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.

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! 

Andrew Banse

Pictures from the Festival of Pacific Arts

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reconnecting with family

As Gaualofa sailed through the Solomon Islands towards Honiara we passed Malaita, the island my Papa Sale came from.  All the stories my mom told me about Papa went rushing through my mind and I could picture him sitting there on his rocking chair in our family home in Samoa as he did his best to pile all his grandchildren on his lap.

My mom Helen was one of the youngest. As a child I always wanted my mom to describe Papa Sale. She said he had copper skin and reddish brown hair with a big friendly smile. About 10 years ago we found a photo of Papa in an old family album. My mom and her sisters made copies to frame and place in their respective homes.  We could only dream of the day that this very photo would help us trace our family in the Solomon Islands.

With myself on board the Gaualofa heading towards Honiara and my parents and sister flying in from Samoa for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, destiny was lining us up for a family reunion of the century.

It was an easygoing morning in the floral arranging booth at the festival village when my mom started chatting with some of the volunteers about her grandfather from Malaita. This is something we often spoke to people about upon arriving in Honiara, but this time the volunteers insisted on making an announcement on the main stage in hopes of connecting our family. Shortly after hearing the announcement, a young lady from Malaita named Selena who was working for the Tahitian delegation called her parents to inform them that the granddaughter of Sale Gwaliasi was here from Samoa looking for her family. Amazed and stunned by the news, Selena’s parents and other members of their family-our family, came to meet my mom.  With Papa’s photo in hand, my mom met several cousins who resembled many of my aunties and uncles in Samoa and New Zealand.  

I was working on Gaualofa at the Point Cruz Yacht Club when I heard the news and I was overcome with joy. My mom’s cousin Samson was organizing a big family dinner and soon I would have a chance to meet my Solomon family too.

Uncle Samson picked us up and drove us to our family home in Lau Valley where many of the Malaita population in Honiara live. Lau is the name of the region on the Northeast coast of Malaita where my tribe comes from. When we arrived at our family home, cousins, aunts, and uncles were there to greet us and I was so thankful to see them. It was a moment in time that felt like a dream. Being with our family from Malaita felt surreal and at the same time it all seemed to make sense, like a piece of a large puzzle that fit perfectly.

My great grandfather Sale Gwaliasi came to Samoa in the early 1900’s and about a century later we have come full circle, reconnecting with our family from Malaita. My heart is filled with gratitude and I will never forget this reunion.

Tofa Soifua,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Navigating to the Solomons

The winds have been really shifty the past couple of days, ever since we sighted San Cristobal, one of the bigger islands in a group of many southeast of Guadalcanal where Honiara is positioned. It has been a chase for wind at times and buckling down on our sails when we are gifted with strong gusts inside squalls, we can’t complain either for the for the fresh water showers. All in all it felt like we were racing along from Vanuatu to hit the hand break all of a sudden when we hit land, but whose complaining???

Without sounding too up ourselves, I must give our crew a pat on the back for the fantastic steering throughout the voyage to Solomon Islands that saw Gaualofa slowly make her way from the very back of the pack to the front. For most of the time it was strong winds and big swells which could easy have thrown Gaualofa off course but all 3 shifts maintained course which resulted in us sighting land first which is something we are all be very proud of.

A first on Gaualofa, Jayde Leota got her hands wet with leading our traditional navigation for the first time during this leg, therefore earning her the name of navigator. What does it mean to be “the navigator” you might ask? It means you set a course for the crew to follow along the star compass. For example this particular leg from Espiritu Santo – Guadalcanal she set a course line of Lai – Manu which translates to a course North West (Lai) running 320-325 degrees (Manu).

How does the crew know which direction to go? Another important job for the navigator is to show the way whether it be stars, moon and planets to follow at night or direction the va’a should be in relation to sun and swells during the day. I know! It sounds harder than I thought too!

So how does it all work?? Every shift records their estimated speed (by dropping a banana or watching waves pass from the front kiato where the deck starts and counting how fast it takes for it to reach the last kiato where the deck ends) and direction (using stars, planets, moon, sun swells, wind) every 30 minutes that they are on shift. Jayde then works out a summary every 6, 12 or24 hours and estimates and plots how far the vaa has sailed and in which direction. The navigator is only responsible for getting the va’a to land, so once we sight land, we can say the navigator has successfully done his/her job regardless of whether it’s the right land or not! He he he…I am happy to inform you all that Jayde lead us in the right direction and we sighted San Cristobal Solomon Islands early Friday morning . For over 600Nm the “trad nav” as we call it was only off our actual position by 25miles!

 Jayde as humble as she is will not let me send this off without mentioning the help she got from our usual navigators Kalolo, Fani and Lole plus the help from captain Nick. We must give credit to our ancestors for their bravery and trust in nature. They were true observers and listeners who were so inter connected with nature and had so much faith in their knowledge that they went out blind and navigated the Pacific Ocean one island at a time. It amazes me every time I think about it and pushes us to get back to what once was, one leg at a time.

Now back to the winds! Last night we had zero winds which left us bobbing around (hopefully not in circles) but in any case we were rewarded with a beautiful moon lit sky with many stars to gaze at. This moon seemed as if it were in front of the sun giving it a yellowy glow that was just magical! I can’t remember the last time I sat and enjoyed a good moonlit night…

Our destination Honiara and the Pacific Arts Festival is going to be the centre for all Pacific Islands for the next two weeks. To imagine all the different cultures and traditions that will be show cased during this festival just gives me goose bumps! What a great opportunity for the Pacific Islands to share and learn from each other, what a great opportunity to tighten the bonds we share as people of the Pacific. We the children of Te Mana o te Moana will be making the most of the Arts Festival to share our stories with our Pacific brothers and sisters.

