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DNA evidence proves Polynesians got sweet potatoes from South America

In Boats on January 27, 2013 at 6:57 am

DNA taken from sweet potato samples collected by Captain Cook in Polynesia show that they came from the Andes region.  There are two distinct strains of sweet potato and it appears the Polynesians travelled to the Pacific coast of South America to get it.

The Polynesians were the greatest mariners in world history.  Their sailing craft and navigation skills were centuries ahead of anyone else.  They colonized the vast expanse of the Pacific ocean centuries before Europeans made it across the Atlantic.

So what did they trade for the sweet potato?  There is puzzling  evidence of pre-columbian chickens in the Andes region.  Conventional thinking is that domesticated chickens were unknown in the ‘new world’ before Columbus.  But when  the conquistador Pizarro reached Peru in 1532, he found that chickens were already an integral part of Incan economy and culture.

The written history of the world is very Eurocentric which has formed not only a barrier to understanding but is also distasteful because of its racist overtones.

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1929 Classic video of Tall Ship Peking voyage around Cape Horn

In Boats on January 21, 2013 at 7:01 am

I was quite surprised to find Irving Johnson’s classic video on Youtube of his trip around Cape Horn on one of the last commercial tall ships.  Its the only video left showing  the harsh life (and death) of sailors working the tall ships.  Irving Johnson was a legendary sailor/adventurer and this was his first trip working the classic tall ships at sea.  He was determined to film this disappearing way of life.  Amazingly he climbed right up into the top of the rigging to film the ship taking a pounding in 100 mile an hour winds rounding Cape Horn.

This full video starts in ‘the storm of the century’ in the North Sea and shows The Peking’s trip around the Horn to Chile.  The film is 36 minutes long so if you want to cut to the chase the storms off Cape Horn start at 24:00.  He dryly narrates that when he showed the film in London to sea captains they said they had never seen a ship so awash with water to not just sink!

Tall Ship Libertad back home

In Boats, Polytricks on January 10, 2013 at 8:53 am

The Argentinian Training vessel Libertad is back home now after escaping the clutches of the Vulture Funds.  It was unlawfully impounded in Ghana by court request from Elliott Management Corporation, a vulture fund.  It spent two months in detention until the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled unanimously that its seizure was illegal due to it being a military training vessel.

Of course there is a tale to be told about how this vessel came to be impounded in Ghana in the first place.  Argentina went through a terrible economic crisis in the 90’s.  It defaulted on $93 billion debt and floated its currency resulting in massive inflation.

Under huge pressure to repay this massive debt, mostly owned to private banks, Argentina fought hard to keep from destroying its national economy to repay the debt.  It managed to renegotiate three quarters of its bonds down to 25 cents on the dollar, but a quarter of the debt holders have held out in the hopes of a better deal.

Vulture funds are one of the worst expressions of capitalism.  These ‘funds’ buy up risky debt for pennies on the dollar and then shake down usually impoverished Third World countries for repayment.  President Cristina Kirchner is right to call these sleazy creeps “anarchist capitalists”.  Their existence is a clear example that ‘the market knows best’ neo-liberal dogma is complete bullshit.

New Sailboat speed record

In Boats on November 23, 2012 at 6:48 am

Sailrocket 2 has recorded the 100 km/h (54 knots) sustained speed in Walvis Bay, Namibia.  This beats the previous record by the trimaran Hydroptere of 95 km/hr (51 knots).   Sailrocket 2 looks more like a proa to me and I have never seen a multi-hull with that kinda beam (40 foot length, 40 foot beam).

Its pretty mind-boggling that these guys were able to squeeze peak speed of 60 knots out of a 25 knot wind.  Just proves again for me a theory of mine that the ancient Melanesians were the greatest boat-builders of all time, basically millenniums ahead of everyone else.  Here is my favourite proa video of some guys smoking across the lagoon in the Marshall Islands.  I got a kick out of the coconut crabs tied to the outrigger.  These guys look so relaxed but you can see how fast they are going by the dark rocks whippin’ underneath them… ;o)

A great outrigger canoe site

In Boats, Uncategorized on August 14, 2012 at 7:59 am

Peter Vans has built a great tacking outrigger web site.  Tacking outrigger craft are boats with one larger hull and a smaller outrigger hull.  It is able to tack into the wind without moving the mast as olden-days proas had to.  So this web site is dedicated to tacking outrigger boats as opposed to catamaran or trimaran.  One advantage of these craft is that they are lighter and usually more portable than traditional cat’s or tri’s.

There are several advantages of a multi-hull over a mono-hull.  One is speed, even a planing hull sailboat can’t compete with the feather-light profile of a multi-hull in action. Another reason is that multi-hulls can carry more sail area than mono-hulls due to their much greater beam.  Mono-hulls heel over loosing their wind power, while a multi-hull’s beam allows it to keep that wind power directly in the sail.

I have been fascinated by outrigger canoe’s for years.  The colonization of the Pacific by these craft is an awesome achievement.  The voyages of discovery of European nations in the Atlantic a thousand years later pales in comparison.. ;o)  I have a theory that the ‘killer app’ that led mankind to global supremacy was the boat not writing.. but that will have to wait until another blog posting.. stay tuned..

Outrigger Canoe, New Caledonia, South Pacific

Outriggers are complicated, beautiful and highly functional.. just take a look at this Hawaiian outrigger…

Close up of Hawaiian outrigger sailing canoe.

Outrigger Sailing Canoes

In Boats on August 2, 2012 at 1:16 am

Gary Dierking’s great Proa blog. Some really great information and photos of outrigger sailing canoes!

There is a great video called Ulua in Okinawa at the top of the page.. check it out.. proa’s are so cool and so fast ..

http://outriggersailingcanoes.blogspot.ca/

‘Men in an Outrigger Canoe Headed for Shore’ by Arman Manookian

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