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.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Almost to Tahiti Iti

Position: S 17*13.841’, W 144*47.593’ 

Today was another beautiful day on the water. I woke up to the sun shining and a crew member shouting through the port hull, “Ala mai, la ua vaai matou i le motu!” Several of us jumped out of our bunks and climbed the ladders up the hatch to the excitement up on deck of seeing Marutea Nord about 400 meters away from Gaualofa! Seeing land after being at sea for 27 days is a joyful experience, especially with the crystalline blue and turquoise green of the lagoon waters around the island. Unfortunately, the inviting white sandy beaches and swaying coconut trees were just a tease. We watched in anticipation as the island got closer and closer, took a few photos, and then watched it get farther and farther away. Our Skipper reminded us, as we all begged to stop at the island to grab just a couple of nius, “We are on a set course (with no scheduled stops), we must stay with the fleet and continue to Tautira, Tahiti Iti.” We were a bit disappointed to see land pass us by so quickly, but, the good news is that Tautira is only 253Nm away!
After the 3,500Nm we have already traveled from Galapagos, there is an infectious excitement on the va’a that increases with each nautical mile that we gain towards Tahiti! The food rations are getting low, but the spirits are high! The 27 days since leaving the Galapagos have truly flown by, especially with the help of the steady winds from the North East. Looking back, our time in Galapagos was truly wonderful. I am still amazed that we as a fleet had the opportunity to explore and discover the Dr. Seuss like flora and fauna of Galapagos Islands. Seeing large tortoises roaming in the wild, marine iguanas lounging in the sun, penguins swim by Gaualofa and blue footed boobies pose on lava rocks are all images that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I’m sure others will too. I also had the unique opportunity of swimming with a sea lion, only several meters away from Gaualofa, it did summersaults in the water next to me, so close that I could feel its whiskers brush up against my feet!

Since leaving the Galapagos, we have had a few minor hiccups along the way including an overheated solar panel, a ripped head sail and a long streak of no fish! The solar panel we will have to repair in Tahiti. The head sail, the Gennaker, we repaired successfully on our va’a! We have been using the Gennaker regularly on this leg, since the wind has been almost directly behind us for most of the way. The repair we made held up well for more than a week, until just yesterday, when we were caught off guard by a gust of wind while hoisting the Gennaker up. She got pulled down by the wind and now has tears that cannot be repaired by our crew. Unfortunately, two other va’as have also ripped their Gennakers during this long stretch down to Tahiti! As for the 18 day streak of no fish, thanks to all the prayers from back home, since Uncle Charlie’s blog on April 9th we’ve been consistently catching fish including skip jack, mahimahi, wahoo and short bill fish. Today, just before the sun set we caught two lovely wahoos! With each catch, the crew cheers in excitement.

Now, only hours away from Tahiti, we are excited for the welcome back to Polynesia! The va’as are returning to familiar waters. We are excited and proud to bring them home and anticipate the return to Samoa. They have traveled many miles and the crews have gained many valuable, eye-opening lessons while out at sea. These lessons, to name a few, include the fragile state of our oceans, important sailing traditions of our ancestors, the cultural richness of Polynesia, and the importance of unity and teamwork in tackling challenging tasks. It is our hope that the “Te Mana te Moana” message successfully unites the people and countries we have encountered in this journey to work together to address and tackle the issues our oceans face. The ocean is a great teacher and has much to teach anyone who will only dedicate time. 
We are moving at roughly 8 knots right now with a heading of 270 degrees (Sisifo) and my turn on the foe is fast approaching. Thank you to all our family and friends back home for your support. We think of you all often and look forward to calling you when we get to Tahiti.

Fa’afetai tele and Fa Soifua, 
Sala McGuire

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Update from Charlie

Position: S 15°23.645’ W 133°38.312’

To Family Friends and Gaualofa supporters, we thank you for your support and your prayers. I remember on my last blog I asked for your prayers because for 14 days we had not caught a single fish and we ripped our Gennaker sail. The very next day after I asked for your prayers we caught three fish: two mahimahi and one skip jack aku, you should see the crew jumping for joy. It was a nice dinner, thanks for your prayers. In addition, our sail is now repaired and we have 700Nm left to go! This afternoon we caught a nice size wahoo. So, we’re happy sailors and counting days before we reach Tahiti.