Tofa Soifua
Tasha and Gaualofa 

Farewell Lonesome George

Talofa everyone,

We are speeding away at 10knots today, lovely and sunny outside :) The crew is with high spirits and are looking forward to our daily rehearsal of our skit and songs for the Arts Festival.

Now to paint you a rough picture - we have sailed in the past 3 shifts (9 hours) the same amount of miles that we have done in the last 30 hours. Top speed recorded was close to 20knots which Koleni, Taleni, Kalolo and Kim are quite happy to boast about. Gaualofa is truly slicing through the water like melted butter and positioning herself quite well towards the front of the fleet together with Hine Moana and Marumaru Atua. We are very thankful for the sudden change in weather, the whole day today felt like the doldrums with no wind and scorching sun. But now it’s a totally different scenario that we are more than happy to adapt to. These are the winds we were praying for the get us to Honiara on time for the Opening of the Pacific Arts Festival 2012.

It only seems like yesterday that we departed from the shores of Espiritu Santo Island, our last stop in Vanuatu and already we are only 371Nm away from Honiara. Luganville was a lovely little town located on a very big island. It was very sad to have spent only one day as the island had so much to offer in terms of beaches, pristine blue water holes, world class diving, delicious food and most importantly, the people were top class lovely if there is such a description. It is part of the voyage, to be flexible with schedules and to make the most of whatever time you are given. Jayde, Kim, Fani and I did just that when we heard news that we had until 5pm. We immediately hopped in a taxi for a ride to see the land, to visit the world famous blue holes then to explore the town and taste the local cuisine. One site we didn’t have enough time for was the Coolidge wreck but that will be done many times when we return to Santo one day.

On our last night in town the SBS news was reporting on Lonesome George, the last remaining Tortoise species from the island of Pintu in the Galapagos Island group. I should mention that Lonesome George had a special place in all our hearts here on Gaualofa. We first heard of George on our way from Cocos Island to Galapagos when James gave us the run down. George was an extra special giant tortoise because he was over 100 years old and the last one of his kind left in the world. Most of the fleet together with the Gaualofa crew got to see and meet George when we were in Santa Cruz a few months ago. We must all commend the great work of the passionate people at the Galapagos National Park and Research Centre. For many years there have been many attempts to cross breed George with other tortoise species in the hope that his blood line will survive. You can imagine our shock when we heard that he passed away. It’s even sadder to think that there will be no more Georges in this world. Tuesday 26th June 2012 another species has been wiped away, never to be seen again by anyone.

Our message is simple from Gaualofa, what you do out of love will live forever “E leai se gaumata’u, na’o le Gaualofa” It is more important now that our actions reflect our love for our fellow living creatures, our ocean, our lands, our culture, our children.

Rest in Peace Lonesome George, you might not have been able to pass down your blood line but you have made us want to better ambassadors of the environment and living creatures.

Tofa Soifua
Tasha and Gaualofa Crew

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Approaching Port Vila...

S17 53.095 E168 46.692 and counting down quite quickly I might add. This leaves Gaualofa at  31.3Nm from Mele Bay on Efate Island, Vanuatu where the capital Port Villa is located. It is 5 minutes past 1am and it’s John Misky's shift together with Bruce, Owen, Titaua and myself.  It is still raining outside and we have strong winds averaging 10.5knots, literally pushing us to Port Villa.

It has been a cruisy leg for the most part - now that I can think clearly and not be stuck in the wet and rainy misery that we all seem to be in for the past 2 days. When leaving Suva we were quite blessed with steady winds and great angles for a smooth and comfortable run plus the sun was shining which makes everything better. Things on Gaualofa are running like clock-work, everyone sank right into their watches and rotating shifts, our chef Loliver has been perfect and scrumptious as ever in providing the 3 meals a day on board. Tonight's dinner was a chicken curry with a twist of roasted cashews, DELICIOUS! The previous meal was a serve of masi masi three ways (Oka/raw, fried and grilled) that we caught on the line. Thank you Tagaloa for the beautiful gift of fish, it was exactly what the doctor ordered given the limited nutrients that we get when out at sea.

Port Villa will be an interesting stop for most of us given the fact that it will be our first time in Vanuatu. We are all excited and anxious to see what it is like and to soak everything in. We are also excited to share with the people of Vanuatu our journey and stories of the ocean and how it teaches us to slow down and be more connected with nature and its cycles. We are adding a little skit about Gaualofa to our act so stay tuned as to how that goes in Vanuatu when we showcase it for the first time.  This will be a different approach to reconnecting with our culture and traditions and will hopefully solidify our message to everyone: "E leai se gaumata'u na'o le Gaualofa". "What we do out of love will live forever". If we love our oceans, our lands, our culture, our children and their future this should reflect in our actions today.

Fa'afetai tele lava


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Suva - Land of clouds and cheap taxis

It is Sunday morning and we are a day late leaving Suva, hey what’s new? This is Island time right? Island time, a concept we boast about to a certain extent. What does Island time really mean? Well some might use it as an excuse as I do now being a day late with our blog...oops.

Island time is a concept well valued throughout the Pacific; in fact I might suggest this is worldwide on many small islands and villages. Trying to clear the Vaka out of Mexico we were told at 3pm (after 4 Vaka had already cleared and we were in the queue for an hour or so)..."maniana, come back tomorrow" . So we did just that - we came back the next day. Island time, I think it is an important part of our way of life and a part of Pacific culture that should be appreciated and practiced, but in the right way and for the right reasons -not as an excuse for delayed blogs.

So what is Island time? On the Vaka we have strict times for our watches, 3 hours on 6 hours off, we have strict times on the fo'e, 30 mins at a time, and we have times for meals. But surrounding all of this structure we also have a concept of island time. The ocean has a rhythm, the waves and the swells keep time to a heartbeat of our globe as she spins through time and space.

