Principles

The Samoa Voyaging Socety (SVS) works to promote positive Samoan cultural values, respect for the ocean and nature, individual and social responsibility, discipline and integrity.


The SVS considers that the reintroduction of traditional sailing in Samoa will provide opportunities for youth development (sports, leadership), environmental awareness, cultural development and, potentially, tourism opportunities such as whale watching and adventure tours.


SVS is developing hands-on educational and training programmes in traditional sailing and navigation. The programmes will target young Samoan youth including school children, school leavers and other interested groups. The task of learning traditional sailing and navigation skills also develops leadership and discipline among the youth, leading to well-rounded young people capable of contributing positively to the growth of this nation.





Wednesday, August 8, 2012

7th August 2012

“You must be dreaming. Are you joking? Get that idea out of your head and get back to what you were doing.”

Have you heard this somewhere before? Sometimes the seed of the idea, the beginning of the dream, ends right there. But then maybe it could sound like “hang on a minute I can do that”. I could go to the library; I could look on the internet; I can talk or mix with people who know; I can ready myself or do some training; I can advertise myself to the right people.

Listening to some of the crew in the fleet and here on Gaualofa has been humbling in this respect. Both similar and different. Similar because whether intentional or not most of us voyagers started with a dream then tried real hard to make it a reality. Different is , our separate journeys and reasons, which could be: to travel, to find our heritage, to experience life on a traditional canoe, traditional navigation, ocean conservation, to be an example for family….. Your reason is yours and so is your dream. Fight for it.

We are really looking forward to arriving in Tuvalu (just 150 nm to go) and meeting with the people. Also having our first land wish. Mine is to drink a coconut. Anama says she can’t wait to have a snowflake. Lole says his is pavlova , John wants a coconut crab, Bruce wants fruit like maybe an orange, Kim wants a freshly baked chocolate chippie and cold milk, Jordan wants green tea ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Taleni wants pig ears. Senio wants ufi.

Soifua
Andrew Banse and Gaualofa  crew

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Life onboard

A warm breeze caresses the deck of our va'a as we cruise steadily across calm seas. Praise God that for the first time in a while the wind is allowing us to sail almost directly toward our destination of Tuvalu, after awkward gusts and sudden wind shifts had had us literally sailing in circles over the past few days. Someone's prayers have obviously been answered on our behalf! And we are grateful.
 
We are now two weeks into our journey home to Samoa, and have yet to see any land. The captain says that we might reach our next stop by the end of the week, and all on board are eager to re-acquaint themselves with the solid earth for a few days. Meanwhile, on board we are living Life at Sea: we read, we write; some study while others entertain themselves and each other with songs and other musical antics. We bake in the midday sun while praying for a cooling respite of rain, and we hope for clear stars and a warming breeze at night. We fish, we eat; we sit back and watch as our belly’s grow softer. We wash dishes, bathe, and swab the deck in salt water. We talk sometimes of base things such as what delicacies might next emerge from Lole's magical fry pan for dinner; and we converse at other times on elevated themes such as how to improve the lives of our people, and what noble purpose might our lives serve upon completing our current sojourn upon our mother Gaualofa. Thus we sail on...

 At the moment it is 3am, my watch shift is done, and the moon sets upon our stern while Orion slowly rises from beyond our bow. Perhaps we should enjoy one more peanut butter cracker and another 'ukulele singalong before bed...or maybe just bed.
 
Sending love to you all.

Bruce and Gaualofa crew.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Remembering those we met on the journey


Good morning from roughly 435nm East of Tuvalu. 


Today is day 15 on the ocean, 3 days longer than first anticipated. Such is the case with voyaging. I have to say, I kinda prefer how our ancestors did it … sail ‘til you see land or run out of stuff to eat. None of this ETA and sailplan stuff. It takes the anticipation out of the equation.


