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Hokule'a departs for worldwide voyage

Hokule‘a and Hikianalia head for Hilo after an emotional goodbye ceremony heavy with reflection and anticipation

By Marcel Honoré

LAST UPDATED: 12:01 p.m. HST, May 18, 2014

A hui hou.

After six years of preparation, Hokule‘a has finally pushed off its dock at Sand Island — bound for Hilo, then Tahiti, then new oceans, new ports, new risks and new adventures for the historic Hawaiian voyaging canoe.

As the sun descended near the Waianae mountains Saturday, several hundred visitors sang, danced, waved Hawaiian flags and joined impassioned, defiant chants during an emotionally charged goodbye as Hokule‘a and its companion vessel, Hikianalia, embarked on the first international leg of their worldwide voyage, dubbed Malama Honua ("Care for the Earth").

Once the canoes leave Hilo, likely in about a week, Hokule‘a aims to carry Hawaiian aloha around the world in a way that's never been done before, visiting 85 ports and at least 26 countries during the next three years.

The voyage looks to be an ambitious cultural exchange that stresses raising awareness about the growing environmental threats facing the planet. Crews further hope to inspire their fellow Hawaiians back home to pursue solutions to those problems.

"There's a lot of beauty out there on that dock. People from all walks of life and different ages, different nationalities," Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson said Saturday, reflecting on the scene.

"They bring an amazing sense of goodness to the canoe, to the crew. Fundamentally, what you see on that dock is the essence of the voyage," he added.

In the hours leading up to departure, well-wishers posed for pictures with crew, students performed songs and pule (chants) that they created for the voyage, slack-key guitarist Makana performed and halau danced hula underscoring hopes tied to safety and success for the journey.

Some onlookers, swept up in the emotion of the moment, also occasionally erupted into spontaneous, powerful chants without the help of microphones or speakers — commanding the crowd's attention and bringing the dock to a hush.

Meanwhile, many of Hokule‘a and Hikianalia's crew members spent the hours preceding the sunset launch consumed by last-minute preparations — loading the two boats with supplies, fastening lashings and completing other tasks.

"It's the most people I've ever seen at the dock," Hikianalia crew member Kaleo Wong said Saturday. "I'm excited to go, excited for the wa‘a (canoes) to go. What a send-off."

Earlier in the day, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, esteemed oceanographer Sylvia Earle and ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau wished Thompson and his fellow Malama Honua crew members safe travels.

All four are members of OceanElders, a group of scientists, artists and activists formed in 2010 to advocate for ocean conservation. Other members include business mogul Richard Branson, filmmaker James Cameron and media mogul Ted Turner.

"We all have a role to play in the most crucial battle of survival, because the world can't take it very much longer," Browne said at a press conference Saturday, alluding to environmental threats such as climate change and ocean acidification. "If the oceans don't make it, neither will we."

Cousteau, son of renowned ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, agreed. "We have the tools to not be the next species to disappear, but we have a big job ahead of us."

At the media event, Thompson asked several of the voyage's captains to join him at the podium, presenting them as those "who bring the crew home safe." They included Thompson's fellow master navigators — Kalepa Baybayan, who will serve as Thompson's second-in-command on Hokule‘a to Tahiti, and Bruce Blankenfeld, who will captain Hikianalia on that leg.

Thompson and Blankenfeld did not leave on the canoes Saturday — they fly to Hilo Wednesday, where they will make final preparations prior to leaving for Tahiti. Hokule‘a and Hikianalia are expected to leave Hawaii's waters on Saturday, but when they actually depart depends on the weather and when all the canoe prep is completed.

On Saturday, before festivities were underway, Thompson spoke solemnly about the awe-inspiring voyage — an idea first envisioned by his father, Myron "Pinky" Thompson, and Hawaii astronaut Lacy Veach in 1992.

"I need to focus, so there's a time both physically and spiritually and emotionally to step off the land and into the ocean. I'm there," Thompson said. "We're going. We're going. It's time to go."

For more information about the canoes and its voyage visit http://hokulea.staradvertiser.com/.

