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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Voyaging Canoe

Sailing on Aotearoa Tahi

It was a glorious mid-winter day in Gisborne, New Zealand.

After boarding, we heard talks about the waka, traditional voyaging, and the vision for the future from Richard Brooking (trustee, Te Unga Mai Trust, center, top) and Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr (voyaging program manager, Te Wananga Aotearoa, below) along with the usual safety instructions

And then, after a karakia to bless out little voyage, we sailed

 -- and this was where I found how innovative these voyagers are in using cutting-edge technology in combination with traditional design and navigation -- Skipper (Geoff) took us out of the marina smoothly, efficiently, without a hitch ... with engine controls

Up went the lateen-shaped sails, and young voyagers were taught how to flake the lines

While there was a traditional steering paddle between the two hulls at the stern, it is heavy work involving perhaps three men.  Instead, there is a nifty articulated tiller, leading to two rudder posts.  It can be seen in the background of the following picture

With a fair breeze, the waka starts to show a startlingly fast pace, with the two figureheads leading the way -- it is easy to believe Tupaia's boast that a fast voyaging Tahitian pahi could sail three or four times as fast as the Endeavour

And Captain Cook didn't see quite this scenery on his first approach to New Zealand!

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