Last night was a quiet night on Gaualofa, after a squally Friday night. Looking at our sail path over the last 48 hours, I noticed a couple of loop-de-loops on the screen – the first being from Friday night when the squalls won 3-1 over our shift’s attempts at tacking (our lone point comes from collecting a little over 50 litres of rainwater, a hard-won bonus). The second loop happened yesterday afternoon when we took the opportunity to re-patch a sail while the winds were light. Andrew and I took turns at sewing the relatively long tear, and I have to admit that Andrew’s stitches were much neater than mine. The only person who would be more horrified than my Form 2 Home Economics teacher at the state of my sewing skills, would be my mum (when we were growing up she could sew a dress perfectly, blindfolded). In any case we slapped on a length of sail tape over the sewed up bits. You know, just to be safe.


Like I said, last night was pretty quiet on board, with most people disappearing below deck after dinner. I guess the wind got taken out of our sails, both literally and figuratively. Nick, our fearless leader, posted up daily Easting targets on the whiteboard, putting our arrival to Tuvalu at this coming Friday (hopefully, with fingers crossed, and a multitude of prayers muttered into the wind). So, it’s understandable that people would need a little time to recharge and adjust to the new ETA. Sure, Gaualofa has done longer stints at sea, but it might have something to do with being homeward bound and the painfully slow progress we’ve made up to this point.


To other news, story time continues to be a daily hit. Since Jordan‘s post, we’ve had French language lessons, a couple of singalongs, a fitness demonstration (Kalolo’s attempt at getting the crew involved in more physical activity), and a fair bit of sharing. The other day, we turned our minds and memories to the people that have touched our lives at the various stops we’ve made - strangers who have opened up their homes to this ragtag bunch of voyagers. We’ll always be grateful to the people that made this voyage possible – Dieter and Hanna Paulmann, their hardworking logistics team, the Voyaging Societies, and many, many more. But, there are also those people who, at every stop we’ve made, have made each port feel that much more like home by their kindness and generosity. We each shared memories of total strangers who had, by their actions, forever earned a place in our individual voyaging stories. And, there were so many. There are so many. People that we can’t always put a name to, but can picture in our minds, with sincere gratitude.


A hearty handshake,
a welcome embrace,
a hot shower,
a place to sleep,
the chance to kick back amongst homey surroundings.
A meal here,
a drink or two there,
a token gift to remember a person and place by.


Strangers who have become friends,
friends who have grown into family.
Eager listeners who soak up our so-called adventures,
curious and in awe of our day-to-day lives on the va’a.
People who dream of what we do.
People who accept us as something we often lose sight of – voyagers from afar.
People who, through their kindness and generosity, have given us a place to call home so far away from our own.
People to whom we are most thankful.
Fa’afetai, fa’afetai tele lava.


Collectively, we can only hope to one day return the kindness that has been shown to us, if not pay it forward.


And with that, breakfast beckons. Lole has baked some delicious smelling bread to go with coffee, perfect for the drizzle and overcast weather that seems to be the order of the day. 


Wishing you all a peaceful Sunday, and an awesome week ahead at work and school.


Much love from somewhere along 7 degrees South and 171 degrees East.
Anama Solofa & the Gaualofa crew.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Family - on board and at home


Aiga folau a Samoa.  My current family here on board Gaualofa.  As the days draw on, I can feel us all growing closer and closer just like our canoe inches closer to Tuvalu.  Every day for the past couple of days we have been having story time just before we eat dinner.  We each take turns telling stories, giving demonstrations, and teaching one another a little more about ourselves.  We have laughed, cried, argued, been scolded, and grown just like any other family.  We have heard triumphant stories of survival in horrid situations, learned how to make toffee, give foot massages, and today I taught the crew how to start dreadlocks by giving Taleni one!  I am learning more Samoan everyday and learning more about where my mother’s family comes from.  


