As we’ve travelled deeper and deeper into the South Pacific we’ve seen fiberglass speedboats replaced by paddling canoes. But it wasn’t until we arrived in the Louisiades that we spotted our first Sailau; The traditional sailing canoe still used to this day to travel to and from mainland Papua New Guinea which is hundreds of nautical miles away.
These canoes are used to sail families out to their farms, trade goods, take kids to school, attend sporting events and picnics. And man can they sail. They are fast! Reaching speeds upwards of 18-20 knots they beat Nahoa sailing hands down. Never mind the fact that they are constantly taking short cuts over the reef. We were in awe.
It’s a tradition still going strong with knowledge passed down thru generations. The master builders typically construct a canoe as a group of men all chewing beetle nut, laughing and discussing the intricacies of each step of the process. The trees to build the Sailaus almost all come from the island of Panaeati in the Louisiades Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. The only thing that has changed these days is the use of rope instead of vine and a handful of copper nails.
And luckily we met Reuben a lovely gentleman who offered to take us out for a day of sailing on a Sailau. We were given a quick lesson then taken out for the ride of our lives!
Ben & Ash