Basic Survival Tips When Finding Yourself Stuck on a Deserted Island

21.2.2016 | 13:36

Nature is a fickle mistress. A leisurely day trip excursion to a beautiful island can suddenly turn into a real survival situation. Polynesian weather is notorious for changing from clear blue sky to full-on storm in a matter of minutes. Many visitors have found themselves temporarily stranded on one of the thousands of small islands, literally caught with their pants down due to bad weather. It’s always important to bring sufficient supplies on any Oceanic trip, even if you’re only planning on being away for a few hours. Still, it doesn’t matter how well prepared you are when luck turns against you. Studying charts and weather forecasts in addition to packing enough emergency rations and supplies is all well and good. But what happens if you drift off course, the weather suddenly turns and your box of supplies washes overboard? Even worse, what if you accidentally happen to strike a reef in the shallows and your entire boat keels over? You manage to make it on to shore, but now what?

When stuck on an island in the middle of the ocean, you’re odds of making it back to the mainland on your own are more or less non-existent. You’re best hope is to be rescued by a passing vessel, but with all those islands and massive stretches of open water, you may find yourself stuck for some time.

Here are some basic survival tips for anyone unfortunate enough to end up on a deserted island.

a-frame shelter1.) Shelter

Most people in a survival ordeal immediately focus on finding water, but that could be a deadly mistake. In ideal conditions, a person can go three days without drinking a single drop. In humid, tropical conditions, that window diminishes greatly, but you don’t have to worry about water for at least 24 hours. Keeping out of the cold is another matter. Night temperatures out at sea can drop drastically, making the threat of hypothermia a constant concern. A basic shelter, such as a simple lean-to or an A-frame, will keep you safe from wind and rain. Just jam a rough stick or pole between two trees or rocks as your foundation. Add a couple of more sticks as your ceiling and cover them with leaves or vegetation.

drinking water2.) Hydration

This becomes your next priority. Without a steady source of hydration available, you’ll likely to perish within a matter of days. Dying of thirst is said to be one of the most painful deaths imaginable. Cramps, seizures, organ failure and madness are just some of the symptoms of severe dehydration, and a few measly percent of bodily fluids lost are enough to compromise your physical and mental abilities. If there’s no source of fresh water to be found, your next best bet is to gather fresh coconuts. Coconut water also contains plenty of nutrients, making it a liquid food source as well. Catching rain water in whatever containers you can fashion is also a good way to keep yourself hydrated.

bowdrill fire3.) Fire

Fire is life, because it keeps you warm, lights your way in the dark, purifies water, cooks your food, and can be used to signal for rescue. If you don’t have any lighters or emergency flares at hand, there are still multiple ways of starting a fire. Focusing sunlight through your glasses, a camera lens or a piece of broken glass can create an ember. A battery from a flashlight connected by any kind of metal will generate enough heat to create a flame. The last resort is to rub two sticks together. This is probably the most known method of starting fire, but it also happens to be one of the most unreliable, especially in damp conditions. If all else fails, a basic hand-drill kit or a bow-drill is how you best start a fire in the Pacific. Just make sure your materials are dry and that you’re well out of the wind.

fresh seafood4.) Food

Food won’t be a necessary priority for the first couple of days, as you can survive up to three weeks without eating anything. However, a lack of food will seriously diminish your energy levels, your mood and ability to think clearly. Sooner or later, you’ll have to eat something. Coconuts, once again, are your first go-to option. The juicy meat of a fresh coconut can keep you alive for months. Fish and other seafood can in most cases be eaten raw without any issues, should you fail to build a working fire. A stroll along the beach is often all it takes to cover your essential needs. Clams, shellfish, snails, shrimp or crabs won’t get you to three solid meals a day, but it’s way better than starving. Taking in sustenance sucks water out of your system, which is why you should never eat food unless there’s enough liquid around to go with it.

rescue signal5.) Rescue

Once your immediate needs are satisfied, only then should you start thinking of ways to signal for rescue. If you have a fire, the solution becomes pretty obvious. Build a signal pyre on the beach, ready to be lit at a moment’s notice if you happen to spot a passing ship. Use dead wood and dry leaves as your foundation with lots of green fire material on top. This will create a thick cloud of smoke that can easily be spotted from miles away. Cutting down three long sticks and placing them upright in the sand is a great way to create a static rescue signal. Tie a piece of bright fabric to each of them in order to maximize visibility. Any reflecting material can be used to create targeted flashes of light.

