Our very own Brynne Eaton Auva’a – who, when working with Polynesian Xplorer, sang the national anthem at the opening of the Judo World Cup in 2010, has just completed an extraordinary journey on board the Gaualofa. Brynne was a member of one of seven Pacific Island crews that sailed a fleet of traditional Polynesian “vaka” – voyaging canoes (equipped with solar powered motors) – across thousands of miles of open ocean. In seven replicas of the ancient sailing vakas, each carrying a crew of 14 to 16 people from more than a dozen island nations (including Fiji, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Hawaii and Tonga), this young set of navigators set off from New Zealand in April and arrived in California in early August.
Brynne and her fellow wayfinders mapped their way across the vast Pacific in the wake of their ancestors, using the stars, sun, wind, and wildlife as their guides. These young wayfinders are not only reclaiming their heritage as the finest of sailors, but are also becoming the finest of stewards. Drawing on the lessons of their past to propel us all forward, these navigators are charting a bold new course, steering us all toward a sustainable future on earth.
An article published in the Pasadena Star News last week summarized Brynne’s experience here:
For 26-year-old Brynne Eaton-Auva’a of Samoa, one of the crew members of the vaka Gaualofa, the journey has allowed her to learn more about the Polynesian side of her family. She was born and raised in Alberta, Canada, to her Canadian mother and Samoan father.
“It’s been a great huge lesson for me,” Eaton-Auva’a said of the trip called “Te Mana O Te Moana,” or “The Spirit of the Sea.”
“We sail without any fossil fuels. We sail mimicking how our ancestors would have,” she said.
And while the canoes do have propellers, the devices only are meant to help the vessels maneuver harbor waters, she said.
The canoes also are equipped with satellite phones and “all the necessary safety equipment as any modern-sailing vessel would have,” Eaton-Auva’a said.
But the goal “is to try to navigate as much as we can celestially,” she explained, using knowledge of the stars, swells and winds for guidance.
“It’s nice when you’re out there. It distances you from the distractions of the land,” Eaton-Auva’a said
More information is available from the Pacific Voyagers site here. You’ll be able to get a deeper insight into the trials, tribulations and triumphs of this great voyage when the movie, Our Blue Canoe, is released later in 2013. In the meanwhile here’s a teaser.