So what does this teach us? If we listen closely enough to nature we learn. When we spend time on the ocean we hear the heartbeat and we feel the pulse and we live according to that pulse. We slow down from our life on land. We can remove ourselves from traffic and ringing phones and unnecessarily hectic lifestyles. We can enjoy the beauty of a sunrise and the hopes of a new day, we can watch the clouds drift by, we can hear the wind in our sails and the waves on our hulls, we hear the birds. We feel the cool of the rain and the warmth of the sun. We take time.

Suva fades into the distance, hidden under of blanket of grey wet clouds, I can imagine the $4 taxis, beeping their horns, racing around pothole ridden hairpin bends - hang on boys! The acrid scent of the mornings food and old cigarettes, contradict the clear no smoking signs hastily painted on the dashboard or back of the headrest. Cheap taxis and rainy days of Suva. Bula.vinaka vaka levu.

On land, I think sometimes we fool ourselves into being busy and racing through life to an early grave - for what? Why? Chasing the dollar, a promotion at work? Working 80-90 hour weeks? Do we stress ourselves without good reason? I know many of us do.

Here is a lesson the ocean teaches us. Slow down, slow down to the pace nature intended. Make time. Take time. Have time. Island time is a way of life that we must embrace.  We must make time for our families and friends, especially the children. We must take time for ourselves, to enjoy the natural beauty of our islands, swim in our lagoons, eat well, sleep well and live well. Then we will have more time on this earth.

Island time is natural, when we are hungry we eat, when we are tired we rest.  I believe the ocean teaches us to slow down to her pace, to her rhythm. Then we can appreciate our environment, we open our senses to what is around us and then we care. We really care. This is the lesson.


Friday, June 8, 2012

"Theoretically, it's Possible"

“Theoretically, it’s possible..” said the captain, almost in disbelief, as Samoa’s Gaualofa followed Hinemoana and the other va’a into the calm Fijian waters, jagged peaks shrouded in mist rising about us, a mere two and a half days after Sunday’s church service at our home port of Apia. The prayers we could feel from all of Samoa for the safe and rapid passage of her environmental flagship had obviously been answered, as we traversed the 500 nautical mile gap with a steady breeze and constant speed of around 10 knots; “Theoretically, it’s possible,” Nick had said, “but it just doesn’t actually happen in real life!” Indeed, we were all a little surprised at how swift our trip had been between leaving the dusky shape of Apolima behind us and sighting the misty silhouette of Taveuni just two mornings later, already in Fiji. 

This short leg of our journey was not, however, entirely without incident: a number of the crew of the Gaualofa were put under the weather, in this manner or that, and it was only because of the unity of the crew and the consideration and respect that they hold for each other that all shifts were covered and we were able to stay on course each day and night. My own particular sickness had me almost entirely below deck between shifts, trying to stop my stomach from mimicking the motion of the ocean swells; a year away from the va’a had revoked whatever claim I could have made to having a voyage-hardened stomach. Others were out with other ailments, most of which seemed to eventually cure themselves upon anchoring in the small bay of Buresala on the island of Ovalau yesterday evening, where the fleet of Te Mana o Te Moana will receive the generosity of the local family of George and Tina Patterson for a feast tonight. The palm-lined shore, thickly wooded hilltops and misty peak south of Ovalau make a majestic sight from within the bay. 

Tomorrow we will receive the full official welcome of the people of Fiji in the old capital of Levuka, including the important opportunity to share our message with all of the school children of the island. The effort and generosity already shown us by the people of these islands has been amazing, and as I wait in anticipation of tonight’s feast, my imagination stretches to perceive the full extent of tomorrow’s festivities. 

From all aboard Gaualofa, we ask you all in Samoa and abroad for your continued prayers and support for our cause, for our health, and for our safe journey to spread this message of unity and environmental responsibility through the Pacific.

Bruce and the Gaualofa crew

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday 6th June 2012

20 Miles until our first stop, Ovalau, Fiji. It is incredibly hard to believe that just over a mere week has passed since our seven canoes were happily docked at the Samoan marina. It definitely feels a lot longer. It almost feels like an amazing dream I had, but it was real, and I am now back on board Samoa’s canoe, my canoe, sailing closer and closer to our next port, Fiji.

I would like to start by saying a big fa’afetai tele lava to the Samoan Voyaging Society and all the family and friends who assisted and helped organise the arrival and stay of the seven canoes in our country. I can confidently say everybody had an incredible and unforgettable time. To be in Samoa for her 50th Independence Anniversary is something that I will never forget, something I will reminisce on and I’m sure will still be talking about it when I march at the 100th Anniversary!

When I found out earlier on in the voyage that I had the opportunity to sail all the way to Samoa, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss, I was excited to be a part of Gaualofa’s crew to bring her back home. But I never could have expected the overwhelming feeling I had the moment we could see a small speck of land as we came closer to home. Maybe it was the joy of knowing that I would soon see my family and friends, maybe it was the pride of sailing so many miles or maybe just the relief of knowing soon we’d be home. Whichever it was, it was a strong feeling and the beginning of a beautiful and truly memorable time in Samoa.

As we sail on to our next port, on a canoe we can now truly call our own; I would like to thank Dieter Paulmann and his wife Hannah for the generous gift of Gaualofa. The future of our canoe lies when we finish our current voyage to the Solomon Islands. We end one leg, but then a whole new life for the canoe will begin. I am excited to be involved in this inspirational project and hope that the integrity of our canoe stays true and we can continue our amazing journey connecting our heritage and our environment, connecting our past and our present for a better future.