Stay Calm and Collected

The most important thing to remember is keeping yourself calm. There’s no use in giving into fears and worries, as this will only override your rational thinking and logical reasoning. Make a list of tasks to cover your primary survival needs. This will greatly improve your odds and will keep your mind and body occupied while you’re waiting for rescue. Never lose hope and always keep in mind there are people out searching for you. Keep your wits about you, focus on staying alive for as long as possible, and you’ll most likely make it home in one piece.

Nature

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Shark Attacks on Diving Tourists: How Likely Are They to Happen?

8.2.2016 | 12:11

polynesian reef sharkExploring the Polynesian marine life is an experience you’ll most likely never forget. The waters surrounding the islands contains some of the most diverse ecosystems you can come across, with a multitude of exotic ocean species making them their home.

This includes a great number of sharks.

You always hear horror stories and spun tales when it comes to sharks – the wolves of the sea. How they often attack divers seemingly unprovoked and how a single cut on a sharp piece of corral can trigger a bloodthirsty eating frenzy. Ask any diver and they’ll probably have at least one gruesome tale involving sharks to share. But how true are they, really, and how big is the risk of you getting attacked or even devoured by a pack of hungry sharks when going diving in Polynesia?

Most of the stories you’ve heard are either greatly exaggerated or completely made up. The sharks you are most likely to encounter in Polynesia are black-tip reef sharks and sickle-fin lemon sharks, neither species is considered to be aggressive or dangerous man-eaters. Accidents do happen, but mostly when the unfortunate diver is trying to hand-feed the animals and his fingers get a little too close to the shark’s mouth.

reef shark in hiding

A couple of years back, there was a more serious incident involving a Canadian tourist who almost lost an arm while scuba diving with lemon sharks. There was no malicious intent on the shark’s part, as testified by the man’s diving companions. It was merely attracted by the man’s shiny watch and decided to take a bite out of sheer curiosity. The diver struggled back and things escalated from there. The injured Canadian was rushed to the local diving centre for first-aid treatment and was later flown to Tahiti for surgery. The sustained injury was severe, but the patient is today fine.

Sharks are generally described as quite shy and evasive when approached by divers, but they are potentially dangerous animals that should always be treated with respect. The best way to avoid any confrontation that might trigger the shark’s fight-or-flight response is to keep a healthy distance. Don’t fall for the temptation of getting too close, and never try to pet them or grab them. It’s simply a matter of common courtesy – you are in their backyard, after all. Don’t wear any shiny metal objects either, as the sparkling light reflection could be mistaken for a wounded fish.

When all is said and done, you’re more likely to get killed by a falling coconut than by a shark.

shark from above

Nature

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A Brief Look at Polynesian Warrior Culture and Weaponry

15.10.2015 | 17:16

war clubYou won’t go anywhere in Polynesia without coming across the traditional war club. The Pacific islands sport an abundance of hardwood trees, perfect for the crafting of these notorious weapons that have been used for thousands of years. The use of iron and other metals like bronze, copper and precious metals such as gold and silver in decorative jewelry and tools were not utilized on the islands until the end of the 18th century, making the war club the most practical and deadly tool among the rivaling tribes. Used in both ceremonial contests and all-out warfare, the lavishly decorated clubs are an extension of the very essence of a tribal warrior’s spirit and being.

A fully fledged Polynesian warrior is also required to achieve mastery in a variety of other weapons, including the long spear, throwing spear, the bow, stone slings and daggers. These weapons are traditionally crafted from a mix of wood, bone and metal, with each item being blessed by the tribal shaman before it can be used in battle. For protection, Polynesian warriors use canoe shield, but only while being on the water. Fighting on land prohibits the use of protective gear, as Polynesian warrior culture values the skill, speed, strength and agility of the individual combatant. Warfare in the Oceanic Pacific is an aggressive activity, where one distinguish himself through victories in hand-to-hand combat against single opponents.

A common way of settle dispute, and to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, is to have two representatives from each group fight it out in front of the rest, with the winner taking home the victory and glory for the entire tribe. This role usually falls to the war leader, who has risen to his position by being the fiercest and most skilled warrior of his class.

polynesian weapon

The complex rituals involved in tribal warfare and a focus on individual power and spirit has elevated fighting in Polynesia to an Oceanic version of eastern martial arts. Watching two skilled fighters duking it out is almost like witnessing a dance performance, as combat involves intricate body movement techniques and expressive taunts meant to cripple an opponent both spiritually and physically.

