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.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
It is beautiful seeing old faces from last year’s voyages, with time spent sitting around the Fijian ava bowl reminiscing of old times and the voyaging experiences all crews have had over the last year or so. Our Samoan crew is sleeping, eating, training, and most importantly laughing alongside crews from Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga, PNG and the Solomon Islands.
With 40 to 50 hungry mouths to feed, the kitchen is always in full swing before dawn - preparing breakfast for the crews as they head out to do their daily duties. The Gaualofa is currently at Salt House Boats on the north Shore where she is getting a little TLC (tender loving care) from the Samoan crew. You can spot them lovingly sanding and painting Gaualofa, getting her ready for the epic voyage which all are about to embark upon.
Most importantly, all of the va’a will be outfitted with solar panels and an electric outboard motor in order to eliminate the reliance upon fossil fuels. No longer will this stunning fleet of va’a (seven in total) from around the Pacific expel greenhouse gasses through burning fossil fuels in order to propel themselves through the water (e.g. when in the harbour or in poor wind conditions).
All crews are eagerly preparing and anticipating our departure (which at this moment is projected for 11th April, 2011). In the meantime, the sense of community developing amongst the crews from varying backgrounds and a multitude of different Pacific Island nations is incredible to witness and even more lovely to partake in.
For now, the marae (Maori meeting house) in Mangere will be home to these voyagers, until they make their way to their true homes on their respective canoes at sea.
I must be off now - the lights have been turned off, and it is always best to be asleep before the cacophony of snores from around the hall takes off.
All the best from the crew of Gaualofa - safe and sound in New Zealand.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Position: Neiafu, Vava’u Islands, Kingdom of Tonga
The morning started out with a phone call for Kalolo, an old friend asking him if a couple of preschool students could visit the Gaualofa that morning. The crew prepped themselves and the Gaualofa for the presentations.
We welcomed, presented and entertained 3 preschools consisting of over 40 children all in less than 2 hours. Later in the day we received a surprise visit from 2 elementary schools. The crew presented the va’atele Gaualofa to the preschoolers and set up a little presentation on the marine monitoring that occurs on the va’a.
We have two different marine monitoring forms onboard that we have to fill out every time we see any form of marine life or trash on our course. We’re required to log position, time, state of sea, state of weather and description of what we saw. In this way the data we collect will be informative for environmental groups like SPREP, CI and ICUN that record specific coordinates of high and low density areas of marine creatures and trash.
The school visit went quite well considering the challenge in holding the attention of the age group we had to present to.
13th March 2011
Position: 23˚ 41.7’ S 175˚ 58’ W
After days on end without a nice hard gust of wind, it shifted direction last night. More SE than E. The day was another scorcher and the crew on watch amused themselves with watching Lolesio (the cook) scamper around the va’a seeking for shade on deck.
We were sailing and not using our engine, even though we weren’t going very fast - just 4 knots. And still no fish since the day we left Vava’u. We were all keen on having fish on the menu that day. Lolesio had even made mayonnaise which was on standby.
Alas the day was coming to an end and still no bite; throughout the day we were accompanied by schools of skip-jack, which just wouldn’t seem to throw themselves on the lures we had hanging off the stern. And flocks of various marine birds seemed to do a better job at fishing then we did.
The swells were growing larger and steeper with dark clouds just on the windward side of our beam. The low that we were avoiding seemed to catch up with us. Were hoping that we’re still outside of the low’s eye and just skirting around it. Winds were picking up and the va’a was making good speed, from 4 knots to 9 knots.
Suddenly the sound of the fishing reel running caught the watch’s attention, just in time to see a large marlin jump out of the water. Shouts of glee and triumphant cries filled the air, which woke up the other crew members who were resting. The whole va’a kicked into action when they figured out their prayers were soon to be answered with having fish on the menu.
After almost what felt like an hour of trying to reel the fish in but was only 15 minutes, the fishing rod broke at the top. All the boys immediately wanted to stop playing around and just hook the fish in. Not only were we impatient with getting the marlin onboard but the dark clouds on our windward side were even more visible. It looked to be one large squall coming our way.
Without any further adieu, the marlin was quickly on board and fish orders were flying around.
The squall hit us about 15 minutes later which seemed to put the crew in even better spirits.
I guess the meat on the menu and a good fresh water shower makes for a happy crew. Soifua.
