Vaka Hop’e Press Release

Vaka Hop’e arrived in Munda on the 17th of May after sailing for 3 months over 2900 nautical miles from the Philippines. The delivery was done by five YWAM (Youth With A Mission) volunteers, where two were from the Solomon Islands. Sammy Tafoa Gapu (Makira/Malaita) sailed with the Vaka Hop’e all the way from the Philippines, through Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands. Billy Wale (Ranonga/Malaita) joined the crew in Madang, Papua New Guinea, and sailed the last 1000 nautical miles to Munda. Captain Eivind Andås (Norway), together with his fiancee Naomi Knudsen (Denmark/England) and friend Paul Copeland (America) was the remaining 3 members of the crew.

The crew after their arrival in Solomon Islands.
From left: Billy, Naomi, Sammy, Paul, Eivind

The Vaka Hop’e is a James Wharram Design, Tama Moana 38, sailing canoe. The design originates from the early Tikopian/Anutan sailing canoes and is built to be a simple and sustaineable boat for the Solomon Islands. The catamaran is tied together with ropes to allow for flex in the sea, and is built to be a safe vessel in open ocean. Accomodation on board is simple with a hole in the deck as their toilet, and a simple box as their kitchen. Dishes and showers are all done by using buckets of salt water from the side of the boat. A crew of four can sleep inside the four cabins in the hulls, but when Billy joined in PNG, he had to sleep out on deck.

Birdseye view of the decks of Vaka Hope while at anchor.

The crew was tested on their sail down to the Solomon Islands, and had several challenges underway. Noteably, the rudders broke on one passage in Indonesia (read here) and they nearly broke again after crashing into logs at night in Papua New Guinea (read here). They had several incidents in PNG with thiefs and pirates (read: Police or pirates?, Thiefs and rotten eggs, Sneaking past the pirate coast and Thiefs in the night), but they managed to come through relatively unscathed. The worst weather was encountered right after they had crossed into Solomon Islands waters, on their way from Bougainville to Taro, where they were part of rescuing two fiberglass boats that were lost at sea in the night (read here).

Approached by armed police outside Madang

Youtube documentary series

They had quite the adventure on their voyage from the Philippines, and they documented the progress underway. A friend of the team is producing a documentary series that is available on youtube. Episode 1 shows the team getting ready in Australia where they share their story and expectations. In episode 2 they arrive Philippines and are working hard to get the boat ready to launch. Episode 3 just got released, where they a trying to fix «the brain» of the outboard motor before leaving the Philippines. In the last episode the Vaka Hop’e finally sets sail towards Indonesia, but the question remains if they will make it past the border control. See the documentary series here:

The first month in Munda

After their reception in Munda, the boat got straight to work in coming alongside the work of YWAM Munda in drilling water wells. YWAM Solomon Islands have become specialized in water well drilling over the past 7 years, and they are now delivering sponsored wells in the Western Province. The Vaka Hop’e became the transportation vessel of the equipment and crew into three different well drilling locations in the Vonavona Lagoon. All in all they drilled 5 boreholes, where 4 was completed. The Vaka Hop’e served to transport all the equipment by using it’s large and spacious decks to lay everything down on.

The Vaka Hope with all well drilling equipment onboard
The well drilling machine in the village

Sailing to Honiara

The Vaka Hope continued its voyage to Honiara where it arrived on the 23rd of June. The voyage across from Mbili Passage to Russell Islands was very rough, but the boat and the crew did amazingly. On this trip, captain Eivind and Naomi was joined by two new Solomon Islanders: Francis Mark (Malaita) and Matthew Wale (Ranonga/Malaita), the brother of Billy Wale. The boat is currently anchored off Leeroy Wharf, just outside Burns Creek, where YWAM Solomon Islands has its headquarters since year 2000. In Honiara they have had an official welcoming and comissioning of the boat by YWAM elders and will be staying for another week before returning to Munda.

Commissioning of the Vaka Hop’e

The future

Vaka Hop’e is to belong to YWAM Solomons and to be operated by Solomon Islanders. The vision is for this boat to bring hope all across Solomon Islands through its mission activities, such as community development and Bible engagement. «We currently are working towards sourcing Bibles and Audio Bibles in the Rovianna language to be reaching out with in our area around Munda», says captain Eivind. «Later this year we will take the boat out of the water and give it some much needed maintenance. Then we will store it until YWAM Solomons is ready to use it again.» Sammy Tafoa will be the captain for Vaka Hop’e after Eivind leaves in October. Sammy has sailed in Fiji over two seasons together with Eivind and earned his RYA sailboat captains lisence there. Billy Wale is going to Fiji later this year to do his RYA training.

The crew have sailed together before in Fiji.
From left: Eivind, Naomi, Sammy and Billy.
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