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.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Daily Practice

Date: 6th May 2011

Eighteen days into the wind: the waves roll high and crash onto our deck; they violently slap our hull at night and cause our small but proud va’a to pitch, sway and bounce along, as we slowly scratch our zig-zagged path into the surface of this immense blue that surrounds us. At times, below deck, it feels like sleeping in a tin can which is rolling down a bumpy, rocky mountainside. Our skipper, Marc, remarks that this has been his longest ever sea-journey with a constant headwind; and it has been long and it has been hard

Aboard the Gaualofa we have many daily practices, most of which (steering the foe, bailing water, tidying ropes, swabbing the deck) are in place for the safety and wellbeing of our crew and va’a. One daily practice, however, is a little different: Marc had stipulated before our journey began that each day before dinner one crew member would share a written story, which would be logged in the Gaualofa Story Book. Two stormy nights ago it fell upon Marc himself to fulfil this ritual, and here, I will make a humble attempt to relay the gist of his eloquent words.

As we sail into these relentless headwinds on our journey of cultural and spiritual rediscovery, we can each be reminded of our individual journey through life, as we brave the waves of social norms and the ever-present, ever-growing winds of consumerist conformity. The question we ask ourselves when facing these forces is, do we simply go with the flow, passively travelling to wherever these man-made forces should carry us; or should we strive against odds to find our own way in spite of these oft-overpowering pressures, taking responsibility for the course that we each should set, and leaving only good things for the future in our wake?

Aboard the Gaualofa, the crew had all made this decision before signing up. As we battle forth into this Easterly wind, we each also guide our personal va’a against the flow of material consumption, of modern enviro-unfriendliness, and of the divisive political tendencies of our time. Upon Gaualofa, we are powered by the wind, yet we travel against its flow. Upon Gaualofa, we receive power from modern solar panels, yet guide our va’a by the practices of our ancient forefathers. We are empowered by our ancestors, and we are supported by our people, and we travel with all of them to a better future for all of us.

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