Polynesian Vakas Make “Awesome Entry”

Six Polynesian sisterships entered the Bay earlier this week with their ornately decorated sails rigged wing and wing.

© 2011 Mark Hofmann / Oceanic Nature Film Productions, 2011

"What a ride! We hit the Golden Gate Bridge and the wind funneling through the heads kicked in like flicking a switch. We leapt forward at a madcap 10 knots, with all the canoes within about 30 meters of each other," wrote a blogger aboard the double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe Haunui. Minutes later this, and five other sisterships, were screaming toward a temporary anchorage off Crissy Field with the wind blowing 20 knots. With their adrenaline pumping, the mostly Polynesian crews jumped into action and got safely moored as onlookers cheered. "It was a fantastic, hair-raising ride that we’ll talk about forever. An awesome entry."

As reported earlier, the fleet’s circuit of goodwill voyages celebrate the ancient wisdom of Polynesian navigators who followed their routes using information supplied by stars, ocean swell patterns, ocean-borne vegetation and sealife. In addition, participants hope to heighten public awareness of the current challenges facing the world’s oceans due to pollution, acidification, and warming.

After sailing more than 2,500 miles from Hawaii, the fleet arrived in a picture-perfect formation.

© Mark Hofmann / Oceanic Nature Film Productions, 2011

The fleet will be based at Treasure Island this weekend, and will be available for public viewing. A Meet and Greet is scheduled for Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.. On Sunday a Welcom Reception will take place at 1 p.m. Prior to that, we’re told that the entire fleet will sail out the Gate, then back in again in unison — can you say "photo op?"

These canoes, called vaka moana represent a fascinating era of maritime cultural history, as similar vessels sailed thousands of miles to windward in order to colonize the Polynesian territories of the Pacific Basin. We encourage you to check them out. The fleet leave for Monterey August 14. See the website for background info.

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