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.

Monday, February 13, 2012

GAUALOFA BLOG – Feb. 12, 2012

Sailing to Cabo San Lucas from San Diego took a bit longer than anticipated. With several days of no more than 3 knots of wind and intermittent stops along the Baja Peninsula (for immigration in Ensenada and whale watching in Magdalena Bay) our anticipated travel time of 8 days to Cabo turned to 16 days. Despite not maintaining the schedule, the added time was cherished by our crew, as it was a gentle and joyous welcome back to the Pacific Ocean after the winter break. Every day on the ocean to Cabo, Gaualofa was visited by the beautiful creatures of the ocean and sky, including sea lions, dolphins, California gulls, frigate birds, pelicans, terns, flying bat manta rays, squid, thousands of floating red baby lobster, and more than a hundred whales! The overall condition of the ocean along the Baja Peninsula appeared to be healthy and full of life with no trash seen floating on the surface. This is a wonderful way to see our blue Pacific Ocean.

In addition to the beautiful marine wild life, Gaualofa was also visited by several Mexican fisherman. While approaching Bahia de los Bolinas before dawn, Gaualofa drifted in the dark and in light winds off the coast of a small village. Upon approaching what appeared to be fishing nets, fishermen quickly appeared and were very curious about our rare and unique va’a. We were at the front of the fleet and were the first to arrive and it was clear the fishermen were a bit confused with our presence. We communicated with basic Spanish and were happy to hear the fisherman express “este bote es muy bonito”, which means “this boat is very beautiful”. After a few exchanged words in our broken Spanish we agreed to follow the fisherman. The fishermen guided us through the maze of fishing nets which were outlined with buoys. After following the fisherman for about 5 minutes through their nets, we thanked them and gave them several Gaualofa T-shirts. The sun was rising and we could see that there were many small speed boats lined up on the beach, it was clear that this was a fishing village. Later, the fisherman stopped by our boat again and gave us three fish and an octopus! We liked these visitors! Lole, our beloved chef, quickly fried up the fish and made both fai ai fe’e and sua i’a!

The three days spent filming in Magdalena Bay were amazing. For the new Gaualofa crew members, this was the first time being so close to whales. While gazing across the bay, we could see numerous whales spouting. At one point, three grey whales surfaced a meter away from Gaualofa! The whole crew screamed and shouted with excitement! We could see their silhouettes in the water which stretched longer than the length of Gaualofa! It was amazing to see these gigantic creatures up so close (and they were mating)! It was truly a blessing to be able to see these magnificent creatures. The following day, as we departed from Magdalena Bay, the whales continued to grace us with their presence, this time by the hundreds. They were everywhere, spouting, breaching and fluking! We saw both gray whales and humpback whales! It was a beautiful day.

To pass time on the va’a down to Cabo, especially during times of light wind, the crew members read, exercised, fished and played cards (to name a few). One day, we had a Suipi Tournament, which was won by Taleni. It’s seems counter intuitive to be playing cards on a sailboat, but the light winds were no threat to our cards. On one occasion, Gaualofa was approached by Hine Moana and was summoned to a race. Hine Moana had good momentum and passed Gaualofa and once they were a boat length ahead, they performed a haka to show-off their victory. We were unpleased with the outcome and retaliated with an impromptu performance in full costume. While Nick, our skipper, queued up the music, the crew hid behind the fale, out of sight from Hine Moana and put on their Snuggies (a blue robe-like blanket given to each crew member as a gift from our Samoan aiga in San Diego). Once the music started blasting from the speakers, the Gaualofa crew jumped out from behind the fale and did a performance to “Shake Your Booty”. Both crews laughed out loud as the boats sailed side by side each other. This prompted a 30 minute dance competition that went back and forth between the two crews. The Gaualofa and Hine Moana decks were temporarily transformed into stages. Time does fly when you’re having fun.

Currently we are in dock in Cabo San Lucas and have been happy to be on land to visit with friends, have a little break from the ocean and have fresh water showers. We were also particularly happy to be in port today to watch the Manu Sevens win the Las Vegas round of the Rugby Sevens competition! Go Manu Sevens! On Tuesday, Feb. 14, we will set sail for Cocos Islands. Our local contacts here in Mexico have been great hosts. The fleet has made several trips to Los Barriles to meet the local community. Yesterday, we were also hosted by a community at a marine sanctuary called Cabo Pulmo where we dived and snorkeled. We saw lots of healthy beautiful fish and even swam with bat manta rays and sea lions. Mexico has been a very enjoyable stop. Muchos Gracias Mexico.

Fa’afetai lava to all our family and supporters. Thank you for helping us make this voyage possible and for keeping us in your prayers. We think of you often and keep you in our prayers as well. The Gaualofa crew are all truly proud to be representing Samoa as we continue to spread the message of the Pacific Voyagers and raise awareness of the condition of our oceans.

Fa Soifua ma Fa’afetai lava,

Sala McGuire

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