Yap Canoe Festival set for December 2017

Waa'gey Carvers begin work on a new canoe in Colonia, November 2017

Celebrating the rich heritage of traditional seafaring in the Pacific region of Micronesia, the Yap Visitors Bureau, in partnership with the Yap Traditional Navigation Society, has announced that the 8th annual Yap Canoe Festival will be held December 8 & 9, 2017 in Colonia.

The two days of festivities will take place at the Yap Living History Museum and will include a parade of traditional sailing canoes, dances, skills demonstrations and a marketplace offering food and handicrafts for sale.

Micronesian scholar and filmmaker Dr. Eric Metzgar will provide the keynote address and present his video, A Voyaging Odyssey, featuring highlights from the 2010 ocean voyages captained by Pwo Master Navigator Ali Haleyalur and Master Canoe Carver Chief Bruno Tharngan. The ocean crossings “rediscovered” the ancient, traditional sea routes between the islands of Lamotrek, Guam, Yap and Palau.

Young men from Yap's Outer Island work to rig a canoe sail. The traditional skills mentorship program of Waa'gey is supported by the US-based nonprofit Habele.

“We are excited that Dr. Metzgar will be joining us along with Ali Haleyalur and Chief Tharngan,” said Don Evans, general manager of the Yap Visitors Bureau. “Dr. Metzgar has spent many years on the Outer Islands of Yap studying the art and history of traditional sailing and is a leading expert in the field.”

Voyaging canoe rides will be offered on Friday, December 8 followed that evening by the traditional dances of Yap that are renowned throughout the region.

Carolinan canoes, or proa, are unique in their usage of a non-fixed mast.

On Saturday, December 9, a photographic exhibit of Yap's seafaring history along with other exhibits will be on display. Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to taste the traditional offertory, voyaging, and celebratory foods connected with successful long sea voyages.

Voyagers from the Outer Island of Yap upon arrival in Guam.

“This year’s Canoe Festival promises to be a not-to-be-missed experience for not only canoeists but anyone interested in learning more about the seafaring history and traditions of these remote Pacific islands,” adds Evans.