PEOPLE OF THE SEA / James Wharram, Hanneke Boon

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James Wharram's life changed forever when, in his early twenties, he saw Thor Heyerdahl's film about the Kon-Tiki voyage and came across a book about Polynesian double canoe sailboats in Manchester Central Library.

He decided to refute Heyerdahl's claim that Polynesia could only have been settled from South America and not from Southeast Asia, which would have required a more sophisticated vessel than a balsa wood raft.

He devoted his working life to demonstrating the seaworthiness, windward capability and practicality of the Polynesian double canoe form, and probably sailed more nautical miles in boats of this design - all of his own design - than any other man.

For sixty-five years James Wharram designed, built and sailed boats in the shape of Polynesian double canoes, demonstrating with them that the sea, far from being a barrier between islands, was their artery of communication. Long before Western man "discovered" them, the "People of the Sea", as many inhabitants of the South Pacific islands called themselves, had a vibrant, socially highly developed culture in which water travel played an essential role.

Inspired by James Wharram's lifelong creativity and spirit of discovery, many modern "People of the Sea" sail all seas in boats they built themselves from Wharram's designs.

James and his team's ocean voyages culminated in their circumnavigation of the globe on the 63-foot Spirit of Gaia, exploring the lands and cultures of their spiritual homeland, the Polynesian Islands.

James Wharram died in December 2021 at the age of 93.

2nd revised edition. 272 pp. Colour plates, numerous black and white photographs, drawings and diagrams, bibliography, index. Format 15.6 x 21.6 cm, softcover with thread stitching, cover flaps and matt lamination. In English.

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