How Canvasback Mission began

In the mid 70's, mission founders Jamie and Jacque Spence gave up professional careers to sail the Pacific. They wanted to find meaning for their lives and, over the course of seven years, found islands populated with incredible people. During their travels, they listened to the stories of the people they met and began to understand their situation. Seeing the great need for specialized surgery teams, Canvasback mobilized skilled doctors to provide care that was unavailable in the tiny hospitals of the Pacific.

Returning to the United States, in 1981, Jamie and Jacque began construction of the 71-foot, aluminum-hulled Canvasback, one of the world's largest sailing catamarans. With donations of supplies and equipment from local businesses, plus more than 200 skilled volunteers, the vessel was launched on June 16, 1986.

The Canvasback catamaran was uniquely designed to deliver free medical, dental, and eye care to remote islands accessible only by sea. She was staffed by volunteer physicians, dentists and seamen who brought healing and hope to the people of Micronesia.

In 1993, Canvasback was invited to bring service to the marginalized outer islands of Chuuk (formerly Truk) State. Shortly after, they were invited to help establish community health centers in Kosrae.

In 1998, after 14 years of island service, Canvasback's expanding programs had outgrown the catamaran. The sale of the ship provided the funds needed to continue building programs and services for the FSM and the RMI. These services include providing much-needed health care for the island people, continuing education for island health care workers, and supplies and equipment for island hospitals.

Fast forwarding to the current day

Between 2000 and 2018, Canvasback Missions provided more than $40 million worth of services to the Marshall Islands, Palau and Micronesia.

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We work with local individuals and organizations to ensure that our programs are fitting a real need, and are culturally appropriate. We only bring specialty teams when requested by the respective communities. We try to provide a variety of services so that as many people as possible have access to the resources and knowledge to take care of their health. 

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