Keep the Canoe Building Tradition of Sonsorol Alive
Organized by: John Carnwath
Introducing Thafaas as the new owner of the project
November 30, 2016
For thousands of years outrigger sailing canoes have played a central part in the lives and cultures of Pacific Islanders. Each archipelago in the Pacific has its own canoe designs that have been adapted to the local needs and conditions over centuries. The knowledge of the technologies and construction techniques is passed down from one generation of master canoe carvers to the next.
There is currently only one master canoe carver from the Island of Sonsorol who knows how to build traditional sailing canoes—Samuel Bemar. In the summer of 2016 we will bring Samuel to Echang (a small town on the outskirts of Koror, the commercial center of Palau), where he will build the first new Sonsorolese sailing canoe in over 15 years.
Most people from Sonsorol and the other Southwest Islands now live in or near Echang, and many have never had an opportunity to see a sailing canoe being built or learn any of the skills that are required to build one. Samuel's work will allow Sonsorolese boys and girls to observe and participate in the construction process from beginning to end, and gain a better understanding of this important part of their cultural heritage.
The process will be documented on video for the benefit of future generations, and once the canoe is finished it will be given to the Youth Association of Sonsorol State, so that youths can use it to learn how to sail.
Please watch our video to learn more about our project and the significance of canoe building in the island cultures of the Pacific (click on the image on the left).
Fundraising Goal: $5,000 by April 30, 2016!
All donors who contribute $15 or more will receive a thank you email including an image of the completed canoe once it is finished. (Must provide email address with donation).
Donors who contribute $50 or more will receive the thank you email described above, as well as periodic email updates including photographs of the construction process. (Must provide email address with donation).
In addition to the above, the names of all donors who contribute $100 or more will be listed on a plaque in the canoe house where the boat is stored (unless anonymity is requested).
Donors who contribute $500 or more will receive all of the above, will be acknowledged as major supporters on the plaque in the canoe house, and will receive a personal thank you letter along with a printed photograph of the completed canoe. (Must provide mailing address with donation).
How to donate
To make a donation using a credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or American Express) click on the orange “Donate to this fundraiser” button on the right. (There is a 3% processing fee on credit card transactions.)
Alternatively, you can make a check out to our treasurer, John Carnwath, and send it to
1328 Fernside Blvd.
Alameda, CA 94501
There is no processing fee for checks.
Any funds received in access of the $5,000 fundraising goal will be put towards future projects. Our next project will be building a traditional Sonsorolese palm frond house and documenting the construction process.
Master Canoe Carver: Samuel Bemar
Project Director: Lee Pedro
Fundraiser and Treasurer: John Carnwath
Documentation: Laura I. Miles
Start date: May 28, 2016 (Samuel arrives in Echang)
End date: August 31, 2016
$2,500* Master Canoe Carver (Samuel Bemar)
$0 Canoe carving assistant(s) (volunteers: Lee Pedro /Nick Halishluw)
$0 Helpers (Youth of Sonsorol State and other volunteers)
$0 Wood (will be cut locally and/or brought from Sonsorol)
$500 Miscellaneous materials (incl. paint, varnish, paint brushes, etc.)
$500 Food and beverages for volunteers at “Glani Hiyao” (the day on which the whole community gathers to assemble the canoe and outrigger)
$250 Video documentation
* This is primarily intended the offset Samuel's travel expenses and the increased costs of living that he will face in Echang.