A project to reconnect the next generation with sailing has brought the opportunities for young boys and girls here to learn to sail. The lead instructor is a Japan International Cooperation Agency volunteer.
The students set up their own rigging.
The young women above are already qualified to skipper their own sail boat on the waters of the lagoon.
The boats are Toppers, a globally popular boat for learning to sail with over 50,000 models sold over the past three and half decades.
At present the fleet is four boats. A fifth boat has lost its boom. The boats are stored in an open area that is difficult to completely secure.
I remain unable to determine the source of the boats. While a JICA volunteer is the lead instructor, I am informed that he took over from another instructor who was not likely a JICA volunteer.
Thus I am unclear how the boats will be kept in commission. Above a young Kapingan skipper brings her boat in to the dock to switch off with the next skipper. The youngsters of Porakiet, Kapingan and Nukuoran children, are the real focus of these lessons.
The project has a goal of re-introducing these young Polynesian outer islanders to sailing on their ocean. For all these children sailboats and sailing are activities beyond anything their families could begin to afford, even if such lessons were available here on Pohnpei.
The young sailors have only a few months of training, and yet they are already very skilled at maneuvering their boats on the water and near the dock.
A Kapingan skipper brings in a Kosraean passenger. The Kosraeans lost their oceanic sailing canoes and navigation skills over 150 years ago. There are only left the legends that suggest Kosrae may have sent 333 men, women, and children to Pohnpei using canoes.
While some variations of the legend attempt to argue that the lead warrior was of Pohnpeian descent via divine intervention of the Pohnpeian thunder god Nan Sapwe, ultimately a fleet of canoes with that number of passengers would have been commanded only by a Kosraean royal of the appropriate clan, possibly Ton clan – the eel clan of the king. The other passengers, maybe 332, were also Kosraean. These were Kosraean voyagers.
Whether the canoes were paddled or sailed is unknown, but the existence of oceanic sailing canoes in the Pacific, the distance to be covered, and the number of people being moved argue that sail power was likely deployed.
Inevitably skippers dreams of captaining larger vessels. A Kapingan and a Kosraean reconnecting in a modern way with a piece of their own ancient history.