Wednesday, August 25

Marumaru Atua meets the Picton Castle

Marumaru Atua is one of five double-hulled outrigger sailing canoes (vaka) built in New Zealand and funded by the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea. The canoes are made from modern materials but the design is traditional, in fact it is modelled on Te Au O Tonga, the wooden Cook Islands voyaging canoe which has made many Pacific journeys since its maiden voyage in 1995.
In April this year the fleet of canoes left Auckland and sailed first to Raivavae in French Polynesia and then to Rarotonga. (For more information check the Cook Islands Voyaging Society website.)
The Picton Castle is a three-masted sailing barque, based in Novia Scotia but registered in the Cook Islands. It’s on the fifth trip around the world – each one takes about 14 months – and sailed here from French Polynesia. From Rarotonga the Picton Castle will head first to Palmerston and Pukapuka and then west to Tonga.
She’s a true working tall ship with a professional crew of 12 plus 40 trainees who learn things like handling sails, scrubbing the deck, taking a turn at the wheel, raising anchor, hauling on lines, helping in the galley, going aloft (optional), and keeping lookout. (For more information check the Picton Castle website.)
Marumaru Atua sailed out to meet the Picton Castle and escorted her to Avatiu Harbour. Some of the crew will be trying sailing in a rather smaller vessel over the next few days.
The Voyaging Society is planning to run trips for tourists and locals as a fund-raising exercise. The Okeanos Foundation currently owns the vaka which is worth about $1 million, but it will sell it to the nation for $200,000 provided the money can be raised by the end of 2012.
The vaka is also being used to train current crew members for their captains’ certificates and to recruit youngsters to become future vaka sailors.