Volume 82 1973 > Volume 82, No. 4 > A renaissance in Carolinian-Marianas voyaging, by Michael McCoy, p 355-365
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The Carolinian people of the island of Saipan are descended from adventurers who sailed their canoes to the Marianas Islands from their atoll homes in the south. But it has been many years, almost 70 by those still able to remember, since the Carolinians of Saipan have seen the sails of canoes approach the island from their ancestral homes. 1 During the preceding centuries, the people of the Central Carolines had made contact with the Spanish on Guam and had colonised the island of Saipan. The first fully documented and detailed account of Carolinians on Guam was given by Fr. Juan Cantova in a letter to Fr. Wm. D'Aubenton in which he describes the landing of canoes from Woleai in the Central Carolines on Guam June 19, 1721. 2 By 1788, large groups of canoes from the Carolines were sailing to Guam almost annually for trade goods and iron. 3 There is also evidence which would seem to confirm pre-European contacts between the Carolines and Marianas. In 1788, a canoe from Woleai arrived at Guam; the occupants told the Spanish that they had always been trading with Guam and had only discontinued their voyaging after witnessing the cruelty of the Europeans. 4 During the preceding seventeenth century, a number of Carolinian canoes had been blown off course and landed in the Philippines where their crews were interviewed by the Spanish. In at least one instance, they named the islands that constituted “their nation” including “Saypen” (Saipan) among them. 5

Although exact dates are not known, the Carolinians probably colonised the island of Saipan after the arrival of the Spanish and the subsequent removal of the original Chamorro inhabitants to Guam. The people of the island of Satawal in the Central Carolines claim that Agrup, a chief from Satawal, travelled to Guam and purchased the island of Saipan for colonisation purposes from the Spanish. The reported price paid to the Spanish is said to have been two golden cowrie shells, four large sennit ropes, and two women. There seems to be no record of this transaction, - 356 however, and at least one other account told to the author varied somewhat from the “Satawal version”. In the former, a man from Puluwat told the author in 1970 how the canoes led by Agrup were at sea a long time and put into Guam on their way to Saipan. Since they did not want their women to continue on the perilous voyage, the men left them in the care of the Spanish, giving the latter the shells and rope as payment for their safekeeping According to this version, no mention was made of “purchasing” the island.

Today, Saipan is the administrative headquarters of the United States Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and a substantial number of Carolinians with kinship ties in the Caroline Islands now reside there. Time has dimmed neither memories nor the belief that the people of the Central Carolines were capable of voyaging to Saipan in their hand-hewn canoes. During the occupation of the islands by first the Germans and then the Japanese, inter-island voyaging was discouraged by the foreign administrations and by the fact that trade goods were easily obtainable throughout the Carolines from ships operated by copra-buying companies. This did not stop movement between the islands, however, and today on Satawal there are four families with close marriage ties on Saipan dating from that period.

None the less, the use of inter-island steamers capable of carrying passengers and cargo did much to discourage the long-distance voyages that had been undertaken during the nineteenth century to trade for iron tools and other modern commodities Fortunately, however, the knowledge of star courses to Saipan was handed down from father to son, even though the long and arduous journey itself was not undertaken Then, in 1969, David Lewis visited the Central Carolinian island of Puluwat in his auxiliary ketch, the Isbjorn, while investigating ongoing systems of navigation throughout Oceania. Lewis had heard that the navigators of Puluwat possessed the knowledge to sail the 900-mile round-trip to Saipan, and upon arrival there asked one of the navigators, Hipour, to accompany him on the Isbjorn and navigate the vessel to Saipan and return. It was understood that only the indigenous knowledge that had been taught Hipour by the navigators of Puluwat would be used. The successful completion of this voyage, plus other factors, has led to a renaissance in Carolinian-Marianas voyaging and strengthened ties between Carolinians and their cousins on Saipan.

