It has been an exciting few months for our newest Vaka Motu, the ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’!
After sailing from Auckland to Tahiti to Hawai’i, the vaka sailed 14 days in the open ocean for its home in the Marshall Islands.
On 25 July, the vaka and its crew arrived at Majuro atoll where they were welcomed by the Marshallese community who will use the Vaka Motu for sustainable sea transportation to meet their daily needs. The vessel was met by traditional Marshallese sailing canoes that were built through the WAM school and then escorted to the Delap harbor for a traditional welcoming celebration.
The ‘Okeanos Marshall Islands’ crew consists of captain Peia Patai, Steven Tawake and Iva Vunikula, with Dustin Langidrik as managing director, Alexander Sanchez as captain in RMI and the Marshallese crew members Ejnar Aerok, Archie Horiuchi and Kathrilla Rikeo.
The Okeanos crew was joined by Simon Baumfield and Jess Charleton who documented the events with their professional cinematography.
The first week then saw many visitors, including USP science students, Alex Beetz of GIZ, and the wonderful Minister Matt Zachkras who tragically passed away just days after his visit onboard of Okeanos Marshall Islands.
Soon after the welcoming ceremony and many visits the crew did a first trial run to Arno where they were able to deliver cargo (medical and school supplies, along with four teachers and their personals). The passengers told the crew this was the best sailing on a boat they have had and they were honored to be sailing on the vaka with its spot-on service.
The second trial run was to Aur Atoll on 16 August which was requested by the president and was a cargo and passenger run. The trip also included bringing back school kids to the island. The sail to and from Aur Atoll went very well, with normal sail wind in the vaka’s favor and without any complications. The Okeanos crew was honored with a very warm traditional welcome at Tabal Aur from the local chief and a group of women who came on board and were awed by the beauty of the vaka.
Soon our Okeanos Marshall Islands crew will have the president and the German Ambassador on board, and we all look forward to many further trips to come, with fair winds and happy passengers and crew.