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, January 28, 2012

Sailing to Ensenada - 24-27 January 2012

Spirits are high. We are finally departing. Leaving San Diego and sailing to Ensenada was a good start to the next chapter in our Pacific voyage. Good start in terms of easing into it as the sail down the coast through the night and into the next day was smooth with calm conditions. This is good as many crew members are new and many old crew have not sailed for some time. It’s nice to ease into things especially in a voyage of this magnitude. However, we are tinged with sadness to leave the onshore family we have made in San Diego. The Samoan community who have come out and helped us immensely during our extended time in San Diego as well as those that have helped us while getting the canoes prepped. Thank you all!

During the slow night sail we heard, and at times saw, blowing whales and barking seals. One outer harbour starboard buoy seemed to be a new home for as many as 10 seals, with some in the water still trying to clamber up and jostle for some resting space.

We arrive into Ensenada Harbour at 2pm. I am at the foe, steering us in and its quite an experience navigating the large 72 ft canoe with just a huge foe though the multitude of tight turns to get to our designated mooring spot. Thank goodness I don’t stuff anything up, and our mother canoe gets to its safe haven unscathed.

We are hopeful to get through Mexican customs clearance as soon as possible and depart again by nightfall…Haha but this is Mexico now - apparently they have the same watches as we do in the Pacific.

As hours tick away it is clear we are staying the night. Although we were all looking forward to sailing and getting in the voyaging rhythm while heading down to Los Barilles, having a day/night here to have a quick explore is nice. A good intro into Mexico.

The skippers have a dinner “meeting” scheduled and the rest of us are told we can go into town but be back by 9:30pm. So a few us go and find out where exactly we can also have a “meeting” of our own. Plus its John’s birthday in NZ time so there is something to celebrate. John, James, Sala, Tash, Jade and I go for a stroll and by complete chance are welcomed at the Marina gate by an old scraggly brown horse and just as old and scraggly cart. So Mexican. The friendly local offers us a ride into town for 12USD. We get if for 10. What a start to being on Mexican soil.

The ride into the touristy part of town near the marina is fun, more so after riding past the captains at one of the local bars on the main strip. Snapped! We enjoy a stroll, some local beers, a margarita or two and a few songs from one of the many local mariachi bands that seem to be so abundant in this part of town. Happy Birthday John.

The next morning is punctuated with more waiting. Everyone is anxious to leave. While waiting we complete last minute provisioning, last minute repairs and for me a last minute shave, as I was bored.

We finally set sail at 4:30pm. And again the weather seems to be treating us like cotton wool. There is not a breath of wind in the air. During all our shifts we experience the thickest fog I have ever seen. 15m visibility max. It’s like we are sailing in a cloud. The moisture is thick and everything is wet. The hope that this burns off in the morning sun is vaporized by noon that day. It’s still a little foggy and very overcast. As the day passes there is no more wind. There is just constant changing of sail direction to catch the temperamental slight wind shifts. Good practice but getting frustrating.

Todays highlights:

  • Lole’s cooking
  • Trashy gossip magazines the girls find.
  • Lole’s cooking
  • Dancing to “beat it”

From the crew of Gaualofa, Fa soifua from Mexico.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Unique Threads Uniting as One!

Monday 16th January, this is Day 1 of the Te Mana O Te Moana Voyage or The Spirit of the Sea Voyage. No! We are not out at sea just yet. We are still docked at the Shelter Island Marina in San Diego.

Over the weekend members of the Pacific Voyage community have been flying from all over the South Pacific to reunite and continue the journey that we started in March 2011. Crewmembers for all 5 vaa’s, which included experienced and rookies broke bread for the first time since the winter break in September 2011 before officially starting Day One of the Voyage. This is solely dedicated to preparing the vaa for sail, anything from rigging sails to scrubbing down the hulls & polishing solar panels, everything that needs to be done before provisions and gear come on board.

For the Gaualofa Crew it was something more than just diving straight into the hard work. Before we had arrived in San Diego our captain Nick Henry insisted that the Gaualofa be off limits until we blessed her. It is custom that we bless the voyage with its vital message, the crew who will be embarking on this important journey most importantly bless the Gaualofa and to respect her as our “Mother” so that she in turn will take care of us when we are at sea.

