Okeanos Marianas to provide fossil fuel free transport between Marianas

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A double hulled sailing canoe called the Okeanos Marianas will soon be providing transporation between the islands of the Marianas.

Guam – A traditionally designed pacific sailing canoe will soon be providing another means of transportation between the islands of the Marianas. The Okeanos Marianas arrived on Guam early yesterday (Tues) morning.

Imagine a sustainable clean mode of transportation that could transport people and cargo all throughout the Marianas without relying on gas diesel or any other type of fossil fuel. Well the Chamorro people knew how to do this for thousands of years and now it will soon become a reality once again thanks to the Okeanos Foundation. This foundation started a project in 2009 where they built eight 72-foot canoes called Vakas or Wakas in various Polynesian languages. In 2013 the Okeanos Foundation came up with the idea to build traditionally designed double hulled Polynesian style sailing canoes for interisland sustainable sea transport.

“The main focus and purpose of Okeanos sustainable sea transport is to help promote islands and outer islands that are very hard in delivering cargo and we will use our Vakas to deliver cargo and that is why we are going back to our old ways of sailing around the interisland transporting goods and even transporting passengers,” said Okeanos Foundation member Steve Tawake

Tawake is a sailor from Fiji who has been with the Okeanos Foundation for many years. Now he is training the crew and new captain of the Okeanos Marianas, a traditional Vaka or Waka made specifically for use in the Marianas. The new captain will be Cecilio Raiukiulipiy from the island of Satawal a nephew of the famous traditional navigator Mau Pialug.

The canoe has proved its seaworthiness sailing thousands of miles to the Marianas all the way from New Zealand. “This was built in New Zealand so it took us 40 days from New Zealand to Saipan and we had stopped along the way around New Caledonia, Solomons and Chuuk and now we just sailed from Saipan to Rota and now we are here on Guam,” said Tawake.

A crew of nine people were on the 40-day trip from New Zealand aboard this amazing vessel. “Our main generator is wind as you can see there is a rig here at the moment. This is a traditional rig and we have an engine on board that supports us. Our engine is a volvo engine and its running on coconut oil and diesel at the moment,” said Tawake.

However, the goal of the project is to run either on wind or coconut oil and reduce or eliminate completely the use of diesel and other fossil fuels. The Okeanos Marianas is based off an old design, but it was built with modern materials and technology. In fact, it even has solar panels to help power their electronic equipment used for navigation and communications.

The canoe can hold up to 35 passengers for day trips and one day soon it will be bringing people throughout the Marianas island chain. “Actually, this is Okeanos Marianas. So, its gonna stay here. It’s for the people of the Marianas. It doesn’t belong to the group that’s running it. It belongs to all the people. Anyone can come but there will be a certain group that will occupy and run it but this Vaka belongs to everyone. It belongs to the people of the Pacific,” said Tawake.

After the new crewmembers are trained, the Okeanos Marianas should be ready to begin providing interisland transportation in the Marianas in about six months. According to their website, the Okeanos Foundation is a community of international ocean navigators, scientists, cultural leaders, spiritual advisors, activists and artists. Their vision is for a sustainable, fossil fuel free future built upon respect for traditional knowledge, environmental stewardship, biodiversity and holistic place-based education and development strategies.