Elementary school students on sailor training reach Penghu

Taipei, July 26 (CNA) A group of Taiwan elementary school students, who were on a sailor training and marine education exercise, arrived in the offshore county of Penghu on Sunday, after a 17-hour trip on a sailboat.

The 60-foot boat, the “Barefoot,” sailed into Argo Yacht Club in Penghu at dawn Sunday, carrying the captain, nine students, three teachers, and a cameraman who had embarked on the 155-kilometer journey from Kinmen Island the day before.

The boat trip was part of a program initiated by Yueming Elementary School in Yilan to allow students to learn boating skills and gain firsthand knowledge of the marine environment, “Barefoot” captain Chang Kuang-chung (張光中) said.

During the 17-hour trip, the students were taught how to raise, lower and trim the sails, Chang said.

The most challenging part of the journey was when the propellers struck some driftwood as the boat neared Magong in Penghu, Chang said, adding that the damage was being repaired and would be completed by Monday.

Photo courtesy of Yueming Elementary School
Photo courtesy of Yueming Elementary School

The nine students, meanwhile, spent Sunday on the beach and were scheduled to meet with their counterparts from Penghu’s He Heng Elementary School on Monday, according to Chen Wen-chuan (陳文全), a teacher at Yueming Elementary School.

During that interaction, the Yilan students will take part in a beach cleanup, collect beach sand, and conduct experiments to find microplastics in the sea, Chen said.

They will also invite the He Heng students to visit the “Barefoot” to get a sense of what it is like to be at sea, Chen said.

The trip from Kinmen to Penghu was the fifth in a series of boat rides organized this summer by Yueming Elementary School to help its students learn more about the marine environment and gain some boating skills.

A total of 32 students in grades three to six, 13 teachers and 10 instructors are participating in the program, which is being held over a 27-day period and involves calls at several ports around Taiwan, according to Chang.

He said it is important for Taiwanese students to learn about the sea, because they live in an island country.

“I encourage Taiwanese children to connect with the ocean, because the more they learn about it, the more they will grow to love and protect it,” he said.

In addition to the trips to Magong in Penghu and to Kinmen, the “Barefoot” has already taken Yueming Elementary School students to Gueishan Island, Keelung Islet, and Matsu, and it is scheduled to continue onwards to Penghu’s Qimei Island, Anping Port in Tainan, Kenting, Orchid Island, Green Island, and Hualien, before returning to Su’ao in Yilan on August 9.

(By William Yen)

Source: Focus Taiwan

Opening Ceremony of Mediterranean and Asia Marine Alliance

Ocean is the asset of all human kinds in the world. Ocean resources bring enormous functions and benefits to human beings, and are the important assets for the living and development of generations of Taiwanese people.

Taiwan is surrounded by ocean. Being an Ocean Nation, ocean affairs has significant strategic implications. The recent confrontation of USA and China with intensive military exercises in the South China Sea has accelerated geopolitical wrestling to an unprecedented level, which further demonstrates the importance of ocean governance and national maritime rights. In April 2018, Taiwan government established“Ocean Affairs Council”, a ministry level agency; in November 2019, the “Ocean Basic Act” is passed and promulgated; and in June of this year (2020), the new edition of “National Ocean Policy White Paper” is issued and released. These consecutive actions strongly demonstrate the government’s emphasis on ocean policy and affairs, its proactive measures to encourage national people to focus on ocean related issues, and its determination to achieve the sustainable development of ocean.

Mediterranean is also an important geopolitical center in the world, and Israel is an important country in the Mediterranean area. Due to the complementary development of technology and economy, there are increasing interactions among Taiwan, Israel and Mediterranean area in recent years. Now it is the best time to connect resources across the regions through the dialogue of ocean.

Mediterranean and Asia Marine Alliance (abbreviated MAMA) is jointly established by Lian Tat Company (LTC) and Tunghai Industry Smart-Transformation Center (TISC), with deep cooperation from Israel strategic partners. This is the first platform initiated and established by private enterprise and organization in Taiwan to facilitate the cooperation and interaction of industry, government, and academic sectors in Taiwan and abroad. The Alliance is founded responding to government’s call and expectation for private sector to assist in promotion of marine related research and affairs, and to align with global ocean trends.

