This weekend Pacific voyagers from over six island countries are expected to arrive in Port Vila aboard two traditionally based, fossil fuel-free sailing canoes Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa’qab.

The Port Vila arrival marks the first leg in the maiden voyages of the vessels and their crew members who trained for three months at the Okeanos Maritime Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand in preparation for the sail.

Among the crew are sailors from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Hawaii.

Leading the voyages of Okeanos Waa’qab and Okeanos Palau are Fijian Captain Angelo Smith and Cook Island-native Peia Patai, respectively, who runs the Okeanos Maritime Training Center and oversees the construction of Okeanos’ “vaka motus” at Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders.

The fifty-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.

Both vessels will unite with sister canoe Okeanos Vanuatu who has been operating out of Port Vila since 2015.

Following the devastation of Cyclone Pam, Okeanos Vanuatu was instrumental in disaster relief efforts by delivering crops and seedlings to the different islands where the agriculture was weakened or destroyed; often from Malekula to Epi, Tongoa, Tongariki and the rest of the Shepherds. The crew also delivered water, medical supplies and other goods to very remote island groups who urgently needed help.

Today Okeanos Vanuatu remains active transferring root crops from Shepherds to Port Vila on a weekly basis, while also offering day cruises and sunset sails. Okeanos Vanuatu is the first vessel of its kind in Port Vila, dedicated to reviving the seafaring traditions of Vanuatu’s voyaging ancestors.

Similarly, the new vakas Okeanos Waa’qab and Okeanos Palau will sail a total of over 4,000 miles to Yap and Palau respectively where they will serve the sustainable sea transportation goals of their countries.   (PR)