Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Good News/Bad News & the Naming of Ibi

I called Scott Smith at Superior Canoes yesterday about Ibi. The BAD NEWS is construction on her may not start until after the first of the year. The construction schedule was set back when one of the boat hulls coming out of the mold was cracked during extraction. Scott said no one else would know the crack was there but him, but he knew someone getting the boat would want it to be right. He’s either scrapping the hull or repairing it and using it for a demonstrator, and starting a new hull from scratch. The GOOD NEWS is that when I do get the boat, with Scott’s devotion to detail and perfection, I’ll know its right. You can’t ask for more than that.

Why name the Superior Expedition “Ibi”? The Timucua (tee-MOO-kwa) were the indigenous peoples that populated Georgia, Northern and Central Florida as much as 12,000 years ago. In their prime, the Timucua comprised 35 chiefdoms, each representing several villages containing hundreds to thousands of people. History indicates they were likely the first people to witness the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon when he landed in St,. Augustine in 1513. A number of villages were visited by the 500-man force of Hernando de Soto in 1539. By 1700, between disease, attack, and enslavement, their population had dropped to 1,000, and by 1717 there were only 250. By the time the United States acquired Florida in 1821, only five remained, and then they faded into extinction.

Illustration from Google Images

The Timucua word for water was ’ibi’. The word was non-specific, and could refer to a creek, river, bay, or anything from morning dew to the ocean. We are all tied to water. It’s the foundation of all life, and even people that aren’t boatmen of any kind find themselves drawn to it. Something like 90% of the nation’s population lives within a hundred miles of a major waterway. It was where settlers found safety, food, transportation, and commerce. It isn’t just that we flock to the beaches by the millions for relief from summer heat. There’s something elemental that draws us. I haven’t tested this theory, but I’m convinced if you were to show most people a painting of a mountainscape, and the same scene with a lake or river in the foreground, without even knowing why, they would invariably pick the scene with water. For me, I just love it---the sea creatures, the wildlife that populate its shores, the endless variety of watercraft that have evolved, our ties to water witnessed in naval, maritime, recreational and national history, even the spectacular and uncluttered sunrises and sunsets. With the exception of a kayak, nothing surpasses the canoe for getting close to water and all it represents. It even offers the same serenity I valued as a sailor. Therefore, what makes more sense than naming the canoe for what we’re all about---Ibi.

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