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, July 2, 2012

Navigating to the Solomons

The winds have been really shifty the past couple of days, ever since we sighted San Cristobal, one of the bigger islands in a group of many southeast of Guadalcanal where Honiara is positioned. It has been a chase for wind at times and buckling down on our sails when we are gifted with strong gusts inside squalls, we can’t complain either for the for the fresh water showers. All in all it felt like we were racing along from Vanuatu to hit the hand break all of a sudden when we hit land, but whose complaining???

Without sounding too up ourselves, I must give our crew a pat on the back for the fantastic steering throughout the voyage to Solomon Islands that saw Gaualofa slowly make her way from the very back of the pack to the front. For most of the time it was strong winds and big swells which could easy have thrown Gaualofa off course but all 3 shifts maintained course which resulted in us sighting land first which is something we are all be very proud of.

A first on Gaualofa, Jayde Leota got her hands wet with leading our traditional navigation for the first time during this leg, therefore earning her the name of navigator. What does it mean to be “the navigator” you might ask? It means you set a course for the crew to follow along the star compass. For example this particular leg from Espiritu Santo – Guadalcanal she set a course line of Lai – Manu which translates to a course North West (Lai) running 320-325 degrees (Manu).

How does the crew know which direction to go? Another important job for the navigator is to show the way whether it be stars, moon and planets to follow at night or direction the va’a should be in relation to sun and swells during the day. I know! It sounds harder than I thought too!

So how does it all work?? Every shift records their estimated speed (by dropping a banana or watching waves pass from the front kiato where the deck starts and counting how fast it takes for it to reach the last kiato where the deck ends) and direction (using stars, planets, moon, sun swells, wind) every 30 minutes that they are on shift. Jayde then works out a summary every 6, 12 or24 hours and estimates and plots how far the vaa has sailed and in which direction. The navigator is only responsible for getting the va’a to land, so once we sight land, we can say the navigator has successfully done his/her job regardless of whether it’s the right land or not! He he he…I am happy to inform you all that Jayde lead us in the right direction and we sighted San Cristobal Solomon Islands early Friday morning . For over 600Nm the “trad nav” as we call it was only off our actual position by 25miles!

 Jayde as humble as she is will not let me send this off without mentioning the help she got from our usual navigators Kalolo, Fani and Lole plus the help from captain Nick. We must give credit to our ancestors for their bravery and trust in nature. They were true observers and listeners who were so inter connected with nature and had so much faith in their knowledge that they went out blind and navigated the Pacific Ocean one island at a time. It amazes me every time I think about it and pushes us to get back to what once was, one leg at a time.

Now back to the winds! Last night we had zero winds which left us bobbing around (hopefully not in circles) but in any case we were rewarded with a beautiful moon lit sky with many stars to gaze at. This moon seemed as if it were in front of the sun giving it a yellowy glow that was just magical! I can’t remember the last time I sat and enjoyed a good moonlit night…

Our destination Honiara and the Pacific Arts Festival is going to be the centre for all Pacific Islands for the next two weeks. To imagine all the different cultures and traditions that will be show cased during this festival just gives me goose bumps! What a great opportunity for the Pacific Islands to share and learn from each other, what a great opportunity to tighten the bonds we share as people of the Pacific. We the children of Te Mana o te Moana will be making the most of the Arts Festival to share our stories with our Pacific brothers and sisters.

Tofa Soifua
Tasha and Gaualofa 

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