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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manakuke wrote:
The voyaging canes are off to new horizons.
on May 18,2014 | 03:33AM
sak wrote:
I wonder if they have Shoyu, Wasabe, and Sunblock, on board as the Ancients had before them? But of course in a different form.
on May 18,2014 | 03:12PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Yes, they are off to new horizons, but I would like to know exactly how the Hokule'a will be navigated to its intended destinations. I have read about how the navigators will use celestial navigation, but you just do not get up one day and start following the sun, moon, stars and such to get to Hilo, Tahiti or some distant place. Navigators need charts showing celestial bodies, angles thereto at various times of the day and year, and weather patterns recorded by ancient Polynesian mariners who successfully sailed the routes centuries ago. From where did Hokule'a’s navigators obtain the charts and data for its previous voyages and for its planned three-year odyssey?
on May 18,2014 | 04:08PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Charts"? "Data"? ....... Ronin is an ignoramus who does not even know what is going on. He is clueless about the ancient Polynesian art of navigational wayfinding.
on May 18,2014 | 05:14PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Hanalei395, for someone to navigate from point A to Point B, they must first know Point B exists and they must have some data to help them navigate between the two points. From where did such information come if not from Polynesian mariners who first found unknown distant islands and subsequently traveled between them using celestial and other data acquired on the first voyages? The ignoramuses are those who believe that some ancient Polynesians got up one morning and decided to follow the sun, moon and stars to reach Hawaii or other islands without even knowing the islands existed.
on May 18,2014 | 07:08PM
aloha4da808 wrote:
Aheahi ka makani me ekeki i ke kai, o Hokule'a.
on May 18,2014 | 04:55AM
Mythman wrote:
How did the great Jackson Browne get sucked into this?
on May 18,2014 | 05:51AM
Dawg wrote:
Sucked into? He is a learned man, unlike yourself.
on May 18,2014 | 06:07AM
Mythman wrote:
You mean he "learned" how to self promote by supporting saving the ocean from the William Morris agency.
on May 18,2014 | 06:46AM
Slow wrote:
Jackson Browne is a shameless self-promoter. Jack Johnson, too. Thanks for your insight, Mythy!
on May 18,2014 | 09:17AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Jack Johnson is an awesome guy. Low key, not showy, and does impromptu shows for local schools.

When he does local shows, he takes extra steps to ensure his tickets aren't scalped and the people who stood in line for the tickets are the ones who come to the show. And his Kukua festival beings good acts, shows off local artists, and raises money for charity. People have a good time and go home happy.

I don't know how Jack Johnson could be any better.

