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Fiji Time: 8:40 PM on Thursday 24 April

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Keeping tradition alive

Ilaitia Turagabeci In Levuka, Ovalau
Sunday, June 10, 2012

ABOUT 400 people crammed the Pacific Voyagers fleet to experience traditional sailing yesterday.

From the elderly to schoolchildren, the seven vaka (traditional double-hulled canoes or drua in the iTaukei language) made trips around Levuka Harbour to give them a taste of canoe travel.

Uto ni Yalo captain Jonathan Smith said it was the biggest number of people on the fleet in any of the ports they had travelled to.

"It's a great learning experience for the children. Knowing how our forefathers sailed our oceans is knowledge thats been lost over time and reviving them for our next generations is important," he said.

Veteran campaigner Manoa Rasigatale said the public turnout for the rides around Levuka Harbour was encouraging.

"We had to turn people away because we had to leave," he said.

It's a good sign that there is so much interest in traditional sailing. The children and adults of Ovalau will remember this forever, he said. And the message will pass down the generations.

After the two-hour open day on the vaka, a group of locals sang Sai Levuka Ga and the fleet set sail for Leleuvia Island.

The 120 sailors rested on the island and will set sail tonight for Suva, in time for World Oceans Day celebrations tomorrow.