3 May 2010

Marshalls outrigger prepares for return leg with traditional navigation

3:34 pm on 3 May 2010

A Marshall Islands outrigger canoe is expected to take two days to prepare for their return 150 kilometre voyage between two atolls, using traditional navigation of the moon and stars.

The 30-foot outrigger canoe 'Jitdam Kapeel' travelled from Majuro to Aur Atoll, without the aid of modern navigational equipment is now preparing to sail back to Majuro this week.

Our correspondent in Majuro, Giff Johnson, says the voyage is significant because traditional navigation skills used in the older days among Marshall Islanders often aren't being passed on to young people today.

"People are using these skills in remote islands and the trend is people are migrating out of the islands, out of the remote islands into the urban centres, and from the urban centres to America and other countries. So the traditions are certainly in danger of being lost but the good thing is that they haven't been and people in the Marshalls are acting to try to keep them strong."

Giff Johnson says communicating with the voyagers on Aur atoll has been a challenge given its remote location and lack of telephones.

The weather that the crew has travelled in so far has also been cloudy and rainy, presenting further communication problems.