Ca­noe crew re­turns home af­ter round-the-world voy­age

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY JEN­NIFER SINCO KELLE­HER

HONOLULU | No mod­ern nav­i­ga­tion in­stru­men­ta­tion guided a Poly­ne­sian voy­ag­ing ca­noe as it fol­lowed the hori­zon dur­ing a three-year jour­ney around the globe.

About a dozen crew mem­bers for each leg of the voy­age re­lied only on their un­der­stand­ing of na­ture’s cues — ocean swells, stars, wind, birds — and their own naau, or gut, to sail across about 40,000 nau­ti­cal miles to 19 coun­tries, spread­ing a mes­sage of malama honua: car­ing for the earth.

On Satur­day, thou­sands wel­comed the dou­ble­hulled ca­noe Hokulea home to Hawaii when it en­tered a chan­nel off the is­land Oahu and tied up to a float­ing dock with iconic Di­a­mond Head in the dis­tance.

Ka’iu­lani Mur­phy, an ap­pren­tice nav­i­ga­tor on the dou­ble-hulled ca­noe, told The As­so­ci­ated Press that the suc­cess­ful jour­ney taught her the value of an­cient Poly­ne­sian mar­itime tech­niques.

“We re­ally are sailing in their [the ances­tors’] wake,” said Ms. Mur­phy, 38. “We had to re­learn what our ances­tors had mas­tered.”

The tough­est part of the jour­ney was deal­ing with cloud cover and try­ing to main­tain the proper speed so the boat es­cort­ing the ca­noe could keep pace, she said, adding that she en­joyed eat­ing the fish the crew caught dur­ing the jour­ney.

Bert Wong came to Ala Moana Beach Park to cel­e­brate Hokulea’s home­com­ing — and to cel­e­brate his son, Ka­leo, a Hokulea nav­i­ga­tor, ac­cord­ing to Hawaii News Now.

“Just be­ing here and feel­ing the mana [power] that’s here, it’s some­thing to en­joy which brings tears to my eyes,” Mr. Wong said. “This is so pow­er­ful.”

The crew held a for­mal home­com­ing cer­e­mony on Magic Is­land, which is in Honolulu, that in­cluded wel­com­ing re­marks from Gov. David Ige and Mayor Kirk Cald­well and a speech by Nainoa Thomp­son, a well-known mas­ter nav­i­ga­tor, the Honolulu StarAd­ver­tiser re­ported.

Mr. Thomp­son, pres­i­dent of the Poly­ne­sian Voy­ag­ing So­ci­ety, was vis­i­bly moved as he ad­dressed the crowd, say­ing that he was “stand­ing here on be­half of the many,” Hawaii News Now re­ported.

“Thank you, Hawaii. Thank you for the mo­ment,” he said. “I am very hum­bled to tell you right now that Hokulea is home.”

The voy­age per­pet­u­ated the tra­di­tional way-find­ing that brought the first Poly­ne­sians sev­eral thou­sand miles to Hawaii hun­dreds of years ago. The trip also helped train a new gen­er­a­tion of young nav­i­ga­tors.

Hokulea means “star of glad­ness.” The ca­noe was built and launched in the 1970s, when there were no Poly­ne­sian nav­i­ga­tors left. So the Voy­ag­ing So­ci­ety looked be­yond Poly­ne­sia to find one.

Mau Pi­ailug, from a small is­land called Satawal in Mi­crone­sia, was among the last half-dozen peo­ple in the world to prac­tice the art of tra­di­tional nav­i­ga­tion and agreed to guide Hokulea to Tahiti in 1976.

“With­out him, our voy­ag­ing would never have taken place,” the Poly­ne­sian Voy­ag­ing So­ci­ety said on the web­site for Hokulea. “Mau was the only tra­di­tional nav­i­ga­tor who was will­ing and able to reach be­yond his cul­ture to ours.”

The epic round-the-world voy­age that started in 2014 shows how far Hokulea has gone since its first voy­age from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976.

Dis­as­ter be­fell another voy­age in 1978, when the ca­noe cap­sized off the Hawai­ian is­land of Molokai in a blind­ing storm. Ed­die Aikau, a revered Hawai­ian surfer and life­guard on the crew, grabbed his surf­board and pad­dled for help, but was never seen again. The rest of the crew mem­bers were res­cued.

Crew mem­bers hope the suc­cess of the lat­est jour­ney will in­spire other in­dige­nous cul­tures to re­dis­cover and re­vive tra­di­tions. Mr. Thomp­son said he also hopes in­dige­nous cul­tures can help with so­lu­tions to mod­ern-day prob­lems such as cli­mate change.

Na­tive Hawai­ian ances­tors were not only skilled nav­i­ga­tors but good stew­ards of the is­lands who farmed and fished sus­tain­ably.


The Hokulea docked in Honolulu Satur­day af­ter a three-year voy­age us­ing an­cient Poly­ne­sian nav­i­ga­tion.

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