MAMA is composed of six areas of Ocean Policy, Smart Ocean, Ocean Biology, Ocean Resources, Ocean Industry and Ocean Culture. By chaining resources of each area, the Alliance is aimed to promoting ocean related research, providing policy advice, creating cooperation of industry and academia, fostering international exchange and cooperation, and upgrading Taiwan’s world visibility in participation of ocean affairs.

Time: September 23, 2020 (Wed) 2:00 pm
Place: B1 East Gate, Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel
Address: 201 Tun Hwa S. Road, Sec. 2, Taipei

Remote fishing village under threat

With two-thirds of its land gobbled up by developers and the government rejecting their bid for historic settlement, the residents of Makang refuse to give in.

By Han Cheung

Chen Wang-shi (陳罔市) doesn’t know where to go if she is forced to move. The 78-year-old Chen is an active “sea woman” (海女) in Taiwan’s easternmost fishing village of Makang (馬崗) in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮). When the waves are calm, she ventures out to forage for algae, oysters and other edible marine morsels. She lives alone in the village, as her children have moved to the cities for work, returning for weekends and festivals.

“I cannot get used to living in Taipei, and I feel very uncomfortable if I don’t go out to the ocean to forage. I have too deep an emotional connection to this place. Even if it’s inconvenient, I like it here,” Chen tells the Taipei Times inside her home a minute’s walk from the ocean.

With about two-thirds of Makang acquired by developers, Chen belongs to 22 households who face eviction. While the court battles between the developers and residents continue, the villagers are trying to preserve Makang by applying to the government for cultural heritage status for a cluster of 100-year-old stone houses and its sea women culture.

So far, two of the houses have been designated as historical buildings, but New Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs last August rejected Makang’s bid to list them collectively as a historic settlement.

Meanwhile, Yu Po-hsuan (游伯軒) and Yeh Kuei-hsien (葉貴嫻), two Taipei transplants who run a coffee shop in Makang, have been spearheading an effort to boost tourism, and Makang is a lot livelier on weekends than two years ago. They have also been emphasizing the area’s cultural heritage through guided tours and other activities.

“These developers often target remote places that escape the public eye,” Yu says. “That’s also their weakness; our goal is to let more people see and appreciate this place.”

The newfound attention has also instilled a sense of pride in the mostly elderly residents, who have lived here their whole lives and may not understand the significance of historical preservation.

“They now realize that the tourists actually like these stone houses and come take pictures of them on weekends. Now they are eager to tell people, ‘These are more than 100 years old,’” Yeh says.


In the village’s heyday, 80-year-old Chiang-chen Pi-chu (江陳碧珠) and 50 other people lived in a four-sided residence with a stone courtyard. Today, she’s the only permanent resident left.

As a self-contained village, the land rights were never clearly recorded, and often confirmed by verbal agreement only. When the Japanese began implementing land registration policies in Taiwan, most villagers were illiterate or unfamiliar with the law, and for convenience’s sake they registered their land under a few individuals, who collected and paid the residents’ property taxes once per year.

Under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), those who had the land registered in their names became the legal owners of a large portion of the village. Tu Yu-wen (涂右文), CEO of the Environmental Rights Foundation (環境權保障基金會), says that as a result, the developers were able to purchase so much of Makang by convincing these landowners to sell the property without first speaking to the people who lived on the land. Her foundation has been providing professional and legal help to the villagers in their struggle.

When the developers began suing villagers in 2018 to evict them, the murky land rights history worked against them, and several households have lost their cases.

“The law does not consider historical context or development, if you don’t have evidence, it’s very hard to win,” Tu says.

Ironically, about 30 years ago the government attempted to designate these stone houses as historical buildings, but the residents refused out of distrust toward the authorities. Last year, they helped block a government plan to build a yacht marina in neighboring Maoao (卯澳) village.

When three New Taipei City cultural heritage review committee members visited the village to inspect the two historical buildings, one of them suggested that the villagers also apply for historic settlement status, which is why Yu and Yeh are surprised that their bid was rejected. The city insists that the suggestion was just the opinion of that member.

