At sea with Manny Sikau, Master Navigator
Manny Sikau, a master navigator from Polowat atoll, died last month. He was my friend and mentor and without him, my novel, Brothers of the Fire Star could never have been written. He died unexpectedly after suffering a brain hemorrhage while sleeping. He was only fifty-four.
I learned of his passing just before I left to return to Guam to be the keynote speaker at a meeting of the International Reading Association and teach the writing process to students in the Guam schools. I was excited about seeing him again, about talking story, about sharing with him how thankful I am that he taught me about traditional navigation during my years living and sailing in the islands.
Yesterday I visited the utt, the canoe house where we met and talked and where I learned. They are still making canoes there, still talking story, but Manny is gone and the very heart of our organization, dedicated to keeping alive the secrets of the ancient navigators, has left us.
Building a canoe on Guam: Because logs of the correct size are difficult to find, they use a different method of construction now.
A detail of the complex lashing that hold an outrigger canoe or proa together.
The utt, or canoe house on Guam with newly built proas.
Note: I am now writing a monthly piece for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal. You can read them at www.praguerevue.com