San Diego, CA- San Diego's Pacific Islander and indigenous Native American communities hosted a traditional Polynesian farewell ceremony for the Pacific Voyagers on Saturday, January 21st at Spanish Landing Park. The Pacific Voyagers have been in San Diego for the last six months winterizing their vakas (traditional Polynesian canoes), and will be departing on Tuesday, January 24th to finish the last leg of their 10,000 mile ocean journey.
Natay Holmes and I were lucky enough to spend some time with them sailing the bay on Te Matau a Maui / Aotearoa a few months ago, and we returned today to finish up our story. The Pacific Voyagers are a network of sailors from various Pacific Islands, including Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Solomon Islands and Hawaii. For me it seemed a bit familiar to be surrounded by pacific islanders. They, of course, served a bunch of food, but as I stood at the food table I asked, “Hey, where is the Spam and Rice?” A young Samoan teenager with braces next to me laughed and said, “Hey Bra you have to try the Pink dish.” “What is it?” I responded. He said, “I don’t know but it’s delicious.” I did and it was.
The six Vakas were anchored at the Spanish Landing, and as the tide receded they started getting stuck. We lent a hand moving one of them, but one other had to wait for the tide to come back up for it to be moved back to the dock.
On this journey the Pacific Voyagers' purpose is to bring awareness on conserving the waters of our oceans. The Pacific Voyager's vakas are special because the
entire fleet is eco-friendly. The vakas are powered by wind and sun, giving them freedom of movement without any reliance on fossil fuels.
The Mayor’s office made a special visit to help recognize the sailors. In honor of the Pacific Voyagers, their time in San Diego and their important message of ocean sustainability, Mayor Sanders issued proclamation making Saturday, January 21, 2012, Pacific Voyagers Day in San Diego.
After leaving San Diego, the Pacific Voyagers will continue their 10,000 mile journey to Cabo San Lucas, Costa Rica's Cocos Islands, the Galapagos, the Marquesas and Tahiti. They will then conclude their journey at the Festival of the Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands, in July.
We will most likely stop by on Tuesday to see them off, but since these are sailing ships there is no hard time for the departure. A simple reminder that the journey itself, sailing 10,000 miles, is about working with Mother Nature, not controlling it.
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by David Kamatoy with Natay Holmes