Last Navigator: A Young Man, an Ancient Mariner, a Secret of the Sea

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9780070645745: Last Navigator: A Young Man, an Ancient Mariner, a Secret of the Sea

Nonfiction account of a young American man's sojourn in the South Pacific, on the Micronesian island of Satawal in the Caroline archipelago, studying traditional navigation with Mau Piailug, the last of the palus. It was Piailug who navigated a Polynesian vessel from Hawaii to Tahiti without compass or charts, as documented by a PBS film of the voyage. Thomas learns how to navigate by stars, wind, swell, birds, and memory. It is a story of seafaring, a dying culture, and self-discovery.

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Product Description:

Explains how the Micronesian's ancient skills of navigation are at risk as its young people turn to Western ways.

From the Back Cover:

As a young man piloting a small sailboat across the Pacific, Steve Thomas developed a fascination with ancient methods of navigation. He learned of a seafaring culture which 6,000 years ago, used arcane navigation arts to guide initiates unerringly across the Pacific wih no compasses, no charts. By the time of Christ, these navigators were pushing on through all of Oceania, populating nearly a quarter of the Earth's surface. Thomas ventured to the tiny coral atolls of Micronesia in search of these mysteries, this ancient language of the sea. There he found the last navigator.

Mau Piailug, one of the last surviving palu, belongs to a dying breed of navigators who used only natural signs stars, waves, birds to guide their sailing canoes across thousands of miles of open ocean.

Thomas and Piailug voyage together on the frail ship of human memory in an attempt to preserve for future generaions an ancient, mysterious, and beautiful kinship with the sea before it is lost forever. Theirs is an unforgettable journey.

"An unusually self-revealing, honest and moving book."
Scientific American.

"Finely crafted and compellingly written. . . . A deeply saddening book about the fast approaching death of an ancient and beautiful way of life."
Aloha Magazine

Steve Thomas by thirty-one years of age had already logged more than 30,000 blue-water miles as a professional navigator and skipper before setting out to study Micronesian navigation. He is currently the host of the PBS television series "This Old House."

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