Shortly after Lewis and Hipour successfully completed their Saipan journey word was received in Yap of another event in the Carolines which was also to have profound consequences upon further voyaging. Martin Raiuk, the paramount chief of Satawal, a small island 600 miles east of Yap, was reported very sick and a government vessel in the area stopped to transfer him to the hospital in Saipan. Arriving in Saipan just a few months after the Isbjorn had left, the chief recovered, and talked about further voyages with Dr Benusto Kaipat, one of the leaders of the Carolinian community of Saipan. Because of the recent discussion of the possibility of reintegration of the Marianas with Guam, the paramount chief of Satawal was asked by the Saipanese to reiterate their claim to Saipan. - 357 Realising that authorities might not recognise their claim, and that the Chamorros have long since returned from Guam and reclaimed much of the island, Raiuk and the other chiefs of Satawal decided to dramatise their claim by sending a canoe to Saipan on a voyage identical with the ones made by their ancestors.

To the best of anyone's knowledge on Satawal no Satawal canoe had sailed to Saipan during this century. 6 Yet the training of the navigators has traditionally included sailing directions to the Marianas as well as to distant islands in the Carolines. Two competent and highly regarded navigators, Repunglug and Repunglap, chose to make the voyage in 1970. They are half-brothers, cousins of the paramount chief, and thus would be adequate messengers for all the chiefs of Satawal. The chiefs entrusted them with messages for the Carolinian people on Saipan and for the High Commissioner of the Trust Territory.

Repunglug and Repunglap chose to use a canoe belonging to their clan and it was made ready for the voyage. The canoe, adzed from breadfruit planks in the traditional Carolinian manner, is approximately 26 feet long, and at the time was equipped with a canvas sail. 7 As provisions for the voyage, the men took approximately 60 pounds of pounded taro and a lesser amount of breadfruit, as well as drinking coconuts and copra nuts. As on any long voyage, the men also took a large basket of cured coconut fibre for making rope, and extra poles to splice booms, the mast, or outrigger supports that might be broken during the trip. On April 26, they departed from Satawal with a crew of three, including one Saipanese man who had been residing on Satawal. Watching on the beach as the canoe sailed out of sight were all of the island's 400 inhabitants, as well as the sailors and navigators of four canoes from Puluwat who happened to be on Satawal at the time. The Puluwat men expressed concern for the safety of the Satawal canoe, and some even tried to talk the men into cancelling their voyage 8

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The canoe left Satawal that morning and made the 10-hour trip to uninhabited West Fayu island, approximately 52 miles north of Satawal, to wait for favourable winds before continuing on the 422-mile voyage to Saipan. After they had waited and watched for four days on West Fayu, the prevailing north-east trades switched to a favourable southerly direction, so they departed early in the morning of April 30. Using their steering paddle and running on a reach, they set their course to correspond to the group of stars known to them as Tupenmailepaifang (the setting position of the Little Dipper); or approximately 352 degrees on the small boat compass they carried. Before going further in this narrative, a short description of the Satawal conception of the stars and their headings may be helpful in understanding the courses followed. More complete descriptions may be found in both Gladwin and Lewis' reports of sailing on Puluwat. 9

The primary direction to the people of Satawal is that of east, towards the star they call Mailap (Altair) which bears 81½° or 8½° north of east at rise. The north-south axis consists of Feusamakut “the star that never moves” (Polaris), and Wenewenelupe, the Southern Cross in an upright position. This axis is called Wenewen, while the east-west axis is called simply Mailap. There are 32 points around this imaginary compass which consists of the rising and setting positions of various stars and constellations. These stars are unevenly placed, but, as Gladwin points out, they “steer by the shape of the sky . . . sailing into a part of the heavens, not towards a dot of light.” 10 In actuality, the stars are grouped around the east-west axis, with five different positions of the Southern Cross and three other constellations, Sarepwen (Corvus), Tumur (Antares) and Mesareu (Shaula), accounting for the southern portion. Since all of the stars cannot be at their proper place at one time, it can be seen that this is merely a mental picture. When transferring this mental picture to a compass rose, slight changes are made. Thus, even though a compass is generally used by the people of Satawal and those of Puluwat, its main function is in holding the course (the name of the star is transferred to the compass, rather than using the number of degrees). The stars are used primarily to get bearings and set the course to be sailed. There is also a system whereby, if a certain star or constellation is not visible during a particular time of the year, there is a companion star which would be visible and would rise and set at approximately the same latitude.

