1841: NAVY MAN CHARLES WILKES: SURFING TOO CLOSE TO “LASCIVIOUS THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS”

High-ranking New York-born naval officer Charles Wilkes—an ill-tempered explorer, writer, and commander who was court-martialed twice and said to be the model for Moby-Dick’s Captain Ahab—spent seven months in Hawaii, in 1840 and 1841. In his multi-volume Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, Wilkes briefly discussed surfing. It is clear that the sport, by…