The crew onboard the Gaualofa hailed from 6 countries; Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Fiji, the US and American Samoa. Some were seasoned sailors -people who had spent many years on the ocean, while some were 16 year old boys leaving their country for the very first time.
Before departing Suva, Fiji the vakas stopped in the Pacific capital, for maintenance and to replenish supplies of food, water and equipment for the onward journey. A rotating crew sailed the vaka, with 4 people on watch at every hour throughout the day, with a watch captain ever present. A chef, on this leg Mika, was exempt from watch duties to keep the crew well-fed throughout the journey. Crew worked throughout the day and night with a 6 hour break after every 3 hour shift. From the dawn shift where the vaka was scrubbed clean during sunrise, to night shifts and navigating by the stars. Weathering everything from calm waters and clear starry skies to rougher seas and the threat of squalls, the vaka sailed on. The competence of the crew and the vakas feeling of solidity only occasionally offset by the fearful need to lash yourself to the deck to prevent from falling overboard during a storm. Vaka voyaging felt uncomplicated and steeped in tradition.
Days roll on. Moon-lit nights transition into bright, hot days and the vaka rocks and rolls onwards on the open glistening ocean.