Story: Pacific migrations

Upwind survival strategy

Upwind survival strategy

There was an element of safety in sailing away from home against the wind – seafarers could return easily by sailing downwind. This method of ‘search and return’ by an exploratory canoe would have enabled subsequent voyagers to sail to known destinations. Exploring by sailing across the wind or downwind was more dangerous, because if a canoe was blown any great distance and the winds did not shift, it would be very difficult to return.

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Cambridge University Press
Reference: Geoff Irwin, The prehistoric exploration and colonization of the Pacific. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 169.

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Courtesy of Geoff Irwin

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin, 'Pacific migrations - Pacific navigation and exploration', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 June 2023)

Story by Geoff Irwin, published 8 Feb 2005, reviewed & revised 8 Feb 2017