May 26, 2019

Traditional Sailing Canoes Unite In Port Vila

Pacific voyagers from over six island countries are expected to arrive in Port Vila aboard two traditionally based, fossil fuel-free sailing canoes Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab this weekend.

Okeanos Palau crew members (from left to right): Jamos Andrew of Palau, Gino Ladore of Pohnpei, Makalii Hulilani Bertelmann of Hawaii, Bucksie Blesam of Palau, Samil Beouch of Palau, and Ardaseldo John of Chuuk. Photo: Samil Beouch

The Port Vila arrival marks the first leg in the maiden voyages of the vessels and their crew members who trained for three months at the Okeanos Maritime Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand in preparation for the sail.

Among the crew are sailors from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Hawaii.

Leading the voyages of Okeanos Waa’qab and Okeanos Palau are Fijian Captain Angelo Smith and Cook Island-native Peia Patai, respectively, who runs the Okeanos Maritime Training Center and oversees the construction of Okeanos’ “vaka motus” at Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders.

Fijian Captain Angelo Smith of Okeanos Waa’qab also captained Okeanos Vanuatu during the crew’s disaster relief efforts following Cyclone Pam in 2015. Credit: Ailé Kwegnyii of New Caledonia’s Kenu One Project

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.

Both vessels will unite with sister canoe Okeanos Vanuatu who has been operating out of Port Vila since 2015.

Following the devastation of Cyclone Pam, Okeanos Vanuatu was instrumental in disaster relief efforts by delivering crops and seedlings to the different islands where the agriculture was weakened or destroyed; often from Malekula to Epi, Tongoa, Tongariki and the rest of the Shepherds. The crew also delivered water, medical supplies and other goods to very remote island groups who urgently needed help.

Today Okeanos Vanuatu remains active transferring root crops from Shepherds to Port Vila on a weekly basis, while also offering day cruises and sunset sails. Okeanos Vanuatu is the first vessel of its kind in Port Vila, dedicated to reviving the seafaring traditions of Vanuatu’s voyaging ancestors.

Okeanos Palau departs for its maiden voyage out of Auckland Harbor. Credit: Ailé Kwegnyii of New Caledonia’s Kenu One Project

Similarly, the new vakas Okeanos Waa’qab and Okeanos Palau will sail a total of over 4,000 miles to Yap and Palau respectively where they will serve the sustainable sea transportation goals of their countries.

Article by Daily Post Vanuatu, posted on May 25, 2019