Thanks Again,
Charlie Uhrle

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

John - 10th April 2012

Dreams are the Language of the Heart
Position: S 15°21.338’, W 133°32.270’

Talofa everyone, it’s always a pleasure to have a conversation and to share this time with you. Gaualofa is about five days from Tahiti. I’m sitting on the deck on the bow watching the waves go by, taking in a panoramic view of my horizon. I’m in awe of the beauty that surrounds me. My mind now begins to wonder, remembering our last conversation about those that dare to dream, making Gaualofa a reality, a reality that has touched and blessed the lives of so many people that we have met throughout our voyage so far. Yes, I’m talking about you. You have blessed us with your kindness and generosity. We were strangers before we met, but transformed by the fabric of the experience. Gaualofa is no longer a dream, but a reality and there is no denying the sense of pride and joy that we have all felt. Maybe if you are not too busy, you might share your thoughts with us, the crew. Speaking of dreams becoming a reality, one of our own crew, Charlie Uhrle, is living his own dream, sharing how he welcomed the Hokule’a on a canoe when it arrived in Pago Harbour about 30 years ago. He too dreamed of how he could sail on a canoe like the Hokule’a, and here he is, sailing on a canoe, not just a canoe, but a Samoan canoe, with his own people, his own language, as Charlie put it. Charlie’s story, like many on our crew, is a tribute to those who dare to dream in making Gaualofa a reality, providing an opportunity and a platform for others to pursue their dreams and making them a reality. 

Two years on and a thousand nautical miles later, the dreams of these seven canoes has become a full on reality in a message that brings awareness to the plight of our oceans and its fragile balance. My dream is that Gaualofa with the other canoes on this voyage is making a difference to you and the way you view our ocean, your ocean. To dare to dream is to dare to believe, to dare to believe is to dare to hope, and to have hope you must dare to have faith. 

Arriving in San Francisco last year, we celebrated with great joy and jubilation while we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. Unbeknown to us, there stood a woman whose tears fell silently as she watched Gaualofa pass by beneath her, as she stood on the bridge recalling a conversation 30 years before, her tears flowed silently as she watched a dream sail into reality. She stood silently witnessing faith at work believing for so long that a dream had come to life. I will finish this story off next time we talk, but, thank you for your time and I hope that as dreams are becoming a reality on Gaualofa that your own dreams are coming to fruit. As for Charlie living his dream, he just hooked up a wahoo and I’m going to celebrate his dream having raw fish, oka Samoan style. 

Tofa Soifua,
John Misky and Gaualofa Crew 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Charlie - 9th April 2012

Position: S 15°11.084’, W 123°29.305’

There are 15 of us currently on the Gaualofa Crew, 6 females and 8 males.  Our Voyage started out from San Diego, California, on Jan. 24, 2012 to Ensenada, Mexico, which took us one day with 60Nm.  We stayed for one day to get our immigration clearance so that we can enter Mexican waters. 

On Jan. 26th we left Ensenada, Mexico, for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  It took us 13 days to travel roughly 750Nm.  What a place that was where we anchored!  We could hear loud music and people all over the place!  There were a lot of rich Americans with nice yachts, lots of movie stars and the whole town parties all night long to use US dollars (which was good for us).  Their beaches and waters are so clean and there are a lot of nice places to swim and sight see.

We left Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on Feb. 15th and headed to Cocos Island, Costa Rica, and that’s about 1,750Nm, which took us 19 days of hardly any wind and nowhere to hide from the hot sun.  A nice can of cold Coke or even ice water was what we were all dreaming of! 
Cocos Island was so beautiful.  It’s a National Park for Costa Rica, several Rangers live there on the Island.  They were nice people and very good to us.  There was one moment I can’t forget…as we were ready to throw anchor a twenty foot shark swam up right next to our va’a!  There was no way I was jumping over for a swim.

The rangers told us the sharks are so friendly and have a lot of food in the area and they don’t bother anybody.  I found that hard to believe until I saw some of our guys start jumping in and swimming to shore.  I stayed on the va’a all day waiting for the rubber raft to come get me.  After a while the shark was no issue, we were swimming back and forth.  It is true there’s so much fish and lobster in the area, even kuikui are so big…you name it, it’s all there! 

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to touch marine life or fish in the area.  The drinking water was so clean and sweet and they had lots of water falls…it was such a treat after being at sea for so long!  Cocos Island truly was so beautiful.

