The Vessel

Canoe builder and captain, Manuai Matawai of Pere village. Photo: Poyep Matawai

The Climate Challenger is a modified version of the traditional Pere outrigger design with 2 sails built by captain Manuai Matawai in Lorengau, Manus Island over 2 years and completed in 2012.

Total cost of the build was about 10,000 PNGK (Papua New Guinea Kina), which is about $5,000 AUD.

Its overall length is 48 foot with a 1.5 metre draft. It has flotation at the bow and stern and cannot sink. The hull is a traditional dugout canoe made from pencil cedar; a tree whose timber is strong, light, hydrodynamic and resistant to marine organisms. From the hull the sides are built up using planking from the same species of tree and fastened together using dowel from the mangrove tree, nails, screws and fibreglass, and sealed with a traditional putty made from tree sap. It is painted with marine paint in the traditional colours of white above the water line and black below the waterline with anti-foul.

Crew working on the canoe. Photo Manuai Matawai


The outrigger is made from red cedar and is attached to the main hull by a beam also made from pencil cedar. It is fastened with monofilament line and natural cane vine to give it strength yet retain flexibility.

Crew members lacing the outrigger. Left Molean, right Manoi. Photo: Manuai Matawai

We will carry 4 sails with us (including 2 spares) which are just plastic tarpaulins. When sailing, it has a maximum speed of 15 knots and is capable of carrying a 2 ton load. The sails convert to a shade canopy when anchored.

For navigation, a combination of modern GPS and traditional methods will be used. The sun, moon ­and stars, wind, waves, current and presence of birds and dolphins will guide us.

Because of the long journey, Climate Challenger will be carrying safety gear including modern technology to keep in contact with the rest of the world- EPIRBS, satellite phone, navigation lights and a 2 way radio.

Within the hull there is only room for storage of food, supplies and clothing, so crew will sleep, eat, cook, rest, do everything on the platform above!!


Climate Challenger sailing test run. Photo: Seiorse Carthy

48 foot outrigger canoe Climate Challenger. Photo: Seiorse Carthy



12 thoughts on “The Vessel

  1. Rick

    Website looks good Manux and Kat, might see you in the Solomon Islands Manuai. Rick.

  2. Barbara Masike

    Manux, all the best to you and the crew on the journey, we will be with you in spirit, until you return to Manus….


  3. The canoe looks just fantasic – magnificiently epitomising Titans ingenuity and affinity with sea and all manner of things associated to it. Well done to the man of Pere. Chalapi

  4. Hiche Matawai

    Daddy we wish you all the best and save journey. Hope to see you soon. Love from melinda,himon,polalau.poyep,carol & I.

  5. Hiche Matawai

    Daddy we wish you all the best and save journey. Hope to see you soon. Love from melinda,himon,polalau,poyep,carol & I.

  6. James Hardcastle

    Godspeed, will follow your progress and look forward to the updates. Will share your adventures far and wide. Good luck to you and the crew.

  7. Rick

    The journey begins. Spoke to Manuai Matawai this afternoon at 4pm. All is well. They sailed the 40 km distance from Pere to Baluan Island this morning, and have now set off for Kavieng, New Ireland, a distance of 360 km.

  8. Tapas Samol

    Manux and crew, bond voyage around the pacific, love very much to sail to sail with you guys but I know you all will enjoy the trip. Take care and WIN BLES.

  9. Sangeeta Mangubhai

    I love the boat! Cannot imagine using such a small vessel to travel the Pacific. Safe travels ….

  10. VItus the Mad

    May the Gods guide you and protect you. What an adventure and what a lovely boat. I am curious about the sails. What type of sailing rig is that? Is it traditional and does it have a name? Bon Voyage

    • Hi Vitrus,
      Sorry to post late your reply. The sail is rigged or lased onto a young round log known as Chill. The sail if single is call epal and two is called rupal. Local name is Pelei (sail). It is a triangle shape with a contrast at the top to catch the wind. Material that our ancestors normally used is a woven pandanas leaf. A pulley fixed onto the top of the mast is used to pull the sail up.

  11. Kiliwi

    Proud to be following this journey online of my wantoks. Will continue to pray for you all in this significant but worthy voyage…

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