Addendum to “Dominica’s Amazing Pwipwis” article

Young men rowing their BWA KANNO PWIPWIs nearshore at Calibishie. Note the hollow in the leading ends of the logs. Photo Credit: Dr. Lennox Honychurch

Following the publication/posting of the Dominica’s Amazing Pwipwis article on DNO on 22nd January 2024, some interesting information surfaced which I would like to share with readers.

**Storage area in pwipwis: Several years ago there were two Pwipwis hauled up next to each other on Soufriere Beach, and one had a small storage area built in the shape of a box without a top, on the inside of the back of the raft; this may have been for keeping bait, hooks, reels of fishing line, etc.

**The ‘dolé’ of the pwipwi: Most – but not all – local fishing rafts have two pairs of “ðolé”. These are the pair of sticks (or pieces of 1” x 1” lumber) affixed to each side of the pwipwi (or boat), to steady the oars during rowing.

Some pwipwis are equipped with 3 sets of dolé – one pair on each side and the third pair at a rear corner; this is to accommodate two rowers (See second photo).

**Pwipwi races on Dive Fest calendar: Persons in the local watersports business informed that during the early editions of the popular Dive Fest, pwipwi races formed part of the programme of activities for that festival. Unfortunately, such races have not been run for some time now.

**Pwipwi mentioned in Calypso: Reference was made to pwipwis in two local calypsos, one of which was performed in the 1980s and the other in the ’90s. Around 1983 or 1984 Pat ‘De Musician’ Aaron mentioned pwipwi in his song, “Mama” which was performed in the national Calypso competition. Meanwhile, in 1999, Gregory “Woch-la” Rabess mentioned pwipwi in his non-competition calypso-cadence song, “Bato-a Ka Koulé” (translates to ‘the ship is sinking’). That song was written entirely in Kwéyòl and Woch-la was one of the supporting acts in King Hurricane’s 10th Anniversary Spectacular.

Bwa Flo Pwipwi with 4 sides, plywood floor, 7 logs, no seat, and built to accommodate two rowers; hauled in on shore of Cabrits National Park. Photo Credit: Dr. Lennox Honychurch

**Mention of Pwipwi on political platform: It is alleged that a certain politician, in that person’s efforts at encouraging overseas-based Dominicans to come home to vote in the General Elections, suggested that they could use a pwipwi as one of the means of getting home to cast their vote.

Comments: One of the readers who commented on the original article, En Ba La, noted that “there might be a little more pwipwi versions around Dominica.” That is all so true! So, keep your eyes open. The pwipwi cruise continues.

Thanks to Dr. Honychurch for the photographs and to those persons who provided the additional information.

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  1. BennyT
    February 1, 2024

    Really, great thanks to you AJ for your time and passion producing these pieces that are so informative and culturally valuable.

  2. En Ba La
    January 31, 2024

    love the pwi pwi article. Things like this I love reading. looking forward to more articles they are “soothing” to read like ice cold water in a hot day.

    we love the Kabway utilized during childhood past times it would make for good read our history


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  3. Zandoli
    January 30, 2024

    One major advantage of a pwipwi is that it is unsinkable.

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