By Stephen Pirsch
"Haole, no mana," said the massive Samoan as he passed the haole, bumping his shoulder.
"Why don't you use my name?," said the haole.
"Cause you haole," said Nano. The haole shook his head and moved away from the crew to the side of the boat. Three days at sea and not enough tuna to pay for the gas. "Why blame me?" he thought.
These fishermen, hard core locals mostly of Hawaiian Japanese descent, did not give out leis when the he came on board. When he first hired on, the crew acted with reluctant decency, but as the hot, listless hours rocked on, a brooding, superstitious weight hung on their faces. The haole sensed that the crew felt he had turned the sea into a fishless desert. These simple, tough men believed in magical things he could not fathom. They spoke only broken pidgin English, island style. "Haole no can da kine. Da buggah no talk story." [The haole does not know island ways. He does not make pidgin small talk].
On the horizon a large flock of seagulls dove for minnows, and Sunto, the crew chief, guided the boat towards them. George, the engine mechanic, threw out minnows as Sunto drove through the screeching flock. If tuna fed below, the school would follow the minnow trail.
About 300 yards past the gulls, Sunto yelled, "Aku! Aku!" [tuna].
Everybody jumped up to get their stout bamboo poles. Sunto shouted at
the haole, "Stop, Stop!" Sunto jumped up and down pointing at
his groin. The haole, very anxious to get his pole, became totally confused
by Sunto's pointing. After a few false starts towards his pole with Sunto
crying, "No! No!", the haole realized he needed his heavy rubber groin
flap to mount the pole against.
Nano said to Sunto, "Eh brah, da haole no scoah - da puka head." [Brother, the haole will not score - he is an air head].
Looking back at the gulls, the crew saw a swath of frothing, boiling white
water fifty feet wide racing towards the boat - tuna jumping and diving in a
feeding frenzy. The haole, alone on the left side, felt the intense anticipation
of an imminent strike. The ten fishermen stood nervously waiting, all
poles extended with ten foot lines and minnow lures in the water. Only
yards from the back of the boat the tuna were churning the water. Then
JERK! the haole's pole went down in a massive strike. Levering the pole
against the rubber groin protector, the haole quickly heaved the thrashing tuna
out of the ocean and into the boat. Every time the haole's line hit the
water, a three foot tuna attacked before the lure sunk an inch. The entire
school moved to his side! No one else had a strike, and the agitation
was extreme. Oshiro, the boat owner, and some others pushed the haole
out of the way and motioned him to go to the right side of the boat. When
he moved, the entire school moved with him! The crew caught nothing until
they came over to pat the haole on the back and stand by him. The whole
crew, crowding around the haole, now stood on the right side. The boat
Every time the haole's hook hit the water someone would cry, "Aiyah, da haole mo' Aku!"
The crew, drunk from exhaustion and excitement, shouted and panted for breath, each pulling in fish after fish. Water washed into the boat and fish blood washed out. In twenty minutes, the boat was completely full - fish flopping everywhere underfoot.
Oshiro said, "Da kine Aku, haole kine. Haole big mana [big luck]."
Just then the haole, wobbly and inattentive, felt his pole jerk sharply down.
In an instant he fell overboard, surrounded by a swirling mass of blood, tuna,
and now, attracted by the trail of blood - sharks! The haole, pole still
in hand, hysterically jabbed one end towards Nano. Nano grabbed it to
pull him in. As the pole tip slipped past the haole's fish - slimed hands
he panicked even more. The boat coasted away, sharks fins visible behind.
Half the men now had their hands on the pole as the haole frantically wrapped
the fishing line around and around his arm.
The line, slipping, cutting spiral grooves in his arm, made him remember something worse as he cried, "The hook, the hook! " The fear of the three - inch hook tearing into his arm flooded his mind. The boat slowed, but the hook still came up behind him, catching him by his swim suit! The crew pulled him in by his shorts as if a fish.
Everyone laughed wildly and patted him on the back. "Ha! Ha! haole big fish, Ha!"
For once he felt as one of the crew, and for awhile the crew felt the mana; the good fortune of the boat was assured, with the good luck mo'bettah haole back on board.