Gladwin also points out that the large number of stars grouped around the east-west axis of this imaginary diagram is useful in sailing in the - 359 Carolines for the islands lie in an east-west chain, and most voyages are made in these directions. This is one more difficulty the men faced in their voyage, for they were sailing a course almost due north and the lack of navigational stars in that part of the sky made their allowable margin of error small indeed. However, Repunglug and the rest of his crew weren't worried, for in this instance they had the wind in their favour. During other times of the year, prevailing winds often make sailing difficult. When travelling east in the Carolines, one must often tack against the north-east trades 7 or 8 months of the year; if travelling west one has a relatively easier time. In contrast, when sailing on a northerly course (the geographical bearing from Saipan to West Fayu is 353 degrees) one must wait for an easterly wind. 11 With the southerly and south-easterly winds at hand, the crew of the Satawal canoe were able to use their steering paddle, with the wind abaft the beam, and maintain a relatively constant speed estimated at 4 to 5 knots.

As the canoe sailed north from West Fayu, Repunglug checked the position of the island for the last time. Seeing it under the approximate position of Wenewenelupe, he held the course on Tupenmailepaifang (the setting position of the Little Dipper, or almost the same geographical bearing as Saipan, 352 degrees). Later in the evening of the first day, they shifted their course to Feusemakut, which is the name given the pole star.

On the second day out the wind died down, so they put down the sail and Repunglug slept for the first time since leaving West Fayu. Meanwhile, his brother Repunglap stayed awake to watch the weather and wave patterns. Soon afterwards, however, the wind picked up again, and they sailed until the third day, still following a course under the pole star. On the third day, strong winds forced them to once again put down the sail and drift. However, since an outrigger canoe will tend to position itself with the wind on the beam and thus lessen the drift, they did not stray far from “the path” which they were following. At approximately 1600 they hoisted the sail and continued, this time following Tupenmailepaifang. They continued following this course until about midnight, when once again strong winds forced them to stop sailing. They continued a short time later, and sighted Saipan early in the morning as they were on a course to correspond to Tupenmailepaifang. 12

Sailing between Saipan and Tinian, they found their way over the fringing reef, and landed in Chalan Kanoa village in what is known as District Four on Saipan. Except for the one Saipanese aboard who knew little of navigation, none of the Satawal men had been to Saipan, nor had the - 360 fathers of the two navigators who gave their sons the sailing directions over 30 years ago. Although landfall and the final approach to Saipan were accomplished during the daytime, Repunglug stated that had it been dark, he would have known where to enter the reef by following special stars which would designate the pass in the reef.

During their stay on Saipan, the men met with Edward Johnston, the High Commissioner of the Trust Territory, and outlined the Satawal chiefs' requests These included the cessation of building of a picnic area on a small reef island near Saipan which was the burial place of the chief Agrup, and a request for homestead land for the Satawal people if they should come to Saipan in the future. They also requested the opening of communications via radio or regular ship service, or both, to Satawal from Saipan; and further, that the chiefs of Satawal be advised if Saipan decided in the future to reintegrate with Guam.

After two weeks on Saipan as guests of the Carolinian people there, the two navigators decided that it was time to leave, for the wind was due to change soon. While the other men reinforced the outrigger supports with bamboo poles, Repunglug and Repunglap were driven to the top of Mt. Topochau (“Sopweiseo” to the Carolinians) in Saipan each evening to watch the stars and clouds to determine the weather for their departure. All seemed ready on May 23, so they made ready to leave. With the lack of breadfruit, taro and coconuts on Saipan, their provisions for the return journey included flour biscuits, canned food and a 15-gallon jug of water, all provided by the Carolinian community on Saipan.

For the first four days out they followed a course of approximately 135 degrees corresponding to the star Tan Mesareu (the rising position of Shaula). On this course they were sailing on a reach, but the height of the waves made travel difficult and slow. They later changed their course due south towards Wenewenelupe, the upright position of the Southern Cross. This course allowed them to use their steering paddle sailing on a reach, and they made better time along “the path”. On the evening of the fifth day, they changed course once again and followed the star Sarepwen (Corvus) which put them on a more easterly course. Later that day, they switched once more, this time to Uliol (Orion's Belt), or approximately 90 degrees.

