Govt officials take trip aboard Okeanos Marianas

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The first group of CNMI residents to get aboard the Okeanos Marianas pose for a photo yesterday before their trip around Saipan. The boat itself had just arrived on Saipan after a journey from New Zealand. The boat has already been to Tinian. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The Okeanos Sustainable Transport LTD on Monday brought aboard its first group for a short, daytime trip on the oceangoing Okeanos Marianas.

Government officials led by acting governor Victor B. Hocog and other selected individuals went aboard the Okeanos Marianas for a brief jaunt around Saipan, at the invitation of Emma Perez, managing director of Okeanos Sustainable Sea Transport which operates the vessel.

Joining Hocog aboard the Okeanos Marianas were Rep. Ivan Blanco (R-Saipan), Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality acting administrator Eli Cabrera, Rep. Alice Igitol (R-Saipan), and others.

According to Hocog, it is only right that the leaders of the Marianas learn more about the vessel since the people of the Marianas themselves will be using the boat.

“We’re going to have partial ownership of the canoe so we need to see how it works in open water,” he said.

Igitol was excited but a tad nervous to be a part of the trip. “I hope I don’t get seasick, I’m scared of water,” she said.

Perez hopes the trip would help Marianas leaders understand what the Okeanos Marianas will be providing for the Marianas.

“We wanted to invite the leadership on the trip because this is something new for the community and we want the leadership to understand what is available to them,” she said.

Perez said those invited on the tour on Monday were instrumental in helping get the canoe to Saipan.

She is now working on organizing trips for the public to experience what it’s like aboard the Okeanos Marianas.

“We’re trying to get as many people as possible on board so that they can understand what’s happening,” she said.

Perez hopes to instill in the minds of those who have been aboard the canoe—and who are interested in taking a trip on the canoe—that the purpose of the Okeanos Marianas is not so much to make money but to revive the oceangoing culture of the Marianas and to bring people back to the water.

Perez also wants to bring students on Saipan aboard the canoe to help them understand that these vessels can be a part of their life now and it will be a part of generations to come.

A crew of eight, the guests, and Peter and Emma Perez set sail at about 1pm on Monday for the the hourlong-plus trip around Saipan.

Since arriving on Saipan over a week ago from New Zealand, the vessel has already gone to Tinian, Perez said, where master navigator Peia Patai trained a few individuals about his knowledge of sailing.

The Okeanos Marianas was able to bring aboard 16 individuals on its trip around Saipan.

Okeanos Sustainable Transport plans to use the vessel for regular trips to the Northern Islands and Tinian.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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