The Oral Tradition of Navigating by the Stars – Guest: Steve Thomas, sailor and builder

As a young man piloting a small sailboat across the Pacific, Steve Thomas developed a fascination with ancient methods of navigation. With team members Jet Dee, archival sound engineer and Thomas Raffippy, translator, they’ll recount their adventure on the tiny coral atolls of Satawal, Micronesia with Mau Piailug. One of the last masters of the ancient navigation tradition of reading stars, waves, and birds, Piailug’s ancestors unerringly guided their sailing canoes for 6,000 years across thousands of miles of open ocean to populate Oceania, spread across nearly a quarter of the Earth’s surface. Steve, Jet and Thomas share historic photos of Piailug, Aeoweiung, Pwitack , recordings of navigation chants, folk lore and stories, from their nearly 40-year old archive documenting the cultural heroes that continue to inspire a new generation with this ancient, mysterious, and beautiful kinship with the sea. Micronesia’s is an oral tradition. As the old navigators have passed away, so has any opportunity to learn the Talk of the Sea, and the highly secret Talk of Light, both of which were taught to Steve.

Steve’s research resulted in the critically acclaimed book, The Last Navigator, and a one-hour documentary for the PBS’s Adventure. Steve is also an Emmy Award-winning TV Host of This Old House, Renovation Nation, and Save Our History. Builder, family man, skier, sailor, adventurer, navigator, dog lover, and oyster wholesaler.

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