‘E leai se gaumata’u na’o le Gaualofa’ - The things we do out of love will last forever

Jayde Leota

Monday, May 28, 2012

71 NM from Apia

I woke up to our boys jamming on the ukuleles, plates and anything handy. The songs were your typical welcome home songs accompanied by laughter. It’s time for lunch and for my shift. Lunch was served by our Chef Lole the Extraordinaire - everyone was present and it was swiftly consumed.

Not long into our shift and Kalolo and I spot cap clouds and the betting was on who would spot land first. We’ve sighted land, and still some 50nm to go until we hit the western side of Upolu. It was and still is just a silhouette in the distance. But for Gaualofa and her ‘Grew’ they’re returning home.

The ‘Grew’ is getting ready for the arrival, so the va’a is turned inside out in getting things dry and clean. The deck has everyone’s wet weather gear, sleeping bags, clothes, mattresses and whatnot out to dry. The sail locker is being tidied up, the dinghy locker is being dried out, the food locker is being emptied out of perishables (for quarantine, don’t want to arrive with any invasive species of any kind), maintenance locker is being organized and everyone’s personal areas are being cleaned out as well.

Averaging 6 knots now, different from the last couple of days where it was 9-10 knots. It felt like she (Gaualofa) is eager to come home. Being in Samoan waters feels surreal, not sure if we’re actually coming home though all the traditional navigation, elements and modern navigation tells us we are. It’s just been a while, and at times a challenge to take in. A few of us haven’t been home since early and late last year. It’s true that home is where the heart is and I guess with us, Samoa has our heart.

Gaualofa is accompanied by her six sisters in celebrating the 50th independence of Samoa, a huge accomplishment as Samoa was the first island in the South Pacific to be independent.
As I write this, John and Jayde are crooning away on the ukulele by the gangway of the galley and the boys are hanging out on the starboard side of the galley, cracking jokes exchanging what they’ll be eating or doing when they arrive. Faapau is on the foe and the wind has died down a bit and we’re down to 50 odd NM until we hit Samoa.
Attached are photos of the state of our deck and our watch at the moment. It consists of our Watch Captain the Bold Kalolo, the fearless Jayde, Mr Cool Koleni, skinnyboy Faaleaga and yours truly, The Dealer.

PS: both Kalolo and I spotted land at the same time, so not sure who’s going to shout the first round - we’ll figure it out when we land!

Faafetai tele lava mo tapuaiga ma alofa’aga. Ua fiafia lava uma le auva’a la’a taunu’u le Gaualofa.

Fani B ma le ‘Grew’ a Gaualofa

Sunday, May 27, 2012

100NM from Home!

Talofa Everyone,

Attention Olga:

We have just passed the 100Nm mark and are that much closer to Samoa which fills us all with butterflies of excitement at our arrival. We have just changed dates this morning which means we miss out on Sunday 26th and Taleni one of our crew members just missed out on his 22nd birthday. We will still celebrate on board Gaualofa and pretend it's not so.
It has been a pretty tough and miserable leg from Rarotonga but it has been well received as we were desperate to make it home in time for the Independence celebrations. We have had a cold front the whole way with strong winds and massive swells. I never thought I would have to pull out the warm weather gear for a sail to Samoa but that's just the way it is :) The sunny sky when I woke up this morning was a pleasant surprise and it sure feels good to be in home waters - evident by the singing and laughter outside and the stretched necks on board eager to sight land.
We are currently South West of Upolu and will probably sail between Apolima and Savaii as the winds are staying more West and will hopefully stick around to carry us straight to Apia. If we stay true to our course we could be home later on tonight otherwise it will be early tomorrow morning. So keep an eye out for us if you’re along the coast.
The preparations by our Samoa Voyaging Society committee, members and supporters back home has been fantastic and the whole fleet is looking forward to spending time in Samoa celebrating together and of course attending the UB40 concert. I sure hope we all get tickets? We are all looking forward to seeing family and friends on home ground. We are also excited to show our fellow voyagers a great time in Samoa and return the loving hospitality that they have all shown us when we were visitors on their shores.
For the public: Come down and visit us at the Matautu Marina, we will be in town from Tuesday 29th May to Sunday 2nd June. There is an Open Day scheduled for Wednesday 30th May so feel free to come down and visit, stay tuned on Radio Polynesia for more recent updates. We are 7 traditional canoes sailing together, crewed by Pacific Islanders from 15 different Island nations carrying an important message of care and love, of respect and reconnection with our people, traditions, oceans and land as all interconnected as one. 
Thank you for your continuous support and thoughts
From Tasha and Gaualofa crew

Storming to Samoa

Gaualofa is heading home.

Singing in the rain, The Black Washing Machine, and the Niue Ngoio. We will explore these statements later… first is an important message from our sponsors…

Va’a Gaualofa is sailing home to celebrate a 50 year milestone for one of the Pacific’s favourite nations, Samoa. Seven Polynesian Voyaging Va’a will make a grand entrance to Apia harbour on the eve of the celebration of Samoa independence.

Two historic events for modern Polynesia, one celebrates the journey of a nation, the other the physical journey across te moana nui o kiva.

Seven Va’a carrying a message to protect the future of all humankind, sounds surreal doesn’t it. Almost Hollywood scripted, sometimes nature or destiny “interferes” with all sorts of coincidence and our voyage feels that way. Scripted.

How did we know that 7 Vaka of a Tipairua design from Fakarava would complete the legend of Ta’aroa and his 7 sons. How could we know that a Samoa tear would be shed as a 30 year dream was fulfilled as Gaualofa sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. How did we know that we had to be first alongside the dock so a 100 year old lady would step aboard Gaualofa in Aitutaki.

This is our destiny just as it is that we are here to share a message to protect our ocean from plastic waste, from noise pollution, to reduce acidification (google this one) to protect the fish on our reef, and to know that the largest ocean on earth filters every second breath for every human being. Phew there.. I have said it in a nut shell…but it is important.

