Jan 27, 2017

Okeanos Vanuatu to launch its eco-tourism program

written by Tina Baumgartner
in category Uncategorized, Vanuatu

The Okeanos Vanuatu is about to launch its eco-tourism program paired with sustainable transport awareness.

This boat is actually a Vaka, a sailing canoe built according to traditional Polynesian design and it runs only on solar panels and has a coconut oil-powered engine.

Vaka Motu Okeanos Vanuatu

While the main goals are to promote sustainability, ocean conservation and act as a disaster relief tool, it will also get involved in eco-tourist activities hand-in-hand with local communities.

For this whole initiative we have to thank Dieter Paulmann and the Okeanos Foundation. Since 2007, Okeanos has been supporting symposia on ocean noise, climate change, and the role of phytoplankton while collaborating with globally recognized science communicators such as Carl Safina.

Deeply troubled by the global threat to biodiversity, in 2009 Okeanos began producing the feature documentary Racing Extinction, directed by Academy Award winner Louis Psihoyos.

In 2010, Okeanos began working with voyaging societies across the Pacific to develop and build a fleet of seven traditionally designed, fossil fuel free double masted Vaka Moanas, representing ten island nations. The spirit of tradition and ancient wisdom spoke to our hearts and created a longing for solidarity, cooperation, and kinship.

The international voyage ‘Te Mana O Te Moana’ (The Spirit of the Ocean) began in April 2011. Over the course of two years, hundreds of sailors navigated from Aotearoa to Hawai’i to the US West Coast with a historic arrival at San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in August 2011. Our journey home began January 2012 with stops at Cocos Islands, Galapagos, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu concluding at the Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Is-lands, August 2012. These people demonstrated the genius of Pacific vaka design and the power of the almost lost culture of celestial navigation. Collectively they safely sailed 210,000 nautical miles of open ocean.

Two more Vaka joined the last leg of the journey, slightly smaller, they’re called Vaka Motu. Okeanos Vanuatu is one of them.

This Vaka Motu is not new in Vanuatu, it has been here and there for almost two years, right after Cyclone Pam. The boat and its crew have helped with disaster relief work by delivering crops and seed-lings to the different islands where the agriculture was weakened or destroyed.

The Okeanos crew was able to sail to very remote island groups and provide urgently needed help, not only to delivering sustainable food sources but also water and medical supplies provided by the different NGOs and national departments. Its first passage dated to when the fleet of Pacific Voyagers went all the way to Solomon Pacific Art Festival after a two year journey across the Pacific to revive traditional sailing.

Starting from the 2nd of January, fully registered, Okeanos Vanuatu will offer different tourist activities. Sunset tours and cultural tours around Lelepa are on the program. The crew will talk about their sustainable boat and its impact fighting climate change as well as about the cultural history of Vanuatu but also give crash courses in traditional sailing.

Some will recognized the wayfinding techniques used in the movie « Moana », whose producers have worked with members of the Pacific Voyagers in Tahiti. « A la carte » tours and scientific missions are also among the future activities.

The Vaka and its crew’s aim will be to raise awareness as well as being a suitable way of discovering Vanuatu’s wonders.

Article by jane@dailypost.vu for Daily Post Vanuatu, 24 January 2017