By approximately 2200, the wind had increased to such an intensity that they were forced to put down their sail. Later in the evening, it rained and clouds obscured the stars. The storm lessened in the morning of the sixth day, however, and the men decided to try to sail direct to Satawal rather than head for West Fayu and a planned rendezvous with three other Satawal canoes. Before changing course, however, they tried to contact West Fayu on their small portable walkie-talkie which has a range of about 50 miles. Contact was made with the men on West Fayu, and Repunglug changed his mind and headed there rather than Satawal. They arrived on West Fayu at approximately 2100, seven days and six nights since leaving Saipan. This was the only time during the voyage that the walkie-talkie was used; and Replunglug stated that he would have continued to sail on to Satawal had he not made contact with the canoes on - 361 West Fayu. The men on the island also had passed him the information that they had captured eight turtles, and needed his canoe to transport the turtles back to Satawal. 13

After a day's rest on West Fayu, Repunglug's canoe returned to Satawal accompanied by three other canoes. They were greeted with jubilation on the island, and the women of the island slowly danced out into the water, chanting their welcome. They climbed aboard the canoe, and in an unusual open display of affection hugged and greeted the returning voyagers. The women then took the canoe down the beach to a canoe house, and performed the usually male task of pushing the canoe on to the beach and into the canoe house. For the first time in several generations a Satawal canoe had made a round-trip voyage to Saipan.

As might be expected in such a situation, the men of Satawal immediately began to plan further trips to Saipan. During a meeting at the men's house, Repunglug and Repunglap reiterated the Saipanese Carolinians' desire for more canoes to make the voyage. The crew's tales of the island of Saipan (including their brief appearance on television), did much to whet appetites of adventure throughout the group. It was also brought out that the Carolinians on Saipan were constructing a meeting house near the beach in Chalan Kanoa, and wanted very much a small canoe to display there. During succeeding weeks, plans were made and construction was begun on a small 14-foot-long canoe which was to be an exact replica of the large Satawal sailing canoes. The canoe itself was worked on sporadically throughout the coming year by different canoe builders, and it was decided that it would have a pandanus sail.

Then, in the first months of 1971, the men once again began talking in earnest of sailing to Saipan during April or May. Work on the canoe to be taken to Saipan was rushed, and men began talking of various crew possibilities for the voyage. As the time approached for opportune sailing conditions, the paramount chief of the island, Martin Raiuk, became gravely ill once again. He was sent to the hospital in Yap where he passed away in April. All thought of sailing to Saipan was put aside, and mourning was continued for a considerable period. Most of the men of the island were not concerned with the delay, and many were willing to once again make preparations for the following year.

During the latter part of 1971 and in early 1972, a possible trip to Saipan was occasionally mentioned in the men's house while men sat and drank palm toddy (falubwa). Always to remind them of their obligation was the near-completed canoe for the Carolinians on Saipan.

During the first months of 1972, it was common knowledge on the island that two canoes would attempt the journey to deliver the canoe to the Carolinians. Repunglug and Repunglap would be the leaders of the expedition, with Piailug as navigator of a second canoe. Piailug had planned on going the year before when the chief had died, and his canoe was one of the largest on the island, easily capable of transporting the smaller canoe - 362 made for the Carolinians. As plans were refined and crews were chosen, food was set aside prior to departure for the planned journey. The plan was the same as Repunglug and Repunglap's first voyage two years before. They would sail to West Fayu, wait for favourable winds, and then continue to Saipan. The canoes departed from Satawal shortly before noon on April 25, and journeyed to West Fayu as scheduled. It was an uneventful sail; the course followed leaving Satawal was under the setting of Tupenmailepaifang, but a strong current set east, so the course was switched to Tupenwolo (setting position of Big Bear), a more westerly direction. The island of West Fayu was sighted at dusk, and the easterly winds continued to prevail throughout the night. For the next week, the winds blew steadily from the north. Rain and bad weather also dampened the spirits of the 12 intending voyagers (including myself). Finally, on May 2, it was decided that Piailug's canoe would return to Satawal for fresh supplies and we would continue to wait out the weather. After a short wait on Satawal, Piailug's canoe and crew returned on May 4, and once again sat to wait out the weather. A third canoe from Satawal joined the waiting two on May 6, and a conference was held among the navigators. Although the winds had held from north-east, thus making the relatively short Satawal-West Fayu run possible, the men were reluctant to attempt the longer leg to Saipan. A slight shift in the wind to a further northerly direction would mean tacking up, and there was some disagreement whether that would be safe. The issue was resolved when the visiting canoe mentioned that a woman on Satawal had become ill; her relatives in the crew of one of the canoes then decided to return to Satawal, thus leaving the two canoes short-handed. There was quite a bit of bad feeling among some of the crewmen and navigators, all of whom wanted to attempt the Saipan trip this year. However, they did not confront the two men directly, and all resigned themselves to return to Satawal. On the return sail to Satawal, some extremely dejected men made cutting remarks to the two unwilling crewmen, out of earshot, sarcastically pointing out tall trees on the island and calling them the mountains of Saipan. Once back on the island, little was said about the aborted trip as the men resumed working at tasks which they had suspended for the adventure. 14

