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.

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

1 comment:

  1. Malo

    Do you have a GPS tracking unit on board, I know it's a vaa but it would be amazing to see your updated location on Google maps. How about video of what you're seeing out there, any on Facebook or YouTube? Again I know it's a vaa but I'm already living vicariously through your blogs and found myself wanting more. The most ocean crossing I'll ever do on a sail boat is watching Kevin Costner on Water World again, so reading your blog fires my imaginings.

    Manuia le folauga