Lucky Star's pandanus sail – The Guam Daily Post

“Falemwaiul Lamoireg” in English translates as “Survival of Lamoireg’s Glory.” Lamoireg is the indigenous name for Lamotrek, one of the 14 atolls of Yap State in the Eastern Caroline Islands of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Master navigator, or palu, Larry Reigetal from Lamoireg said, “The phrase ‘Falemwaiul Lamoireg’ was woven into the traditional sail to emphasize the community’s struggle against environmental issues such as climate change and rising of sea levels.”

Palu Larry’s dream was to sail a traditional canoe with a pandanus sail to Festival of Pacific Arts 2016. He and elder navigators and apprentices from Lamoireg refurbished an outrigger canoe named the Lucky Star and asked their community’s help to find someone with the traditional knowledge to weave a pandanus sail.

Sharing knowledge

There was one knowledge holder still alive on Lamoireg, and Palu Larry went to visit. Her name is Maria Labucheilam, and at 95 years old, she alone possessed the knowledge and skill to weave a pandanus sail.

“On her deathbed,” Palu Larry said, “she demonstrated her skill by weaving a foot-long model of the sail while 15 women sitting next to her and transferring her movements to the actual full-sized sail. In this way, she passed on her knowledge,” he continued. “Unfortunately, Maria died two weeks later and was not able to see the final product.”

Preparing the pandanus for weaving is an extensive process. It begins with harvesting the pandanus leaves, then drying and stripping the leaves into single fibers to be woven into long strips of sheets. To strengthen the sheets, it must be wrapped around coconut trees and stretched, then sewn together with coconut seine twine. Weaving a sail requires more effort and skill to ensure the sail’s strength and durability.

Palu Larry acknowledged that Maria’s sacred knowledge would be of greater value now by sharing it with people outside her family and Lamoireg to preserve its art form. Maria agreed and was happy to pass on her knowledge to the women of Lamoireg. Palu Larry promised Maria that her skill would be shown to the world, first as the Lucky Star sailed over the 500-mile voyage from Yap – through the Mathawalwoal to FestPac 2016 on Guam.

Palu Larry was initiated as navigator at the Pwo ceremony during FestPac 2016 on Guam. He explained that some of their elder Palu living on Guam and wanted to distinguish voyagers like Larry who had not been recognized for their achievements of crossing the Mathawalwoal to Guam. Mathawalwoal is the name of the upper ocean or sea lane between any of the Caroline Islands and Guam and the Marianas. Navigators have names for these sea lanes or oceans between islands.

Lamoireg’s glory is seen as the pandanus sail continues to travel the world and symbolizes the meaning of “Falemwaiul Lamoireg,” “The struggle and survival of the Lamoireg people and culture on an island directly affected by climate change and other environmental factors that threaten atoll living and sustainability,” said Palu Larry.

Sail on display

Lamoireg’s traditional sail has traveled from Yap to Guam and exhibited at the University of Guam’s School of Business and Public Administration atrium. Then it was at the Museum of Art in Honolulu for three weeks. After Honolulu, the sail was sent to New York and presented at the United Nations Sputnik Lounge during the Ocean Conference in June 2017. From New York, it traveled to the Messehallen Convention Centre in Hamburg, Germany, and exhibited during the Group of Twenty Summit 2017.

Palu Larry said it will make its way back to Yap for the Micronesian Games in March 2018, and may make a few more stops, possibly in Europe and Australia, with continued financial support. To assist, please visit

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