Jul 8, 2020

COM-FSM and Okeanos Traditional Navigation Training Program started

On 1 July 2020 the first Traditional Navigation Training Program offered by the College of Micronesia (COM-FSM) in collaboration with Okeanos Foundation started at the FSM-FMI campus in Yap, Micronesia. A diverse group of 11 students are excited to learn all about Traditional Navigation and practice good seamanship!

Picture credit: Director DY&CA Constantine Yowblaw

The highly practical program is running over the course of one year, consisting of two parts: “Traditional Navigation” delivered by Grand Master Navigator Ali Haleyalur and “Applied Seamanship” delivered by Okeanos Fleet Commander and Grand Master Navigator Peia Patai.

Ali Haleyalur aims to provide participants with the knowledge and skills in the traditional way of Micronesian navigation. It is hoped that its offering will rekindle interests in the preservation of this unique knowledge and to examine its relationship with modern science, e.g. oceanography, meteorology, and other related fields.

Students will be assessed in correctly naming the navigational stars, sea creatures, birds or flocks of birds, group of fish, and insects. They have to demonstrate proficiency and knowledge in determining the general directions from and to ocean waves move, which in turn determine navigational directions, determine bearings of islands from a referenced geographical point or another island, and name the sea lanes between identified pairs of islands stretching from Palau to the Marshalls including the Marianas.

In the second part of the program, Peia Patai is teaching in a mix of classroom and practical training safety on board, Vaka handling, basic navigation, tides, weather, rules and regulations, emergencies, knots and splices, as well as ethics and behaviour on board the Vaka. Incorporated in the training is also Basic Sea Safety (BSS) units delivered by COM-FSM instructors: Fire Fighting, Basic First Aid, Basic Sea Survival and Occupational Health and Safety.

With a legacy of cultural seafaring and traditional navigation, the program assists particularly young Micronesian people to strengthen learning through integration of voyaging experiences into quality education. After completion of the program, further opportunities and career pathways are open to either keep studying at FSM-FMI or maybe start working as crew on one of the Okeanos canoes.

We wish all students good luck and lots of joy with their training!


Written by Christine Biesgen, Head of Operations at Okeanos, 8 July 2020