- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: University of Hawaii Press; 2 edition (May 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0824815823
- ISBN-13: 978-0824815820
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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We, the Navigators: The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific 2nd Edition
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Intensely thorough ... An exhaustive examination of the pre-European navigational system which should fill any scholar's need ... Succeeds admirably.-- "The Northern Mariner"
The strength of this work lies with the islanders who instructed Lewis in their techniques of navigation.... Lewis successfully distills abstract navigational concepts into a well-organized and interesting text.... We, the Navigators is a work of great depth, and one of the most detailed investigations of an ancient art that is being lost forever. Through it one gains insight into the rich history of long-distance and inter-island voyaging in the Pacific.-- "Mariners' Museum Journal"
Intensely thorough ... An exhaustive examination of the pre-European navigational system which should fill any scholar's need ... Succeeds admirably. (The Northern Mariner)
The strength of this work lies with the islanders who instructed Lewis in their techniques of navigation.... Lewis successfully distills abstract navigational concepts into a well-organized and interesting text.... We, the Navigators is a work of great depth, and one of the most detailed investigations of an ancient art that is being lost forever. Through it one gains insight into the rich history of long-distance and inter-island voyaging in the Pacific. (Mariners' Museum Journal)
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Lewis created a unique book in which he combined personal experience and first-hand accounts with knowledge gained through the study of secondary sources. Lewis recognized that knowledge of the ancient art of seafaring in the Pacific is nearing extinction. He understands the importance of recording and preserving this knowledge for future generations because traditional navigation methods are all but lost. Lewis describes his interviews with surviving navigators who were willing to share their secrets and demonstration them.
The lack of written records in Oceania severely hindered Lewis in his task because he was forced to rely on the oral history that has been passed down for generations. Oral histories are tricky because it is possible that they have been altered or information has been lost over the years. Also, as Lewis points out, certain secrets were held by select individuals or families and as those people passed, so did their knowledge.
Lewis discussed various traditional navigators (Tevake, Bongi, Hipour) that he interviewed and who agreed to demonstrate their techniques. By using the sun, stars, wind, ocean swells, and bird patters these navigators were able to successfully cross the open sea and reach their intended destination. The success of these experiments supported Lewis’ proposed idea that the population of Oceania was not due solely to accidental drift, but rather from intentional navigation.
When discussing the technique of using birds to navigate over long distances, Lewis described the use of different species of birds to provide a specific distance from land. For instance, the noddies indicated that land was within 20 miles, while the boobies had a greater range of 30 miles. Further discussion revealed that certain sub-species of booby could travel farther distances, thus providing the ancient navigator with an abundance of knowledge and information with which to find land.
Lewis provides a unique and compelling narrative that showcases the ancient art of seafaring in the Pacific. He masterfully combines information from his extensive research with information that he has acquired from his own experimental voyages to create a comprehensive work that itself supports the author’s arguments. The passion that Lewis had for this subject is truly reflected on each and every page. It is clear that he sought to preserve the traditions of a people who mastered the sea without the help of western knowledge. Lewis does not simply paint a picture of the pacific for the reader, but rather, he takes them on adventure.