POSTED: 3:10 p.m. HST, May 17, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 10:21 p.m. HST, May 17, 2014
Several hundred people gathered at a Sand Island dock Saturday to bid a hui hou to Hokule'a, hours before the voyaging canoe left Oahu for its ambitious three-year journey around the world.
Throughout the afternoon, well-wishers posed for pictures with crew members, performed live Hawaiian music and danced, and got a last glimpse of Hokule'a before it embarks on the first international leg its Malama Honua (Care for the Earth) voyage.
Meanwhile, crews of Hokule'a and its escort canoe, Hikianalia, made last-minute preparations -- loading the two boats with supplies, fastening lashings and other tasks.
The double-hulled canoes departed at sunset for Hilo, a sail that crew members say will take at least two days.
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 a safe, successful voyage.
The trio are members of the Ocean Elders, a group of renowned scientists, artists and activists formed in 2010 to advocate for ocean conservation.
"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 Saturday. "If the oceans don't make it, neither will we."