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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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