Sam Low to speak on Polynesian Starpaths at Martha’s Vineyard Museum

The Hokule'a, a replica of an ancient Polynesian canoe that has a 35-year, 120,000 mile sailing history in Polynesia. — Photo by Sam Low

This past June, Vineyard writer and filmmaker Sam Low of Oak Bluffs sat in the Martha’s Vineyard Museum Library listening to Jim Richardson, Curator Emeritus of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, speak about his theory for early Polynesian contact and the Kon-Tiki raft as part of the Museum’s Shipwrecks Lecture Series. Mr. Richardson cited Thor Heyerdahl’s belief that South Americans settled Polynesia after drifting aboard primitive rafts into the Pacific with prevailing winds and currents.

Mr. Low respectfully disagrees with this theory and will present his evidence at the Museum this evening, October 25. Mr. Richardson will be in the audience.

Mr. Low believes that Polynesia was settled by seafaring people who voyaged against the winds from the islands of Southeast Asia aboard powerful sailing vessels. They navigated accurately without charts, compasses, or instruments of any kind.

Mr. Low has sailed aboard Hokule’a, a replica of an ancient Polynesian double-hull voyaging canoe. He will describe Hokule’a’s 35-year, 120,000-mile sailing history throughout the Pacific and reveal how ancient canoe navigators found their direction and determined their latitude by the stars. He will also share how these journeys are inspiring a cultural renaissance among Pacific peoples.

Writer, filmmaker, photographer, and explorer all describe Sam Low, according to a press release. He received his PhD in anthropology from Harvard, and has been a part of many expeditions to such places as Tahiti, Hawaii, Peru, China, and Turkey. He has produced, directed, and written a variety of pieces for movies, television, and radio for which he has won many awards. Currently he is authoring two books about Polynesian and Hawaiian navigation. He also has a keen eye for photography, showcasing his work at the Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs.

Sam Low will speak Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Museum Library beginning at 5:30 pm. Admission is $12; $8 for Museum members. For more information, call 508-627-4441 ext. 123 or visit