The couple, who moved here in 2016 from Taipei for its rustic charm, says that they had to first convince the elderly population that this was a place worth protecting. Through promoting activities, exhibits and tours, plus the growing popularity of the Caoling Circle-line Bikeway which opened in 2011, tourists can now be seen frolicing in the waters of the intertidal zones and taking photographs of the stone buildings. Local vendors have also popped up, selling marine specialities along the streets.

“At first, they didn’t know that people would be interested in their way of life here,” Tu says “Only in recent years have they realized how special of a place they live in.”


The New Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs rejected Makang’s bid for historic settlement on the grounds that many of the stone houses have been modified or remodeled with modern elements.

Weng Yu-chin (翁玉琴), the culture department’s chief secretary, says that the houses simply don’t qualify for the status due to their lack of uniformity. Weng gives Japan’s Shirakawago village as an example with its perfectly preserved clusters of thatched roof houses.

“The cluster in Makang is a hodgepodge of one-story and two-story houses, many with modern elements,” she says. “The collective history and appearance has been partially damaged. But we can still register the individual houses that are preserved well.”

Currently there are only 18 historic settlements across Taiwan.

Last month the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled that the city violated protocol at its cultural heritage review committee’s voting session by recusing Chang Chen-chung (張震鍾), one of 17 committee members, and the only who reportedly supported the village’s bid.

The city has appealed.

Regarding the administrative court case, Weng says Chang was hired by the Department of Cultural Affairs to independently research and report the viability of Makang as a historical settlement to the review committee, and that it was legal to recuse him from the meeting since his role was more of a witness. But the judge has deemed that his recusal violated the procedures for committee voting sessions.

“The final vote was 8-0, so New Taipei City claims that Chang wouldn’t have made a difference,” Yeh says. “But he could have influenced other committee members during the discussion process.”

Tu says that due to the responsibilities that come with the historical settlement status, coupled with the land disputes, the city may just be reluctant to approve the designation.

“The Department of Cultural Affairs often acts conservatively and cautiously,” she says. “They would rather there be fewer cultural heritage sites, otherwise it’s a very exhausting process to protect it, especially if landlords and developers are involved. They probably envision this case becoming quite tricky.”

Weng says they have appealed because they don’t agree with the verdict, not because they don’t want to preserve Makang’s cultural heritage.

Chang declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation.


Although no plans for developing Makang have been produced, Weng trusts the developers a lot more than the villagers do. In a public hearing, which she moderated, the developers said that they would incorporate the village’s traditions while developing the area, and expressed that the stone houses were worth preserving.

“We also know that the local residents don’t want to see too much change,” Weng says. “So the two sides can sit down and talk, and if needed the government can act as a mediator and consultant. Maybe we could work something out where some parts are preserved and some are reorganized, so the interests are more balanced.”

From talking to the villagers, however, the relations between the two sides are strained, especially in light of the eviction cases.

Currently, the city is waiting for the court cases — both theirs and the developers — to be resolved before taking any action, but Weng believes that the two historic building designations already offer much protection to Makang.

“Any development around these buildings has to be reviewed and approved by the government,” she says. “We have to maintain the atmosphere of the area; there cannot suddenly be a tall modern building next to the stone house. There are also limitations on development according to the environment and culture of the people.”

Echoing Yu and Yeh, Tu says that the only way to change the government’s mind is to attract more visitors and hope that they care about the place’s future enough to increase pressure on the authorities.

Tu says that even if the historic settlement bid fails, there are other ways to preserve the village.They can apply for cultural landscape status, which is the designation for Taipei’s illegal settlement-turned-artist village Treasure Hill (寶藏巖).

“Makang has the ocean, a settlement and rice terraces in the mountains. People were able to sustain themselves and fully utilize local resources. Their wisdom and experience can be preserved and passed on,” she says.

They can also aim to become a fishing village special district under the Urban Planning Act (都市計畫法),whereupon the residents will have a bigger say over the future of Makang.

“Part of the status entails how to preserve local traditions, but the residents have to work with the government as well as civic groups and the developers,” she says. “The residents need a clear and strong vision of what they want, so they have the leverage to negotiate with the developers.”

There is still a long way to go, Tu says, and she says that any delays in the process will buy them more time to develop this vision.