Meanwhile, the people of Puluwat, 120 miles to the east, had not forgotten the exploits of their navigators in regard to Saipan and Marianas voyaging. Carlos Viti, a former Peace Corps volunteer and now photographer for the Trust Territory education department, arranged for the sale of a Puluwat canoe to a man on Guam, and delivery of the canoe by men from Puluwat. 15

The master navigator, Ikuliman, aided by his crew members, spent the month of April readying his canoe Santiago for the journey. On May 11, they left Puluwat along with another canoe captained by Harabwe, Ikuliman's brother. After 24 hours of sailing, they sighted Pikelot island - 363 and landed, making camp on the island. In much the same fashion as the Satawal men on West Fayu (and almost at the same time), the men waited for the easterly or southerly winds that would allow them to make it to Guam. After waiting out the bad weather for a week, they left on May 18 for Guam. The same adverse wind conditions that had forced the Satawal men to postpone their voyage also plagued the Puluwat men. However, since they were aiming for Guam, south and west of Saipan, and were starting from a point 54 miles east of West Fayu, they could take advantage of the north-east winds that had forced the Satawal canoe to return. During the 6-day voyage to Guam, one period of approximately 36 hours was spent in a dead calm. The wind gradually picked up, but always from the north-east, forcing them to sail close-hauled. A storm and wind from the north forced them to put down their sail after 4 days, and they were blown downwind of Guam by the navigator's reckoning. Sailing back up to Guam, it was finally sighted on the morning of May 23. The wind once again became fickle, however, and died. The canoe finally made Guam that evening, and the tired crew went ashore (illegally) at Nimitz beach in the vicinity of Agat village The next day the men re-boarded their canoe and sailed in to the commercial port of Guam, meeting the Coast Guard for the mandatory inspection and clearing of customs and immigration procedures.

The course sailed by Ikuliman demonstrates the skill with which navigators reckon their position at sea. Although Carlos did not take actual notes, he remembers sailing a straight course until running into the storm that blew them downwind of Guam. After that, the navigator decided to tack back up to Guam. The sailors of Puluwat, having had some exposure to Western navigation techniques, used a transistor radio in an attempt at direction-finding. Although Viti is not certain exactly how effective was their use of the radio, he is sure that the navigator could have managed without the radio, and certainly did not rely on it completely. 16 In further continuing and updating the long tradition of Carolinian-Marianas contact, the men from Puluwat journeyed to Saipan (via jet) to visit unknown relatives and clan members before returning to Truk.


The revival of Carolinian-Marianas canoe voyaging will probably continue to some extent in the near future. But one cannot discuss the future of long-distance voyaging without discussing the future of all interisland canoe voyaging in the central Carolines.

In all of the central Carolines, only the islanders of Satawal, and the atolls known collectively as Namonabetiu (Puluwat, Pulap, Tamatam, and Pulusuk), and to a lesser extent the Nanonuito islands, still regularly sail inter-island canoes. Occasional canoes from Ifalik to the west visit Woleai, and there is one large voyaging canoe on Elato. The state of sailing and inter-island voyaging throughout the rest of the Carolines can be typified by Woleai atoll. In discussions with the first American Peace Corps volunteer to visit the island in late 1966, he remarked about the fleet of - 364 canoes, perhaps 20 of various sizes, that sailed from five islands within the atoll to greet the arriving ship. There was one motorboat in the lagoon at the time. Today, only a handful of the canoes are still actively sailed, and there are over 20 outboard motorboats on Woleai.

