Jun 12, 2019

Pohnpei anticipates arrival of two new Okeanos sustainable sailing canoes

Pacific voyagers from several countries are expected to sail into Pohnpei this June on two newly built traditional, fossil fuel-free sailing canoes — Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab — joining their sister Vaka Motu Okeanos Pohnpei that is currently operating out of Kolonia.

The Pohnpei arrival marks the second nation visit in the maiden voyages of the Okeanos vaka Motus whose crew trained for three months at the Okeanos Maritime Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand in preparation for their 4000 mile sail to their North Pacific destinations.

Among the crew are sailors from Pohnpei, Chuuk, Palau, Fiji, Cook Islands and Hawaii.

Pohnpei sailor Gino Ladore steers Okeanos Palau on its maiden voyage to Micronesia. Photo: Ivanancy Vunikura

Leading the voyages of Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab is Okeanos’ fleet commander and master navigator Peia Patai who also oversees the Okeanos Maritime Training Center. The fifty-foot Vaka Motu, or “boat for the islands,” is a double-hulled, Pacific sailing canoe designed to run solely on renewable resources: wind, solar energy and coconut biofuel.

Okeanos Pohnpei — formerly known as Okeanos Messenger — provides Micronesia with a sustainable alternative to the diesel-powered vessels that strain local economies. Photo: Chewy Lin

From Auckland, the fleet briefly stopped in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu to refill their engines with locally sourced coconut oil — a feature that provides an exciting and sustainable solution for many fossil fuel-dependent countries in Micronesia.

Okeanos Pohnpei, has been servicing Pohnpei’s outer islands since November 2018.

Okeanos Pohnpei has offered numerous services to the outer island communities, from unprecedented beach sweeps in Pakin to medical relief trips in the southern islands that will continue to be fulfilled with the introduction of these two canoes in Micronesian waters.

Okeanos Pohnpei and her fully trained Micronesian crew came to Kolonia at the request of Honorable Governor Marcelo Peterson who sought to provide more regular sea transportation to Pohnpei’s outer island communities.

“The need for transportation to our outer islands is huge. This vessel can provide year round service to our outer island communities,” Governor Peterson said when Okeanos Pohnpei arrived in November 2018.

Tony John, the captain of Okeanos Pohnpei, is returning after three months of professional sailing training at the Okeanos Maritime Training program in Auckland.

Okeanos Pohnpei Captain Tony John. Photo: Philippe Carillo

“During this voyage I learned traditional sailing,” said Tony. “I want my country to have traditional and sustainable transportation.”

The new vakas Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab will sail a total of over 4,000 miles to Palau and Yap respectively where they will serve the sustainable sea transportation goals of their countries and states. The countries of Palau and FSM have been working with SPREP on a Green Climate Fund proposal for traditionally based sustainable sea transportation.

Published in Marianas Variety, Regional News, 12 June 2019