500 Sails camp teaches basics of canoe-making

Posted on Jul 17 2019

500 Sails canoe camp teacher Samuel Westbrooks, left, assists a student participant produce a paddle during the 500 Sails’ canoe camp yesterday at its boatyard in Lower Base. The camp will continue until next Friday, July 26 (MARC A. VENUS)

Non-profit group 500 Sails, in partnership with the Indigenous Affairs Office, is holding a five-week canoe camp at its boatyard in Lower Base.

According to 500 Sails executive director Pete Perez, the canoe camp has five student participants (ranging in ages from 14 to 16 years old) and are being supervised by three teachers.

The canoe camp is currently on its fourth week and focuses on introducing high school students to the basics of sailing and the process of building traditional canoes using modern materials.

Yesterday, the participants were shown how to create canoe paddles made out of a mixture of foam and fiberglass. Perez said the process requires constant attention and caution, as the materials are sensitive and take a while to be fixed in the event of any errors.

Perez also mentioned that four of the students have already been certified as competent swimmers and can now set out to sail.

The camp began last June 24 and will end on Friday, July 26. The camp is from 12:30pm to 4:30pm.

Perez said they are working with other organizations like 4-H Marianas, Project PROA, and the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library and has managed to provide different kinds of training to over 200 participants.

According to the group’s website, the name “500 Sails” was inspired by the arrival of the Spanish galleon San Pedro in the CNMI in 1565, when it was met by the Chamorros in their sailing canoes numbering 500. The group’s goal is to reclaim the maritime tradition in the Marianas by getting 500 traditional Chamorro and Carolinian proas on the water in the Marianas once again.

Marc Venus | Reporter
Marc Venus is the Saipan Tribune's public health and education reporter. He has an associate degree in Applied Sciences in Computer Applications and is working on his bachelor’s degree at the Northern Marianas College. Contact him at marc_venus@saipantribune.com.
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