I always like to share an exciting adventure story. Last week I came across an article about a local traditional seafaring organization from Guam that is preparing to sail a proa from Taiwan to Guam using traditional navigational techniques. Every so often I hear about a traditional sailing vessel attempting to sail from one island to another. However, this adventure has an additional goal and that is to revive the seafaring technique of the Chamorro people in the Mariana Islands.
Ignacio R. “Nash” Camacho, a board member of Traditions About Seafaring Islands (TASI), will be sailing the Taiwan-Guam leg with Burghard Pieske, a German sailor and adventurer who has made it his mission to show off the various cultures of the “blue continent,” referring to the islands of the Pacific. Camacho states,
“In his travels, Pieske discovered the history of the blue continent, and that these people, our people in Oceania, all over the Pacific, migrated throughout these islands, all the way into Polynesia. And they did so with their technology — millennia-old technology — refined for those kinds of explorations.”
Camacho also adds that traditions were lost when Europeans “discovered” the Marianas. “These people, our people, and these crafts were already here,” he said. “In Guam, in particular because of our experience with Spain,” he said. “The proas were destroyed. The people who built them were destroyed. The guma’ were destroyed.”
A Chamorro Style Proa
Pieske’s plan, Camacho explained, is to sail with people from various Pacific island cultures, starting with Camacho and sailing to Guam. Once he completes one leg, Pieske will pick up another crew member and continue onward. From Guam, he could sail with a Chuukese navigator to Chuuk and continue the pattern until he sails to Rapa Nui with a Rapa Nui navigator.
The trip could take anywhere from 21 days to three months depending on conditions. The voyagers hope to arrive in Guam in time for the Festival of the Pacific Arts in May 2016.
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