From Cocos Island, Costa Rica, we sailed to Santa Cruz, Galapagos which was 450Nm and took us 16 days.  Galapagos is another very interesting Island.   There were so many rare animals (tortoises, marine iguanas, penguins to name a few) and lots of marine life and fresh seafood.  We stayed for five days and then we sailed to Isabela, Galapagos, which was much less developed and populated than Santa Cruz.  The people were very friendly.  We felt like we took over the island with the large fleet of Voyagers arriving on 7 va’as…we crowded the island!  It only took us one day to get to Isabela, which was about 60Nm away from Santa Cruz.  We stayed for three days and now we are on our way to Tahiti. 

We left Isabela, Galapagos on March 24th and started off real slow to Tahiti, but after five days we started to pick-up some good wind.  It’s about 3,500Nm to Tahiti and we are doing real good.  We are down to 1,300Nm left to go, after two weeks into the leg!  Unfortunately, just today we ripped open our sail (the Gennaker) but that didn’t slow us down.  Thank God nobody got hurt.  Everybody is doing fine except we are slowly running out of food. But, Lole, our cook, works magic to make our pumpkin taste like lamb chops.  It’s been 14 days and we haven’t caught a single fish.  So please, we need your prayers. 

All the best to all of our families waiting at home and may the Lord bless all of us.  So far we have done 3,070Nm from San Diego, California to Galapagos Islands and after we reach Tahiti we will have a total of about 6,570Nm…that’s a lot of miles for a single va’a! 
Malo to Gaualofa and the crew!  Job well done.

Charlie Uhrle

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Taleni - April 8, 2012

Position: S 13°24.369, W 117°24.216
Talofa lava! 
E muamua lava ona faafetaia le alofa ma le agalelei o le Atua I lana tausiga ma lana leoleoga I lo outou soifua ma si o matou ola vaivai a’o matou folau ai I luga o lenei vasa loloto. Olo’o sologa lelei mea uma, o lo’o maua lava e le susga I le kapeteni ia Nick , o le ta’ita’i uati ia Magele John , Fani, faapea le susuga I le tautai fetu ia Kalolo, ia aemaise le mamalu o tuafafine ma uso folau o le Gaualofa. Ia o se tala pu’upu’u atu lena i le folauga o lo’o faia nei. Ae tau ina ia foa’i atu e le Atua le soifua laulelei ia te outou o uo masani a le Pacific Voyages, aemaise uo ma aiga pele olo’o tu’i  mai le mulipapaga ma tapua’i mai i  Samoa, ae ia maua pea e auva’a uma le ola ma le malosi ina ia taunu’u ma le manuia le faamoemoe.
Tofa Soifua ma ia manuia.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lines, paths, houses and songs

Position: S 13°24.369, W 117°24.216

It was after the war of the Gods when the truth of IO became hidden, when the names of the gods became many and the new supplanted the old and bred with the daughters of man. A time after the separation of Lagi and Papa when Maui Ti’i Ti’i a Talaga having travelled far and wide fixed a line to the sun and the stars became firmly set in the heavens that what follows became truth. 

A line penetrates the earth. It runs from a star known in Hawai’i as Hakupa’a to a point that runs off a trail from what is known in Aotearoa as Matua Tonga. It runs true through the centre and it is around this great axis that the stars, the sun and the moon travel in their paths across the heavens. 

When this axis is laid flat on the va’a and halved it becomes the four quarters of Lai, Toelau, Matau Upolu and Tuaoloa, in the Samoan language, and known at the division of the quarters by the names of Matu, Sasa’e, Tonga and Sisifo, the cardinal points. It is in these quarters that the 7 houses of the star trails are marked and which combine with the names of divisions to become the 32 houses in which the star paths are sung to chants and songs which lead to the various homelands of our Pasifika peoples. 

The seven houses in which a star path is marked are Ata, Leo, Tali’ilagi, Manu, Gogo, Aiga and Leo. Two houses up or down of the line dividing the quarters marks the times of the year in which according to a legend of the demi god Maui, and depending on whether Hakupa’a or Matua tonga is most visible, the sun travels slower across the heavens.
Every homeland has a star or group of stars which at its highest point in the night sky leads to that island being able to be fished from the deep of the horizon. For Aotearoa it is Te Matau a Maui, for Hawai’i it is Hokule’a and so it is and has always been for all our homelands. 