“Honestly, I’m fine with New Taipei City appealing the court case,” she says “At least we bought some more time to keep building up the confidence among the residents. This is just the beginning.”


8 Nautical Novels That Will Make You Want to Run Off to Sea

Nautical fiction deserves a place on your summer reading list. Here are 8 sea novels that will give you a taste of the genre–and make you want to come back for more!

Maritime fiction at its best! If you've ever wanted to go to sea, these nautical novels will sweep you off your feet and into grand adventures! #seastories #nauticalfiction

Almost one hundred summers ago, Frenchman Alain Gerbault set sail from Gibraltar to circumnavigate the globe–alone.

Why undertake such a feat?

“I wanted freedom, open air and adventure.” Gerbault said. “I found it on the sea.”

While most of us probably aren’t up to the task of solo-sailing the world, we’d all probably like that breath of freedom that Gerbault craved. Nautical fiction offers us an expansive, other-worldly experience that pulls us out to sea, immerses us in pure adventure, and sends us back to shore reborn. On the surface, reading a good sea novel looks a lot like plain escapism. But salt-seasoned readers know that those book covers enclose pages deep with the kind of heroism and human experience that change us in our real lives, too.

I love nautical novels because they engage our senses in a different way than we experience with shore-bound books. In a sea novel we smell briny winds and oozing tar and wet wood. We hear creaking planks and the crack of canonfire or the high and promising sound of seagulls. What we feel is never steady–we might be lurching in a launch on an off-ship mission, weathering a gale, or sensing the faintest tremor on a becalmed sea. And when we regain solid land it seems to reel beneath our feet after weeks on the ocean.

These nautical novels are sure to enthrall any tall ship enthusiast!

It’s this sensual, cathartic experience that draws me back to the genre every summer. When June rolls in I scan my bookshelves for new adventures. Pages curl like whitecaps; by July I’m fathoms deep in the main course of my summer reading list–always a sea story.

Want a taste of this often-unusual, always-rewarding genre? Dive into one of these nautical fiction picks this summer or any time of year!

Note: While you’re reading these books, it might be helpful to keep this glossary of nautical terms handy for reference! Also, here’s a guide to the different types of sailing ships, so you know the difference between a barque and a brigantine.

8 Best Nautical Novels for Armchair Sailors:

Everyone who loves the ocean should read these famous maritime classics!

1. Billy Budd

by Herman Melville, published 1924

Billy Budd is a young seaman who is immensely popular with everyone in the crew–except for John Claggart. Claggart’s antagonism eventually leads to his accusing Budd of inciting mutiny. I don’t want to give away too much because it’s more fun to experience the story as it unfolds! But the events that follow lead to a fascinating moral conundrum that invites a variety of interpretations. (Although I’m still doing research, I have yet to find anyone who shares my own interpretation! Of course, I still have to find more evidence to substantiate it, too!)

Immerse yourself in the world of tall ships with these sea stories and nautical literature classics from the past 200+ years!

2. Master and Commander

by Patrick O’Brian, 1969

Patrick O’Brian has been compared to Jane Austen, his favourite author, numerous times, and if you’re an Austen fan you’ll see why. Of course, there’s the obvious fact that O’Brian’s novels are set in the same era as Austen’s. The naval backdrop of Mansfield Park and Persuasion gets fleshed out in O’Brian’s novels, all served up with engaging, witty dialogue and fascinating interpersonal relationships–trademarks of Jane Austen.

Take an ocean voyage with one of these 8 fiction reads that take place at sea!

3. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

by Jean Lee Latham, 1955

The novel, which won the Newberry Medal in 1956, is simple to read, but you’ll soon find yourself captivated by Bowditch’s life. His strength of character through hardships and victories is inspirational, even more so when you know that he was a real person. Our family read this story aloud when I was little, and it’s stuck with me into adulthood.

These 8 maritime fiction reads should be on every adventure lover's bookshelf!

4. The Riddle of the Sands

by Erskine Childers, 1903

Two Englishmen take it upon themselves to investigate suspicious German naval activity around the Frisian Islands in the North Sea. They navigate their small, weather-beaten yacht through the maze of treacherous sandbars to uncover a secret plot that threatens to target England in a way she least expects it.