We passed the half way point to Tuvalu recently and are praying for more wind to blow us in the right direction to get to Tuvalu in a timely manner.  We are currently creeping along going about 2-3kts and with the wind sometimes straight from the east, we have to tack north and south struggling to keep us going somewhat in the right direction.  The refreshing squalls come in everyone once in a while giving Gaualofa and her crew a nice fresh water rinse and replenishing our water supplies.


It’s a beautiful clear night tonight, with the moon and stars shining down on us.  There is a nice breeze coming in, and the boys are playing their ukuleles and guitars and singing songs from back home.  I think it’s time I get off the computer and join them.  I just want to send my love to all my aiga ma uo back home in the South Bay of LA and in Arizona.  


Miss you all, talk to you guys soon!
Blessing from somewhere in the south Pacific,
Jordan Suyeto and the Gaualofa Crew

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gaualofa - Tacking her way to Tuvalu


It's been seven days now since we left the Solomon Islands, and for most of that time we have been fighting very strong sea and wind conditions; not to mention having been constantly wet from the squalls and the waves that have been breaking over the va'a. At night, it is so dark in these conditions and the wind so strong, that the wind-driven rain is hurting when it hits you in the face. Up till now, we are still fighting upwind, tacking our way to Tuvalu.

In the last two days the winds have eased off, bringing Gaualofa to a crawling speed of just 2.5 knots. Slow as it is, it's given us time to recover and regain our strength, and enjoy a much needed rest.

Late yesterday evening, to lift our spirits, I landed a massive yellowfin tuna. It was a good fight on the hand line; everyone crowded to see what was on the end of the line, and when it was landed there was a great shout of "cheeeehoooo!". It weighted 60 plus kilos cheeeehoooo! We had a feast - a tuna feast. You name it, we had it: curried tuna, sashimi, oka, poke, fried fish, flaked tuna with onion and mayo on crackers - all washed down with a nice ice-cold Vailima....... now there's a thought for when we arrive in Samoa! It's strange how a cup of coffee can taste out here. As always, it was amazing as to how Lole, our cook, made that tuna taste different in so many ways.

With still 667 nautical miles to go, tacking our way to Tuvalu, we are asking you to keep us in your prayers for a favourable wind as we on Gaualofa endeavour to make Samoa proud.

Tofa soifua,

John Misky & the Gaualofa crew.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Knots, sunrises and fish!


We’ve been a little light on blog entries of late. I put it down to post-Festival of Pacific Arts exhaustion. But things are well on their way to getting back to normal on Gaualofa. A few of us left Honiara with sniffles and slight ‘flu, most of which have cleared thanks to Lole’s intuitive cooking of soups and belly-warming stews. The sometimes squally weather we’ve encountered so far ain’t got nothin’ on Lole’s ability to keep the crew well-fed and heart healthy. So far this leg, we’ve covered roughly 360 nautical miles since leaving Point Cruz Yacht Club on Saturday. At this rate, we hope to arrive in Funafuti before the end of next week.

Sailing has sometimes been changeable, almost as frequent as the change of watch crews. On the first night out, John’s watch weathered a storm that caused a slight tear in one of our sails. By the time our watch came up, all was calm on deck. But then again, we’ve had our fair share of squalls and rain showers that the next watch happily avoid. Such is life on the watch merry-go-round. Yesterday afternoon, with the sails set just so and the winds holding steady, we were able to tie down the foe and enjoy auto-foe for the rest of the day. A productive afternoon in the sun saw pretty much the whole crew on deck practicing knots. Kim and I are being put through Kalolo’s school of hard knots after our skills were found to be a little, shall we say, untidy. Our bowline exam was set for yesterday, but I think there may be a few resits, what with Kalolo relishing his role as school teacher/taskmaster (maybe a little too much?).

