Jan 4, 2018

The Islands of Latty Stone to the Island of Stone Money

It was a historical voyage for Okeanos Marianas with her crew. I would say, it was an epic one. Twenty-one challenging days roundtrip that taught us a lot patience with our blue ocean. A mix of oceanic residents (Tahitians, Yappies, Carolinians, Chamorros, Japanese and Fijians) were all part of the crews.

Okeanos Marianas sails to Yap for the Annual Canoe Festival – the first time CNMI is represented at the summit.

The guidance of Master navigator Sesario Sewralur, son of Micronesian Pwo master navigator Mau Piailug, allowed me to do traditional navigation from Saipan to Yap.

Sharing our whole idea to this Canoe summit about Okeanos Sustainable Sea Transport was a bonus for us. It’s our culture and heritage to live a sustainable, healthy life with our Mother Earth, or Nau in Fijian and Nana in Chamorro. We all share a common home as oceanic people with our Mother Earth or Sister.

Fijian voyager Steven Tawake sailed Okeanos Marianas from Saipan to Yap through traditional non-instrument navigation called Wayfinding, with the help of Master Navigator Sesario Sewralur.

The first leg was a tough one. Squally, cloudy, rain and it was challenging to navigate when you hardly see stars at night. The guidance of the wind and swells was helpful.

Mike, one of the crew, started seeing land on the second day and we were all laughing because Yap was still far. Laughter and joy brings happiness to all of us. I was so happy with the new crew, plus meals were on time, and smiling faces kept us moving.

Master Navigator Sesario Sewralur assists Steven in traditional navigation, using only the stars, wind, waves and other signs of nature to reach their destination. Photo Credit: Pete Perez

We arrived to the land of stone money after day 5 with a warm welcome from the locals and the canoe communities. The ceremony and traditional ritual were for most of us. Yap is remote, beautiful with a touch of tropical green rain forest. Sadly, everything must come to an end, and we departed back to the land of Latty Stone.

Okeanos Marianas crew blow conch shells to greet their voyaging families in Yap. Photo Credit: Pete Perez

Traditional sailing canoes unite in Yap’s annual festival.

Photo Credit: Pete Perez

The return trip was a different one altogether: 2 days of fine weather and it was rumble in the Bronx afterwards. Gale forecast wind gusting to 35 knots, choppy seas, 7 to 8 feet swell. The crew tried their very best to sail and cover our easting. We tried our very best to be in good health and stay safe. With constant pounding, our moving Marae handled it well.

It was a whole different scene, reefing un-reef tack jibe –  it was a good training. Through sleepless days, everyone supported each other after their watches.

CNMI local Andrea Carr fixes the sail during the voyage. She, along with Steven and other crew, sailed on Okeanos Marianas maiden voyage from Auckland to Saipan this summer.

On the morning of day 6, we received bad news from land that one of the crew’s dad had passed away. Everything changed. We all supported our bro; we had session of prayer thanking the Lord for his Dad’s life.

During the midnight watch on the 19th of December, the wind was so strong that we dropped both sails. Then one of the crew members blew the conch shell and the wind faided away, and we continue sailing, laughing, and singing to keep us hopeful and strong. It was challenging. It was a big lesson for all of us, most thanks to our Creator for giving the gift of right judgment,wisdom and knowledge.

Children aboard the Okeanos Marianas during the Yap Annual Canoe Festival, celebrating the traditions of Pacific navigation and sharing it with future generations.

We made it home to Saipan on the 10th day at Sea.

Adios,
Steven and the Okeanos Marianas crew.