Any voyagers who’ve read Steve Thomas’ 1987 book The Last Navigator will remember its main figure, the traditional Polynesian navigator or palu named Mau Piailug. Thomas lived with Piailug and the islanders on Satawal in the South Pacific and learned about Piailug’s navigation methods. Thomas later accompaned Piailug on a six-day voyage from Satawal to Saipan in a traditional outrigger canoe.
Piailug, who died on July 11th, as dubbed “the last navigator” by Thomas. And Piailug was one of the few navigators who had invested the time to acquire the vast knowledge needed to sail from island to island without instruments of any kind, just by observing the stars, the wind and current patterns and even the types of marine animals and birds encountered along the way.
Check out the N.Y. Times for a wonderful remembrance of Piailug entitled “Star Man.”