knife to connect the cuts and pry the plug out.

4. Drink it. If you have a straw, use that. Otherwise arch your back and drink it like you’re in a commercial (Figure E).

Digression: Coconut juice has all the electrolytes you need in the tropical places where coconuts grow. It’s also sterile if it’s from a picked coconut. They used it in World War II as IV fluid for wounded soldiers or soldiers sick from the wet kind of tropical diseases. A coconut on the ground is probably sterile also, but some of them crack and go sour after they hit the ground.

It’s the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The rest of the cactus is edible, too, just so you know. The green pads are a great vegetable served raw or cooked. They taste kind of like a cucumber-tomato cross. The pears sit on top for a long time. The darker the color of the pear, the sweeter it is (Figure F).

These delicious things are covered with tiny hairy thorns called glochids. You’ll get them all over yourself the first time because they’re hard to see and you won’t believe any of the following.

Real picking method: Pick them using leather gloves or tongs. Put them in a bucket. What I did: Pick with bare hands and put them in my shirt pocket. I got so many thorns in my chest that I had a hairy chest for the first time in my life. Remove all the thorns!

Real cleaning method: Rub them with dirt or gravel, or put them in a chicken-plucking machine with a thousand pencil erasers. Wash them with cold water. Skin them while wearing gloves. What

I did: Rub them on my pants so I got thorns in my leg. Peel them barehanded so I got thorns in my hands. Eat them so that I got thorns all around my mouth.

The aloha spirit means people get to do what they want if it doesn’t hurt someone else. Here’s a van with a regular house air conditioner in the back window (Figure G). I assume the owners were living in the van in a hot part of the island and had access to an extension cord, so they came up with this improvised source of cool.

The pandanus tree has many uses. Hawaiians made sails and sleeping mats by braiding the leaves. The fruit is a big thing that looks sort of like a giant pineapple. It comes apart into sections called keys. Chew on the orange part and suck the juice. Or pound them and wring out the juice to dry into a sort of fruit leather. It tastes like mango/cantaloupe.

The old fruits make good paintbrushes. I especially like them for epoxy glue. I feel bad about throwing away a commercial brush every time I glue something. I picked up a bunch of old keys under a tree in Lahaina. Rub them on a wire brush to soften up the bristles and dislodge any loose ones. The best paintbrushes come from keys that get beaten by the surf and then wash up. Watch out for sand that comes out of the inner part of the key.

Here’s a nifty chair made from an old windsurfing board and boom (Figure H). Seen outside the Ding King surfboard factory in Kahului, it was probably made by Mark “Euroman” Raaphorst.

Cut the sidewall off a tire in a zigzag pattern. Turn the tire inside out. You’ll get a graceful vase shape (Figure I). If you leave the tire mounted on the rim, the rim becomes a pedestal for the vase. That makes the vase even more graceful, and the cut-off chunk of sidewall adds to the ornate base.

More island tricks:

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Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is the founder of Z Corp. See a hundred more of his projects at instructables.com.

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