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  • Pacific Island Times Staff

Forget planes, take a traditional canoe to Rota, Tinian and Saipan

Sail, solar panels and coconut oil engines will get you there

As of Sunday morning the Okeanos Marianas, a traditional Polynesian double-hulled, 50-foot open ocean sailing canoe was on its way to Guam from Saipan, by way of Rota.

It will depart Rota early on the morning of November 14th and is anticipated to arrive the Hagatna Boat Basin at approximately 8:30am that same morning.

According to a news release, the ocean-going canoe will eventually provide 'fossil-free' commercial shipping between Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan as well as carrying passengers.

The canoe started its journey from New Zealand on September 20th, stopping briefly at New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, and Chuuk. It arrived on Saipan (its new home) on October 30th. Of the eight crew that were on board for the New Zealand-Saipan voyage, three are Saipan residents, including Andrea Carr, Devin Noisom, and John M. Sablan. Also included were voyagers from Fiji, France, and Tahiti. The captain of the New Zealand-Saipan voyage was Master Navigator Peia Petai of the Cook Islands, one of Grand Master Navigator Mau Piailug’s students.

The captain of the Saipan-Rota-Guam voyage is Cecilio Raikiulipiy, a nephew of Grand Master Navigator Mau Piailug.

Instruments will not be used for this trip, but rather traditional methods of navigation. The crew includes the Saipan residents from the New Zealand-Saipan voyage, as well as crew from Tahiti and Fiji who will be remaining in Saipan for the next six months to train additional crew. New to the crew for the Saipan-Rota-Guam voyage are Emma and Pete J. Perez, both of Guam’s familian Gollo, now residents of Saipan.

This vessel is provided by the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea for the purpose of transporting people and cargo between Saipan and neighboring islands in the Northern Marianas. This is being done by creating a commercial entity - Okeanos Sustainable Sea Transport. OSST was founded by Emma Perez, its managing director; Ray Tebuteb, operations director; and Pete J. Perez, a member of its board of directors in conjunction with the Okeanos Foundation.

The Okeanos Foundation for the Sea is dedicated to facilitating sustainable, fossil fuel-free sea transportation by building traditional Polynesian canoes or Vaka Motus, applying modern materials to traditional boat-building techniques. Okeanos’ Vaka Motus are internationally certified for open ocean commercial use and equipped with solar panels and coconut oil engines. In addition to the vessels, Okeanos provides wages, crew training, operations, insurance and other services foundational to establishing a local, community-led business model that generates revenue for the people of the CNMI while restoring indigenous maritime traditions.


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