Apprenticeshop screens ‘The Navigators’
Rockland — “The Navigators — Pathfinders of the Pacific,” first shown in 1983 on public television, is considered by many the best film to tell the story of the great Polynesian diaspora. It will be screened Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. at The Apprenticeshop, 643 Main St. Admission is $5.
Anthropologist and filmmaker Sam Low will be in attendance to answer questions and sign his new book, “Hawaiki Rising — Hokule’a, Nainoa Thompson and the Hawaiian Renaissance.”
A thousand years before Europeans knew the Pacific existed, Polynesian seafarers had explored and settled this vast ocean. Thor Heyerdahl believed Polynesians floated into the Pacific from South America on crude rafts, pushed by prevailing winds and currents. But the real story is far more interesting — they sailed against these winds and currents from Southeast Asia in sophisticated sailing craft, navigating vast distances without compass, charts or instruments of any kind.
To shoot the film, Low traveled all over the Pacific. In Huahine, in the Society Islands, he filmed the excavation of the remains of an ancient seagoing canoe; in Fiji, he joined archeologist Roger Green as he discovered pottery that traced the voyaging route of the first Polynesians from islands off the coast of New Guinea. But the most interesting place he said he filmed was the tiny island of Satawal, in Micronesia.
“Satawal is one of a few islands where native navigators still make extended voyages off shore without charts or instruments,” Low said. “These navigators are descendants of the same ancient people as the Polynesians and probably use the same navigational techniques as they did.”
A star of Low’s film is Satawalese navigator Mau Piailug, shown teaching students to read the weather in sky and sea signs, to navigate by the stars, to build a canoe and to sail it. Another star of “The Navigators” is a sailing vessel, Hokule’a, a replica of the kind of craft that ancient Polynesians once used. In 1975, Hokule’a first proved its seaworthiness by voyaging from Hawaii to Tahiti with Piailug as navigator. Since then, I has sailed 140,000 miles throughout the Pacific, following the ancient voyaging routes of the ancestral Polynesians.
“The Navigators” has been shown on the BBC and television venues worldwide and continues to be shown at colleges, universities and other places of higher learning around the world. Just this year, Low has released a renewed high definition version of the film. This will be first time the renewed film will be screened in Maine.
Low is a Harvard trained anthropologist, author, photographer and journalist who has sailed aboard Hokule’a on three ocean voyages. The story of Polynesian voyaging has fascinated him most of his life. “Hawaiki Rising” is in its second printing, only five months after its release. Not yet available in Maine bookstores, “Hawaiki Rising” will be for sale at the Apprenticeshop after the screening.
For more information contact Low at (508) 693-0509; or The Apprenticeshop at 594-1800 or email@example.com.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or firstname.lastname@example.org.