Alingano Maisu skipper Sesario Sewralur is optimistic that the art of traditional seafaring would continue even after his passing. He is teaching the skill at the Palau Community College and has also taught two of his sons.
Carolinians had been using the traditional way of navigating the oceans—using the position of the stars, reading the weather and wind conditions, feeling the swells and ocean current, and watching the birds and other ocean species—even before European explorers discovered the islands in the Pacific.
The skill, which is part of the Carolinian culture, was passed down from generation to generation and it was the same method used by their ancestors when they sailed from the Caroline Islands to the Northern Marianas island chain.
Sewralur and his crew—his 7-year-old son Dylan, Rodney Kazuma and Murais Sebangol of Palau, Satawal’s Miano Sowraenpiy and Albno Esoailug, and Norman Tawelimai of Ifalik—held a mini seminar on the basic methods last Saturday to interested and curious individuals who wanted to learn a thing or two about the Carolinian way of sailing the ocean.
They also taught students from different elementary and middle schools the entire week since they arrived last May 7. American Aylie Baker and Japanese Kazuyo Hayashi and Osamu Kasuge are also part of the voyage.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to give lessons on how to navigate the oceans. The kids are very appreciative and have been asking a lot of questions. We like the interaction since they have open minds. We see it as a good sign that the tradition is safe for future generations,” said Sewralur.
“This is a very unique tradition, a different way of navigating the seas without the use of modern equipment. We are hopeful that someday my sons and others would continue this tradition.”
He said that he has been teaching Dylan and his older brother, who was supposed to join them in the trip but had to attend his graduation in Yap, the skill that was handed down to him by his father—legendary master navigator Pius Mau Piailug.
“My sons wanted to continue the tradition that’s why I’ve been teaching them what I’ve learned from my father,” said Sewralur.
The skill, however, is not limited to men only as women are also welcome to learn. “Females, even though they won’t sail for the rest of their lives, could study and learn the skill since they could also pass the knowledge to their sons.
Sewralur and his companions crossed the Pacific to attend the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts in Guam, which opens on Sunday at the Paseo de Susana Park in Hagatna. They are scheduled to leave at around 7am or 8am on Thursday and it will take them 12 to 16 hours to travel to Guam.
“It will all depend on the winds and the condition of the tides. We are expected to arrive either late Thursday night or early Friday morning. We are expecting a huge welcome from the delegates of the festival,” added Sewralur.