Canoe launch across BOS marks CNMI Culture Day

Posted on Oct 11 2022


Andrew Roberto, 500 Sails’ director of community programs, addresses those gathered Monday morning in San Jose prior to the launching of the new traditional sailing canoe Animuyi. (Photos by MARK FARMER)

500 Sails continues to create traditional Chamorro canoes right here on-island, and the latest canoe in their ever-growing fleet was launched yesterday, Oct. 10 at 9am in San Jose, across the Bank of Saipan.

The canoe is named Animuyi and is a painted, 15-foot Chamorro sailing canoe fabricated at the 500 Sails boatyard facility in Lower Base. Her main hull and outrigger are made of fiberglass, while her spars are bamboo. For the past month or so, she has been on display at the Bank of Saipan branch located in San Jose. Prior to that, her finishing touches were skillfully created in the busy 500 Sails boatyard, where she was made by a crew of local craftsmen and craftswomen.

Animuyi was part of the Liberation Day parade aboard Triple J Enterprises’ official float, but yesterday’s boat launch was her official welcoming ceremony into 500 Sails’ sailing fleet.

After a brief launch commemoration, Animuyi and the canoes Richard Seman, Ladahao, Aunty Oba, and Didi sailed from San Jose, across the Bank of Saipan, landing at the Guma Sakman.

Andrew Roberto, who is 500 Sails’ director of community programs, underscored why this event is so special. “Canoes are the lifeblood of Pacific cultures,” Roberto said. “It’s in our DNA to be sailors and fishermen and women. These canoes let us go past the reef or around the lagoon without the need to purchase fuel—after all, the wind is free. Our health, our wellness, our spirit, and our joy in life is tied to these boats. 500 Sails is happy to launch Animuyi and we invite the public to come celebrate as well.”

Master navigator Raikiulipy blows a conch shell during Monday’s launching celebration for Animuyi, 500 Sails newest sailing canoe.

500 Sails volunteers launch Animuyi into the central lagoon off San Jose Monday morning.

Animuyi joins the 500 Sails’ fleet Monday morning. In Chamorro, animuyi roughly translates to “one that perseveres” and “to do your best.”

Roberto stated that the entire process to build Animuyi is part of the Traditional Canoe Fabrication and Maintenance program of the 500 Sails Cultural Maritime Training Center, in partnership with Northern Marianas College – Community Development Institute.

The CMTC project was made possible by support from the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the Administration for Native Americans Social and Economic Development Strategies grant.

500 Sails is a 501(c)(3) and CNMI tax-exempt nonprofit organization dedicated to reviving, promoting, and preserving the maritime cultural traditions of the Mariana Islands through community engagement in canoe cultural values and activities. 500 Sails’ vision is a healthy thriving native community that has successfully integrated traditional cultural values into modern life. Major supporting partners include the CNMI Office of Indigenous Affairs and the Bank of Saipan. (PR)

Press Release
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