Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

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Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Sam Salmon » Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:07 pm

Truly the end of an era spanning thousands of years-his knowledge stretched back into the mists of time.I have Steven D. Thomas' book The Last Navigator on the table behind me-it's always to hand-Mau's world view is never far from my mind.


PACIFIC GIANT MAU PIAILUG DIES ON SATAWAL
Legendary navigator revived an ancient art


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HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, July 14, 2010) – Legendary Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug, among the last of his kind, reportedly died Sunday on his home island of Satawal in the Federated States of Micronesia.

He was 78.

Satawal is a remote atoll in the island chain of Yap, one of four states in the Federated States of Micronesia south of Guam.

Working with the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, Piailug in 1976 navigated the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hokule‘a from Hawaii to Tahiti on its maiden voyage.

The revered traditional navigator used the ancient skills he learned as a boy, guiding Hokule‘a 2,500 miles across the open ocean between Hawaii and Tahiti without charts or instruments.

Piailug is credited with a revival of ancient navigational skills used by Pacific explorers – using only observations of stars, moon, wind, currents and birds to criss-cross the vast ocean long before Western explorers arrived.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Piailug had suffered from diabetes for many years.

The Honolulu newspaper quoted Piailug protégé Nainoa Thompson – President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society – as a giant among Pacific islanders whose contributions to cultural preservation are beyond measure.

"Thousands of people are sharing in the sadness," Thompson said. "His contribution to.....humankind is immeasurable."

The Star-Advertiser notes that, beside Hawaii, other island cultures have since formed voyaging societies to promote native voyaging, including in Taiwan, New Zealand, Samoa, Fiji, Guam, Saipan, Palau, Chuuk, Pohnpei, the Marshall Islands and Tahiti.

Piailug is survived by more than a dozen children and numerous grandchildren.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Rokcet Scientist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:52 am

Don't dramatize this guy's passing as an ancient culture loss. We have compasses and GPS now. Much better. Besides, this guy's navigational skills were not some kind of magic. At all. He had simply learned to combine the directions certain islands were from his position with a couple dozen star constellations (and v.v.). His knowledge only worked in his part of the world. Outside of that 1 million square miles of territory he was just as much at a loss as you or I.

Any young bloke or gal who puts their mind to it can learn Mau Piailug's navigation 'tricks'.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Minimalist » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:56 am

Pissing on the parade again, R/S?

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:17 am

I seem to recall that the basis of the Pacific technique was the assigning of a star that would be right above an island.
Once you knew the right star to aim for it was pretty easy.

I think the same technique was used by the Sahara caravan traders to find oasis and towns.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:46 am

I think the same technique was used by the Sahara caravan traders to find oasis and towns.


And the Magi. Sorry Min I'll go and wash my mouth out!

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Sam Salmon » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:22 pm

Rokcet Scientist wrote:Don't dramatize this guy's passing as an ancient culture loss. We have compasses and GPS now. Much better.

GFY you idiotic miscreant-pissing all over someone's obituary like that.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:00 am

He had simply learned to combine the directions certain islands were from his position with a couple dozen star constellations (and v.v.). His knowledge only worked in his part of the world. Outside of that 1 million square miles of territory he was just as much at a loss as you or I.


Something of a pity that his skills were not practised by European sailors, might have stopped them bumping into things like the Goodwin Sands.
As I am currently reading about 18 C voyagers one thing about the Polynesian sailors puzzles me, how did they avoid that scourge of the Europeans, Scurvy!
Cook docked in Cape Town alongside a Dutch ship that had been 4 months at sea. They had buried 150 men and and had 60 more in a Cape Town hospital. Apparently the Dutch anticipated a 50 per cent loss from Holland to Batavia.

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:46 pm

Digit:
Re: the lack of Polynesian scurvy.

I think a lot of it had to do with the heavy fish diet they enjoyed while on land and then continued while on a voyage.
It was just a lot of “same old, same old.”

But you are correct about the expected life loss on a trip to the spice islands and back.
And not just the Dutch.
The English and Portuguese as well.
But they were eating maggot infested bread and badly salted beef.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:00 am

From Cook's log kb he tried to get his people to eat Rock Hopper Penguins and Walrus and faced near mutiny, the crew seemed flatly to ignore the anti scorbutics he wanted them to consume.
Eventually the falure to eat them became punishable with the lash.
I don't even like Beef! :lol:
As far as I understand the causes sea fish are not antiscorbutic, Heyerdahl seemed to think that the polynesians carried coconuts, are they anti scorbutic anyone know?

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:42 pm

I cannot answer.

Isn’t the idea vitamin C in any way, shape, or form?

I like my sea food, but I cannot tell you if it is a source of Vitamin C
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:58 am

Vitamin C indeed kb, and to the best of my knowledge that is only available chemically or from fruit and veg. Perhaps someone knows for certain.
Perhaps the Polynesians were smarter than RS credits?

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Digit » Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:28 am

http://www.coconut-info.com/aboutcoconuts.htm

Well there's our answer kb, coconuts are indeed antiscorbutic. They could store them in the bottom of their canoes as ballast, you can burn the husk so you have cooking fuel, the 'milk' is drinkable and the 'meat' is edible, bored with a hole they would store fresh water, cut they would act as baler and cups etc, the Polynesians had got it made.
Not for nothing do they call it 'the tree of life!'

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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby kbs2244 » Sun Jul 18, 2010 6:12 pm

It seemed to be a life I could learn to like.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Rokcet Scientist » Mon Jul 19, 2010 6:14 pm

Sam Salmon wrote:
Rokcet Scientist wrote:Don't dramatize this guy's passing as an ancient culture loss. We have compasses and GPS now. Much better.

GFY you idiotic miscreant-pissing all over someone's obituary like that.


Was he a relative of yours?
In that case I regret my insensitive wording at this sensitive time.
If not, I pity you your warped sense of reality.
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Re: Death of Mau Piailug-Master Pacific Navigator

Postby Rokcet Scientist » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:36 pm

Digit:
Re: the lack of Polynesian scurvy.

I think a lot of it had to do with the heavy fish diet they enjoyed while on land and then continued while on a voyage.
It was just a lot of “same old, same old.”


The polynesians, micronesians, and melanesians didn't spend nearly as long at sea on their trips as the Europeans did, sailing to the East, West, or circumnavigating the globe. The islanders, while at sea, put in at every island, and every second bay, while the Europeans tended to purposely avoid doing that, afraid of wild, head-hunting natives. Thus they rarely had fresh fruit or vegetables on the menu.

The death rate for crews for Europe to the Far East roundtrips was indeed about 50% in the 17th century. Whence it wasn't surprising that it wasn't easy to get a crew for such trips. It was so hard even that they had to promise freedom in return for enlisting (and after return from the trip, obviously) to incarcerated hardened criminals serving sentences from 6 years to life...

This in return for crewing on an 18 month to 2 year roundtrip.

So, with that kind of a crew, you can maybe imagine the general atmosphere and the level of civilisation on board these ships.
It was no picnic.

Of course many of those landlubber highwaymen and killers saw purple and green at sea, and lost heart after their first uninterrupted 10 to 12 terrible weeks, the leg from Europe to the Cape of Good Hope. So many jumped ship in Capetown and fled inland to escape the law, and eeked out a living in the bush. They were the 'founding fathers', literally, of the 'coloured' people in South Africa. They also brought the infectious diseases that wiped out the entire race of the Hottentots within a century!
Last edited by Rokcet Scientist on Tue Aug 03, 2010 5:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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