As I write this entry, dawn is breaking on the horizon. The 3-6am shift is, I find, the hardest and the best shift – hard because it’s the second shift our watch crew has done in one night, but best because we get to see the transition from pitch black night to the start of another day on the ocean. Kalolo has just set our fishing lines for the first time since setting out for Tuvalu. Here’s hoping we catch some fish soon, I’ve got a craving for sashimi. We’ve had a few flying fish land on the deck the past couple of nights, but their small sizes meant they were returned unharmed to the sea … if somewhat regretfully by the boys. Another flying fish has just been discovered near the bow, a decent sized one this time, but again discarded because it seems to have lain undiscovered overnight. Oh well, the oka-cravers will just have to wait a little longer.

I wonder how the other vakas are doing. It’s been a little over a week since we said our goodbyes on Ranadi Beach in Honiara and we hear they’ve had a rough time of it so far. I hope the winds and weather are kinder to them as they set out for their respective destinations. While still in Honiara someone said to me ‘in a few weeks this will all be a dream’. Thinking back, the last two weeks in Honiara alone were like an activity-filled, multi-cultural, technicolour dream. I’ve been on Gaualofa going on 6 weeks now and have collected so many awesome memories already … and we’ve still got Tuvalu and Tokelau to go!

Well, that’s it from us this Friday. Lole has started on breakfast, my favourite meal of the day, so I’m off to wash up and see if I can get some bowline practice in before Kalolo remembers that Kim bore the brunt of much of his ‘lecturing’ yesterday, and decides that today is to be my turn.

Manuia lava feau ole aso.
Alofaaga mai le auvaa ole Gaualofa.
Anama Solofa


Looks like the crew got what they were hoping for :)


Monday, July 23, 2012

11th Festival of the Pacific Arts Closing Ceremony


What a spectacular cultural feast we experienced with the closing of the 11th Pacific Arts FWhat a spectacular cultural feast we experienced with the closing of the 11th Pacific Arts Festival in Honiara. Our va'a Gaualofa having said our farewells to the rest of the fleet 2 days earlier had stayed to be part of the closing ceremony. Starting with a street march to the stadium, each country one behind the other lead by their national flag bearer sang, danced, waved along the way. I think also a lot of us were in awe as the crowd along the street sides really started to build up in numbers and enthusiasm. 

Arriving just outside the stadium awaiting our call we were met by the many varied peoples of the Solomons from their different islands and provinces. All in traditional dress lining our path into the stadium. Behind them hundreds of people, cheering and waving. Smiles and laughter everywhere. Then we heard our call."Introducing Samoa". The crowd was electrifying. Thousands of people everywhere. All around the hills were thick with people. It was loud. The big hollow drums, a familiar sound around the pacific, were beating loudly from different areas of the arena. To the dance music of the bamboo pipe bands of the Solomons to the noise of the cheering crowd. 

To walk in to this packed stadium as part of our motherland contingent representing Gaualofa and her sister vakas was an honour and privilege to be long remembered. On the hill was a large coordinated group of people who would show above their heads different placards which when viewed together from afar would be a huge national flag of the country walking past. Which would create a response from the country to the crowd in the hills. Dance or haka the crowd would just go wild. We gathered in the centre of the stadium as the speeches and presentation of gifts were delivered. 

Gathered as we were country by country I could not help but notice the varied tribes of the Solomon Islands. Here they were standing shoulder to shoulder celebrating this event. Celebrating themselves. Not so long ago this would not have been the case. It was said 200,000 people attended or were involved with the Pacific arts festival. And when it came to the finale it almost felt like a good portion of them were here. Costumed birds, alligators, fish, giant people covered in grass, people fully painted blue, yellow, orange, green with flags. As well as the different tribes of the Solomons and with their uniqueness all dancing in time to the drums and the sounds of the bamboo sounds of the Solomons. The crowd did not stop cheering. Then the fireworks, what a show, there were so many that it felt as if we were in it. A great show and a high bar set for Guam 2016 to follow. I think it was great to see the high involvement of the children in all that I had seen. They gave a great performance and a valuable lesson for them in front of their world.

Many Thanks Solomon Islands for the 11th Pacific arts festival. See you in Guam 2016! 

Soifua
Andrew Banse

Pictures from the Festival of Pacific Arts