Official Lapita Voyage Website: www.lapitavoyage.org
The 'Lapita Voyage' began in the first week of November 2008, when two 38ft double canoes, designed by James Wharram Designs, based on an ancient Polynesian canoe hull-form and built in the Philippines, set out on a 4,000Nm voyage along the island chains of the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea and the Solomons.
Their destination was Anuta and Tikopia, two tiny, remote islands at the Eastern end of the Santa Cruz Islands, where the boats arrived in mid March 2009 and were donated to the islanders for their future inter island voyaging.
The 'Lapita Voyage' was a major expedition in Experimental Marine Archaeology. It was the first exploration by Ethnic sailing craft of one possible migration route into the Central Pacific. The voyage was made entirely under sail without motors, using traditional Polynesian crab claw sails and steering paddles.
A Major Scientific Expedition
On parts of the voyage the boats were joined by researchers, experts in various study fields, who realised that 'the voyaging canoe' is the 'Base Factor' in Pacific migration studies and hence the best platform to do their studies from. Hundreds of DNA samples of domestic animals were collected along the route to study their origins and hence the origins of the people that brought them.
The Lapita Voyage, led by German, Dutch and English, with its unique opportunities for research, was a major scientific expedition, but also a fantastic sailing adventure. The two boats met squalls, storms and days of calms. They sailed without engines or escort boat in the remote seas of the Pacific.
Arrival At The Islands
The arrival in Tikopia and Anuta was a momentous experience for both the islanders, who had been looking forward to this event for several years, as well as the crew after 5 months of hard sailing. Landing through the surf on Anuta, followed by celebrations with traditional dancing, can be experienced through this clip from the feature length film.
The full length film is now available to watch online for free.
The double canoes were designed by James Wharram and Hanneke Boon, who in 1995 discovered in Auckland Memorial Museum a 9m Tikopian outrigger canoe with a beautiful V-eed hullshape, which they instantly recognized as being capable of sailing to windward. This 'Sacred Canoe' had been in the museum since it was donated by Chief Taumako of Tikopia in 1916, when the island adopted the Christian religion. No-one in 80 years had recognized the importance of this canoe hullshape to the study of the sailing abilities of Polynesian ships. The boats for the Lapita Voyage were designed using this hullshape.
Sailing as the 'Admiral' on Lapita Anuta the 'English' boat of the expedition, was the internationally renowned catamaran designer James Wharram, the British pioneer of catamaran design, who was the first man to sail West - East across the North Atlantic by catamaran in 1959. At the age of 80, sailing on this voyage, plagued by extremely arduous weather conditions, was a feat of endurance for him, but was also the culmination of his life's work of over 50 years in catamaran design.
Skipper of the Lapita Anuta was Hanneke Boon, the Dutch design partner of James. The idea of donating the boats to the islands was her 'vision' in 2005 after a serious heart-valve replacement operation. The 'German' boat Lapita Tikopia, was skippered by Klaus Hympendahl, an ocean sailor and well known German yachting author, who also organized the sailing schedule, route planning and crew.
Many firms donated materials and equipment to this charitable project, but the major part of the money for building the boats and sailing the voyage was raised by Klaus Hympendahl through private donations by German sailors/enthusiasts who were given the chance to sail on one or more of the legs of the voyage.
Traditional Pacific Navigation
On Lapita Anuta the last 170Nm crossing of open ocean from Vanikoro to Anuta, a 2 ½ day voyage, was navigated by Tulano Toloa, a Polynesian from Tokelau, without any modern instruments or compass, using traditional Pacific navigation methods (stars, sun angle, swell patterns etc.). As a European instrument navigator Hanneke found this type of navigation extremely liberating, opening her perceptions to her surroundings, rather than looking inwards to instruments. Afterwards she was reluctant to go back to steering by compass!
The Anutans are still skilled sailors and navigators and are able to navigate without instruments to islands 200-300 Nm away. They have 70 traditional dugout canoes on Anuta, the oldest nearly 200 years old, which are very well cared for. Their new double canoe Lapita Anuta, which has the same hull shape as their traditional outrigger canoes, will give them the opportunity for making longer voyages and passing on their navigation knowledge to the younger generation. Due to its remoteness very few ships call at Anuta, so the new double canoe is now their lifeline to other islands, giving them a chance to f.e. take sick people to the nearest hospital 250 Nm away, as the island has no doctor, nurse or clinic.
On 3rd June 2009 we received news that the Lapita Anuta made its first voyage of 280Nm from Anuta to Lata in Santa Cruz, via Tikopia and Vanikoro. There were 8 people on board, 4 crew and 4 passengers. They collected schoolbooks, biros and pencils for the Anutan children.
In October 2009 Lapita Anuta made a second voyage to Lata and back. This has been the start of successful voyaging by the Anutans and the Tikopians who have been using the boats for regular voyages to the Santa Cruz islands (capital Lata).
Lapita Voyage Logs
Follow the entire voyage and the many interesting encounters and discoveries experienced by the crew with this collection of logs, from the launching of the boats right up to the arrival at their final destination at Tikopia and Anuta.
First BlogMatt Fletcher
Andy Smith and the boys from Junction Boat Yard in Panglao have done us proud. The boats look stunning; the sleek lines of the hulls, paint job, build quality and lashings are all fantastic. Most tourists look at the boats and can´t believe that we are going to be travelling 4000 nautical miles on them...
The Launching Of The BoatsJames Wharram
On 26th October 2008 the two boats for the 4000Nm long Lapita Voyage, 'Lapita Tikopia' and 'Lapita Anuta', slipped into the water without a hitch. It was the culmination of almost 3 years of dreaming, designing and planning...