Pastor Vincent Mauga from EFKS San Diego honored us with his kind words of encouragement and wisdom. “ There are only three words that you should remember, Courage – Do not fear the past, the present and the future, embrace the experience and learn as much as you can. Strength – Have the strength to continue on to soldier through when faced with difficult weather or situations and lastly Victory – this journey itself is a victory as you are all taking with you teachings from our ancestors and you will be planting vital seeds in the minds and hearts of everyone you will meet on this voyage especially the future generation in all the communities that you will visit”.

With such humbling beginnings to kick-start our voyage the crew are united and ready to tackle the journey ahead. We are a diverse bunch in ages, background, and origins with members flying in from San Francisco, New Zealand, Samoa and Cook Islands however we all have blood ties to Samoa, a place we call our home and we are all proud to be given this opportunity of a lifetime.

Gaualofa Crew 2012 + Friends at Shelter Island Marina, San Diego on Day One of Te Mana O Te Moana Voyage

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leaving Samoa for the unknown

Time is quite a unique concept that we tend to just toss around without much thought, for the most we completely take it for granted but then again we are totally at its mercy when we least expect it.

Four enthusiastic Gaualofa Crew Members left Samoa bound for San Diego. It was only a hop away to Nadi, Fiji, then a huge skip to Los Angeles California and a quick sneeze down to San Diego. Our 4 Crew members James Atherton, Jayde Leota, Natasha Fabricius & Faapa’u Feluai made their way to Shelter Island Marina where the Gaualofa is currently resting for the Winter Break. Miraculously because of time and invisible date lines we can now travel over 1000 miles to visit 3 countries, enjoy 4 meals and a few movies later still arrive at your destination with 2 hours to spare on the same day.

Samoa Departure Date: Saturday 14th January 2:30pm

Los Angeles Arrival Date: Saturday 14th January 12:30pm

We didn’t realize what we had done until we actually warped through it. The common feeling amongst the crew was that of excitement! Faapa’u had been in San Diego last year before the Winter Break so he was quite excited to reunite with crewmembers already waiting. As for the rest of us, it was pure excitement of the unknown!

There is going to be a very long list of “firsts” for all of us. We all know the usual list of “firsts” when travelling to a new country, to experience new cultures/traditions, languages, cuisines and sights etc… This particular journey we will be adding to list a unique method of travelling. We will be sailing our vaa the Gaualofa together with 5 other vaa’s from San Deigo – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on Tuesday 24th January, with estimated travel time to be one week. What is not an estimate is the morale and spirit of all of us from Samoa. Although we are plunging into the deep end, head first by the way, without much knowledge of what we are getting ourselves into, we are still all smiles and laughs.

We will be meeting and greeting the rest of the Gaualofa crew plus the rest of the fleet for the next couple of days. This will be followed by sheer determination and focus on the voyage ahead and most importantly the preparations required before departing San Diego.

Until the next installment, we would like to say Talofa to all our family and friends back home. Thank you for believing and for the continuous support. We know you are all living vicariously through us so we will try our best to send frequent updates :)

Gaualofa Crew Members: Natasha Fabricius, James Atherton, Jayde Leota, Faapa'u Feluai, Ana Pisila Fifita (HineMoana) at the Shelter Island Marina San Diego

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Calling Gaualofa (Notes of a jealous supporter at home)

Okay, let's skype San Diego and see how everyone's doing on their third day back at it!

John answers the phone. I hear slamming doors, phones ringing, caughing, talking, rummaging. A bustling atmosphere. I start wondering how big the room is and check it out online: Vagabond + Scott Ave + San Diego. I see pictures of a motel, the typical ad-serenity of catalogue-order-rooms: two doubles with color-coded linen and curtains, and a view onto the kidneyshaped pool laying right next to the path to the reception.

"Where are you guys?" I ask John. "I can see the entrance."

If there was a webcam outside the motel this would be even cooler.

"We're facing the street. It's pretty noisy."

Ah, so basically I am staring at a still of their window right now.

"What's going on?"
"Well, we're busy getting everything together. Stuff out of the storage, stuff we need for the boat."
"What she look like? Can anyone send a picture?"
"I don't know, Ang. We're all on the go all day. I'll ask around."
"K. No worries."

I'm thinking: I'll sure find pictures on Facebook. With over 4,000 followers for the Pacific Voyagers it's hard to miss a beat of what's going on with "her", Gaualofa.

