At Sea, En Route to Western Samoa

May 16, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


A day at sea offers a rare treat: relaxation. Disconnected from the world and far from any shore, today was our first of two days crossing the vast Pacific Ocean en route from the Cook Islands to Samoa. As the deep blue ocean waters slide swiftly beneath the hull of National Geographic Orion, we can only imagine how the ancient people of this region traversed such distances in wooden canoes. Our journey is infinitely more comfortable…what did those ancient wayfarers do without air conditioning, fine dining, and bottomless cookie jars?

One could easily spend a day at sea alternating between meals and the gym in an attempt to maintain some semblance of guttural balance. Luckily, there are plenty of other distractions. The stimulating lineup of lectures included ornithologist Jamie Coleman's talk on the birds of the Pacific, undersea specialist Caitlyn Webster's fascinating survey of underwater life, photo instructor and naturalist David Cothran's presentation of the geological history of these islands, and Jimmy White's description of how technology is being used to deepen our understanding of the oceans.

After dinner, our musical guest Kura Happ settled in the lounge for a casual performance and sing-along. Happ, a native of Raratonga in The Cook Islands, is a fantastic singer with a smoky, soulful voice and an endearing personality. Her repertoire includes traditional island songs in both the native te reo Maori language and English, as well jazz, pop, reggae, and blues standards. One highlight of the evening was Expedition Leader Jen Martin's fine singing on John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane."

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About the Author

Jacob Edgar

Cultural Specialist

Jacob Edgar is an Ethnomusicologist, world music tastemaker and global explorer with an insatiable curiosity for the diverse ways in which people express themselves through music. Jacob’s adventures have taken him to dozens of countries, and hundreds of the world’s greatest international music festivals, showcases and performance venues in search of exceptional musical talents. Since 1998, Jacob has been the main music researcher for the acclaimed world music compilations label Putumayo World Music, contributing songs and liner notes to over 300 Putumayo collections that combined have sold over 15 million copies. In 2006, Jacob founded the record label Cumbancha, whose artists include some of the top names in international music. In 2009, Jacob embarked on a new adventure as host of a new music and travel television program Music Voyager. The series invites viewers to discover the exciting sounds of the planet and broadcasts on PBS and other stations around the world. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College, where he was a double major in History and Latin American Studies, Jacob conducted field research on music and society in Central America. His love of music took him to the West Coast where Jacob was awarded the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and graduated from University of California, Los Angeles in 1994 with a Masters in Ethnomusicology.

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