Larry Raigetal is preparing for a voyage that few living people have accomplished. Using navigation techniques passed down by generations of traditional navigators, Larry will lead a fleet of four, hand-carved Micronesian canoes across 500 miles of open ocean. On May 10, the canoes will embark from the tiny island of Yap, with the intent of landfall on Guam in time for the Pacific Festival, which begins on May 22nd.
Larry serves as Project Director for Waa’gey, a cultural mentorship program teaching traditional skills to young people on Micronesia’s remote islands. Instruction in canoe carving and traditional navigation are a central component of Waa’gey’s work. Some of the young people who have spent years honing these practices will have the unique opportunity to put them to the test on this historic voyage. Over the years, Habele has been proud to partner with Waa’gey’s efforts to train local students. In fact, the custom adze blades used in carving voyaging canoes and traditional paddles were provided by Habele!
The voyage from Yap to Guam in a carved canoe is - fortunately - being documented from start to finish. You can go here and watch footage of Larry and the Waa’gey team carving canoes, fashioning paddles, and even discussing the impact of climate change on traditional navigation. You may not have a seat in a canoe, but these videos provide a rare look into techniques and skills that have been passed down for generations on islands at the end of the world.