20 February 2007

Two Hawaiian Canoes Reach Micronesia

Today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that two Polynesian voyaging canoes have made landfall in Micronesia.
MAJURO, Marshall Islands » To the sounds of ukuleles and a conch shell, the Hawaiian double-hulled canoes Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu arrived at a dock here today, completing their 2,200-mile journey from Hawaii to Micronesia.

The vessels are on a pilgrimage to Satawal atoll to deliver the Alingano Maisu to renowned navigator Mau Piailug, who taught Pacific way-finding to native Hawaiians and sparked a renaissance in the building of voyaging canoes in the Pacific....

The welcome in Majuro was a celebration of two Pacific cultures that have kept sailing traditions alive, and of their ancient mariners who developed ocean-voyaging methods centuries before Westerners had nautical navigation equipment to cross vast oceans.

Majuro islander Alson Kelon, who escorted the vessels into port, said he felt proud to be a Micronesian and honored to support the voyaging tradition of his ancestors.

Kelon said he helped to found a canoe sailing group in Majuro after witnessing the Hokule'a make its first voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976.

He said the teaching traditional voyaging integrates all kinds of learning, including mathematics, science, oceanography, astronomy, English and leadership....

The late Big Island canoe builder Clay Bertelmann promised to deliver a double-hulled canoe to Mau about five years ago, and his family has continued to fulfill the promise....

Mau's son Sesario said his father's health is waning.

"The main thing is to get it there while he's still around," he said.

Sesario said his family has to discuss what to do with the Alingano Maisu, but he hopes that it will be used to carry on his father's work teaching way-finding navigation.

Sesario, a police officer in Yap, said he would like to use the canoe as a way to reach youths at risk of becoming criminals.

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