on May 18,2014 | 10:05AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Too bad this voyage is draped in the shroud of some of the most liberal progressive loons on the planet. It certainly impacts credibility.
on May 18,2014 | 07:14AM
loio wrote:
good one
on May 18,2014 | 08:43AM
Slow wrote:
Impeach Obama and fire Norm Chow. White Power!
on May 18,2014 | 09:00AM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Only whites want Chow fired? News to me.
on May 18,2014 | 04:49PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Best wishes for the health and safety of the crews of the two canoes as they embark on their round-the-world stunt. Of course the canoes are not "traditional" voyaging canoes -- not even Hokule'a, which is constructed from modern materials using modern tools; and the crews are well-provisioned with modern foods prepared and preserved in modern ways. And they'll be changing crews at each stop along the way, as new crews use airplanes to fly to whatever remote spot where the crew-change will happen -- unlike the ancient voyagers. But hey, it will be lots of fun for the crews, and what the heck, might as well use the millions of our tax dollars donated each year by the federal government to help the Polynesian Voyaging Society pay for these boondoggles.
on May 18,2014 | 08:22AM
false wrote:
KC go home already. You are just too lonely to fit in here.
on May 18,2014 | 08:41AM
hanalei395 wrote:
For the next 3 years, Conklin and other haters like him will have nothing but negativity for the 300 new navigators, keeping alive for generations to come, the ancient art, once lost, of Polynesian navigational wayfinding. As for that extreme hater of Hawaiians, Ken Conklin, and his "best wishes", it's OBVIOUS that his "wishes" won't be "best". He's lying. His wishes are for something else.
on May 18,2014 | 10:14AM
Slow wrote:
Aloha Ken. Ever meet a Hawaiian you liked? Ever hear a Hawaiian song you liked? Anything about the Hawaiian islands you like? Aside from white dominance. Why are you here? Or are you commenting from Idaho, a nice Aryan outpost?
on May 18,2014 | 09:03AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Ken HATES Hawaiians, and ANYTHING that is Hawaiiana.
on May 18,2014 | 09:55AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
hanalei hates anyone who lacks Hawaiian blood. hanalei is also a child molester
on May 18,2014 | 10:50AM
hanalei395 wrote:
STUPID comeback for a racist who hates Hawaiians. Conklin is making himself to be the #1 non-Hawaiian to be hated by ALL Hawaiians.
on May 18,2014 | 11:13AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Slow -- as you can see in the comments, I'm campaigning for my good friend Dr. Keli'i Akina, who is ethnic Hawaiian. One of my favorite experts on Hawaiian language and culture is my dear friend Professor Rubellite Kawena Johnson. The first person to sign my nominating papers when I was a candidate for OHA 14 years ago, and served as my campaign manager, was an ethnic Hawaiian woman. Hawaiian songs? Yes, I have memorized many of them, including some beautiful-sounding ones which unfortunately have nasty political or racist messages. A beautiful non-political song I love is by Na Leo Pilimehana, "I Miss You My Hawaii" which captures how I would feel if I ever left Hawaii (which I have not done since moving here permanently 22 years ago). And a song which tells my own history of being hanai to Hawaii is "I Keia Po" also known by its closing phrase "He Hawai'i au." Now, does that satisfy you Slow, or will you try to find something else to make a personal attack?
on May 18,2014 | 10:47AM
boolakanaka wrote:
Because a dog lets you kick him, does not mean dogs like you.
on May 18,2014 | 11:34AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Conklin: "since moving here permanently 22 years ago". .....And when Ken Conks out, he WILL BE shipped back to wherever he came from.
on May 18,2014 | 11:57AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Conklin, sneakingly making "friends" with unawared and completely fooled Hawaiians, then stabbing them in the back.
on May 18,2014 | 12:36PM
WatsIt2u wrote:
Typical racist come back...Much like the closet racist would say "Iʻm not racist, I have a Black American friend". I bet you know "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" too....hilarious
on May 18,2014 | 12:00PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
KC: funny you mention hawaiian songs. I love them as well. Very soothing. Unfortunately, I read the english words to one of my favs and it came close to being, well, a bit "risque" shall we say. Anyway, I don't read the words anymore. I just enjoy the music! LOL.
on May 18,2014 | 04:56PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Some Hawaiian songs, and the hulas that go with them, are indeed risqué and just for fun, which is why the missionaries urged the Kings to ban them. But some Hawaiian songs and hulas that might SEEM risqué are actually quite respectable in context of the culture. These mele ma'i (robot censor prohibits a translation) praise the powerful whatchamacallits of a highborn chief, even if he's still only a child, because of the fact that future generations of rulers and heroes will come forth from them. So what might seem pornographic to our culture was not at all pornographic to that culture. Always try to find the good in what at first might seem bad.
on May 18,2014 | 07:20PM
Mythman wrote:
WRT Dr Ken - didn't Sen McCain cut off the annual Sen Inouye earmark for the PVS?
on May 18,2014 | 10:32AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Myth, I don't know whether McCain succeeded in that effort a few years ago, but I heard on a national news program that the PVS appropriation is now again on a list of boondoggles deserving to be cut (along with the East-West Center).
on May 18,2014 | 11:46AM
WatsIt2u wrote:
While this voyage may not be "traditional" because of modern materials, tools and changing of the crews as you so put it, our Kūpuna were akamai to embrace change and evolve as long as it was for the better. Navigating by the stars is traditional. Bet you canʻt do that...As far as changing of the crews are concerned, I know that some crew members would love to do the entire sail but, commitments to job, school and family is why crews are changed out. So, save your ignorant, condescending, white supremacist rants. If you donʻt like here, then go back to the black lagoon where you belong.
on May 18,2014 | 10:35AM
boolakanaka wrote:
Hardly a boondoggle, but hey, if it comes from the never peer reviewed, never published, nil applied research or field study, putative and pedantic perch of life that you so freely espouse and promulgate....whatever. When in fact much real research is derived from such activities...http://www.hawaii.edu/malamalama/2008/05/f2-voyaging.html
on May 18,2014 | 11:33AM
Mythman wrote:
For point of reference, Dr Boo - are you a Kam Schools graduate? Yes or no.
on May 18,2014 | 12:42PM
boolakanaka wrote:
