Seasoned Marumaru Atua sailor Sam Timoko will soon sail the Cook Islands traditional vaka in international waters.
But first he needs to gain his Yacht Master Ocean qualification.
With the support of Maritime Cook Islands, Timoko is one of the local sailors who will be gaining this qualification.
Timoko said all skippers under maritime law needed some sort of qualification, adding he is only allowed to sail the vaka in Cook Islands waters.
“I am allowed to skipper the Marumaru Atua within Cook Island waters which I have done in the last six months going to the Pa Enua. But to be able to go into international waters I need that qualification,” he said.
Marumaru Atua is registered with the Maritime Cook Islands who has supported the Cook Islands Voyaging Society for many years, Timoko said.
The first four captains of the Marumaru Atua also gained their qualification through the help of the authority.
These captains are no longer in Rarotonga, creating a vacuum in the position.
Timoko has stepped in to take up the challenge.
“The idea for this course is to also take the Marumaru Atua to Hawaii this year,” he said.
“There is a captain that will take us to Hawaii but he won’t be able to bring us back due to his work commitment in New Zealand. So, the qualification will allow me to bring the Marumaru Atua back to Rarotonga.”
Timoko said the eight-week course starts on February 22.
It is both theory and practical work based on navigational and chart plotting.
He added the qualification will be an advantage as he would be able to train young, local sailors.
“It is not about me just having the qualification and holding on to it, but it is for our education programmes,” Timoko said.
“We will offer our young children the pathway to move up and gain qualifications for the maritime areas, such as a career with Te Kukupa, voyaging or any other maritime work.”
Maritime Cook Islands director Glenn Armstrong said they were happy to be able to assist Timoko and the voyaging society by sponsoring some of the costs associated with travelling to New Zealand and attending training in Tauranga.
“With this qualification Sam can skipper the Marumaru Atua on any voyage anywhere in the world,” Armstrong said.
“In fact, he will be qualified to skipper any yacht on international voyages anywhere in the world.”
Maritime Cook Islands, together with Cook Islands Yacht Squadron and the Cook Islands Ship Owners Association will be assisting locals wishing to qualify themselves for a career in the maritime sector.
Armstrong said they would be helping with the cost of training leading to internationally recognised qualifications.
“Sam ticks all the boxes and we are delighted to be able to assist.”