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Busy voyaging canoe crews catch breath before departure

By Marcel Honoré


HILO » All the public ceremonies, tours and extended farewells in Hawaii are pau.

Now all that's left for the crews of Hokule‘a and Hikianalia are to make some last-minute canoe fixes, take a few deep breaths and sail around the world.

Their pace during the past couple of weeks has been exhausting.

"It's been go-go-go," Waimanalo resident Greg Eckart, one of Hikianalia's 16 crew members on the sail to Tahiti, said Saturday. "It's been such an overwhelming show of community support … but there's so much stimulation."

Hokule‘a will have an additional 13 crewing the canoe.

Sometime before Tuesday, when the vessels are expected to leave Hilo, Eckart said, he hopes to hike into the surrounding woods and contemplate what he hopes to accomplish on the voyage ahead.

Waiting for favorable winds to arrive early next week provides opportunities for the entire crew, Hokule‘a captain Nainoa Thompson said.

"One is to get focused, one is to get quiet, one is to get private, one is to be with family, one is to get rest," Thompson said Saturday. "And one is to really … deepen your understanding of why are you going on this voyage. So the winds are allowing you that time."

Earlier in the day, about 30 select crew members expected to sail on various legs during the next three years took part in a private sunrise ceremony for the journey's safety and success.

The event, involving smaller canoes, was designed for Hokule‘a and Hikianalia and rooted in Hawaiian cosmology. It started at the Mokuola Island pu‘uhonua — a traditional place of refuge — and ended about a mile south at Palekai. It lasted nearly four hours.

The purpose was to transfer the spirit and mana of the islands to the two wa‘a — making the canoes islands unto themselves, ceremony co-creator Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani said afterward.

The ceremony also included about 30 minutes of chanting from memory, recounting the "genealogy" of modern canoes in Hawaii and Hokule‘a's previous voyages around the Pacific, participants said.

"Today's the final piece of the puzzle," Thompson said after the ceremony. "It's where you have the Hawaiian spiritual part of who we are placed onto the canoe to protect her."

With the ceremony pau, crews spent the morning greeting visitors in a final public goodbye. Local members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha posed for photos in front of the canoes.

Local enthusiasts brought their own outrigger model, the 17-foot-long Liloa, to sail in the same waters as Hokule‘a.

"We wanted Liloa to come and see Hokule‘a before she leaves," Kohala resident Kainoa Willey said.

Some crew members shopped for polyurethane, bolts and other supplies. Hokule‘a hit rough seas on Hawaii's eastern shore en route to Hilo, giving the canoe an early test and giving the crew a chance to make final fixes, particularly to the nets.

"I've been so busy — tired," Hikianalia crew member Kaiwi Hamakua-Makue said Saturday. Hamakua-Makue, a junior-year student studying finance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said he took five finals last week before leaving for the summer journey.

"Our kuleana is to make sure those two canoes are ready," he said. "I think that's part of the wa‘a life, being flexible."

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manakuke wrote:
A brief rest before the long journey begins.
on May 25,2014 | 06:21AM
hanalei395 wrote:
For about 300 new navigators, keeping alive the ancient Polynesian art of navigational wayfinding, once lost, for all generations to come.
on May 25,2014 | 09:23AM
hanalei395 wrote:
After almost 3 years of training, their training of navigational wayfinding will be put to a test on Hokule'a, a sailing classroom.
on May 25,2014 | 09:34AM
DiverDave wrote:
They got GPS, Hanalei. LOL
on May 25,2014 | 07:11PM
DiverDave wrote:
The United States of America. Where you are free to practice your culture any time you wish. Even if it is in a boat unlike any original voyaging canoe(fiberglass), and has the latest high tech electronic equipment. And will be making 30 stops. And will be accompanied by another "support" boat. And will be changing crews many, many times. Other than that, they will be practicing their culture.
on May 25,2014 | 07:08AM
false wrote:
Even with modern navigation instruments sailing long distances across the ocean is very challenging. The crews of Hokule'a will have experiences they will never forget.
on May 25,2014 | 10:04AM
false wrote:
Yep. Hurricane season is starting. Hope they carry a lot of life insurance.
on May 25,2014 | 10:34AM
serious wrote:
My thoughts exactly. Horrible timing after so many years of preparation--the Intercontinal Emergence Zone is exactly in their path. In the height of Hurricane season. Hate to say it---but I hope Search and Rescue are on alert, but it don't help in "The Perfect Storm".
on May 25,2014 | 01:02PM
AJandKJ wrote:
Maybe you meant the Intertropical Convergence Zone? It is close to the start of the Northern Hemisphere's Hurricane Season, but it's the end of the Southern Hemisphere's, and in about two weeks they'll be south of the equator, and hurricanes can't cross the equator. Although it would have been better to get started a few weeks earlier, they won't be sailing in the height of hurricane season at all. So it turns out they have done their homework!
on May 25,2014 | 03:37PM
Mythman wrote:
Err, correction: not "practicing" "their" culture - rather "re-enacting the Hawaiian culture as the platform upon which they promote the various aspects of the sponsorships - it's illuminating that the royal societies "blessed" them. These activities are in the legal realm known as "symbolic". Who actually owns the culture being re-enacted, however, is in the process of getting fixed in Washington. And a first clue is it is not the royal societies.
on May 25,2014 | 10:58AM
DiverDave wrote:
It's now not actually practicing. Now it is "symbolic" according to mythmaker.
on May 25,2014 | 07:12PM
star08 wrote:
IRT DD: What's your culture? Tell us all so we can celebrate as you celebrate Hawaiians.
on May 25,2014 | 04:08PM
DiverDave wrote:
If you really want to prove history you do it. Not "re-enact" it or create a "symbolic" act as mythmaker calls it. You, like NIKE says, "Just Do It"!
on May 25,2014 | 07:15PM
jomama wrote:
on May 25,2014 | 10:54AM
Eradication wrote:
Fair winds, following seas to Hokule`a and Hikianalia. The people of Hilo, both Kanaka Maoli and those that love and celebrate the Hawaiian Culture wish you a safe voyage. Many people, like the ones posting on here, have ill will towards you and your "Malama Honua" message. May the true spirit of Aloha go with you around the world and bring you home safely. He Moku I ka Wa`a, He Wa`a I ka Moku. Malama pono `oukou.
on May 25,2014 | 11:16PM
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