08 Feb The Marquesas Islands – Wednesday, January 30 to Friday, February 8, 2002
Delivery of the OC6 to Hakahau, Ua Pou in The Marquesas Islands
The following is an excerpt from an email that we sent to our many friends who have been following the progress of our attempts to secure a new OC 6 for the Canoe Club in Hakahau, Ua Pou in the Marquesas Islands:
Ratero’s Dream: Canoes for Ua Pou in the Marquesas Islands
Since I last wrote to you, we have made significant progress on the canoe project; we owe thanks to many of you for your ideas and support. It was a fast learning curve and as a result, Ua Pou now has two new canoes. Sharry and I contracted for a new 43 ft, OC6 canoe, weighing 155 kilos and built by Moana Nui Polynesian Canoes in Whangarei, New Zealand. The canoe was completed in early January and loaded onto the newly renovated 170 ft excursion yacht, Asteria, which had been in New Zealand for a retrofit; Asteria is managed by Don’s brother, Dan Stabbert, for European owners. The canoe builder, Kris Kjeldsen, really hustled to meet the delivery schedule and, in support of the canoe club in Hakahau, even donated a mold for an OC1, 24-foot one man racing canoe. Brother Dan and the owners of Asteria were supportive of what we were trying to accomplish, and sent Asteria out of its way to the Marquesas Islands, to deliver the canoe to the village front door, 3000 nm from Auckland. By the time Kris had built the canoe and delivered it to Asteria, he had also committed to travel to Hakahau in May, with his wife Ally and their two infant daughters, to teach the young men of the outrigger canoe club how to build fiberglass canoes.
After the Holidays, on January 30, instead of flying directly back to Starr in Auckland from Seattle, Sharry and I joined the Asteria in Papeete and traveled the last 750 NM of the run to Ua Pou. Upon arrival, we had to anchor in a deep harbor on the backside of the Island, because the Asteria at 15.5 ft draft drew too much water to enter the small harbor of Hakahau. When we pulled into the quay in the village in the 15 foot rubber tender to meet Ratero and some of the other villagers, the first thing Ratero said was “welcome home”. How to make a grown man cry!
After flying back to the shipyard in Auckland to finish putting Starr back together, we prepared to head back to Ua Pou to help in building the first canoes. Our goal was to be in Ua Pou by the first of May, when the village was hosting a big canoe regatta and the guys from Hakahau were going to race in the new OC6 canoe. Unfortunately we didn’t make it in time. We didn’t leave Auckland until mid-April and then had to deal with some bad weather, which is another story. Heading 3000 NM, against the wind, taught us that Starr is one tough boat! We arrived in Ua Pou on May 10, just in time to see the first OC1, 24-foot boat, come out of the mold and to say good-bye to Kris, Ally and the babies as they left for the airport to take the plane back to New Zealand.
We hung out in Ua Pou for most of May and observed some positive changes during the time we were there. The fact that there were two additional canoes added to the village, the 43 ft. OC6 plus the new 24 ft. OC1, made it so now the younger kids are training in the older canoes after school. There is also a girl’s team for the first time ever. There are ten more OC1s in the planning stage for immediate construction. There is a 50 foot addition to the Canoe House in the framing stage for the new boats, and three of the canoe club guys are going to New Zealand next March to spend a month working in Kris’ boatbuilding shop learning skills that they can take back with them.
Rataro told us many times how the new canoes have energized the canoe club and how the paddlers have raised their goals for level of achievement. It was a wonderful experience! We can’t thank you all enough for your support!