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, 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