All warriors begin their training at a very young age, spending most of their days mastering each weapon and its required skills. A Polynesian warrior choose to dedicate his entire life to the deadly arts, not unlike the samurai warriors of ancient Japan. It’s a life of hard work and many dangers, as conflicts between different tribes often are settled in physical contest. Your skills become your lifeline, and if you want to reach the age of an elder, you have to be successful in battle. The same goes for winning the heart of your desired mate. Young brides will choose their future husbands depending on their fighting record and trophy collection. It may seem a shallow way to measure personal worth, but it’s not that far from how western society treats boxing celebrities and other top athletes.

There are three standard types of Polynesian war clubs: The long club, made in the shape of an edged staff from flexible yet sturdy tree trunks; the short club, which works as a stabbing weapon as well as a blunt trauma inflictor; and finally, the famous throwing club, used by warriors to disable their opponents from a distance.

While tribal warfare is rare these days, the traditions of Polynesian warrior culture remain strong. Newcomers to the islands are often invited to witness re-enacted battles and competitions between young warriors. It’s a thrilling experience and something everyone should attend at least once while paying a visit to a local tribe.

Culture

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How to Turn Purchased Gold Bars Into Custom Polynesian Gold Objects and Jewelry

3.10.2015 | 11:13

polynesian custom jewelryPolynesian jewelry has a long tradition of not only being beautiful to behold and handle, but also giving the owner mystical abilities and supernatural powers. Warriors in Polynesian tribes wear extravagant necklaces of intricate design, said to enhance the wearer’s physical might and bring him victory on the battlefield. Shamans use detailed symbols of uniquely crafted patterns in rituals meant to give a person good fortune, or bestow fertility and luck in love. Carved, crafted and forged rings and pendants are made from rare metals like gold and silver, gems, wood, rocks or pearls. Depending on the magic invested in them, these items can either bless you with bliss and prosperity, or (if you’ve done something really bad) curse you with evil spells of ill will.

The crafting of jewelry in the Oceanic Pacific is one of a kind as the craftsmanship for the most part still remains beyond the reach of outside influences. True to its ancient roots and customs, the art of jewelry-making in Polynesia has changed very little over the centuries. The designs are often very primal in nature, as a way to pay homage to the traditional lifestyle of long gone ancestors. Tribal patterns and idols of ocean, land and air spirits have become highly valued among collectors and private investors, both for their unique look and testament of skill, as for the historic legacy they carry. Many of Polynesia’s arts and crafts were lost or decimated by Western missionaries, who saw the exotic designs as pagan blasphemies. The conversion to Western religion caused much of the old knowledge to become forgotten or buried. Thankfully, the tradition persisted beneath the surface, with hidden markets and shops continuing to produce and trade jewelry among local inhabitants. Today, many island nations are reinventing the art of traditional Polynesian rare metal and jewelry design, much thanks to the growing interest of visitors and investing gold market speculators. A newfound respect for tribal crafts in modern times has created a whole economy on the islands, where tourists spend a lot of money for authentic Polynesian jewelry and art objects made from gold.

Gold has always been a popular metal, both for its economic value and unique physical properties. It’s also been the traditionally safe zone for financial investments, as buying gold bars acts as a wealth insurance in times of economic crisis. While finding pure gold bars for sale and keeping them in a vault is a good way to keep your funds safe from inflation and market crashes, more people are beginning to turn to golden rarity objects, such as antiques or desirable jewelry pieces. Adding a collector’s value to an already rare and precious metal will naturally double the price, if not more, which is why many gold investors are having their purchased gold bars turned into works of art.

Because the designs and patterns are so sought-after on the international markets, a lot of private investors choose to bring their own pre-bought gold bars and gems with them to the islands for the creation of unique jewelry with high purity, combining the best of modern metal refinement technology and the allure of old smithery crafting. These handmade pieces are regarded as highly precious collector’s items and an increasingly popular investment in the West. The industry is booming, with new gold shops opening each year. A lot of gold bar retailers specifically target investors looking to refashion gold bars for sale and other precious metals into Polynesian jewelry. You can now buy gold bars from an online provider, have your purchased gold bar supply shipped to a designated Polynesian shop of your choice, and let local smiths create customized gold rings or necklaces to either sell for profit or add to your personal gold collection. The combined value of gold bars for sale and the increasing demand for tribal jewelry designs have made prices of handmade gold objects soar sky high. It’s by no means a cheap investment. Be prepared to spend at least a couple of thousand US dollars if you wish to obtain some of the best quality gold items on the market. That includes your initial purchase of a personal gold bar supply, transport and shipping, smithing fees and taxes.

