Report Update by Loma Mataika
Date: Tuesday, May 3rd Local Time (Wednesday, May 4th Fiji Time)
Latitude: 32 degrees 48.1' South / Longitude: 167 degrees 37.5' West
Average Speed: 7.0 Knots
Wind: Easterly @ 25/30 Knots
Bula Vinaka Viti Kei Rotuma,
Today is Day 18 and it is 0520 hrs LT (0420 hrs FijiTime). I was reading my last report and realised that since that report we have caught and thoroughly enjoyed an 18kg wahoo, had good winds and therefore covering good ground and finally had heaps more sunshine. The few things I mentioned we needed and were praying for. All that comes to mind is that people back home have joined us in our prayer requests and for that Viti, from the Uto ni Yalo crew, a heartfelt thank you.
The crew are well although growing weary with the time we have spent out at sea. We have now completed more then half the voyage to Fakarava which is very good news. The crew can hardly wait to get back on land and enjoy all that is on land. I’m looking forward to a long hot shower and super hot meal and some me time.
Anyhow today I would like to share with you those of you following the Uto, what it is like to be on the Vaka, home to sixteen. Also some of the reason we’re here.
There are twelve crewmembers, two traditional navigators in training, a Cook and our Skipper. The twelve form three watch crews that work three-hour shifts. We get six hours of rest before being on shift again. And this watch rotation goes on for twenty-four hours in a day, seven days a week. In the six hour breaks we get our laundry done, have our salt water bucket baths, catch-up with our reading as well as crew mates and finally also getting some rest.
We each have a bunk. There are eight in a hull. Two across from each other, so four lengths in a hull.. The bunks are about 600mm wide x 1900mm long and 1400m off of the floor. Below our bunk is our storage space that contains some of the food stock of the boat along with our personal belongings. There are no walls to close off the halls to the other bunks so we hang up sulus when changing. Us four girls are in starboard 1 through 4 so we’re just blocking off one side of the hull to get some privacy from our male counterparts.
The galley as well as the ‘cloakroom’ ( I got so much slag for using that) or more commonly termed the toilet is up on deck. The ceiling heights is about 1600mm. Not very comfortable but purposefully designed.
The sixteen on board plus the changeover crew back home were brought together by a single common thread, that being the Ocean.
Growing up in Fiji it is hard to not know or know of the ocean. Whatever ones race, economical situation, politics or religion. Who can say they have not enjoyed picnics on beaches, the serene views at sunrise and sunset, recreational activities as well as the abundant supply of varieties of delicious seafood. Fiji is more oceans then land mass and according to experts the ocean and all life in it is in trouble. Think about it. A troubled ocean would definitely affect our way of life as a people.
For this, we the sixteen, have sacrificed the comforts of home, the warmth and embrace of loved ones, the chatter and laughter of little children, the great conversations with our elders, financial earnings as well as career advancement. Our decision made for a purpose, and based on our passion for our country and our oceans.
Here is a fact about the ocean i bet you didn’t know. Did you know like a tree the ocean converts carbon dioxide into oxygen, and again like a tree this occurs through the process of photoysynthesis. But how, one might ask. The answer to that being ‘plankton’. It is a commonly known fact that plankton is visible only through a microscope and is at the bottom of the food chain of ocean life. With two thirds of the earth being ocean, i reckon that that is a whole lot of oxygen being produced. It is said that every second breath you breathe is oxygen from the oceans conversion process. Pretty cool fact aye.
The reality of the day, according to experts, is that the human population is producing carbon dioxide at a faster rate then the oceans plankton or the trees of the world can process. This excess carbon dioxide sits and reacts with the salt water producing acid that affects that plankton. Plastics discarded into the ocean also affect the plankton structure, Marine life like Turtles, Dolphins, whales, sea birds and therefore like excessive logging is depleting forest and the eco systems in it, the same is happening with our oceans.
The Uto Ni Yalo is one of seven Vakas, the other six from other island countries, namely, Aotearoa, Tahiti, Samoa, Cook Islands. There are two Vakas that are nicknamed the United Nations vaka as the crew are made up of different nationalities. The countries represented on these two Vakas are Aotearoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tonga! Again the crews are made up of passionate individuals who are keen to make a stand.
Together we sail powered by the wind up to Hawaii where the Kava Bowl summit will be held. Experts from all over the world will be participating, and so will the voyagers, being the face and presence of the pacific, making a stand.
For more information please check out the pacific voyagers website or google info on the Kava Bowl summit. I’m sure there is bound to be more information on the web by now.
We as citizens of Fiji can do our bit to help the ocean heal itself. Simple changes in attitudes could make a whole lot of difference. Just to name a few that are not major lifestyle changes, we could stop polluting our waterways especially with plastics, what you drop on the ground will eventually reach our water ways by rain that picks up all the trash and carries it through the design of our drainage systems to the rivers and eventually to the oceans. Use the bins.
Secondly we could buy locally made products rather then imported goods. How this helps is it reduces the need for transporting the goods, whether by air, road or sea. Meaning less fossil fuel burned, less carbon emissions. Then there is the issue of the packaging most of these products contain. It only adds to the amount of plastics we have on our island. Realistically we do not have systems yet in place to cater for the entire population with regards to recycling plastics and other refuse. So lets stop adding to this problem that we can’t fix immediately. Support your local farmers and industries and buy Fiji made products.