So here we are sailing along south of Niue…no we are storming along, the weather is grey, the ocean is dark ,the night is ink black, there are no stars. In front of us somewhere is Niue, we are racing along, the sea spray shoots out green under our starboard light. I am in the warmth of the Captain’s cabin, outside it is raining. Filtering into the cabin are songs of Samoa, a large happy Samoan is on the fo’e. Taleni is singing in the rain, the wind blows his voice towards me, just behind his is another merrily singing In the rain, it is Salai. Two Samoa warriors of the ocean content in the knowledge they are heading home, despite the stormy weather, they sing to the wet heavens of good times soon to come.

I fill in for the crew on John’s shift, I haven’t been on the fo’e for quite some time, so I gotta get the feel back and do it quickly because astern a dark shadow approaches carrying wind and rain. Suddenly we are overtaken by wet blackness, the dark ocean rushes towards us from all directions, occasionally foaming white just before she slams into the hulls. It is dark and wet. I figure this is what my black jeans feel like in the washing machine, the lid goes down and its lights out. Sloshed around left and right, white wash the only light you see. Black jeans.

I peer ahead. Knowing the island is less than 10 miles away, we are surfing down the waves at 14 knots I am getting a little anxious to say the least. None of us wants to go bump in the night, not into a large rock (Niue) anyway. A Gogo (Ngoio) bird appears on our starboard side, her white under wings glowing in the green light. Showing me the way, then another joins in the parade, another sign of nature helping us along the way. If you take time to reflect …. when have you been lost in any sense or simply needed help and nature has come to lend a hand. Remember?

Mother nature has always been there for us, now it’s our watch, it’s our time to be there for her.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Riding Home on White Horses

Position: S 20*03.982’, W 169*27.003’

Currently on Gaualofa waves are splashing up on deck, the Main sail is on its first reef, the Mizzen is on its second reef and we’re still flying at 14 knots! According to the Beaufort Wind Scale the current wind conditions experienced by Gaualofa are in a range of force 5 to 7. Translated, this means we have winds gusting between 20 to 30 knots!! The sea state can be described as having wave heights between 2 to 4 metres, many white horses and white foam from breaking waves being blown in streaks along the direction of the wind! In Gaualofa crew terms, the ocean looks beautiful and is perfect for the 22 metre surfboard, Gaualofa!

I am writing this blog after just stepping off from the foe. The adrenaline is pumping! To stand at the foe and look around 360 degrees and see white horses and large swells rolling ahead of us and coming up from behind us is exhilarating. It’s a sight and a feeling I will never forget. Pure energy is all around us. On our current watch, the 9am to 12pm watch, we (John, Fa’apa’u, Titaua and I) are competing to see who can surf the longest while maintaining course! Fa’apa’u is winning; he just caught a 10 second run, leaving the rest of us yelling “Wooooohooooo!” and laughing as he surfed down the face of the wave. Gaualofa hummed with speed during that run, it’s a lovely sound to hear. I have a feeling those sleeping down below will join us up on deck soon, it must be hard to sleep through all our cheers and laughing (especially with lunch around the corner). We are excited to bring Gaualofa home riding on white horses!

As for the rest of the fleet, two va’as can be seen on the horizon around us. The fleet is trying it’s best to travel together so that we can arrive united for the festivities in Samoa. As stated in several of the other blogs, we are now being accompanied by Fa’afaite, our sister from Tahiti. It’s lovely to have the va’as united again.

It is amazing to know that we are only days away from Samoa, especially since Gaualofa has not been home in almost a year and a half. Our time in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands was rich in culture and heritage. We learned about the master navigator Tupaia who showed Captain Cook several islands in French Polynesia as well as a route to get to New Zealand. We had several workshops where we discussed the role of the va’a in the times of our ancestors and how the va’as can become an important part of our current society in bringing communities and people together and in preserving our environment by reducing carbon emissions. We spoke to both primary and secondary school kids to explain the purpose of the voyage and inspire interest in future sailors. We had ceremonies on several maraes in Tahiti, including Taputapuatea, where we left a stone carved by the Gaualofa crew. The islands, cultures and people of Polynesia are all so different, yet, so similar. We are happy to be back in Polynesia and are grateful for the hospitality shown by our families since our return. Fa’afetai tele lava.

Gaualofa is continuing to sail and surf her way home. We are looking forward to seeing family and friends and celebrating the 50th year of Independence from New Zealand. On a personal note, I can’t help but think of my grandmother, Salafa’aniusila Sale Fairholt, whom I was named after. She was born during a time when Samoa was in review of their laws under New Zealand rule, hence the name, “Salafa’aniusila”, or “Rules from New Zealand”. It gives me great pride to carry her name aboard Gaualofa with me into Samoa, and to celebrate independence. I know if she was here today, she too would be very proud of Samoa and how far it has come as an independent country. Malo le taumafai Samoa and we are happy and proud to be home in our Samoan Islands soon. We are 380Nm away.

Fa’afetai tele and Fa Soifua,
Salafa’aniusila McGuire

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday 23rd May 2012

As I write this, the wind is beginning to really howl. Taleni is on the foe and really concentrating on keeping our course line straight to Samoa. We just picked up about four knots of speed to help push us closer to home. Should the wind stay like this, no doubt we will make it home on time!!

Yesterday we departed from the Cook Islands. Aitutaki and Rarotonga to be precise. And now, Gaualofa and her six sisters are on their way to Samoa. It is said we should arrive in Apia on Tuesday 29th May (Only five days away if you include the date change!) Everybody on board is highly excited to be going home. To see our family and friends and to have 100 of our new friends on our home ground. I can imagine emotions will be flying when we finally arrive. To get to Samoa earlier than the said date would be absolutely awesome, later would be quite disappointing (not to mention the organizers on the ground may kill us, he he he), so its 110% concentration over the next few days!!

