Surface area greater than the continent of Europe.
Farthest distances between islands over 2000 miles.
All of Polynesia settled by 400 A.D.
All Polynesian cultures share linguistic, cultural, and agricultural roots.
“Many found the notion of deliberate voyages so unrealistic that they thought there must have been chains of islands or a lost continent connecting the farther islands in former times.” (Sharp 51)
Captain James Cook, first European to visit Polynesia
How could Polynesians have settled such widely distant islands when “western Europeans with their extended coast-line did not get even to the nearest islands until the days of large sailing ships and instruments.” (Sharp 46)
Europe’s First Impression
A sextant: a necessary navigation instrument for European sailors
Cook found commonalties in all the inhabited islands he visited:
common linguistic heritage
common navigation techniques
common staple crops
common religious ritual
Polynesian Master Navigators lacked mechanical instruments to guide their voyages, they were guided by:
Winds and waves
Accumulated knowledge and experience of forebears
Wayfinding is the art of navigation without instrumentation. It involves an intimate knowledge of the sky, the ocean, and weather.
Chad Baydayan [master navigator] distinguishes wayfinding from navigation - the technical art of finding land without the use of instruments or charts. He will tell you that wayfinding is "a way of organizing the world." He has also said that it's "a way of leading," "of finding a vision," "a set of values," "how to take care of the earth," and, in general, "a model for living my life.” (PVS)