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Hokule'a: Revitalized and ready to take on the world

By Marcel Honoré

LAST UPDATED: 11:23 a.m. HST, May 12, 2014

Hokule'a is still designed to sail and perform as its ancestral wa'a (canoes) did, when centuries ago they pulled much of Polynesia out of the sea.

But in many ways this is Hokule'a 2.0.

When Polynesian Voyaging Society members hauled Hokule'a out of the water in September 2010 for major dry-dock work, "she was tired, she was damaged" after having logged some 150,000 miles on the Pacific Ocean during a 35-year period, PVS President Nainoa Thompson said recently. 

During the following 18 months, Hawaii's famous voyaging canoe was basically rebuilt.

Then, after having sailed around the Hawaiian Islands last year for what PVS considered the first leg of its worldwide voyage, Hokule'a spent another 21/2 months in dry dock preparing for the international journey. During that stretch, more than 100 volunteers logged over 1,000 hours, often staying overnight at the Marine Education and Training Center to help sand, lash and varnish the canoe.

"She's faster, she's lighter, she's stronger, she's more watertight," Thompson said in March, moments after volunteers slipped Hokule'a back into the waters off Sand Island. To handle a 36-month voyage around the world, "she'd have to be the best she's ever been," he said.

Hokule'a's wood hulls, sheathed in fiberglass, remain original. But just about every other component of the vessel has been replaced.

"She's stabler, she's probably a little more efficient hydrodynamically than she was before," METC Director Bob Perkins said. That's a fancy way to say the Hokule'a sails better than it did prior to the dry-dock work.

The canoe is now about 2 feet wider than before, and that gives the waves created between the two hulls more space to pass through, with less turbulence, Perkins explained. "She is a faster boat" by about 1 to 2 knots and performs best at speeds ranging between

7 to 9 knots, he said.

Hokule'a's matching canoe hulls descend into a narrow V-shape at their tips, giving the wa'a better "form resistance" than its companion canoe, the Hikianalia. Those V's allow Hokule'a to cut a straighter path through the water. (The Hikianalia has wider, more rounded hulls -- but centerboards below those hulls help the canoe to keep a straight course.)

The different hull designs have other impacts, too. Hokule'a crew members will sleep atop that vessel's narrower hulls, with little more than canvas to protect them from the surrounding elements. Hikianalia's wider hulls allow the crew to sleep in seven snug compartments inside each hull. 

But the Hokule'a is more than a sailing vessel, of course. Across its deck, railings, sweep and other pieces are etched the names of its creators, caretakers and those who have helped shape the wa'a's nearly 40-year legacy.

Hokule'a left dry dock in shape to sail another 30 years, according to PVS Vice President Bruce Blankenfeld. "This wa'a is a living treasure. It's a cultural treasure," he said.

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Mythman wrote:
My God, he wrote groaning, the massive deluge of PR BS in this press release posing as a news story is disgusting. Well funded and well staffed, there is no metric too insignificant for the grandiose minds of these wayfarers as they etch for themselves a line in "history". What has "news" become if not mostly a PR stunt done to make news? Why? Something is being "promoted" in the "public's" mind - more than likely Kam Schools, ultimately.
on May 12,2014 | 06:06AM
Ronin006 wrote:
The SA is using the Hokule'a to divert attention away from real news like the Benghazi and IRS scandals that are shaking the Obama administration.
on May 12,2014 | 09:18AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Back to Benghazi and the IRS by the Republicans. Obamacare, no longer "real news".
on May 12,2014 | 10:39AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
The other night, KHON had a story about how they found ants on board, and would need an exterminator.

I assumed they would use traditional pest control practices :)

on May 12,2014 | 09:39AM
hanalei395 wrote:
A dumb post by Kalaheo, who thought it was brilli-ant.
on May 12,2014 | 10:36AM
2localgirl wrote:
Wishing you all a safe journey where ever the winds and currents guide you. Aloha no.....
on May 12,2014 | 09:11AM
HanabataDays wrote:
I could hardly blame them for taking an around-the-world voyage in hopes that the idiotic political commenters would have vanished by their return.
on May 12,2014 | 10:55AM
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