Now I believe there has been little blog updating on our behalf over the past week or so. Possibly nothing since reaching Aitutaki, so here is a small run down of the Gaualofa Gossip!
I will start with our arrival in to Aitutaki, our captain Nick’s home land. The girls turned Hine Moana into an all female crew (plus Magnus) and sailed together from Bora Bora to the Cooks. The sail went beautifully with us girls sighting land first! Sorry guys!

In Aitutaki we were greeted by what seemed to be the whole island! It was great to even see all the school kids in uniform awaiting us! It will surely be an image we won’t forget, and even better, a moment they surely won’t forget! We had a lovely welcoming ceremony and in the evening, we Voyagers put together our first small concert for the community. Each canoe had their chance to speak to the community on the Environmental issues we have seen and experienced during the voyage and perform a song or dance. For our first concert it was a huge success, and something we can work on in each port!

Our second day in Aitutaki started a little sad, Cousin Charlie had to go home early. (We miss you on the canoe Charlie, can’t wait to see you in Samoa!!) After our goodbye, it was a day sail to a motu that is apparently on the top beaches lists! One Foot Island is what it is called, or Tapu Ai Ta’i. And beautiful it was, although the road there and back was somewhat stressful! If you think navigating through some of Samoa’s roads can be tricky with the numerous speed humps and potholes, this was something of comparison! Coming home especially as we had the suns reflection over the water, it sure made finding the coral heads a challenge… even more so because we were supposed to be filming. It was definitely super hard work keeping the canoes in a line when everyone’s trying to dodge the coral!

For our final morning in Aitutaki, we had everybody from the canoe and numerous school kids bless Te Au o Tonga. The canoe that was the inspiration for all our canoes. Without her, there possibly wouldn’t even be a Voyage right now, so for that we are forever grateful, and hopefully one day soon she will be restored and back in the water!

So we left on Wednesday for what was supposed to be just an overnight voyage, to be in Rarotonga by around midday. Well let’s just say if we steer as well as we did on that leg… we may be a little late to Independence! It’s truly amazing how 3 hours can really change your course direction! Lesson I hope is learnt…

Luckily, we still weren’t the last canoes in port! While we were about 9 hours (plus) behind schedule, there were two canoes that we managed to overtake and beat to the island. With sailing, you never know what can happen! It was unfortunate though, that our Samoan community waiting for us had to be told not to wait for us, that we’d be too late.
So Gaualofa arrived in Rarotonga at about 1:30am, and was up and ready for the school kids to arrive that same morning at 9am! School kids of all ages came down to visit us, all very eager to find out about our voyage and to have a look around the canoes.

Our afternoon was filled with a march by the fleet through town and then another concert to follow. In honour of our country and the Samoan community living in Rarotonga, the Gaualofa girls thought it would be fitting to don our traditional wear and walk in our Siapo. What a treat it was the next day to see some of our smiling faces, together with the Fijian boys (also in traditional wear) on the front cover of the local newspaper!

Saturday morning was supposed to be short sails for the community but due to bad weather, we had an open day at the harbour instead. Once again there were kids everywhere! To be out sailing or not, these kids were just excited to be on the canoes! There was a big group from the local sailing club ready with life jackets even. The kids really are the future of the canoes so it’s great to see so much excitement amongst the youth!

It rained all day on the Sunday, so a few of us retreated away in Sala’s Aunty Anna’s house. It sure was lovely to be in a home, warm and dry while the rain was pouring down outside. Thanks Aunty Anna for having us.

The rest on Sunday gave us all a big burst of energy to return to the canoes and work towards getting Gaualofa ready for her voyage home. So Tuesday morning there were a few sad goodbyes. Some crew changes on the other canoes meant saying goodbye to quite a few of our friends. But the life of a Voyager means that we have to move on! Just the past hour we broke the 500 Nm mark on the road home!! A low pressure system nearby means that we have great winds… but rumour has it that as we get closer home and after the low passes, it may ease the wind of quite a lot. Hopefully it truly is a rumour… and the next weather report we get shows us good news!
Well there you go, the news from our end. I can’t wait until we sight land! Everybody’s talking about what they’re missing from home, and getting super excited for the UB40 concert!! Samoan 50th Independence is such an exciting time for us all to be coming home to.

So until our next blog, this is Jayde Leota signing out, and looking forward to coming home!

Lots of love to ALL my family and friends,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Loimata o le Alofa (Tears of Love)

Position: S 20*47.776’ W 163*23.004’

Last year we celebrated with great joy and jubilation as we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Unbeknown to us, on the bridge, there stood a woman, whose tears fell silently as she watched Gaualofa sail beneath her. You might ask who was this woman, and why the tears. Were they because she saw a dream sail into a reality? Was it because of the joy she felt as a Samoan? Was it because of the thoughts of loved ones back in Samoa rekindled and brought to mind by the very sight of Gaualofa sailing beneath her? Or was it because of the young lives on board of Gaualofa, who by their own adventurous spirit have taken a piece of Samoa to say “O a’u o le Samoa - I am a Samoan”? There were many reasons for the tears that fell on the Golden Gate Bridge that day, but, by recalling a conversation that took place 30 years ago, this caused the first tears to flow. Auntie Sose, as she became affectionately known to the crew, was the woman who was standing on the bridge. As Sose Papaali’i put it, the tears were “Loimata o le alofa”. 

