08/12/2011 02:11 pm ET Updated Oct 12, 2011

Pacific Voyagers Expedition: A Solar-Powered Journey (PHOTOS)

From Pacific Voyagers:

In April, seven traditional Polynesian ocean-going vessels called vakas, and their 16 member crews, set sail on a 15,000 nautical mile journey across the Pacific. Powered only by solar energy, guided solely by celestial navigation, these seafarers are on an expedition to reconnect with their ancestors and raise awareness for the environmental issues threatening the Pacific.

Each vaka has a crew made up of Pacific Islanders from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Vanuatu, and Tonga. This is the first time in modern history that a voyage like this has been made.

This journey has turned the Pacific Voyagers into the unofficial ambassadors to the three billion people that make up the 56 countries in the pan-Pacific Islands. The Pacific Voyagers provide a unique opportunity tell a story about the people who are directly impacted by the health of our oceans.

They rely on the Pacific’s vast resources and ecosystems to sustain their way of life. Several thousand years ago, their ancestors made similar voyages to explore new regions and settle new areas. The Pacific Voyagers are learning from the wisdom of their ancestors and looking to the past to help us all move forward together. [Text Continues Below Photos.]

Images and captions courtesy of Pacific Voyagers.

From Duncan Morrison:

I sat in meditation on the bow. I needed to, I drank a lot of coffee this morning and was feeling a bit jittery. Also, I was interested in what the whales and dolphins and seals would say to us if they could.

After a few minutes of deep breathing and relaxing my mind I got the image of a whale’s tail in my head.
It slapped the water.
Listen to the breathing of the tides and know that all the world beats with one heart, breaths with one breath."
I started getting distracted by the music and noise behind me.
Slap, slap, slap.
“Listen, listen, listen!
You (humanity, the waka crews, us as individuals) have a special place.
You are the Key.

Thank you…for your Time (doing this, meditating, voyaging, bringing awareness)”

Whatever you consider this, imagination, self projection or a spiritual message from the Great Lob-tailing Whale, it seems about right to me.

We do have a special place. It is by our hand that the world and the creatures in it will live or die.

We’ve been becalmed, for two days and for two days we’ve been surrounded by all the Life in the sea. Well, seals, dolphins and whales, lots of them. Last night, the seals were coming in, zigzagging in formation through the phosphorescence leaving trails of stars behind them. They’ve scared the girls by popping up beside the canoe and barking loudly. They’ve entertained us with their showing off, leaping and jumping, one even going so far as climbing on board the Samoan canoe and sitting on the bow doing nothing and barking at the captain whenever he talked to it (just like the rest of the crew, so he tells me).

The dolphins have been doing standard dolphin things and the whales, Humpbacks and Sperms have been pec fin slapping and lob-tailing and breaching and synchronised breaching in pairs and…

And if we hadn’t been halted by the wind we would’ve missed it all. We would’ve zoomed on through as we do for most of lives, distracted by the music and the white noise of the modern world and really just missing the point.

“Listen, listen, listen!”

You can’t hold a conversation unless you listen and our lives are always talking, they never shut up. This world has some beautiful conversations if you give and take the time.

We, nicknamed "Slow-nui," have just dropped anchor many hours ahead of most of the fleet. A credit to the careful sail trim and good steering of my crew. We think maybe they meant "Slow down-nui."

Tomorrow we land. Yeah man, very exciting.
time for a cuppa tea before bed.
Dunc and "Slow-nui"