Fishing Lore of Tobi. Peter W. Black 1968, 2017

Manimeiyough—The Last Navigator of Tobi

The Travels of Manimeiyough
Patricio Mohorihotimoh

The name Manimeiyough simply means Man of the South (Yough) and refers to the fact that his village was in the southern part of the island. His clan was Hapeimohar, the same clan as Ramoparuhe, the founder of this island. He was a very good fisherman, maruseti; a very good canoe builder, senap; and an expert navigator, paruhe. He was the last navigator of Tobi. He was born before the time of Fetereheng so his canoe was the old style with straight sides. In his journeys he carried a crew of about 30 men. He had the duty of providing giant clam shells for the island. He would bring them to the prayer house where the chief would divide them up. After he had gathered all the shells in Tobi's reef, he decided to explore for a better place to harvest them. After several fruitless journeys he discovered Helen Reef which he named Hochari Hie (hoch=reef; hie=giant clam). At that time there was no island there; just a reef. He gathered a canoe load of shells and sailed back to Tobi. He was the first man to go to Helen Reef.

On about his tenth trip to Helen Reef Manimeiyough decided to explore further, so instead of going to Tobi from Helen Reef he sailed south. He sailed for many days until he found Papua. He did not land but turned back towards Helen Reef. On his way north he visited Halmahera, Celebes, Morotai, Ternate, Malaya, and Mapia or Seniefes. He was the first Tobi man to visit any of those places. The people believe that he did go to Mapia because he said that on that island the people spoke a language that sounded like the Tobi language and this turned out to be true. He made another trip to Papua via Helen Reef but still did not land. The third time he went he took his father with him.

When Manimeiyough finally drew near the island of Papua the natives came out in double outrigger canoes with fixed sails. With this equipment they could only sail with the wind. The father was steering the Tobi canoe and as the Papuans started to chase them he sailed the canoe before the wind. The Papuans tried to trap the Tobi canoe and they had it almost surrounded when the lead Papuan canoe cut across in front of Manimeiyough's canoe and reached out with a long hook to grapple. The hook caught Manimeiyough's father around the arm and as he struggled to free himself he dropped the steering oar and the Tobi canoe came around into the wind just as he unhooked his arm. The Tobi canoe sailed through the surprised Papuans and escaped. The father was not hurt and they sailed directly back to Tobi.

When he first sighted the island, Manimeiyough started to call out the names of the different villages on the island. As the island was still too far away to identify, his father was afraid that it might be a small island near Papua. He got more and more nervous and finally as his son called off the name of his village, Meterimauryeng, he said "You are married to your mother." This was a terrible thing to say and Manimeiyough decided to go to Sonsorol and never to return to Tobi. So instead of stopping at Tobi, he sailed north to Sonsorol where he stayed for several years.

One day on Sonsorol he saw a man building a canoe. The man was trying to determine the shape and was using a snap line made from coconut frond which he kept dipping in water. The water only lasted about a minute before it dried and the man had to redampen it. Manimeiyough showed him how to use the ashes from burnt coconut frond instead of water. This system is called tahuhufa. Later he saw the same man still building his canoe, retying his adze head every time he wanted to change the angle it cut. Manimeiyough showed him how to make an adze with a movable head. This adze is called tererifing. Tobi Island invented both tahuhufa and tererifing and Sonsorol did not have them until Manimeiyough brought them.

He and his crew and his father left Sonsorol heading north and were never seen again in the Southwest Islands. However in Japanese times some Okinawan laborers working in the phosphate mines on Tobi told the people that a man called Man Me You came to Okinawa in a canoe and taught them how to make the hook called Hapi Sehe (Hook #6) and how to fish for tuna using poles. This system is called Bir on Tobi and gives Waribir its name (War=canoe). The people used to go in the big canoe. One man would hold two poles, one in each hand, one over each side of the canoe. When he caught a tuna, he would flip it back to the man behind him who would take off the fish and rebait the hook.

Back to Fishing Lore: Contents

Updated: January 19, 2017