The crew of the Okeanos Marianas set sail on a four-day voyage to Sarigan and Anatahan last Friday, stopping in Managaha to teach SDA kindergarteners about the canoe and entertain them with a few blows of its conch shell.
The Okeanos Marianas is a vaka motu or “boat for the island” built with the intention of providing regular transportation throughout the Marianas and led by captain Cecilio Raiukiulipiy, a seasoned voyager and the nephew of Grand Master Navigator Papa Mau Piailug.
The crew is composed of sailors from Saipan, Guam, Satawal, Chuuk, Ifalik, Pagan, Canada, and the U.S. mainland.
The Okeanos Marianas is currently operated by Okeanos Marianas Sustainable Sea Transport Ltd. or OSST, a Saipan-based company dedicated to fostering environmentally friendly sea travel in the Marianas through applying the traditional navigation and sailing knowledge that the people of the Pacific have developed over centuries.
The voyage to the Northern Islands served as an opportunity for the crew to build their sailing skills, from navigating in the midst of a sudden squall to dropping anchor in Anatahan’s ecologically stunning Turtle Cove.
“Ocean and weather conditions in the Northern Islands can change rapidly so the Okeanos crew has been traveling there to familiarize themselves with the water and the weather patterns and expand their understanding of inter-island navigation,” says OSST board member Peter Perez. “We want to expand their experience in the region before we start taking regular trips with the general public.”
They also collected nearly 600 pounds of trash from both islands, which they brought back to Saipan in a heap of garbage bags along with over 50 abandoned buoys.
“We are all happy that we did something to help the environment of Anatahan,” says crew member and captain-in-training Andrea Carr. “It has been a fulfilling voyage.”
The OSST predicts that the Okeanos Marianas will serve many purposes, including transportation of people and cargo, environmental conservation, cultural preservation and eco-tourism.
Another potential use may be the resettlement of unpopulated Northern Islands including Anatahan, which has been abandoned since the CNMI government evacuated the island due to volcanic activity in 1990. “Those lands have been unoccupied for far too long,” says Perez.
“It’s a waste of island,” agrees Captain Raiukiulipiy.
For the time being, the Okeanos crew will continue to train. They sail to Tinian this Friday and are working towards their first sail to Pagan in April.
“It’s not about money, it’s about getting people home,” says OSST managing director Emma Perez. “Getting the crew familiar with the waters and conditions in the north will help us establish regular transportation in the near future.”
From Marianas Variety, 16 March 2018