Mon. Oct 14th, 2019

Palau to have a modernized traditional Pacific sailing canoe

The Vaka Motu. (Photo courtesy of okeanosfoundation.org)

Palau is going to have an eco-friendly, modernized traditional Pacific sailing canoe called ‘Vaka Motu’  which is set to be delivered to the country by the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea (Okeanos), a  philanthropic and non-profit German organization.

Press Secretary Olkeriil Kazuo, during a press conference on June 26, said that Palau’s Vaka Motu, the Okeanos Palau, is expected to arrive in the first week of July.

Kazuo told Island Times that the traditional vessel will operate in Palau as a non-profit organization that will be self-sustaining.

The revenues it will generate will be allocated to crew salaries and operational costs including the cost of the vessel itself.

Kazuo explained that the boat’s cost is $1-million and that the Okeanos has agreed to shoulder half of its price. The remaining $500,000, however, will be paid down with $50,000 a year through the income generated by the vessel’s operation and not by Palau.

Okeanos Fleet Commander and Master Navigator Peia Patai is leading the voyages of Okeanos Palau and Okeanos Waa-qab. The fleet is sailing with eight passengers and four crews composed of three Palauans namely Samil Beouch, J’mos Andrew, and Bucksie Blesam, according to the information sent to the media.

The fifty-foot Vaka Motu, which means “boat for the islands,” is a double-hulled, sailing canoe that is powered by renewable resources such as wind, solar energy, and coconut bio-fuel.

Kazuo said that Palau’s Vaka Motu will be utilized as a means of transporting passengers, goods, and supplies to the Southwest Island States and other outlying islands of the country.

The Okeanos Foundation for the Sea says it is promoting sustainable sea transportation among island communities through the development of Pacific traditional vessels. It also says it is supporting the Pacific island communities’ disaster relief and climate change preparedness.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Public Infrastructure, Industries, and Commerce Minister Charles Obichang and Okeanos Foundation for the Sea Director Seidel on August 10, 2017 stated that Okeanos will provide the Vaka Motu ‘at no cost to the islands.’

The Vaka Motu, according to the MOU, is internationally certified for open ocean commercial use and equipped with environment-friendly technologies.

The MOU also stated that all revenues generated from Vaka Motu limited business activities stay with Palau to help develop its capacity to provide sustainable sea transportation.

In a statement sent to the media, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. said that the Okeanos’ project “conveys the wisdom” of the Pacific communities’ ancestors in caring for the environment.

“It is truly refreshing to see the innovation of modern islander wisdom being implemented today by your foundation and so many of our fellow islanders striving to make a difference towards environmental sustainability within our region,” Remengesau said. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)

Editor’s Note: This article  is an updated version of its print counterpart. The editor has edited a few details after the source has sent an apology for giving an erroneous information. The letter to the editor is attached below.

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Dear Island Times Editor,

I write to you today with my sincere apologies to you and your readership, as I misspoke in giving your reporters information on the Okeanos Palau vaka motu vessel.

The Okeanos Palau vaka motu will be operating in Palau as a non-profit organization that will be a self sustaining operation generating revenues for crew salaries and operational costs, including cost of the vessel itself. As I mentioned, the cost of the boat will be paid down $50,000.00 per year.  These annual payments will go toward the subsidized $500,000.00 cost of the vessel, with Okeanos handling the other $500,000 up-front.

The part that was miscommunicated is that this $50,000 annual payment will be generated by the self-sustaining operation. It will not come from Palau.

Again, I apologize for my mistake and I thank you for your understanding.

Sincerely,

Olkeriil “O” Kazuo

Press Secretary

Office of the President