K-12 Public school, grew up in Halawa Housing.
on May 18,2014 | 02:07PM
false wrote:
me too. not ks. just buff and blue. same beginnings and papakolea too. yeah for hokulea and hikianalia. we live on.
on May 18,2014 | 04:13PM
KWAY wrote:
Imua Hokule'a. Malama Pono
on May 18,2014 | 08:29AM
maya wrote:
It would be nice ( but maybe too much work for the journalists at Star Advertiser) to go a little more indepth on this voyage. A simple question like "What is the itinerary? " would be a good start. What countries and what ports are they heading to? The other question a hardworking journalist would ask is " where are you getting your water?". Another would be " What is your toilet facilities? " I also remembered the last Hokulea in the 70s, we all knew who was in the voyage because someone actually listed their names in the paper. Now what? No names listed? Are they going to rotate crew, or have the same crew the whole time?And, last but not least, it would have been real nice to show interior pictures of the Hokulea, so we all could see how they live on this voyage. Is that not too much to ask of this newspaper?
on May 18,2014 | 08:40AM
waikiicapt wrote:
Yes, sad isn't it? One of the most significant cultural events for local residents and the editors could hardly be bothered to put a little effort into a story in depth. But I'm quite sure they would offer their readers a quick retort, "You folks aren't interested in the details, you just want a quick 'feel good' story while you eat your breakfast and then go beach!" They might be right. Look at the USAToday rag. Lots of colorful pictures and little depth in anything they right about. Sadly the SA is run by editors who thik they know what we as readers want and simultaneously, try to mold our opinions on everyday issues that "they" think are important. How hard would it be to post a link to the PVA website? List the crew on this first leg? Post a pic of the world itnerary? Show a map of the first leg? Interview a few lesser known crew and get their feelings and thoughts about participating in something far bigger than them as an individual? Your questions about daily, mundane, routine life at sea are good....for those who have no idea. The HOKULE'A is off on another adventure, this time far more ambitous than anything she has done before. I personally hope and pray everyone returns home safely in a few years. But I also believe they are in for a far more challenging trip then even their in-house 'experts' realize. They are going to traverse some incredibly challenging parts of the the Indian Ocean and Atlantic. This will NOT be a yachting adventure as some may think. This is a globe spanning trip with ocean crossings that most professional seafarers (as I am) would not do by choice. God bless all of the crew and the Kapena's to bring them safely home, with both canoes, too.
on May 18,2014 | 09:46AM
marcellus77 wrote:
maya, our two-day special section last week (ran Monday/Tuesday) covers most of your questions here, in the detail that's available so far, if you're able to track down copies. Most of the articles in that section are also available to read on the Star-Advertiser's Hokule'a web page, http://hokulea.staradvertiser.com/ under "Articles." Aloha.
on May 18,2014 | 09:51AM
maya wrote:
Posting a link would be nice, since some of us missed that series, and would like more info. If you are doing a series of articles on one subject, posting links to the article ( next to the article and not in the comment section)would help people catch up. Most major newspapers do that.
on May 18,2014 | 10:33AM
false wrote:
We wish you well Hokulea and Hikianalia. Mahalo ke akua.
on May 18,2014 | 08:42AM
Slow wrote:
All of Hawaii is lifted and inspired by the voyages. Aloha brave sailors.
on May 18,2014 | 09:15AM
maafifloos wrote:
Who was the captain of the 2nd (1978) attempt?
on May 18,2014 | 09:32AM
false wrote:
Ken Conklin's comments are so true but many supporters are blinded by a sense of native pride. In what? What is the purpose this trip which I feel is just an OJT (on the job training) boating field trip? All this nonsensical hype of impending danger lurking around uncharted waters. C'mon now. Canned goods, bottled water, toilet facilities, GPS, constant radio contacts, a cook, crew changes sure doesn't sound like what the true ancient mariners encountered on their long, isolated voyages. Sure there will be some danger from the elements but so does any boating trip. Makes the voyagers on today's trip a laughing stock.
on May 18,2014 | 10:11AM
Mythman wrote:
More to the point: this started out as part of the Hawaiian Renaissance, but now the objective has changed to "saving" the Ocean. Ancient wayfaring is just sort of hanging on now. Why the change? More feel good do gooder foundations can get involved with grants to subsidize the endeavor. Weave a little "education" into it and you have the typical print media PR package. But today, the WWW presents a completely new dimension - one that the project is not able to capitalize on due to its underpinnings as a promo deal. I pray to the sea gods that no one is killed in this crazy stunt, again. Eddie was a great surfer, big wave man of the Day. Love Eddie....
on May 18,2014 | 10:37AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Per false: "GPS". .......... false sounds like another hater, who kept INSISTING that the Hokule'a crew (crews) WILL BE using GPS along the way. I replied that the Hokule'a is a sailing classroom for 300 people who had been training for almost 3 years for this voyage, and now aboard the Hokule'a, their training will be put to a test. They won't be cheating with GPS. They can't learn by cheating.
on May 18,2014 | 11:05AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
"They can't learn by cheating." That's what I always told my students. But somehow they kept trying to get away with it anyway.
on May 18,2014 | 11:51AM
hanalei395 wrote:
The new navigators and NOT like anybody who are, were involved with a nothing like Conklin, and learning nothing from a nothing, like Conklin.
on May 18,2014 | 12:14PM
bodysurf_ah wrote:
students??? Get outta here!
on May 18,2014 | 08:27PM
bodysurf_ah wrote:
You are not Hawaiian, why would you understand?
on May 18,2014 | 08:32PM
50skane wrote:
Do they stay on the Hokule'a when they reach a port or do they get off and stay somewhere else more accommodating like a hotel, and do they eat at a restaurant or just fresh fruits and vegetables and basic starch. Doesn't seem right to travel like the ancient Hawaiians and not live on the Hokule'a when they make port.
on May 18,2014 | 12:07PM
false wrote:
Read more articles in the SA and get your answers.
on May 18,2014 | 04:16PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Certainly not a necessity, but tax dollars do need to be spent on cultural (and yes, I include sports in that term) endeavors as well. So I'm good with this. Good luck!!
on May 18,2014 | 04:54PM
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