[Homestead] Pacific island navigation was:Husking a coconut, removing the meat

Don Bowen don.bowen at earthlink.net
Thu Sep 9 21:48:06 EDT 2004

At 9/9/2004, you wrote:

>Drinking the coconut juice is easier, if that's all you want---just hack a 
>piece off the top where the stem was, expose a hole and drink.

I watched a Carolinian navigator and a girl from the FSM gut a coconut with 
a few wacks of a machete.   They both used a similar technique.  They 
grabbed a stake and sharpened both ends.  One end was jammed into the 
ground and the other pointing up.  A coconut that had fallen on the ground 
was smacked against the point several times and the husk removed.  The 
navigator then showed me how to light a small fire in the husk then wrap 
fish in the smoldering husk.  He said on the canoes they then hold the 
bundle in the wind and after a bit the fish was tender and ready to 
eat.  He showed me how to wrap a smoldering husk to keep an ember going for 

He wacked the point off the nut and drank the little bit of liquid then 
broke the nut and we all ate the meat.  He cut another from the tree and 
with a wack of the machete that just missed his fingers cut the top off and 
we had fresh coconut milk.  He told me that on long canoe trips all they 
took along was coconuts and fishing gear.

When he was about ten he was on a canoe in the Carolinas that was blown off 
course by a nasty storm.  They were lost and the navigator could not find 
his star course in the overcast.  Eventually he thought he knew where they 
were and headed on a course to Guam.  When Guam became viable he turned 
around and sailed for home in Satawa.  The whole trip was something like 6 

When he was about 16 he and some friends took a canoe to one of the other 
islands where their uncle took the boat away and told them to wait until he 
could get word back to Satawa that they were safe.  They snuck away in the 
night to another island where another uncle took the mast from the 
boat.  He said that trip was about a month all told at sea and they lived 
on coconuts and fish.

He now lives in Saipan and works for the Japan Water Company and is 
studying to become a great navigator like his uncle.  His uncle is the one 
who taught Steve Thomas navigation which Steve later wrote about in "The 
Great Navagator".  He is also bringing some people from Satawa to Saipan to 
carve a canoe.  He asked me if I knew how to get grants to document the 
carving but I have not been able to figure out how.  I would love to see 
that and be part of the documentation of a disappearing art.

Don Bowen
Awl Knotted Up Woodworking
Valley Center, CA             http://www.braingarage.com

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