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Micronesian Canoe Arrives in Japan’s Bonin Islands

July 2, 1986

TOKYO (AP) _ A 72-year-old tribal chief who wanted to teach youngsters how to sail without navigational aids arrived with his crew Wednesday at Japan’s Bonin Islands after an 1,800-mile journey aboard a 38-foot-long canoe.

The skipper, Bernard Gaayan, former headman of Maap Island in Micronesia, and his crew of nine navigated the vessel by looking at the stars, said Yosuke Kitao of the Kansai Oceania Society.

During the journey, they lived on biscuits and canned fish, Kitao said.

He said the canoe left Maap Island on June 3 and arrived Wednesday at Chichijima in the Bonin Islands, 600 miles south of Tokyo. It was accompanied by a yacht from Maap to Guam and by a 56-ton U.S. fishing boat from Guam to Chichijima, he said.

Kitao said the fishing boat occasionally took the canoe, which has a 26- foot mast, in tow in windless weather.

Asked whether there was any trouble on the voyage, Kitao quoted Gaayan as saying the canoe was hit by a storm four days after it left Maap, and the crew members roped themselves together to keep from falling into the sea.

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