US Navy Partners with Traditional Canoe Carvers in Yap

High tech met traditional tech when a group of US Navy Seabees pitched in to help the Waa’gey traditional canoe project in Yap, Micronesia.

The sailors, stationed on Yap as part of a construction civic action detail, used their powerful lifting equipment and wide-bodied truck to ferry a massive log to the traditional boat house where it will take shape as a sailing canoe.

Over the course of several weeks, Master Carvers and youth volunteers with the Waa’gey program had fallen, and carved out, a log in the jungles of Yap. It will serve as the hull for a traditional Carolinian sailing canoe. The dugout log -still weighing hundreds of pounds and measuring more than twenty feet long- was pulled up a trail from the depths of the jungle to a dirt road by a team of twenty boys using a rope. The next leg of the trip, the fifteen-mile road into Colonia where the Waa’gey’s boathouse sits at the edge of the lagoon, seemed an insurmountable obstacle.

“Thankfully, the US Navy was ready to help!” explained Larry Raigetal of Waa’gey. “They accomplished in a few minutes a lifting feat that would have taken us months,” Raigetal continued. “It was a great chance for us to share information and compare notes on our respective building techniques and technologies.”

The US sailors raised the hull onto a truck, drove it into Colonia, and delivered it to the boathouse. Young men and women presented the sailors with floral wreaths and gifts of local foods to convey their gratitude.

Waa’gey is a community-based organization. It aims to uses traditional skills to confront the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the people of Micronesia’s most remote outer islands.
Waa’gey receives financial and material support from Habele, a US-based charity, which was holding a “listening tour” meeting at the boathouse when the log arrived on the Navy’s truck. Also present for the delivery was Nils Winkler, CEO of Yapital, a European-based electronic payments company. Yapital had donated chainsaws, adze blades and fuel for the Canoe Project through its ongoing partnership with Habele.

The US Navy Seabee civic action team is working on Yap to fabricate schools and hospitals, continuing a decades long tradition of American Government’s investment in core infrastructure for the people of Micronesia.