August 19, 2011

traditional Polynesian voyaging canoes

An amazing voyage has been taking place for the last few months in the Pacific Ocean, but it's one of those things you're unlikely to hear about unless you live in Hawai'i or the South Pacific. An ocean conservation group called Okeanos sponsored the construction of seven ocean-voyaging canoes, representing different Polynesian islands, and they're currently sailing the Pacific as a celebration of the traditional art of Polynesian voyaging and to raise awareness about ocean environmental issues. The canoes, called vaka moana, are replicas of the original double-hulled sailboats Polynesians used to traverse the open ocean for centuries, with some modern additions (a solar powered engine, for example.) The group of vaka left New Zealand on April 4th and set out on their epic journey, spending two months at sea before making their first stops at two different islands in French Polynesia. From there they headed to the north Pacific towards the Hawaiian island chain.
On June 17th, the seven canoes made their first north Pacific landing, right in Hilo Bay. On June 19th the crew participated in a ceremony on the beach while I sat in the sun and drew the boats.



After visiting a number of locations throughout the main Hawaiian islands, the vakas set out for San Francisco. As I am in the SF Bay Area now, I had fully intended to meet them again and perhaps get another chance to draw them, but sailing can be unpredictable... they arrived a week earlier than expected and I completely missed them! I am thankful that I at least had one opportunity to see these amazing boats up close.

For more info about the voyage, check out the Pacific Voyagers website! It includes a cool real-time map of where all the boats have sailed so far, pictures, videos, and blog updates from various crew members. So cool!

Posted by tammy at 3:27 PM