Recounting the conversation that took place 30 years ago was hard because “Tui”, she said, “is no longer here.” Tui is remembered with love and great respect throughout Samoa. Tui is the late wife of Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale; Joe is our voyaging president. One day, as Auntie Sose went on to tell her story, she got a phone call from Tui. Tui was so excited, and as the conversation went on, Tui said “we are going to build an alia, a double hulled canoe, and we are going to sail it to San Francisco”. Auntie Sose remembers her response, “uh, ok, I’ll be here, see you when you get here.” 30 years later, Gaualofa is sailing beneath her through the Golden Gate Bridge. Tui was sadly taken by the tsunami that hit Samoa in November of 2009 and that same year Gaualofa was launched in December. There was a great elation of emotion running through her mind, Auntie Sose said. Upon seeing Gaualofa sail beneath her, she could hear Tui say, “Auntie I am here” and so began the tears, loimata o le alofa.

The hopes and dreams of Joe and Tui Annandale came alive when Gaualofa sailed to San Francisco that year. And even though it took 30 years, Auntie Sose said, it was like I was talking with Tui yesterday when she saw Gaualofa sail by. Gaualofa has become in her own right a symbol of hope for those who dare to dream and believe for so long, even against adversity. Gaualofa has also become a symbol of strength and courage. Of his late wife Tui, Joe said “if it were not for her, I would not have attempted half the things I have done in life”. Tears fall for many reasons and for the silent tears that fell from the Golden Gate Bridge, they are silent no more for Auntie Sose, Gaualofa sailed by as if to say “I am here”. 

Upon reflection, this has been an amazing story of hope and courage and the strength to persevere and the faith to believe. And on that note, I want to express my deepest gratitude of sincere thanks to all our Samoan communities who have given so much to Gaualofa and her crew. Thank you for helping to make our dreams come true and giving us a sense of pride and achievement in our endeavours. We are now sailing towards Samoa, along with six other canoes in time to celebrate our 50th year of Independence from New Zealand. When we left Samoa, almost a year and a half ago, it was not in our sail plan to come back at this time. But, how amazing it is to be going back to Samoa as a fleet with seven canoes from the Pacific to celebrate our independence. We look forward to joining everyone in the celebrations.

Tofa Soifua,
John Misky

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Eight Vaka

Talofa e kia orana tatou katoatoa,

Hard to believe but since mid January we have travelled more than 7000 nautical miles across the Pacific, from San Diego to Cocos, to Galapagos through Tahiti an now to the Cook home. Six Tipairua vaka and now the 7th sister has joined us from Tahiti, now we are almost complete, tomorrow we will be Tavaru, tomorrow we will be together. 

It has been said many times, but I will say it again, thank you Dieter Paulmann! Meitaki Atupaka! 

Dieters vision and determination, in 3 years put 7 Vaka Moana on the ocean, trained 100s of Pacific men and women to sail, and journeyed collectively more than 100,000 miles of ocean. Some said it couldn't be done. On our journey we saw many Vaka projects in various stages, some still dreams, some in concept, many under construction but still to touch the water. I hope an pray our journey can be an inspiration to you to complete your Vaka, to sail and to join us to protect our Pacific Ocean.

Te Mana o te Moana, the spirit and awesome power of the Pacific Ocean has taught each of us many lessons along the journey. We have felt her might and her gentle caress, her ferocity and her healing, we have seen the beauty and the ugly polluted side of the Pacific ocean. And tomorrow I will be at home, my mother is waiting, my son and my brothers and sisters in Aitutaki and their families. Durng this journey two more have joined our immediate family, two brand new faces I am yet to see. Uncle Nick (or Nicholas as Mum calls me)is coming home.

I write the words a little in disbelief, I know it was on the sailplan but Aitutaki always seemed so far away in miles and in time, yet here I am on the night of the Sabbath a mere 40miles off the coast of Araura Enua, Aitutaki. The Island of two of our most legendary leaders in modern times, Sir Albert Henry and Sir Geoffrey Henry. Papa Arapati, our grandfather, was the father of the Cook Islands, in 1965 he brought us into independence and gradually year by year took the Kiwi spoon from our mouths and showed us how to stand on our own. 

Sir Geoffrey Arama Henry K.B.E. passed away last week, we send our aroa and prayers to Aunty Louisa and the family. Sir Geoffrey was a statesman for the Pacific, he was a family man, with a humble home in Takamoa, his dogs, pigs and chickens always nearby. Often when I would go to meet him, we would sit and talk on the verandah or under the mango tree, he was comfortable with a ukelele under his arm or in suit and tie addressing the UN. Uncle Geoff was a man of many talents, he was a Prime Minister Cook Islanders could be proud of, he is a man I am proud of. In our small forest the tallest tree has fallen. 

For Voyagers, Sir Geoffrey was a constant in the Voyaging society of the Cook Islands, he was our first and only Patron for more than 20 years. It was his vision with Sir Thomas Davis, another of our finest leaders, that in 1994-1995 led to the construction of Vaka Te au o Tonga, the Tipairua, the most efficient and effective voyaging Vaka design on the ocean today. This design which originates from the Island of Fakarava, Tuamotus is quick, safe and comfortable for the crew. He was in Avana, Rarotonga to welcome the 5 Vaka in 2010, I know he will be in Arutanga tomorrow.

So Tavaru, the eight...7 sisters and their mother, Vaka Te au o tonga will be together tomorrow, for the first time ever. This is history in the making, to use the words and advice of my friend and Hawaii navigator Kalepa (Chad) we will look around, we will look at the faces, we will look into their eyes and we will never forget this day.

Nicholas Royle Henry

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Beautiful Borabora, (food glorious food)

Talofa Voyagers, friends and family. 

It is in fact Porapora, one of the most majestic islands in "French occupied Polynesia". We had a first glimpse of this Island as we departed Uturoa, the main town of Raiatea and sailed around the Northern tip of the island. Tahaa was on our starboard side and in the distance magnificent peaks of Porapora rose above the waves. It was to be another night at sea before we would enter the main pass of Teavanui.