Not only are the necessary canoes disappearing, but the navigators capable of undertaking such a voyage are becoming fewer. Yet, by the author's reckoning (based on a navigator's reputation, past performance and other qualitative assessments of his ability), there are still at least 17 men who could serve as a palu (experienced or master navigator) for a Marianas voyage. They include Sautan on Elato; Orupi, a Satawal man residing on Lamotrek; Ikegun, Epaimai, Repunglug, Repunglap, and Piailug from Satawal; Hipour, Ikuliman, Ikefie, Manipi, Rapwi, Faipiy, Faluta and Filewa all from Puluwat; Yaitiluk from Pulap, and Amanto from Tamatam And, in addition, there are some young men who are learning the art of traditional navigation. For example, at the present time on Satawal, there are six or seven apprentice navigators, including Repunglug's son, Olakiman, who is a freshman at the University of Guam; and Epoumai, a recent graduate of the Outer Islands High School, and at present an elementary school teacher on Satawal.

The islanders of Satawal and of Namonabetiu still include active and aspirant navigators in their number and still have voyaging canoes, probably because they still have a great need for their own system of interisland voyaging. For example, one of the primary motives for travel in the central Carolines is the desire to visit relatives residing on other islands. However, since Satawal lies within the confines of the Yap District, and is therefore not connected by administration ship service (which is largely confined to intra-district routes) to Namonabetiu, which lies in the Truk District, usually the quickest and easiest way to make a visit is by canoe. The lure of the uninhabited islands of West Fayu (Pigalo) and Pikelot (Pik), which lie to the north of Satawal and Namonabetiu and which are regularly visited to harvest fish and turtles, is another strong motive for continuing the tradition of inter-island canoe voyaging.

For the people of Satawal and Puluwat, stories told by returning voyagers are enough to keep the tradition alive in the future. Sailing into a twentieth century land such as Guam or Saipan will always hold fascination for builders and navigators of the sleek Carolinian canoes. But the real thrill, and final test of a man's worth in these small islands, is returning and sighting your own island just above the horizon, right where you knew it would be. 17

