Saturday, June 26, 2010

Well Done 'Uto Ni Yalo' Crew: Captain Colin Philp & Ratu Manoa Rasigatale for the Fijian Traditional Aspect of this Awesome Story.

Breaking the waves by Colin Philp
Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Uto ni Yalo : "Vutala na Ua"
[Image of Ratu Manoa Rasigatale in white shirt clapping with crew & families].
WHEN we set off on March 27th bound for Auckland with a relatively inexperienced crew of 14 men and two women, we had no idea what the next 14 weeks had in store for us.
A small group of supporters and family members showed up to fare us well from the Fisheries Wharf at the Bay of Islands in Lami that day. We departed with only a few personal belongings because of the confined space and three months ration kindly donated by over 20 generous sponsors.

We are grateful these sponsors believed in what we were setting out to do, sail a 22-metre traditional double hull canoe on a 7000 nautical mile circumnavigation of the South Pacific Ocean, through five countries, over three months.

There were some skepticism but who could blame them. It took a lot of courage and determination for the recently formed Fiji Islands Voyaging Society to plan and embark on such an ambitious voyage. On a more personal level, it was important to the crew that our families believed in what we were doing.

With our planning complete, we set out without a support boat to make the 1200 nautical mile crossing to Auckland.

This first crossing was a brutal initiation for the new sailors. From day two with Vilisoni losing part of a finger during a fishing accident, we all gained a healthy respect for mother nature.
This set us up well for the remaining five days of our voyage to Auckland where we faced extreme conditions of 45 knots winds and five metre swells, most in temperatures we were not accustomed to.

In Auckland we received a memorable welcoming. This was our first 'live performance' as cultural ambassadors of Fiji and although it was a somewhat nervous start, the crew performed above expectation, worthy of Ratu Manoa's pride.

The next few days in Auckland preparing to voyage West were spent in the warm care of the Fijian community of the North Island. The love and affection we received from Fijians living abroad made us believe even more in our mission. It showcased to us how hard our fellow country men and women work when they leave our shores to make a living for themselves, all in the hope that one day they can return to their homeland.

The people we met were doctors, lawyers, nurses, business owners, hotel managers, engineers, electricians, accountants, all very successful in their own right.
I wondered how good it would be for our economy if even half of these people returned home one day.

We left Auckland thinking the trip from Suva was as bad as it gets and the rest of the voyage was going to be a piece of cake. Mother nature had more tests in store for us.
The extreme cold, constantly being wet for days on end, heavy seas and 50 plus knot winds tested the crew's resolve even more.

We started to understand the trouble our planet is in by the intensity of the storms we faced.
Teamwork grew stronger. When we finally reached Raivavae, if felt like we were reaching one of the last outposts of nature with its environment almost untouched by civilisation. As we travelled North, we were to see the other end of the scale. In Moorea we witnessed the destruction to the marine environment caused by pollution from the land.

It reminded us that "What we do to the land, we do to the ocean". We were advised not to swim in Papeete Harbour because of the pollution.

It reminded us of our own Suva Harbour and the pollution that empties into this beautiful harbour each day.

Traditions such as the kava ceremony have been lost in most countries. As we head for home from Vava'u we are sad that the voyage is over but we realise our journey has only begun.
Eighteen ambassadors for the ocean will step ashore at the Suva Foreshore on Saturday afternoon, armed with the experience of the voyage named "Vutala na Ua.
More links to Uto Ni Yalo Updates & Stories of their Voyage;

1 comment:

  1. Uto ni Yalo arrives back home
    Jone Luvenitoga
    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    + Enlarge this image
    AFTER travelling 7000 nautical miles for three months, visiting seven Pacific island nations, the Uto Ni Yalo is finally home.

    At 1.30pm, the canoe sailed past Lami foreshore, where it left Fiji on March 27.

    At the Suva foreshore, members of the interim government and over 1000 people were waving flags and cheering as the crew made their way to the jetty adjacent to the Handicraft centre in Suva.

    Members of the crew were accorded traditional ceremonies beginning with the cere where they swam ashore and chased the womenfolk along the seawall towards the Civic Centre in search of a tabua (whale's tooth) and masi (tapa cloth), which the leader was hiding. During the colourful ceremony, chief guest Ratu Epeli Ganilau congratulated the crew.

    He commended the group's bravery sailing thousands of miles across the vast ocean to be part of a voyaging society protesting against noise pollution in the Pacific.

    He said the crew of the Uto Ni Yalo deserved a heroes' welcome, putting Fiji on the map with the voyaging society.


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