Apr 10, 2018

Launching of Yap’s Vaka Motu: Okeanos Waa’qab

What more important moment in the life of a canoe than when she leaves the land to reach her new home, the Ocean?

Thursday the 5th 2018, at the Pier21 in Auckland a canoe went into the water: her name is Okeanos Waa’qab, and she is the new born in the Okeanos canoe family.

Okeanos Waa’qab heralds its name after the Yapese word for its resident country, Yap. The vaka motu and its crew will sail to FSM this year to deliver the canoe to Yap where it will service the sustainable sea transportation needs of its people.

Okeanos Waa’qab under construction at Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders in Auckland thanks to our international crew of boatbuilders from Vanuatu, Cook Islands, and Tahiti.Photo credit: Simon Baumfield

Okeanos Vanuatu crew member Winnifa Mael gets cozy in Okeanos Waa’qab’s bunk. Each hull contains five bunks that can also accommodate cargo.

Vaka motu hauled to Pier 21 where it received a traditional blessing before entering the water. Photo credit: India Tabellini

Crew prepare the vaka motu at Pier 21 in Auckland before it touches water for the first time.

It is an intimate and sincere ceremony that marks this special event, a karakia is said by Rama Ormsby from Tainui Vaka, and the canoe is ready to go.

Crew member India Tabellini of Tahiti sailed Okeanos’ last vaka motu on its maiden voyage to the Marianas before returning to Auckland to assist with the construction of Okeanos Waa’qab; Photo Credit: Chelu Photos

It is a diverse group of people that looks up to the canoe in the air, while she is lifted and carried to the water. People from all over the Pacific, people with different stories and backgrounds, people with different cultures. Maybe they don’t even realize it at the moment: If circumstances were different, they could have been in all sort of different places, at that moment. But no, they are all there and they are all looking in the same direction, having a common vision of what the future should look like.

Is it not this, the power of the canoes?

Crew from Okeanos Vanuatu adjust the sails on Okeanos Waa’qab. The Vanuatu crew spent three months in Auckland assisting with the vaka motu construction and learning boatbuilding skills from Master Navigator Captain Peia Patai.

As islander and Pacific people, we are the first victims of global problems that are hitting our planet. Some of our islands are disappearing under the water, more and more cyclones are happening in our area, the over fishing is lowering our maritime resources. Rediscover our seafarer culture, our link to the Ocean, let it inspire us for a better future, a future where technology is at service of the Nature and not all the way around, can be a real solution.

It is a real now, while we are looking this canoe touch the water for the first time, hearing her hybrid engines turn on and imagining all the amazing goals that she will reach, all the people that she will inspire to look back at the Ocean as we used to do, all the knowledge and the links she will keep alive through the Pacific Ocean and the help she will bring to those who need it.

Who knows? Possibilities are limitless. For the moment, the first set goal is to be a classroom for the crew who will operate the Vaka Motu in the islands.

All the best Okeanos Waa’qab, welcome among us!


Blog by India Tabellini, Okeanos Trainer and Crew Member