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  • BURNEY, J., 1817. A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Seas of Pacific Ocean, Vol. V. London, Nichol.
  • GLADWIN, T., 1970. East is a Big Bird. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.
  • HEZEL, F. X. and M. T. DEL VALLE, 1972. “Early European Contact with the Western Carolines: 1525-1750.” Journal of Pacific History, 7: 26-44.
  • KOTZEBUE, Otto von, 1821. A Voyage of Discovery in the South Sea . . . Undertaken in the Years 1815, 16, 17, 18 in the Ship Rurik, Vol. I. London, Phillips.
  • LEWIS, David, 1971. “A Return Voyage Between Puluwat and Saipan Using Micronesian Navigational Techniques.” Journal of the Polynesian Society, 80: 437-48.
  • —— 1972a. We, the Navigators. Canberra, Australian National University Press.
  • —— 1972b. “The Gospel According to St. Andrew.” Journal of Pacific History, 7: 223-4.
  • Pacific Daily News, May 11, 1972. “Bad Weather Forces Yapese to Return Home.” (p. 1).
1   Dr Benusto Kaipat has interviewed many of his fellow Carolinians through the years on Saipan, and believes that the last canoes to voyage to Saipan from the Central Carolines probably reached there during the first decade of the twentieth century.
2   Cited in Hezel and Del Valle 1972: 40.
3   Hezel and Del Valle 1972: 33.
4   Von Kotzebue 1821: 207, cited in Lewis 1972b: 223.
5   Burney 1817, Vol. V: 8, cited in Lewis 1972b: 224.
6   See Riesenberg, whose personal communication is quoted by Lewis (1972a: 32), who states that the last voyage between the Carolines and Saipan took place in the first decade of this century. The oldest living man on Satawal, Yakow, does not remember the time the last Satawal canoe set sail for Saipan. He would have been a very young boy in 1905, but remembers the Germans moving people to Saipan from Woleai about that time when a typhoon devastated their islands. Thus, it is safe to assume that no Satawal canoes have sailed to Saipan from Satawal after the first decade of this century.
7   As of 1973, all canoes on Satawal were using dacron sails sewn by the men themselves. Most Carolinian canoes had used canvas acquired during the Japanese presence in the islands. The people of Satawal, however, were reluctant to switch from the cumbersome pandanus-mat sails, probably because canoes and voyaging were included in the elaborate pre-Christian taboo system. Christianity took hold on Satawal during the decades after World War II, and the islanders then used canvas. When I and Gary Mount, as Peace Corps volunteers, demonstrated the obvious superiority of dacron over canvas with only a 4-inch square sample, the men agreed to purchase sails for the canoes of the island. As word of the superiority of dacron spread, the people of Ifalik, Elato, Woleai, Pulusuk, Pulap and Puluwat have equipped at least one canoe on each island with dacron.
8   Pride was probably the real motive behind their attempted restraining actions. The year before, Hipour, an expert Puluwat navigator, had navigated David Lewis' ketch from Puluwat to Saipan and return (Lewis 1971), and these men probably did not want anyone from another island to make the same voyage lest it dilute the fame of the Puluwat navigators. There was also some bad feeling between the two groups, for Repunglug had wanted his younger brother, Rapwi, a navigator and resident of Puluwat, to accompany him. However, the older men of Puluwat had refused to let him come to Satawal to accompany his brother.
9   Gladwin 1970 and Lewis 1971; 1972a. Although star names on Satawal are cognate with those used on Puluwat, dialectical variation apparent in comparing my renditions with those of Lewis (1971), for example, is exaggerated because we use different orthographic systems. For instance, I use Tupenwolo (setting position of Great Bear) whereas Lewis uses Doloni Wole. Similarly, my Tupenmailepaifang (setting position of Little Dipper), Feusamakut (Polaris), and Tan Masareu (rising position of Shaula), are equivalent to Lewis' Doloni Mailob Balefang, Fii He Magid, and Danne Mharu, respectively.
10   Gladwin 1970: 152.
11   Although some canoes exhibit better windward performance than others (and consequently enhance the reputation of the builder), the wind direction which would be considered as the minimum allowable on a voyage such as this would be a true wind direction of 60-70 degrees (a wind direction of Etiu-mai-rakena-efang, or “a wind coming from north of east.”
12   Saipan and the other islands of the chain are high volcanic islands that can be seen from many miles at sea. When planning for his voyage, Repunglug estimated that it would be virtually impossible for him to sail through the Marianas chain without spotting at least one of the islands. During this planning, he and the author consulted hydrographic charts to ascertain the heights of the islands involved. Traditional information also exists giving this knowledge, and telling of “very high mountains” in the Marianas chain.
13   The walkie-talkies were purchased from the trading ship, and with a maximum range of 50 miles are often taken on trips to West Fayu to insure safety of the voyagers.
14   Pacific Daily News, May 11, 1972, pl.
15   Henry Simpson, a Guam businessman, wished to purchase the canoe and agreed to a price of $1,000, plus return air fare to Truk for the crew and all expenses while in Guam.
16   C. Viti, personal communication.
17   On May 18, 1973, after this paper was written, two Satawal canoes arrived at Saipan with the small presentation canoe that was to have been brought on the aborted 1972 voyage. The canoes, I am Sorry and Mei School, were navigated by Repunglug, who had made the 1970 voyage, and Otalik, who was making his first trip to Saipan. Among the crew were four recent graduates of the Outer Islands High School whom their elders had brought along to further their traditional education. The return trip was delayed—apparently because the voyagers were so enjoying their celebrity status on Saipan and the almost constant round of feasts given them by members of the Carolinian community there—until well into June when winds become unfavourable for the return. After one aborted start when the canoes proved to be too heavily loaded with gifts and other goods, the canoes finally made it to the Carolines in 10 or 11 days after encountering head winds and then calms.