Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chocoe Indians Land In New England

Panamanian ketch arrives in Bucksport
Chocoe Indians land after 3,000-mile sail

Thursday, August 03, 2006 - Bangor Daily News

BUCKSPORT - The tremendous white sail billowed on the 108-foot main mast of the Panamanian wooden ketch Wednesday as it made its way up the river and under the Penobscot Narrows Bridge that's now under construction.

Traditional drums being played on board by members of the Chocoe Indian tribe, crew members of the 92-foot vessel, could be heard along the riverbank.

Jim Brunton was a speck on the deck of the boat as he waved to his sister, Alice Keen, of Belfast, who was standing on shore to see the boat in person for the first time. Burton had called her a few hours before to let her know when he could be expected to arrive in Bucksport.

The $1.4 million Pajaro Jai, which means enchanted bird, was the brainchild of Brunton, a software entrepreneur from Westport, Conn. He financed the boat and his Pajaro Jai Foundation through his software business and the sale of 180 acres of oceanfront property in Maine.

"This has been years in the making," Keen said as she watched her brother sail closer. "This really looks beautiful."

The purpose of the voyage, which started June 4 in Colombia, is to bring attention to conservation efforts and the dilemma of the region's indigenous people to create a self-sustainable future for themselves.

The crew docked the vessel at the Bucksport town dock for the night before continuing up the river to meet today with representatives from the Penobscot Indian Nation.

They are planning to anchor near the Waterfront Marina in Hampden because the main mast is too tall to make it under the bridges any farther up the river.

"The great things is, she's fast for a wooden boat, and comfortable," Brunton said.

Once one is on board, the detail of the completely handcrafted boat, which dwarfed the other boats dotting the Bucksport town dock, is remarkable.

"It's very minimalist," Brunton said while standing on the deck. "That's the classic beauty. Nothing extra."

But hand-carved details in the areas below deck are intricate and meaningful to those on board from the village of Mogue in the Darien rain forest of Panama.

The crew, some of whom have never seen the ocean, weathered stormy 10-foot seas near Jamaica kicked up by Tropical Storm Alberto.

"These people are inspirational," Brunton said. "[They want to] find a way to try and make the future brighter for their kids."

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