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Traditional craft sailed to Rota and back

By Brett Kelman

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 26, 2009) – An authentic Chamorro canoe on its return trip from Rota is expected to arrive home today after at least 24 hours at sea.

The Saina, a 33-foot outrigger canoe, was built with traditional techniques and modern tools, according to Pacific Daily News files. The crew uses stars to navigate, much like traditional Chamorro sailors.

Traditions About Seafaring Islands Historian Larry Cunningham wrote in an e-mail that he expected the canoe and crew to arrive in Guam today, but the Saina's voyage is not easy to foretell.

"It is difficult to predict their time of arrival in Guam," Cunningham wrote. "This is a traditional outrigger sailing canoe, not a modern means of transportation with a fixed schedule."

Ron Acfalle, project director for the seafaring group, has said the Saina's adventure was Guam's first traditional canoe voyage to Rota in centuries.

The canoe left Guam last Wednesday and arrived in Rota Friday morning -- with a little help from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Rota government. A Coast Guard ship went looking for the canoe Thursday night because it didn't arrive in Rota on schedule.

Once found, the canoe crew was given water and was later towed to shore by another boat.

Strong winds and currents had delayed the Saina's arrival, according to a release from the crew. The release said Marianas weather is known for its unpredictability.

The canoe crew chose to leave Rota yesterday because the weather looked better, Cunningham wrote.

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