THREE traditional canoes will set sail for Guam today, Thursday, to participate in the Festival of Pacific Arts which starts on May 22, 2016.
The 135-mile journey will take 12 to 16 hours, according to master navigator Sesario Sewalur.
â€œWhenever we get there weâ€™ll be on time,â€ he told this reporter in jest.
As for the two newly arrived â€œwaseresâ€ or ocean voyaging canoes from Satawal in Yap, he said he and his father, the late master navigator Mau Piailug, used to sail them.
â€œJohn Lalogo, one of the voyaging canoe captains, learned traditional navigation from my father and my uncle,â€ Sewalur said.
â€œJohn is very proud to see that there are a lot of younger seafaring Micronesians who have joined this voyage,â€ he added.
One of the â€œwaseresâ€ captains, Wayne Pekalpiy said it took them a week to reach Saipan from Satawal, a distance of over 544 miles.
â€œThree days of winds and rough ocean, and three days of no wind. Then waves as high as 25 feet! But we had one day of good sailing.â€
He said they only had two containers of water for the voyage, so they had to ration their provisions.
â€œWe ate small portions only.â€
It was the second time for the 36-year-old captain to go on a sea voyage from Satawal to Saipan. He started navigating to the outer islands of Satawal when he was 17 years old.
For the voyage to Saipan, he had seven crewmembers. He canâ€™t accommodate more because his canoe is smaller than Sesario Sewalurâ€™s Alingano Maisu.
John Lalogo, a 63-year-old navigator, said he has been sailing all his life and his teacher was his uncle, Mau Piailug himself.
According to Lalago, the last time he sailed from Satawal to Saipan was in 1972.
On his recent voyage, he said, when they left Satawal, there were strong winds, heavy rain and big waves for 24 hours.
â€œIt broke our mast,â€ he said, pointing to his crewmembers who were working on their vesselâ€™s mast.
â€œYou have to learn how to fix your canoe if you want to be a navigator, â€œ Lalogo added.
In 1987, he said, he went on a voyage to Fukuoka, Japan from Satawal â€” a distance of over 2,000 miles.
â€œWe left the canoe there as a gift to the people of Japan.â€
The Carolinian Affairs Office in Garapan will be the staging area for the canoes.
CAO Director John Tagabuel said the â€œoverwhelming community support for the navigators was just amazing, and Iâ€™m very thankful for that. The navigators were also humbled and thankful for the warm welcome.â€
Tagabuel said a final sendoff event is in the works on Saipan for the crews of the three canoes when they return to Saipan from Guam on May 25 or 26.
â€œThey will not stay long on Guam in consideration of the weather,â€ Tagabuel added
After re-supplying their canoes on Saipan, the canoes will then head for Palau and Satawal.
The Palauan community on Saipan held a feast for the two newly arrived canoes on Tuesday. The event was a coordinated by Palau Consul Eileen Kintol with attorney Brien Sers Nicolas welcoming the crewmembers with a short speech that mentioned the story of an old man who didnâ€™t believe that ocean voyaging without maps or compasses was possible.
â€œYou are the living testament that it is possible,â€ Sers Nicolas said. â€œAnd you make us proud for undertaking this voyage. Sulang!â€ which is the Palau word for â€œthanks.â€