Since sailing into the Marshall Islands close to a month ago (wow, time flies…) I have been fascinated to learn more and more about the traditional Marshallese canoes and the legendary skill of the Marshall Islanders to navigate between distant atolls using little more than stars and ocean currents.
With multi-hulled sailing craft up to 100 feet (30 meters) in length, some 2,000 years ago, one could even say that the Marshallese invented the very concept of the ocean-going maxi-multihull that has now captured every major ocean sailing record. The huge canoes don’t really exist anymore as they’ve been replaced by internal combustion, but the smaller canoes and the racing scene is reportedly seeing a resurgence in the past handful of years thanks to diligent efforts by the community and local non-profit Waan Aelon in Majel.
After racing up on Kwajalien Atoll for Kwajalien Day, much of the fleet was shipped back to Majuro to race in the annual Majuro Day Race this past Saturday. Gotta say, i’m in love with these islands and the following video is just one of the many reasons why. In this tiny island nation of just 50,000, the fact that they can manage to keep their own traditions and customs alive and get close to 20 locally-built racing craft on the line for a casual
Saturday race is damn impressive. The next big race for the canoes is on Constitution Day in early May and if i’m still around, i’ll be looking for a boat to charter. I want in.
Yokwe from the Marshall Islands,