Approaching Aitutaki, Cook Islands - Mothers' Sunday May 13, 2012.
Dear Families and friends of the Uto ni Yalo especially our mothers, grandmothers, wives and sisters,
Greetings from the waters near Aitutaki as we celebrate Mothers' Sunday at sea. Our all male crew while our three women remain crew on Hine Moana conducted a moving tribute to Christ and through him to our mothers on this special day. We are proud and humble to be Fiji's Traditional Sailing Flagship as part of the Pacific Voyagers Fleet. Fiji sailors have been an integral part of this project since the druas[vakas] first sailed in 2010. Some like Captain Johnathon Smith have sailed every nautical mile on the Uto ni Yalo - well over 21,000 nautical miles while visiting all the major island groups of the South Pacific and including an historical voyage to California's major coastal cities from San Francisco in the north to San Diego in the south. Along the way captain and crew were able to connect and sometimes reconnect with Fijian communities who in an outstanding and generous display of what makes Fiji so unique, gave of themselves unselfishly. To this day their warmth and hospitality are prominent stories during talanoas around the tanoa.
With three weeks left before a highly anticipated welcome for the fleet in our old capitol Levuka and then in Suva and prior to visiting Aitutaki, Rarotonga and Samoa we would like to pause briefly and reflect on what has been thought of as a once in a lifetime journey/voyage of discovery. We would like to begin this with a re-introduction of the current Fiji sailors making significant contributions to the goals and objectives of the Pacific Voyagers and the Fiji Islands Voyaging Society.
Viti kei Rotuma - Meet your sailors..............................
Johnathon Adrian Smith [Skipper] - Master - Captain - Lovoni, Ovalau, Lomaiviti
Setareki Ledua [Seta] - Traditional Navigator - Naividamu, Fulaga, Lau
Setareki Laveti [Tuks] - Traditional Carver - Naividamu, Fulaga, Lau
Seru Tamaibari - Crew - Kubulau, Bua, Vanua Levu
Kelekele Timateu Lausi Davui [Kele] - Crew - Bagata, Cakaudrove, Vanua Levu
Moala Tokota'a - Matua - Tubou, Lakeba, Lau
Benjamin Valentine Sorby [Ben] - Cook - Beqa
Filomena Serenia [Filo] - Crew - Tailevu, Viti Levu
Iva Vunikura - Crew - Gau Island, Lomaiviti
Mafai Mausio [Mario] - Matua - Kalvakta, Noatau, Rotuma
Robert Walter Tuxson [Bob] - Matua - Vugalei, Lami [family ties to Maragteu, Noatau, Rotuma]
Tikoidelaimakotu Tuimoce Fuluna [Jim] - Traditional Navigator in Training - Korotolu, Moce, Lau
Kimberly Bennett [Kim] - Crew - Itumuta, Rotuma
Josua Wainigasau [Josh] - Crew - Kubulau, Bua, Vanua Levu
Agnes Sokosoko [Aggie] - Crew - Levuka, Ovalau, Lomaiviti
Vilisoni Yalikanacea [Vili] - Crew - Ono-i-Lau, Lau
Peni Vuadrau Vunaki - Crew - Soladamu,Tavuki, Kadavu
Samuel Joseph Orsmond Cakobau Browne [Joe] - Matua - Taveuni
Steven Tawake - Traditional Navigator - Kaba, Bau, Tailevu, Viti Levu
Angelo Smith - Traditional Navigator - Tailevu, Viti Levu
Leaving us in Papeete, Tahiti:
Salome Tabuatalei [Lome] - Crew - Cakaudrove, Vanua Levu
LeeAnn Lee - Crew - Suva, Viti Levu
Jone Malorua - Crew - Naitasiri, Viti Levu
Thanks too to the crew members of Uto ni Yalo from 2010 and 2011 that haven't been mentioned here. Your contributions to the success of our drua has not been forgotten especially our President Colin Philp. Vinaka all!
People and events [places] that crews have experienced have made a lasting impact on them. Witnessing first-hand the varying conditions of the ocean and its inhabitants gives us a foundation to share our impressions with those we meet during and after our voyage. Having solely sailed with solar and wind energy allows us to discuss the benefits of non-fossil fuel transport for our islands. Friends and family be prepared to receive women and men who have a message to share!
There are some Pacific island cultures that have used this voyage to research and restore traditions, protocols and the ways of their ancestors, especially those that pertain to their sailing culture [the link between the land and the sea]. Others such as Fiji have never really "lost" their protocols and respect for what their ancestors felt was important in life. This voyage has given us a chance to appreciate what our ancestors accomplished and how we can take what is valuable and important from the past and unite it with what is good about today and the future. Our drua, the Uto ni Yalo is a classic example of this.
Colin and the FIVS planning committee have promised us a welcome that will highlight the importance of our sailing culture in Fiji. While we are anticipating a series of events and ceremonies that will supplement the wonders of our voyage, our committee is going to surprise us with the details!
Once again vinaka vaka levu and faia'ksia e hanisi to our supporters. We look forward to seeing you when we arrive. Until then our prayers are with those in Fiji that have been suffering from the devastating floods. We pray for your return to a normal life. Always remember "uto ni yalo"- heart of the spirit and "tabu soro" - never give up!
Ni sa moce mada
The Crew of the Uto ni Yalo