Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Keeping Alive an Ancient Art

This is a traditional Carolinian proa under full sail in Apra Harbor, Guam. I took this picture a few weeks ago from the bow of a small power boat.
My next book, once the last novel in the fantasy trilogy is finished this summer, will be about this--an adventure novel, maybe for young adults, and concerning the skill and courage it takes to sail a delicate craft such as this across hundreds--even thousands--of miles of open ocean using only the stars and wave patterns to navigate. It was in such vessels that the original island peoples spread themselves across the Pacific from Southeast Asia three or four thousand years ago.
This proa, or canoe, is made pretty much from traditional materials: a hand-hewn breadfruit log for the hull and no nails, screws, or bolts. Instead, it is lashed and sewn together using tuna cord. Sailing a proa for days or weeks at a time between far-flung islands requires a navigator of consumate skill and the ability to tolerate great discomfort and fatigue. In this photograph, the man on the stern steering the proa is Manny Sikau, a seventh generation master navigator from Puluwat. His father, in fact, built this canoe. As a thirteen year old boy, Manny once sailed a canoe similar to this from Puluwat to Guam, a distance of some five hundred miles, with his grandfather. Again, they found their way without a compass, without charts, without a sextant. There are things in this world that people accomplish that defy belief and such voyages must be included in that category.

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