Wave Piloting in the Marshall Islands

June 2017

For generations, traditional navigators in the Marshall Islands have relied on the techniques of wave piloting—the subtle perception of wave and swell patterns along with the sighting of atolls and islands—to safely guide their outrigger canoes across the oceans. In 2015, several researchers replicated these voyages as they journeyed between the atolls of Majuro and Aur in an outrigger canoe without instrumentation. In the workshop, these researchers will talk about their experience of wave piloting, explore possible links between modern science and this almost forgotten form of traditional Marshallese knowledge, and examine the cultural understanding of the voyaging versus non-voyaging season with particular emphasis that links the folklore with known wind and wave climate concepts.