POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 15, 2014
Days before they're scheduled to leave Oahu for a long-anticipated sail around the world, crews of the Hokule'a are working to eradicate an ant infestation affecting part of the vessel, according to Polynesian Voyaging Society officials.
The renowned voyaging canoe will be covered and fumigated Thursday to eliminate the unexpected pests, which crews discovered last week while preparing for the voyage, a 26-nation odyssey that PVS has been planning for the past six years.
Hokule'a and its escort canoe, the Hikianalia, are slated to depart Oahu for Hilo on Saturday.
PVS is "not projecting any delays" to the Oahu departure of the two double-hulled canoes, spokeswoman Marisa Hayase said Wednesday.
Despite Hokule'a's masts being removed and the vessel itself being covered, the public can still view the canoes Thursday during final open house hours, 4 to 7 p.m., before the canoes embark for Hilo.
They're docked at the Marine Education and Training Center, at 10 Sand Island Parkway, where PVS officials and volunteers have been working intently on final preparations before the vessels leave.
From Hilo, Hokule'a and Hikianalia will leave Hawaii later this month for Tahiti and the first leg of the canoes' worldwide voyage.
PVS officials want to get rid of the ants strictly because they want to ensure that they don't introduce an invasive species into their future ports of call, Hayase said. "We know how big of an issue it is in Hawaii," she added.
Hayase declined to provide further details about the fumigation itself. She did not know what type of ant species caused the problem on board.
Hokule'a was relaunched in early March into the ocean off Sand Island, near Mokauea Island, after 2 1/2 months in dry dock for repairs. Since then, it and Hikianalia have been based at the dock while occasionally sailing in nearby waters ahead of the voyage.