Critics consider The Riddle of the Sands to be one of the first (and best) spy thrillers. It helped to launch the espionage genre and an entire sub-genre of “invasion literature.” Childers hoped his novel (the only one he wrote) would alert the public to the growing threat of Imperial Germany. It did. The Riddle of the Sands was an instant bestseller, and Winston Churchill even agreed that it was instrumental in motivating funding for increased naval security.

Apart from its fascinating historical context, The Riddle of the Sands is a bewitching novel that’s unlike anything else I’ve read. I was captivated by the writing, which was both visceral and cerebral, the unusual setting, and the gradually unfolding plot.

These nautical adventure novels make some of the best beach reads!

5. Captain Blood

by Rafael Sabatini, 1922

Captain Blood is light and fast paced enough for a beach read. In fact, it’s a novel that’s best read in the summer, with your toes buried in the sand and a clean view of the horizon over a sun-flecked sea.P.S. Captain Peter Blood happens to be one of my favourite literary heroes!

Experience the age of sail (and beyond) with some of the best books in the nautical fiction genre.

6. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

by C. S. Forester, 1950

Chronologically, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is the first in a saga that follows a young man up the ranks as a British naval officer during the Napoleonic wars. Horatio Hornblower starts as a seasick teenager, but even in this origins story we get a glimpse of the ingenious and larger-than-life hero that he’ll become in later books.

The episodic nature of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower makes it easy to jump in to when you find small chunks of reading time. It’s also very accessible and isn’t too technical for us landsmen!

These 8 books are must reads for anyone who enjoys the naval fiction genre!

7. The Bounty Trilogy

by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, 1932-34

These books are based on the surprising and fascinating true story of the HMS Bounty mutiny of 1789. An angry crew seizes control of Captain Bligh’s ship and sets him and 18 other seamen adrift in an open boat in the South Pacific. The first volume, Mutiny on the Bounty, describes the rising tensions and the events leading up to the mutiny. Men Against the Sea tells of the incredible voyage of Captain Bligh and his loyalists, while Pitcairn’s Island follows the mutineers.

Sidenote: Did the Bounty mutiny help to serve as inspiration for the mutiny that figures in to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South? There were a number of famous mutinies at the turn of the nineteenth century, and Gaskell likely would’ve heard these controversial stories growing up.

These sea stories are perfect for your summer reading list, the next time you board a boat, or even when you're just headed to the beach for a day!

8. The Sea Wolf

by Jack London, 1904

Landsman Humphrey van Weyden is taking a ferryboat in foggy San Francisco bay when his boat collides with another craft and sinks. He’s rescued by a schooner captained by the tyrannical Wolf Larsen, who forces van Weyden to join his crew. As the schooner sails for Japan, van Weyden is forced to grapple with his own physical shortcomings and the psychological strain of his relationship with Captain Larsen.

Jack London was fast becoming a celebrity author by the time The Sea Wolf was published, and the book was an instant best seller. Although harsh conditions at sea lend a psychological element to many maritime novels, this theme is especially notable in The Sea Wolf, and still makes for a fascinating drama over one hundred years later!

When you come to the end of these eight books, you might be surprised to learn how grueling and tenuous life at sea actually is. If these stories are anything to go on, it’s no picnic. Alain Gerbault spent 700 days at sea during his round-the-world voyage, often under intense physical and mental strain.

Yet there’s something about the sea that renews us even while it demands our exertion. Alain Gerbault knew that, and I get a glimpse of it every time I slip between the pages of a good nautical novel.

Go to sea with these 8 sea novels for bookworms.

Source: https://teaandinksociety.com/nautical-novels/

Syaman Rapongan – Taiwan’s Ocean Literature Writer

Syaman Rapongan

Syaman Rapongan

About the writer

Syaman Rapongan, born in 1957, whose Chinese name is Nu-Lai Shih, is from the indigenous Tao tribe of Orchid Island of Taiwan. He graduated from the French department of Tamkang University, and then received his Master’s degree from Institute of Anthropology of National Tsing Hua University. He is both a literature writer and anthropologist who devotes his life to writing….

Your can find the introduction of his works here.