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Hokule'a, Hikianalia leave Hawaii on historic voyage

By Marcel Honoré

LAST UPDATED: 06:15 p.m. HST, May 30, 2014

After nearly a week's wait for optimal winds, Hokule'a left Hawaii shores Friday afternoon for the open sea — and what aims to be a historic, three-year odyssey of aloha around the world.

The voyaging canoe cast off just after 1:45 p.m. as hundreds of well-wishers lined the shores at Palekai in Hilo to bid aloha to the crews. Her escort vessel, Hikianalia, followed Hokule'a out into Hilo Bay several minutes later.

The more than 50,000-mile journey will eventually take the renowned double-hulled voyaging canoe, first launched in 1975, and Hikianalia out of the Pacific Ocean for the first time and into unfamiliar waters.

Once the canoes enter the Indian Ocean, likely in August 2015 based on the current sail plan, crews are bracing for new risks from churning, unpredictable seas there, as well as threats of piracy and ship collisions.

Nonetheless, organizers of Hokule'a's "Malama Honua" ("Care for Our Earth") voyage say the journey's purpose is worth the risk. The canoes and their crews aim to export a message of aloha and cultural harmony to the about 85 ports and 26 countries they plan to visit in the coming years.

They further look to rally people across "island Earth" around the 21st-century problems of vanishing natural resources, rising seas and changing climates. Crew members also hope the voyage will inspire Hawaiians to use the islands to pursue solutions.

Hokule'a and Hikianalia now sail for Tahiti on Malama Honua's first international leg, a trip expected to take 15 to 30 days. To make landfall, the canoes' 29 crew members will rely on traditional means of navigation their Polynesian ancestors once employed, using the stars, waves and other natural cues to guide them, with Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson serving as captain and navigator aboard Hokule'a.

If all goes to plan, the two wa'a won't return to Hawaii shores until 2017.

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HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Best wishes for fair winds and calm seas.
on May 30,2014 | 03:48PM
aomohoa wrote:
Here's to an amazing adventure. Come back safely.
on May 30,2014 | 04:55PM
salsacoquibx wrote:
GOOD LUCK..hope they hit the Indian Ocean when its summer time, its like glass..Winter time is awful. Hopefully they bypass that..
on May 30,2014 | 05:05PM
jomama wrote:
you are not a sailor. Glass is not good and leads to things like starvation.
on May 30,2014 | 07:08PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I'm pretty sure he/she understands they need winds, but the Indian Ocean can be pretty treacherous during the wrong time of the year.
on May 31,2014 | 06:36AM
FrankieT wrote:
Quit being so negative. She meant them good luck, look at the positive side of this. "Fair winds and following Seas" Jomama, you need to learn to be happy......
on May 31,2014 | 06:54AM
MakaniKai wrote:
God speed Hokulea and Hikianalia - reintroducing Polynesia to the world - King Kalakaua made history in 1881 the two wa'a will do so over the next 3 years. This is soooooooo exciting. Imua!
on May 30,2014 | 05:56PM
MightyMakiki wrote:
Here here!!!
on May 31,2014 | 11:23AM
Ronin006 wrote:
The Hokule'a supposedly will navigate using traditional means of navigation once used by ancient Polynesian seafarers. If that is true, why was it necessary to use NOAA weather forecasts and computer models to determine the best day to depart Hilo for Tahiti? That was not exactly traditional.
on May 30,2014 | 07:12PM
Hotel wrote:
But close to traditional. Early mariners kept records of their voyages and published their data in books called "Sailing Directions". Once the ancients arrived in Hawaii, they had a pretty good idea of the "sailing directions" that would be useful to help them return "home". The Advertiser had this story in 1976.
on May 31,2014 | 02:04PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Departure was based on weather forecasts from NOAA and weather computer models. Traditional means?
on May 30,2014 | 07:26PM
lokela wrote:
Bon voyage. Good luck and best wishes on the world tour.
on May 31,2014 | 07:17AM
Waterman2 wrote:
on May 31,2014 | 10:15AM
Hotel wrote:
The Advertiser, in 1976, published a detailed "sail plan" that was expected to be used on that first voyage. And the "why". The Advertiser was totally perfect on the climate aspect of the voyage. Part of the "how". The old Advertiser did a great job, back then.
on May 31,2014 | 12:06PM
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