High Time to Move On

New Zealand has become a dead end for many a sailor venturing out into the Pacific with high hopes of conquering the globe. There’s trouble ahead anywhere you go from here and if what you’re looking for is gentle comfort and benign relaxation you easily end up in a six-month routine where half the year you stay down South for a summer of quasi European abundance and then once the nasty cyclones have puffed out their fury you venture back up to the islands. We’ve been here in Kiwiland three summers now with the hiatus that took us back to the old Europe, originally with the excuse of financial pressures and hopes of being able to replenish our cruising kitty here. That hope has turned out to be a screen of smoke, the Kiwi is very jealous of his relative material wealth and does not share it readily with newcomers. And if you’re not generating income here, let me tell you, your money goes fast. Daily living is expensive, in fact not very far behind the very cream of Europe.

Now that our horizon is once again set on new and unknown lands beyond the distant horizon, a preliminary route has been drawn up in the mind: North up the Vanuatu chain to the Santa Cruz Islands in the eastern Solomons, from there towards the Kiribati’s Gilbert Islands with a hop across the equator and back into the northern hemisphere up to the Marshall Islands. By that time a good year’s time might have passed us by and a long rhumb line now extends towards the northwest heading for the tiny Bonin Islands, territory of the Empire of the Rising Sun. If that doesn’t sound exciting to you, you might as well book a trip to the moon! But we have been doing this travelling business long enough to know the dangers of armchair dreaming. We will take all this one step at a time and adjust the going to the actual realities we encounter. For the first two legs of this trans-pacific journey we have decided to join an interesting organization. But let me back up just a little and give you a chance to understand this rather strange twist in the otherwise stubbornly independent spirit that has always been throwing its powerful spell onto our lives.

My short trip to Cornwall last October was made with the intention to visit the Wharrams, the designers of our floating home, at their home base in Devoran. I wanted to mention to them an idea that had been rummaging around in my head for a good while. There are two tiny islands at the eastern end of what today constitutes the tumultuous Republic of the Solomon Islands. People on these two islands are of Polynesian stock and god knows how they ended up in that administrative entity. These two islands named Anuta and Tikopia were the focus of a daring expedition by the Wharrams back in 2009. They sailed two of their double canoes, the Tama Moana design of distinctly ethnic lines, were sailed down from the Philipines along the supposed routes of one of the main colonizers of the vast Pacific, the Lapita people. Apart from proving the feasibility of this outstanding feat of human colonization, the main goal of this expedition was to donate the two vessels to the people of Anuta and Tikopia, with the idea to help them restart the inter-island voyaging. They had done this traditionally for hundreds of years in the past, but once overrun by the powers of the Western world this amazing culture of ocean going vessels had faded into the realms of history.

The expedition culminated in a regal reception at the two tiny islands where the canoes were handed over to the island people and Wharrams returned to Gulf stream soaked Cornwall. You can read all about this incredible achievement at the Lapita Voyage web site.

To me all this sounded very much like the elusive nature-connected societies we have been searching for since leaving the temples of consumerism seven years ago. In our after dinner conversation Hanneke informed me that both canoes were in fact in need of maintenance and repair and a visit by somebody knowledgeable in the modern composite boat construction of the Wharram boats would indeed be urgently needed.

The Solomon Islands do have a reputation for being bureaucratically a good bit challenging, so we thought it prudent to creep under the hood of a reputable organization familiar with the labyrinths of permits needed to prepare such an undertaking. OceansWatch is a New Zealand based organization with a long history of marine conservation work in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons and Vanuatu. Travelling on sailboats they bring marine scientists and activists to local communities up there to help them establish protected areas to assure their natural resources a better chance of survival into man’s critical future. Recently they have extended their activities into economical sustainability projects like virgin coconut production and clinic refurbishments.

To cut a long story short we will be flying the OceansWatch flag on Aluna for this season, the repair project for the Lapita canoes is happening under their watch and in addition we will also be participating in the refurbishing of a medical clinic in the little island of Utupua, Temotu Province.

As you might imagine, while the participants in such an organization are all volunteers and donate their time without receiving any kind of financial compensation, there are considerable costs for purchasing materials and other operational expenses. For the canoe repairs we need to bring up epoxy resin and hardener, fiberglass cloth and tools to apply it, rope and plywood. For the clinic it’s paint and application tools, various roofing materials and sealant to repair water tanks.

We would therefore like to invite you to have a good sturdy look into your wallets and purses to see if down there at the very bottom you can find any spare changes lingering around that would allow you to make a small or maybe even a big donation to help us achieve our goal of assisting these remote communities.

In this day and age of global connectivity our donation campaign is a truly global affair. Have a careful look at your many options:

 

And if all this is not confusing enough it would be lovely if you could send me a quick email with the amount of your donation and where you have made it. This would make the administration of our project much easier.

In advance I would most certainly like to thank you from the very bottom of our restless hearts for your kind and generous support!

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One Response to “High Time to Move On”

  1. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Please donate and we will deliver and work hard for a nice cause ! Humanity!

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