SAILAU is a documentary film and social impact campaign based on the 2016-17 voyage: The World’s First Circumnavigation of the Island of New Guinea in a Traditional Sailing Canoe. 

The film trailer and poster was part of the Papua New Guinea pavilion at EXPO 2022 DUBAI, an international event with 25 million visitors over 173 days.

Lead Sailor Sanakoli John and Director Thor F. Jensen, promoted the film at the Te Ara Vaka Moana: Ancestral Voyaging Vessels and Navigation in Oceania conference hosted by Potsdam University in Berlin in February 2023.

A public screening is scheduled in November 2023 at the National Kenu and Kundu Festival in Alotau, Papua New Guinea, as well as broadcasted on EMTV Papua New Guinea. 

A free mobilephone version of SAILAU will be distributed in Oceania in late 2023.

The film is directed by Thor F. Jensen, produced by Dr Sophie Pascoe and sailed by Justin John, Sanakoli John and Job Siyae. 

You can support this project by donating through: Documentary Australia.

Watch the trailer.


This documentary seeks to inspire young Papua New Guineans to value their traditional knowledge and the campaign activities will be used for educational programs in schools across the Pacific. 

Internationally, we aim to challenge outdated colonial stereotypes of the Pacific by telling a contemporary and positive story from the second largest island in the world.

So far, an expedition book has been published titled Salt Water and Spear Tips authored by Thor F. Jensen with editorial assistance from Cultural Consulting. Published by Pegasus Publishers UK 2020.

The voyage and book have been featured in Papua New Guinean and international media, including 7NEWS Australia, Australian Geographic, EMTV Papua New Guinea and Marie Claire Magazine Australia and Jakarta Post.


SAILAU Trailer


Danish filmmaker Thor F. Jensen, under the apprenticeship of three Papua New Guinean master sailors, Justin John, Sanakoli John and Job Siyae, sets off from Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, on the 30th of August 2016 on a world-first circumnavigation of the island of New Guinea in a traditional sailau (sailing canoe) called the Tawali Pasana.

While Thor wants to tell a contemporary story of the island, the sailors wish to inspire new generations of sailors, but the team soon realise that the journey is much more difficult than first anticipated. Thor is forced to rethink his position on the canoe and the sailors have to adapt their traditional skills as they face the deadly North West Monsoon.

Over the course of 13 months and 21 days and 6300 km – dodging trecherous reefs, witchcraft and crocodiles – the fellowship of the Tawali Pasana captures the imagination of the island. But to reach the finish line they must all make sacrifices.


During this world-first circumnavigation, we established several partnerships with organizations in Papua New Guinea that will inform project development and social campaigns.

We have established connections with the PNG Tourism Authority, Pacific Maritime Training College, the Massim Museum and the Kenu and Kundu Festival Association who can provide guidance and local context. In terms of financial and in-kind resources, we have sponsorship arrangements with Vanimo Surf Lodge and Tawali Leisure and Dive Resort.

We have already received support from the PNG Ambassador to Europe and the Danish Embassy in Jakarta, which may be used to promote the film to diverse audiences. The sailors and their communities in Milne Bay will be central advisors throughout the process.

Do you want to become a partner?
Contact us at: info@thordox.dk to receive a project brief.

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Justin JohnSailor

Renowned Canoe builder and spear-fisher. Lives on Dawson Island with his wife and six children.

Sanakoli JohnSailor

Expert fisherman and tourist guide. Lives in Nuakata isl. With his wife and four children.

Job SiyaeSailor

Know for his solo canoe journeys and food donations to the health centre. Lives on Normanby Isl. with wife and four children.

Thor F. JensenDirector

Award winning filmmaker and member of the Adventurers’ Club of Denmark. Lives in Alice Springs, Australia.


Director Thor F. Jensen
Producer Dr Sophie Pascoe
Sailor Justin John
Sailor and production advisor Sanakoli John
Sailor Job Siyae 
Drone footage by Paul Kerrison ,
Drone and film photography Robert Weber
Map graphics Sam Moore
Promotion Kevin Alo from M&K Talents