"So, what's the plan for the next days?"
"We're - HI ANG, HOW ARE YOU?!" The phone changes hands.
"I'm alright, how ar-"
"Where are you right now? In Auckland?"
"How's the weather there? It's freeeezing here."
"Are we going to see you on the way?"
"Maybe, I'm thinking Samoa."
"I gotta go now but good to hear from you, here's Fani."

I think everyone's running on too much sugar or caffeine or both. Sigh. Or, it's simply a natural high doing one of the most amazing things one can think of doing... Anyone as envious as I am right now?

"Hey Ang, long time no hear. How're you holding up?"
Was about to ask you the same but seems hard to get a word in with any of you right now. So, just roll with it, girl.
"Are you still working at Uni, how's that going? Hope to catch up with you somewhere along the trip. Are you coming to Samoa for the Independence Celebrations? Should be good."
Yes, should be.
"K, I'm gonna give you back to John. I'll send you stuff for the blog soon, promise! Take care!"

Cheering, laughter, door slamming. Silence.

"Hello?" Nothing. Did they just throw the phone somewhere and leave? "Hello? John?"
"Yes, I'm here. They're all out again."
"Sounds like everyone is pretty excited."
"Yep." He's yawning.
"A little."
"Big day tomorrow?"
"Nice of everyone to say 'hello'."

Silence. Another yawn. Right.

"I should let you go. Get some rest and be ready for the next round, aye?"
"Hm. Yea. We're supposed to have Thursday off and Saturday we're doing a day-sail. And there's a fundraiser. I'll send you texts about what's going on as often as I can. Okay?"
"Yea, don't stress. Have a good night now."
"You know you're with us, aye."
"Yeeah, I know. It's okay. I'll live. Just collect some details for me. Snapshots. Okay?"
"Bye now."

Tofa Soifua, Gaualofa. Be safe!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Off the Boat

What do Samoan Voyagers do when they're not on the boat? Well, they get involved in their communities! This is a report by Ame talking about our crew, busy to spread the word about how to be good to the environment we all depend on and planting trees.

It was a successful morning, of September 30th, 2011.
We've managed to plant 100 native trees, including fetau, filimoto and leva.
Now it's a matter of keeping them alive and we will continue to work together with the MNRE maintenance team.
It looks good so far, and am sure the new conservation park in two to five years time will be the Vaatele Gaualofas contribution by reducing polution at the Vaitele industrial zone.
While you're in Samoa, it would be great to see you during the watering sessions, don't forget to bring few gallons with you.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Press Release: Samoa’s “Gaualofa” crew prepare to depart on 20,000 km journey across the Pacific

The Patron of Aiga Folau o Samoa (Samoa Voyaging Society), His Highness the Head of State, Afioga Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Honorable Prime Minister of Samoa, Susuga Tuilaepa Fatialofa Lupesoliai Aiono Sa’ilele Malielegaoi will receive courtesy farewell visits from the crew of Samoa’s va’atele (ocean going traditional canoe) “Gaualofa” on Tuesday 10th January 2012.

The crew of Gaualofa are busy preparing for a 20,000km long voyage across the Pacific from California departing on January 23, 2012. Gaualofa, along with voyaging canoes from other Pacific islands including Fiji, the Cook Islands and New Zealand, is currently in San Diego, their final port of call after last year's voyage across the Pacific from Samoa to Auckland, Tahiti, Hawaii and on to North America.

The main purpose of the voyage is to raise environmental awareness on the fragility of the Pacific Ocean and to revive traditional navigation and sailing techniques in the Pacific. The voyaging fleet, called “Te Mana o Te Moana” (Spirit of the Ocean) will make the following stops on the journey from San Diego - Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) - Cocos Islands (Costa Rica) - Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) - French Polynesia - Cook Islands - Tonga - Samoa - Fiji - Vanuatu ending with the Pacific Arts Festival in Honiara, Solomon Islands in July 2012.

The seven traditional voyaging canoes are planning to time their visit to Samoa to participate in the 50th Independence Celebrations in early June, on their way to the Solomon Islands. From the Solomon Islands Gaualofa will return to Samoa, arriving in August 2012 and the other va’a will also return to their home ports.

You can follow Gaualofa’s journey on this blogsite:

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government and people of Samoa for all your support and in particular for your prayers for the safe return of our crew to Samoa.

E momoli atu le agaga faafetai tele i le malo ma le mamalu o le tatou atunuu i le tou lagalagosua mai.

Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale


Aiga Folau o Samoa (Samoa Voyaging Society)

Tel: (685) 7773949