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Documentary Trip on a Vaka

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For someone who suffers from seasickness, being out on the open ocean in what is essentially a double-hulled canoe during stormy weather seems like a cruel joke. But, for The Learning Connexion’s intrepid documentary tutor Kate Logan, it’s what being a film-maker is all about.

Kate was enlisted to film, in part, the two month ocean voyage to gather organic cocoa beans from local farmers in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, and deliver them back to the Wellington Chocolate Factory.

She and the crew of 15 are making the journey in an ocean vaka, named Uto ni Yalo (Heart of the Spirit). Designed to traditional standards, but crafted with modern boat building materials, the vaka is being used on this journey to promote traditional sustainable shipping methods.


According to Kate, the voyage (which is currently on its Fiji-Vanuatu leg) has not been without its challenges. During her first night on board, Kate decided to sleep on the deck under the full moon in an effort to control her seasickness.

All went as well until the wind changed direction and a huge wave crashed onto the deck, giving her a very rude awakening. Bedraggled and coping with bouts of seasickness, Kate eventually decided the deck wasn’t for her and climbed reluctantly into the hull.

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The trials and tribulations haven’t ended there. Seasickness has continued to plague Kate (together with other newer members of the crew), along with an unwelcome bout of gastroenteritis.

On top of that, turbulent weather, which has seen the boat rocked by 30 knot winds and big swells, has made filming conditions less than ideal.

“It’s really hard to walk around on deck with only one hand free when the boat is surging up and down,” says Kate. “I’m going to have to come up with a solution! I’m tethered on, but that is tricky as I need to move around so much.”

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While the adverse weather is expected to abate, Kate may well be relieved that, for her, the journey will conclude once the vaka reaches Bougainville.

While she flies back to Wellington, the rest of the crew will continue to sail across the Pacific, all the way back to Wellington harbour to deliver their precious cargo.

If you’re interested in following the journey online, you can click through to the official Facebook page here.

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  • Jennie Sherwin
    12/08/2015 6:19pm (7 years ago)

    Wow Kate I do admire your intrepidness - well done to brave those conditions and the real threat of seasickness plus trying to film

  • Jacqueline Siegenthaler
    06/08/2015 5:44pm (7 years ago)

    Oh my - I do get seasick and I really feel for Kate. It's really horrible. Brave soul.