Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Hawaiian canoes set for epic Pacific journey

Two Hawaiian outrigger canoes are due to embark on an epic 2,300 mile (3,700 kilometres) voyage from Hawaii to Micronesia today using only the stars and sun for navigation.

The crew of the two double-hulled canoes are reviving the methods of Polynesian sailors of the past who crossed vast distances in the Pacific Ocean without any instruments to guide their way.

The canoe Maisu, launched late last month on Hawaii island, will be accompanied by its more famous sister canoe, the Hokule'a, which made the first modern day canoe voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976.

Maisu was built by the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society as a gift to honour Mau Piailug, a renowned master navigator from the tiny atoll of Satawal in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Piailug is credited with inspiring a new generation of Hawaiian navigators and canoe builders.

"It took one man (Piailug) to get the Hokule'a to Tahiti in 1976 and spark pride in Hawaii and throughout Polynesia," said the Voyaging Society's Chadd Paishon, who was in the Marshall Islands capital Majuro to organise the voyage.