Ancient Skill, Dying Art: The Secrets of the Ancient Pacific Navigators


Lecture with PowerPoint Presentation

Audience: This topic can be adapted for various audiences and has appeal to:

  • Yacht Clubs, Sailing Programs, Orienteering Groups
  • Science and History Audiences
  • Boy Scouts, Science-Related High School Clubs and Groups
  • Colleges
  • High School Classes Such As History, Social Studies and Science


doug-manny-interviewInternational award-winning short story writer and novelist Doug Arvidson spent twenty-eight years overseas, teaching and writing, including stints in the Republic of China, Iceland, Germany, and finally, on the island of Guam.

It was here, on this small tropical paradise, that he lived on a sailboat for ten years, sailing throughout the Mariana Islands and studying the secrets of the ancient Pacific seafarers under a master navigator from the atoll of Polowat.

Through a dynamic PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Arvidson reveals those secrets and considers the implications of losing this profound connection to the natural world as humankind advances into the digital age.

paddling-canoe-on-puluwat2These are just a few of the interesting questions that audiences have asked while participating in this fascinating lecture/discussion:

  • Where did the indigenous peoples of the Pacific islands come from?
  • What do they make their canoes out of?
  • The canoes look pretty fragile. How do they make them seaworthy?
  • How do they know which star is above which island? How did they figure it out in the first place?
  • How does a navigator sleep?
  • What do they eat on long voyages?
  • Can a woman be a navigator?
  • Why did they have to memorize everything?
  • With modern methods of navigation available, why do some navigators still use traditional methods?

Also of interest, Arvidson’s novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, is based upon these ancient secrets. Set among the islands of the western Pacific during World War II, the book follows two boys of different races and from different cultures as they struggle to accept each other and to master the ancient navigational skills in order to survive.

Signed copies of his novel will be available for purchase. You can find an in-depth look at the development of the book, the first novel written about the ancient art of navigating without instruments, by going to

Adapting the Presentation for Your Audience

Douglas Arvidson will adapt his dynamic PowerPoint presentation on “The Secrets of the Ancient Pacific Island Navigators” to a variety of audiences. With thirty-two years’ experience as an educator and lecturer, he has successfully modified his program to appeal to both young and old, professionals and non-professionals.

Yacht clubs and sailing programs will appreciate his experiences as a world-wide sailor while high school and middle school science, history, and social studies students will connect with his years of traveling and teaching around the world.

As a published short story writer and novelist, he especially enjoys meeting students in writing programs and as a former Scout and Scoutmaster, he feels this presentation about using stars and natural phenomena to navigate is in keeping with the best traditions of the Scouting program.