The Polynesians had traveled from Asia into the hundreds of islands of the South Pacific centuries before the Europeans sailed the Pacific Ocean. The Polynesians navigated the ocean in giant canoes, some up to 100 feet long.
To construct a more seaworthy ship, they laid two canoes side by side and secured a deck across the middle. The decks of these sturdy craft provided a platform on which to fish, cook, and carry goods and passengers.
A sail was hung on a mast to harness the wind. Using the stars as a guide, the Polynesians sailed among the hundreds of islands of the South Pacific, waging war, trading, and settling new territories.
In the 1700s, the English explorer James Cook was astounded by the extent of the Polynesian settlements.