The price is still worth it for many private investors, since you can easily triple your money or more when putting your gold items up for sale at home. And if you’re a golden arts collector, the affection value alone will make it all worth you while.

Popular design choices are golden rings and necklaces shaped in the form of Polynesian leaves, with gems or pearls added. These can be made from imported gold bars that are then melted down and recast locally, or you can go for the all-authentic version and use domestic gold bars for sale, or even raw gold nuggets. Silver replicas of fish or dolphin bone hooks symbolize a joy of life and are also said to bring you strength and longevity. Different materials have different powers and abilities, which is why you’ll commonly see owners and proprietors of local shops and smithies wear personalized combinations of gold and precious metals, tree carvings and ocean pearls. If you get a chance to visit such a shop, don’t be afraid to ask them about the origins behind the designs, as each crafted piece of jewelry has its own background story and particular magical properties.

Buying customized Polynesian gold and jewelry will not only give you a good gold investment opportunity through its high market demand, but also comes with a piece of genuine Oceanic culture invested.

While no doubt this adds more economic value to each piece, even more importantly it makes for a beautiful and perhaps even enchanted addition to any gold investor’s collection.

polynesian tribal pattern

Arts & Craftsmanship

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Explore the Fascinating Wildlife of Polynesia

1.10.2015 | 14:09

polynesian wildlife

Most Polynesian land animals were brought to the isles by seafaring explorers, that were later set free or escaped to eventually become wild inhabitants of the local ecosystem. Prior the introduction of cows, pigs, horses and goats used for domestic and farming purposes, animal life on the islands were mostly limited to various reptiles and spiders/insects, with a big exception being the local species of elephants roaming the jungles. You will also find wild cats and dogs of different breeds, as well as plenty of runaway chickens. All these species have made the islands their permanent home and have become an artificially inserted part of the natural wildlife.

While you tour the different regions, you’re most likely to encounter chickens nesting in the sand by the beaches, whole herds of wild horses on the plains and large groups of smaller species of pigs among the chestnut trees of the deep forests. Their presence adds a certain surreal feeling to the environment. As if you find yourself transported to a magical land where common-sight animals and exotic species live side by side.

There are plenty of birds around as well, some thirty plus different species on land and almost as many seabirds. Most are native to the continent and the surrounding atolls while others are merely visitors like yourself. Polynesia has become a popular destination for birdwatchers and ornithologists from around the world, as its a major resting stop for many migratory specimen. Every year, the islands are visited by a host of bird enthusiasts, searching for a glimpse of everything from huge frigate birds to the elusive blue booby, hiding in the woods.

For the fun-loving adventurer, the guided elephant rides through the jungles offer an exciting chance to witness the wonders of wild Polynesia up close and personal. Your company will trek on ancient paths used for centuries by the local population. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can also choose to dare the deep jungle on foot or tackle the rivers and lakes by rafting.

While the wild nature on land attracts plenty of tourists, the true gem of Polynesia is the marine life. Here, you get to swim alongside playful spinner dolphins or travel the gorgeous waters of the south Pacific in search of turtles and shoals of colorful fish. There are plenty of tours to the bays where you’re most likely to encounter marine mammals leaping out of the water as they play and dance. If the weather is favorable, you can join the fun by hopping in and snorkel or dive closer. A rare opportunity and an unforgettable memory.

During the fall, thousands of huge humpback whales visit Polynesia on their migratory journey across the oceans. Catch one of the boats and set off on a whale-watching expedition, where you’ll be able to observe these magnificent creatures in their true element. Tours are available both early morning and late afternoon, to give you the best chance to study humpbacks while they play, mate, breach or feed.

As a visitor to the Oceanic continent, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to wildlife. It’s a rare chance to get closer to Mother Nature in one of her most exquisite settings. If you’re visiting Polynesia, don’t just get stuck on the beach. Take a step out of your comfort zone for the potential ride of your life.

humpback whale-watching

Nature

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The Meeting of Two Worlds: When Europeans First Came to Polynesia

30.9.2015 | 16:05

polynesian explorersThe origins of the indigenous tribes of Polynesia are surrounded by plenty of local legends and myths, and the society is remarkably complex for a people that otherwise adhere to the old way of living – hunting and gathering. The Polynesian tribal culture has evolved during the span of centuries into a sophisticated caste system, dating back to the first ancient days when the first humans set foot on the islands. Traditionally, each social class in the hierarchy had its own tasks and duties, and moving to another caste was not generally allowed. Some exceptions were made for common folk who wished to become priests or shamans, but the strict rules forbid any unsanctioned transfers. Breaking these laws would ultimately lead a person to become an outcast of society.