To find a homeland one needs to know the stars that rise and fall in line with the great axis and place them in a house to navigate the waters by. A succession of stars is known and needed and it is these that were sung by the ancestors as songs and chants that tied the stars to the land. Of such songs, many are now hidden in the mind’s eye of those chosen to keep the sacred fires of ancient knowledge burning. 

For that select few skilled in the ways of old and schooled in the paths of the stars much is also needed to know of the long tides that run deep in the waters, how the clouds form in the heavens, from whence the birds fly to and from and where it is that the sun and moon travel on their paths from dawn horizon to dusk. 

Now, in this time, it is for those who sail the seven sisters of Te Mana o Te Moana that the stories and songs are being written by, and of, on many such things as these. Songs and stories to be passed on for future generations to sing and tell to replace the old that were forgotten in myth and legend. 

It is for them, the honour of our ancestors and for the glory of IO the hidden with many names that we do this... 

Robbie ma le Aiga Folau o Gaualofa 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thoughts from the ocean

It’s hard to write on the va’a’s. Not that there is a lack of inspiration - there is plenty of that around, every minute of every hour of every beautiful day. The problem is it’s hard to write when there is constant movement due to the strong wind and speed as we experiencing now. Or like a couple of days ago, when we were drifting in a dead calm. No wind and just a sweltering sweaty heat. The heat being even worse inside the galley, the place on the va’a where the creative juices of blogs are born and transcribed onto our computer. 

As I sit here and write I hear the constant hiss and spray of the sea, the rush of wind, and splash of waves on the deck. We are doing 11 knots, we are sailing. The va’a loves this speed. It handles it well and you feel safe on board. Although it pitches and yaws slightly it is a small price to pay for this speed of movement and the potential to get to our destination in a timely manner. It has been cloudy and stormy outside, not typical weather you would find people being happy about but onboard the Gaualofa, everyone is in good spirits. This weather makes us smile. We love the splash of seawater on our decks and even when it sometimes drenches our bodies. We love the wind in our hair, the spray on our skin, the moody outlook of the sea. Despite its bleak appearance, today is a good day. 

As I look out over the concrete coloured skies to the horizon, I am humbled by the sea’s apparent infinity. It stretches in every direction as a blue desert without boundaries. When you look out at that you cannot help but be drawn into thoughts of reflection, or simple thoughts of enjoying the tranquility of the moment. For me looking out upon the blue infinity moves me to more introspective thoughts. Today, like most days, I thought about our oceans. I could understand why people would think the sea could handle all the pollution we pump into it or has limitless resources to sustain our insatiable fishing greed. It looks so vast, it seems we couldn’t have much of an impact. But we do. Despite how small we may feel out here, our technology, our societal needs and practices are killing our oceans and quicker than we think. We are fishing far more effectively than we have ever done in history, exploiting new environments and fish species. Overfishing is the norm now. So much so that many traditional fish species fisheries have collapsed and are not sustainable enough to be fished anymore. We are now exploiting ever more species from ever greater depths, species that can’t reproduce quickly enough to replenish their own populations before they go extinct. We are pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is readily absorbed by our oceans and this is turning our vast seas acidic. Turning ACIDIC for heaven’s sake, compromising the very chemistry of the ocean itself. The very delicate chemistry balance that each life form in the ocean requires to grow, reproduce, and sustain itself. This is a big deal. As a society we are on a slippery road to shooting ourselves in the foot. If you don’t know what our oceans do for us, now is the time to find out. Now is the time to find out about global warming, ocean acidification, fishing practices and ocean pollution. Now is the time to start being proactive in seeing what small part you can do to save our seas. By using less plastic, buying sustainably fished seafood, driving less, eating less beef (yes meat is a big contributor to our carbon tax on the planet), supporting renewable energy. The list goes on and on. And the deeper you dig the more aware you become. The more we can do to save this beautiful blue wilderness for our future. Because the frightening reality is that we only have little time left to slow things down before they reach a tipping point. If we don’t start acting responsibly now then it will be too late. 

Yes there is a lot of reflection time at sea, and thoughts such as these come up during these times. We need these moments. We need these checks and balances. We need the quiet times to appreciate nature’s beauty and try in the process to give something back.

As I try and finish this mini-rant, the waves are still splashing, the hissing still loud and I am still rocking. We are alive and smiling. It’s good to be out here on the open ocean. 

Schannel and Gaualofa crew. 

Fa soifua