Have we been at sea for 5 days or 6? When we started I was unwell and in the middle my birthday passed by, I'm sure of this, but when you are becalmed time slips away unnoticed, the hours and days have little meaning. Your mind slips into another gear...
Leg 1 - The Lapita Anuta Voyage So FarHanneke Boon
Last night at 10pm we crossed the Equator. We drank some rum to the occasion and hoped that now we had entered the Southern Hemisphere the weather would be nicer, a fresh start. As is usual with a new boat the weather and sea Gods set out to test her and the new crew...
Frustration & Some PerspectiveMatt Fletcher
Frustrating is the word. Perfect wind, no wind, too much wind; big swell, flat as a pancake; sails up, sails down; eta to Biak 48 hours, eta 4 days; etc, etc. Since Kri Island it's not been great. Today we began to understand why we are making so little headway and it put our troubles into some perspective...
Howling At The MoonMatt Fletcher
As I stormed around the deck tightening sails, then loosening them, and trying to paddle us back on course then throwing the paddle down in frustration, I began to rant. Out into the calm night I yelled curses at the wind, waves, current and ragged swell we'd endured all day. Damn the Gods of the sea. Damn them all...
Resting Up In KoridoMatt Fletcher
We left the safe haven of Korido this morning riding our first, long overdue, northwest monsoon winds. Our arrival in the tiny port a couple of days ago caused quite a stir. The local police and three guys from the tourist office told us we were the first yachties ever to arrive there. It felt like we were the first tourists too...
Christmas UpdateJames Wharram
This Lapita Voyage expedition has reached the fisherman's port of Korida on the Island of Superiori/Biak, which is an offshore island off the North coast of Papua - New Guinea. This island is 1250 Nm from our starting point in Bohol in the Philippines, from which we departed 6 weeks ago...
In The NavyMatt Fletcher
After three cold beers all was well with the world and I was just contemplating a fourth when Hanneke called to say that the Indonesian Navy would like a word. We'd anchored off Lanar Naval Base and the Commander was on his way. They need the pier for an exercise in the morning and just what the hell are we doing there?
Leg 2 - Ternate to Jayapura on Lapita AnutaHanneke Boon
Finally the end of the 900Nm long second leg was reached when we dropped anchor at 2am on Christmas Eve in the smelly harbour of Jayapura. We did a rather neat entry under sail in the dark and rain and felt pleased with ourselves. We had rum punch to celebrate Christmas and our arrival, but we were exhausted...
Leg 3 - Jayapura To Rabaul on Lapita AnutaHanneke Boon
With stage 3 of the Lapita Voyage we entered a new phase. We finally got a chance to meet and study the local canoes, one of the main aims of this voyage for James and myself. The other aim was to discover how the Tama Moana sails in different conditions and this stretch gave us superb test opportunities...
On Christmas Eve we went out for chicken and beer in Jayapura, and left the stinking, rubbish strewn port on Christmas Day and headed to Papua New Guinea. On New Year's Eve we were at sea, but the seas were so calm and winds so light we could call out New Year greetings between the boats 200 metres apart...
Under New ManagementMatt Fletcher
As I type we are bobbing around on a very tranquil Solomon Sea agonizingly close to the beautiful lagoons of the Treasury Islands. No wind to speak of for 3 days and what we have had has been against the head. But the skies are clear, it's not rained for days and we've been treated the greatest display of stars yet...
Into The SolomonsMatt Fletcher
We sail now in Solomon' waters, which feels good. The weather maybe grey and cool, but the Solomon's give me a warm feeling inside. Klaus's 15-year-old cruising guide said that Mono Island in the Treasury Group was one of the most hospitable places in the country. Big talk, especially in the South Pacific, but Mono did not disappoint...
A Pocket Of PolynesiaMatt Fletcher
As the wind picked up again I figured that actually yes, we could lose the boat. And if it happened it would be wet, dangerous and embarrassing. We'd been blown off course by a sudden squall whilst crossing West Bay. It wasn't far to go, but the head wind was a pain when we started and a nightmare when it started blowing Force 6...
The Final PushMatt Fletcher
It feels like the final push, the downhill run to Tikopia and Anuta. The local MP in Honiara has radio contact with the islands and apparently preparations for our arrival have already begun. But first we have the little matter of 400 odd sea miles along the northern coasts of Guadalcanal and Makira to Lata in the Santa Cruz Islands...
Downhill Run?Matt Fletcher
Anuta and Tikopia lie tantalizingly close, some 200 nautical miles away, and it's good to be on the move. It's been one hell of a trip, but a long one and I'm looking forward to getting to the islands. They are extraordinary places, their peoples know we are coming and everyone is excited about the boats. It's going to be great...
March UpdateJames Wharram
Klaus Hympendahl describes the four chiefs of Tikopia in solemn assembly, smoking pipes and chewing betel nuts in the chief's house before leading a procession to the beach with four clergy and singing, to bless the 'Lapita Tikopia' double canoe, followed by a Polynesian feast...
On TikopiaMatt Fletcher
We made it. 4000 odd miles and we finally made it. We arrived on Tikopia yesterday morning, coasting through the small gap in the reef with terribly light winds and a couple of people paddling. In the afternoon the stiff westerly breeze that repeated weather forecasts have promised finally arrived. Such is life...
Latest News from HannekeHanneke Boon
The trip round the island took over 4 hours, quite smooth at first, but when we got to the West side of the island the waves suddenly became very large, the driver was for turning back at one point, but I think that was actually worse in those waves, so we carried on, bailing hard when waves slopped aboard...
Lapita Anuta sails to Lata, Santa CruzHanneke Boon
This morning we received this email from one of the crew members of Lapita Anuta. She has now sailed 280 Nm back to Lata in Santa Cruz via Tikopia and will soon be returning to Anuta. The double canoe has started her job as independent transport for the island!!