18th March 2011
Position: 34˚ 59.48’ S / 175˚ 31.32’ E
It is a clear blue day with a cool breeze filling Gaualofa’s sails and blowing her speedily towards Aotearoa.
In the distance Senio eyes something ahead of us, by now it’s my watch and already half an hour has passed.
Everyone on deck ran to the bow to get a better look. Scanning the horizon ahead in a wide arc the splashes were familiar to me: WHALES! I guess they were 12 miles away and from that distance I wasn’t sure what type they were.
As we got closer other whales were spotted in a 90 degree angle all over the horizon. I guess there were 15- 20 whales in this pod and by now everyone was on deck getting excited, particularly the new crew.
Cap (Marc), ordered Salai, who was on the foe, to head for the closest whales. Fani got out her camera, Lolesio stopped making lunch and I monitored and recorded the whole activity.
As we got closer I identified them as sperm whales which are common in New Zealand’s waters. I think the whales were having a sports day or something. One, a female, I believe, as there was a calf near it, would breach and the calf would follow suit: female tail slaps, calf tail slaps; female would pec slap and the calf would copy.
All the while the whales around were also doing their ‘whale activity’. Fani and Cap (Marc) both armed with cameras took some really cool pictures. I clapped in appreciation at the show the whales were giving us.
These are magnificent creatures and always a sight to behold. We stayed with them for half an hour before Cap (Marc) decided we should continue our course.
Breaching: when a whale is leaping in the air rotating and landing on its back or side or forward in a head-lunge.
Tail slap: slapping flukes on surfaces.
Pec slaps: laying on its side or back, hitting the surface with one or both pectoral fins.
18th/19th March 2011
Position: From Great Barrier to Viaduct, New Zealand
‘They that go down to the sea in ships that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep’. Psalms 107:23-24.
It’s almost 5 hours until arrival to our meeting point with Uto-Ni-Yalo, and we can already see New Zealand. The crew is happy when they first sight land. A lot of them are too excited that they actually don’t go straight away to rest. A few of them have started on cleaning and preparing the va’a for inspection done on arrival by the quarantine and customs.
It’s now day break and we’re in Hauraki Gulf. Cap (Marc) tells us that we won’t be able to make the meeting time with Uto-Ni-Yalo as there are still a few miles between us. Lolesio makes rice, pisupo with canned spaghetti, what a treat for the majority of the crew!
2 hours until arrival at the Viaduct we changed our booms from the Bermuda rig to the Marquesas rig, which has become a tradition for everyone on arrival or departure of a country.
After we thoroughly cleaned the va’a, we started practicing our sivas. By now we have come upon Rangitoto Island, on the western coast. There were small fishing boats around - and so many yachts!
There were so many boats with sails and motorboats, I was amazed. The only boats I’ve ever seen are the ones in Samoa and those are the small fishing alias and the ferries that go around the islands. We also saw penguins, this was the first time I’ve ever seen them.
Siaosi was on the foe and he had to constantly adjust his course as there were so many va’as around; there were over 20 va’as that he had to try not to hit. I was quite happy to arrive in a traditional voyaging canoe, it was something new to my life and a lot of people were watching from their own boats.
We stopped for a short time, out of the channel to do our custom belief tradition, as we were about to step onto shore we needed to close our passage from the sea. After our ‘custom belief’ ceremony was over we continued on towards Auckland wharf. We saw a va’atele from our fleet sailing our way and the closer it got, we were told it’s the newly transformed Va’atele Haunui.
Our crew became very excited to see fellow voyagers. The crew, we soon found out, was the Hine Moana, to which they welcomed us with a haka in the middle of Waitemata Harbour . We continued on to the customs wharf to get all the official details out of the way. After that was done we motored on to the Viaduct where we were to dock at. We were once again greeted by the Hine Moana crew at the dock.
While tidying up and getting ready to join the other crew for a late lunch, we received a pleasant surprise when Fa’amatuainu Sa, Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale and other members of the Aiga Folau o Samoa soon arrived at the Viaduct. It was a nice feeling to see them. They were there when we left Samoa and then to see them when we arrived, it felt like they never left us.
We soon left the Viaduct for our base camp. We were informed that we’ll be staying together with three other crews- Hine Moana, Uto-Ni-Yalo and Haunui in a marae, Te Karaiti te Pou Herenga Waka, in Mangere.
Akenese, Fialelei ma Lolesio