The deck of the double-hull outrigger canoe

The deck of the double-hull outrigger canoe. Photo © Steven Holloway

The traditional sailing canoe is a mainstay of Marshallese culture.  A walap can be used for travelling between atolls, with a large crew and more space for passengers and supplies. Other smaller types of outrigger canoe are called tipnol and korkor, and there are many different styles of hull.

The walap can be compared to other advanced sailboats used by Pacific islanders, such as the drua of Fiji and the proa of Micronesia.

The modern incarnations of Pacific canoes built, maintained, and sailed by the non-profit Okeanos Foundation are fitted with solar panels and use only sustainable sources of energy: wind power, solar power, and coconut biofuel.

Waan Aelōn̄ in Majel (WAM) is an organisation that instructs young Marshallese people in sailing wood and fibreglass canoes to transfer life skills and generate income. Read more about WAM’s mission on their website: http://www.canoesmarshallislands.com/mission-statement/.

One of the activities MAP organised was an opportunity for schoolchildren on Enewetak to learn about traditional methods of sea navigation and tour a canoe with the crew of Okeanos RMI.

Okeanos RMI also sailed the MAP team between Majuro and Enewetak. These voyages were documented by Steven Holloway . Pictured are crew members Andy Langidrik and Ivanancy Vunikura, captain Tohitika Alex Sanchez, and Dustin Langidrik, the operations manager of Okeanos RMI. Click on the gallery below to view a slideshow of Steven’s photos.

The Okeanos crew and members of the MAP team sailing to Enewetak. Photos © Steven Holloway.

Find out more about the canoe’s crew on the Okeanos RMI website: okeanos-rmi.com
Discover more about the Foundation’s mission to prepare for the challenges of climate change, foster energy and economic independence, and revitalise Pacific traditions of boat construction and sea navigation: okeanos-foundation.org

To be honest, I think a lot of people romanticise the ocean and islander people’s relationship to the ocean. Because at the end of the day, it’s a dangerous place. Yeah, we get food from it, but we also die from it.

Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner

Later this year Okeanos will release a feature-length documentary film, The Starchaserswatch the trailer on our Photography and Film page.