Okeanos Foundation donates Polynesian canoe to NMI

THE Okeanos Foundation for the Sea is funding the operation of a Polynesian canoe from New Zealand, which will provide regular transportation to the Northern Islands, Tinian and Rota.

“The name of the vessel is Okeanos Marianas,” said Emma Perez, general manager for Okeanos Sustainable Sea Transport Ltd. or OSST, a Saipan corporation.

“She is a 50-foot double haul Polynesian canoe so it is based on traditional design and built out of modern materials.”

The OSST project is funded by the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea whose objective is “social entrepreneurship that builds upon traditional culture and genius to develop local capacity for fossil-fuel-free sea transportation, sailors, boat builders and business operators.”

The state-of-the-art Polynesian canoe cost over a half a million dollars, Perez said.

“Vanuatu has one. New Zealand has two. The Marshall Islands just got one. Palau is next. These vessels are part of the Okeanos Foundation. Its mission is to implement a pan Pacific inter-island canoe network. 500 Sails founders Pete Perez and I were contacted last year by the Okeanos Foundation because of our similar mission — creating traditional vessels with modern materials. As a result of those conversations, the CNMI is getting a beautiful new sailing canoe.”

The vessel, she added, runs on sail. “It has two engines that run on crude coconut oil. We think about the possibilities for agricultural homestead on Pagan where there are plenty of coconut trees. People can find work making the coconut oil and selling it and sailing the canoe to have transportation back and forth to Pagan.”

“We have three people from Saipan who went to New Zealand,” Perez said. “They started sailing on the canoe on Sept. 20 from New Zealand and they are on their way to Saipan right now. They will stop at New Caledonia and then the Solomon Islands before heading to Saipan.”

The crew members from Saipan are Andrea Carr, Devin Noisom, and John M. Sablan.

“We are building up a schedule for charters and we are hoping that everybody will get a chance to ride on her,” Perez said, referring to the canoe.

They also plan to hold a welcome ceremony for the arrival of Okeanos Marinas at the Guma Sakman in Susupe on Oct. 27.

Emma Perez said the Okeanas Foundation is funding the operation of the canoe, and shouldering the crew’s wages and training, captain certification and other expenses.

“If we can keep that canoe busy and self-sustaining, over time we will be able to keep it here and a local foundation will own it. It’s a business model they are using now throughout the Pacific,” she added.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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