Monday, August 15, 2011

Traditional Canoes Cross the Pacific

Today, seven traditional Polynesian ocean-going canoes are scheduled to arrive in San Francisco after traveling 15,000 nautical miles from the South Pacific.

The 70-foot long boats, called vaka, have been navigating by the stars. Besides catching wind in their sails, the boats have also been drawing energy from solar-powered motors. A major goal of the trip is to draw attention to environmental and sustainability issues.

But there is also something deeper driving the journey, explains the Pacific Voyagers website. Some three billion people live in 56 Pacific Island and Pacific Rim countries and territories. And those people have strong historical connections with the sea:

“We're sailing across the Pacific to renew our ties to the sea and its life-sustaining strength. The ocean is the origin of life, and it continues to give us air to breathe, fish to eat, and nourishes our soul as well. As threatened as the ocean is now, however, it soon can no longer provide us with these essential life services.

Sailing together, we seek the wisdom of our ancestors and the knowledge of scientists to keep the Pacific healthy and give our grandchildren a future.

A documentary about the trip is in the works. In the meantime, you can track the journey with an interactive map.

You can also meet up with the vaka as they work their way down the West Coast. Next stops: Monterey, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Sohn, Emily. 2011. "Traditional Canoes Cross the Pacific". Discovery News. Posted: August 2, 2011. Available online:

No comments: