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18 June 2017


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Babak Makkinejad

Finney, and Heyerdahl before him, are testaments to a very qualitative difference between Wesrern Diocletians and everone else.
Such men would be considered deranged everywhere else for not devoting themselves to the acquisition of wealth or power.



I could not agree more....they are like the odd scientist who simply pursues knowledge or the occasional artist who yearns for beauty.

Folks like this have always been thin on the ground. The burghers of the world have never really had much use for them.


Great post

Gene O

I had read Kon-Tiki as a boy. But at the time wondered why 'if you could sail west from Peru to Polynesia' then why not the opposite?

There was a French expedition sailing from Tahiti eastwards 10 years after Heyerdahl sailed west. That raft made it to an island not far off the Chilean coast. Not sure why they focused on a raft, as Heyerdahl did? Why didn't they use the traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe like Finney sailed in? Surely the French in Tahiti knew of those canoes, Admiral Bougainville had explored the Tuamotos and Tahiti ten years prior to the American Revolution.


I enjoy your 'off the wall post' they are part of what has made this a 'Renaissance man' site and for those who read the 'The Total boat skiff' this project is now complete and had been a pleasure to follow from start to finish. Thanks again.


TTG, Sir

I don't want to indulge in debate on the theories of Ben Finney and Thor Heyerdahl.

The Kon-Tiki Expedition had a profound impact on me personally as a teenager. It fostered a love of adventure and exploration. I'd say even an infatuation when I was a young man, which took me on journeys to remote parts of South & Central America as well as Africa and the Himalayan range and of course to many of the Polynesian islands in the South Pacific.

I recall the thrill in seeing the raft in Oslo much later in my life and seeing the images from the Ra expedition too. Sir, I can completely relate to your love affair with the Hokulea!



A most astute observation, but doing things for the sake of curiosity, beauty, or knowledge just for their sake is increasingly a rarity even in the West. The disease of the decadent East, where everything is justified on the basis of wealth and power has been corrupting the West, in the name of "rationality," falsely so called.


TTG - Also this weekend, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40316930 ...

"A traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe has returned to Honolulu in Hawaii, completing the first-ever round-the-world trip by such a vessel.

The boat, the Hokule'a, took three years to journey around the globe.
Its crew navigated without modern instruments, using only the stars, wind and ocean swells as guides.

They aimed to use the same techniques that brought the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii hundreds of years ago."

Simply marvellous.

-- sixpacksongs

will short

Sirs, happened to read, "The Last Navigator" by S.D. Thomas, pub. 1987. For me first exposure to this topic. It was fascinating account of authors apprenticeship. Anyone else?---Regards, Will

Babak Makkinejad

And I am willing to bet you anything that during all of your wondering you never met a Hindu or a Muslim or an Oriental; excepting the indigenous peoples.


Some nice pictures


Babak Makkinejad

Google "In praise of useless endeavors" and "In praise of useless knowledge".


Thanks for this post TTG.

"Hometown" coverage of the return of the Hokule'a including an inspiring, wide ranging speech by navigator Nainoa Thompson:




Au contraire!

What was the "anything" you bet?

One thing I have noticed in my reading of your comments over several years, is that you are incredibly prejudiced towards the Hindu. Something personal or is it pervasive among Iranians?

The Twisted Genius


My youngest brother was visiting recently. It's been years since we've seen each other. He was taking one of his son's for a visit to DC. We was looking at my nautical library and back copies of "Wooden Boat" so we started talking bout building boats. He took a course with someone who builds traditional skin on frame Greenland style kayaks. It ended up being a one-on-one course in which he built a frame with traditional lashings of nylon rather than sinew. At the end of the course, he was given the opportunity to buy that frame. He chose not to. His intention was to build a kayak with wood he harvested from his own land even though it ended up being a little heavier than the first one he built. My brother cleared his own land up in the White Mountains, harvested and milled his own lumber, and built his own timber framed house and carriage house. He also constructed his own road on his property to save money. One of my brothers is a long time logger. Another is a tool maker running his own machine repair business. With their help and the help of his old school New England neighbors, he managed to create a nice home for his family... even though it took a few years. Now if he could just reliably bear-proof his chicken coop.


TTG, The writing is good. I know it is good because I can feel the joy and love you have for water and vessels upon the water. You brightened my day.


*Col. Lang wrote a piece on sloping around Yemen that brought me to feel the air, see the light of the place, and almost smell it. I didn't comment on it at the time but I remember it.

The Twisted Genius


What a coincidence. I just received an email from Tulsi Gabbard entitled "The mission of Malama Honua." The bottom line was about Hawai'i recommitting to the Paris Climate Accord. Here's some of it. I know a big part of the first voyage of the Hokule'a was the reawakening of the indigenous Hawai'ian spirit. I witnessed that firsthand while i was assigned there.

"Thousands of years ago Hawaii’s ancestors settled every livable landmass across a large swath of the pacific. They used the technology of their time to explore the unknown and they lived in harmony with nature. Today, too often, technology is used to exploit nature, creating more suffering around the world. Every action has a reaction, and the voyage of the Hōkūle‘a over the last three years has spread aloha and the message of Mālama Honua, uniting a network of people committed to creating a better world. Yesterday marked the final day of the Hōkūle‘a voyage and Tulsi joined thousands to celebrate their homecoming."

"The mission of Mālama Honua means preserving our limited resources, taking care of each other and our island earth. Much like our ancestors used technology to create a balance between our civilization and nature, so can we today."


Having a "double-canoe" myself, albeit a bit smaller, I have followed Hokule'a since the early splashes into the water. Nanoa's stories of the teaching of Mau Piailug during the voyage to Aeroatea (New Zealand) are wonderful. One night as Hokule'a was northing before making east for Hawai'i, Piailug got up and told the crew to take the sails down NOW! They did so, smartly, and in a few seconds, a serious squall roared over them.

The Twisted Genius

will short,

I haven't read that book yet. Although I've spent some time examining the shunting proa, I haven't really studied those ancient navigational methods. I'll have to get a copy of that book.

One I'm reading right now is "The Starship and the Canoe" by Kenneth Brower. It's about Freeman Dyson, the renowned physicist, and his son, George Dyson. Freeman was a designer and champion of the Orion Project. His son chose to live along the British Columbia and Alaskan coast. He built a large three cockpit baidarka out of aluminum tubing and canvas and paddled/sailed it up and down the coast. That's as far as i got in the book so far. My brother sent me his copy.

Mark Logan

Gene O,

Why a raft? I will speculate base on something my paternal grandmother told me (a full blooded French Samoan who immigrated to the US in the early 60's). For a few years in due to the turbulence of my teens I had to live with my grandfolks and thereby somewhat steeped in the ex-pat Samoan community. Which, I will include, did a number on some of my evil ways. Nuff' said about that.

The rapid disappearance of the old ways was a particular point of emphasis among the elders. Not only traditions but of the sort of handed down knowledge which goes into the construction of a sea-worthy craft such as this. Many believed their language was to blame. It's the sort of language which is ill-suited to writing, communicating complex thoughts by means of common metaphors and the information provided by tone and inflections which only exist in face-to-face communications. This sort of language doesn't fit well with the task of recording technical details such as navigation and boat-building..even in lore. One word can mean several things, Margaret Mead was famously confused on many issues. I suppose a discussion could be had one the here-and-now mode of stone-age thinking and what we have today...but I digress, badly.

Bottom line is they may not have known about the sea-going large double canoes when they considered the voyages. Who talked about them when they were no longer being build? Not many, not many at all.

Here's and interesting tid-bit about the DNA of sweet potatoes providing evidence the Polynesians made it to the Americans long long ago and came back.




The West used to engage in a lot more of useless endeavors in the past, just to see if something could be done. Much less now than before. Almost everything now being done needs to be justified in terms of "wealth" or "power," even if not necessarily in so many words, and much of what passes for "rationality" nowadays is exactly this justification.

Much of what people do "just because" can only be justified because we don't know what the "right answer" is, and because we don't know what the right answer is, we need to try and find out what the right answer looks like. But once everyone knows what the "right answer" is supposed to be, there is no point in trying and doing, just to see. Or, in other words, we pursue "useless" knowledge because we don't really know if it really is useless after all. But many people nowadays are so sure that they know "the right answer," or that they just need to know the right answer, regardless of how. I've seen this before: cram school mentality for all-important exams in East Asia. This attitude is spreading and becoming more influential. This is what I was getting at.



In the words of Carl Popper

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

Babak Makkinejad

Where were they from? And how many, compared to Euro-Americans?

The best thing that has happened to Hindus over the last two millennia has been English rule.

The Twisted Genius


I'll take your Carl Popper and lay down a Pope Francis:

“We do not need to be afraid of questions and doubts because they are the beginning of a path of knowledge and going deeper; one who does not ask questions cannot progress either in knowledge or in faith,”

Gene O

Thanks for that link. I'm a believer. No way the Polynesian diaspora stopped at Easter Island. The South Pacific current goes due east towards Chile. Then turns north along the coast to Peru before turning back west as the South Equatorial current. Same same for the ocean winds, the Westerlies and the Trades. Probably was never a major route as the distances were huge across open ocean and the risks high.

You also have to admire the Ocean People of the Okhotsk area in Siberia. Ancestors perhaps of the Aleuts - and the Sea People of the Alaskan panhandle, coastal British Columbia, and Puget Sound.

Gene O

Another great read on paddling the Alaskan/BC coastline is Ivan Doig's "The Sea Runners". Neat story on four Swedish indentured laborers who flee Russian Alaska. They paddle a Tlingit cedar dugout from New Archangel (now Sitka) to Astoria.

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