Almost all the promotional images you have seen of Tahiti and her islands include the abrupt mounts and bluest lagoons of Porapora. Here the welcome is warm and genuine, the smiles, the hei and the aroa come from a people surrounded by commercial tourism, yet the heart is still of the islands. What is the saying about taking a boy out of the islands...thankfully and surprisingly the island way is still very much alive in Porapora.

Like any small Island you get to meet the characters and personalities of the land. We were honoured to be welcomed by former President and current Mayor of Porapora, Mr Gaston Tang Song. The entire crew were whisked away for lunch at a beautiful motu, a magical introduction to the Island.

The following day the Captains are invited to lunch aboard the 6 star Cruise ship Paul Gauguin, we have a tour of the bridge and then a sumptuous lunch at La Grille on the 8th level around the pool. We lean over the portside rail and view the Va'a tied alongside at Vaitape, the main township. What a transition...from dining on the Va'a deck, eating out of a plastic bowl, trying to keep your salad from blowing away - to sitting at a table, with a table cloth, cloth napkin, selection of cutlery an a smorgasbord of food. Simply amazing. On behalf of the the Va'a Captains, thank you Captain Rajko. Now we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, so I was pleased to have an hour presentation to the Paul Gauguin guests about the voyage and the environmental messages we are carrying.

The same company that operates this cruise boat also operates a hotel, the Intercontinental, on a motu on the other side of the island. Since 2006 this hotel has been using the cool waters from the ocean depths to operate their air conditioning system and in turn have reduced their oil (diesel) generated power consumption by almost 90%. It is this kind of forward thinking that is needed throughout the Pacific and indeed throughout the globe.

On the Vaka we sail using the wind and our electrical needs are supplied from solar. To use another’s words, we are no longer using the dark hellish liquid energy from the bowels of the earth, but the bright clean warm glow from the heavens. It seems entirely logical when put into this context doesn't it?

So here we are heading to my home Island Aitutaki, the Va'a is heavy with gifts of food from our friends in Porapora. We have pompelamous (sweet grapefruit), niu, tiporo lime, Vi Tahiti, Papaya, bananas galore, oranges, apples and some beautiful books from avid photographer Erwin Christian. Erwin was in fact Gaualofas' first contact with Porapora, he was out in his 20 year old 20ft runabout, (it has twin 90's) in his words. "You are late" he calls out "ze ozers are vaiting"...hmmmf... I reply, Gaualofa is never late, she just wishes to make an entrance". And there he was again to bid us farewell on the last day out of Porapora. An Island I must see again.

It’s lunchtime, so I must leave now to help reduce the pile of fruits we have, the remainder of which will have to be dumped at sea before arriving in Aitutaki sometime tomorrow evening.

ka kite apopo
Nick Henry

Friday, April 20, 2012

102 Nautical Miles from Tahiti!

Today marks our 28th day at sea since leaving the Galapagos Islands. We should reach our destination, Tahiti, by Sunday! There is high anticipation of land on the canoe, especially after sighting some yesterday just after sunrise! 

The 28 days gone by on the canoe have gone by surprisingly fast. Canoe spirits are high and after being together for so long (it’s been 88 days together since we left San Diego!) we’re way too comfortable around each other. A true family on a moving house!

For me, the main thing I miss is fresh food. Those who know me know that my favourite topic is food! Most of us, actually, have been talking a lot lately of the foods that we miss - especially at this stage of the voyage when our supplies are quite low. We ran out of our fresh produce some time ago now. Yesterday, as the sun was about to go down, we caught two Wahoo, which tasted absolutely amazing today. And it sure does beat canned sardines!

Luckily, we all like noodles, and Lole cooks them just the way we like them! Lole sure does do a great job. Tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, porridge, rice and noodles are what he’s working with. Let’s just say we call him Jamie ‘Lole’ver for a reason! So for my blog today, I thought I’d go around the canoe and find out what food everybody is missing the most. Just for something different!

I’ll start with Captain Nick, who is missing a Cook Island dish called ‘Ika Mata’ which is Raro’s version of Oka!
Chef Lole misses Laupele;
Taleni and Fa’apau agree on missing pua’a the most;
Kalolo craves for Siaosi’s fresh bread in the mornings, while it’s still warm, with some anchor butter to spread! Washed down with some Koko Samoa;
Fani can’t decide between mango or to go with Kalolo to Siaosi’s store to get some fresh Pani Popo;
Sala simply wants fresh fruit of any kind;
Robbie can’t wait for some chocolate biscuits;
Charlie craves for some greasy, crunchy fried chicken;
John, a good fish burger;
Schannel would love some spicy salami;
Stef could go for some nice camembert cheese;
Brynne wants to sink her teeth into a sweet, cold Popsicle;
Tasha is tossing up between some Chinese Sweet and Sour or a juicy mango;
… and for me, I can’t get the thought out of my head of a cold, crisp, juicy apple. Funny out of all the things that I miss, my most desired is a simple apple, washed down of course with an icy cold, sweet niu.

Soon enough we will be on land. I can’t wait to see Tahiti for myself. To catch up with our fellow Voyagers and share tales of our long sail and to please these cravings! Only two more sleeps to go!

Until then, lots of love to all my family and friends back home, also to the families of my fellow crew mates, and to all the supporters out there, following our journey!
I’m truly having an experience of a lifetime out here on the ocean. The canoe sure feels like home and I will be sad to watch the canoes continue on without me when the time comes! But until then, I will love every moment I have with my Gaualofa family and appreciate everything that the big blue throws our way. Yesterday just as we sighted land we were blessed with a refreshing rain shower and a perfect rainbow soon to follow curving over the white sand and coconut trees. The world truly is a beautiful place.

Alofa Atu,
Jayde Leota