Pohnpei readies for arrival of 2 new traditional sailing canoes

Posted on Jun 13 2019

Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab are escorted by Okeanos Vanuatu from Port-Vila to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu to resupply their vessel’s coconut biofuel. When winds are low, the coconut oil-powered engines can keep the vakas cruising up to 6 knots. (PHILIPPE CARILLO)

Pacific voyagers from several countries are expected to sail into Pohnpei this June on two newly-built traditional, fossil fuel-free sailing canoes, Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab, joining their sister, Okeanos Pohnpei, that is currently operating out of Kolonia.

The Pohnpei arrival marks the second nation visit in the maiden voyages of the Okeanos vaka motus whose crew trained for three months at the Okeanos Maritime Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand, in preparation for their 4,000-mile sail to their North Pacific destinations.

Among the crew are sailors from Pohnpei, Chuuk, Palau, Fiji, Cook Islands and Hawaii.

Leading the voyages of Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab is Okeanos’ fleet commander and master navigator Peia Patai, who also oversees the Okeanos Maritime Training Center. The 50-foot vaka motu, or “boat for the islands,” is a double-hulled, Pacific sailing canoe designed to run solely on renewable resources: wind, solar energy and coconut biofuel.

From Auckland, the fleet briefly stopped in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, to refill their engines with locally sourced coconut oil—a feature that provides an exciting and sustainable solution for many fossil fuel-dependent countries in Micronesia.

Okeanos Pohnpei, has been servicing Pohnpei’s outer islands since November 2018.

Okeanos Pohnpei has offered numerous services to the outer island communities, from unprecedented beach sweeps in Pakin to medical relief trips in the southern islands that will continue to be fulfilled with the introduction of these two canoes in Micronesian waters.

Okeanos Pohnpei and her fully trained Micronesian crew came to Kolonia at the request of Gov. Marcelo Peterson who sought to provide more regular sea transportation to Pohnpei’s outer island communities.

“The need for transportation to our outer islands is huge. This vessel can provide year-round service to our outer island communities,” Peterson said when Okeanos Pohnpei arrived in November 2018.

Tony John, the captain of Okeanos Pohnpei, is returning after three months of professional sailing training at the Okeanos Maritime Training program in Auckland.

“During this voyage I learned traditional sailing,” said John. “I want my country to have traditional and sustainable transportation.”

The new vakas, Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab, will sail a total of over 4,000 miles to Palau and Yap, respectively, where they will serve the sustainable sea transportation goals of their countries and states. The countries of Palau and FSM have been working on a proposal for traditionally-based sustainable sea transportation. (PR)

Okeanos Pohnpei, formerly known as Okeanos Messenger, provides Micronesia with a sustainable alternative to the diesel-powered vessels that strains local economies. (CHEWY LIN)

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