When the first Western explorers encountered emissaries from the tribes, they originally couldn’t fathom how a whole people could have ended up on these islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and evolved to such high levels of societal structure and culture. After all, the Polynesians traveled the seas in simple canoes and had no access to modern navigation instruments. Because of this, and the belief of Western superiority of that time, the explorers came up with the most outlandish theories to explain the presence of the Polynesian people. Some Spanish scholars theorized that the tribes originated from an unknown continent to the south, separated by a narrow strait that had allowed the Polynesians to simply walk across to the islands. Others tried to explain the phenomenon by pointing out geographical paths that systematically rose out of the oceans, allowing people to travel between the islands.

It wasn’t until the second wave of European exploration reached the islands that a plausible theory concerning the Polynesians and their origins came to light. As new routes were established, more of the waters around the islands were mapped. There also came about a new focus, spurred by a scientific curiosity to learn more about the surrounding wildlife, the people on the islands and their cultural heritage. This lead to the first attempts of explorers learning Polynesian languages and way of life. The explorers soon discovered, educated by locals, how the Polynesian ancestors were mariners of great skill and knowledge. That’s why they were able to sail vast distances and establish new settlements on all the islands lying scattered in their path.

The theory was confirmed by famous explorer James Cook, who was the first Westerner to discover that the people of Polynesia all shared a common culture and historical legacy. Puzzled by the fact that a single people could have spread so far out across the ocean, without the aid of sophisticated technology, modern ships or external assistance, Cook suggested that the Polynesians were explorers, same as himself. The more he traveled the area, the more astonished he became when realizing how far the individual nations with a single culture stretched.

Captain Cook chronicled his voyages until his time of death, and the accounts are the first documents describing the seafaring abilities and knowledge of the Polynesian tribes.

A true meeting of two very different worlds.

History

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Arrange Your Own Genuine Polynesian Wedding

29.9.2015 | 11:48

Imagine celebrating your everlasting love in the ancient customs of Polynesian tradition, surrounded by the romantic setting of the vibrant nature and the glorious luster of the setting Oceanic sun. A mahoi wedding is the perfect way to tie the knot in an emotional bond that will last forever. If your preference is more attuned to modern ceremonies, you are more than welcome to incorporate any elements of your choosing into the wedding ceremony, creating a memorable experience after your own heart’s desire.

Weddings, celebrations of anniversaries, or renewal of vows are usually celebrated in an intimate fashion, with a non-denominational priest in attendance as you exchange your tender promises of loving each other until the end of time. Many people choose to perform the ceremony attired in traditional costumes with tribal dancers and musicians in the background, but many prefer to only have a single musical act as part of the procedure. Polynesian weddings are simple, yet elegant, without the stress and hassle that plague much of Western wedding rituals. A perfect choice for anyone looking for a romantic alternative in an exotic environment.

The Ceremony of Everlasting Love

Traditions dictate bride and groom to be wed in a setting of coconut palm leaves and colorful hibiscus petals. The location of choice for the ceremony is near the water – on the beach or on an island, sometimes even in a custom-fitted outrigger canoe or catamaran. You are free to decide the spoken language of the wedding, be it Tahitian, English, Spanish or French (a Polynesian hospitality to court and welcome foreign visitors).

You can also hire a personal photographer to immortalize the moment when you give yourselves over to each other, to treasure and cherish for the journey into the realm of Waves and Fire.

The presiding minister or priest leads the wedding couple, wearing the custom white pareo garment, through the process of becoming husband and wife (tané and vahiné) as declared by ancient Polynesian gods and spirits, before giving them their official name in the old tongue. You will then exchange the symbolic crowns of everlasting harmony and bliss, handcrafted from exotic plants and flowers. If you wish, you may also receive your certificate on the spot, made on fine parchment from the tapa tree. The ceremony ends with a traditional ritual of singing and dancing, before heading off the enjoy the festivities of the wedding feast. Here you will savor the flavor of all the culinary wonders that Polynesia is so renowned for.

A Polynesian wedding has everything a loving couple can ask for and is something everyone should witness at least once in their lifetime. Who knows? It might just be the one final push your reluctant partner needs before finally succumbing to your insistent persuasions.

Good Hongi to you both…

Events

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