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Hokulea arriving in Mozambique to avoid ‘perfect storm’

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The double-hulled sailing canoe Hokule‘a was arriving at its destination near Maputo Bay in the Republic of Mozambique — a safe harbor away from an impending storm, according to asatellite tracking information Wednesday night.

The canoe, which is on worldwide voyage, was entering Maputo Bay about 9 p.m. Hawaii time, Hokule‘a officials said.

Hokule’a official Chad Baybayan said that in its original course, Hokule’a would have crossed a low-pressure system moving north toward Richards Bay. With winds blowing south to north, the crew would have been sailing into headwinds strong enough to stall the canoe’s progress. 

Plus, the crew would have contended with the Agulhas Current, which flows north to south down the east coast of Africa. 

When the opposing forces collide, Baybayan said in a satellite posting today, “They produce the largest rogue waves in the world, forming the “Perfect Storm” scenario we have been hoping to avoid.” 

Maputo is about 227 miles north of Richards Bay. Its location allows the Hokule’a to sail a more northerly course to avoid the storm developing in the south. 

The 12-member worldwide voyage crew includes navigator Nainoa Thompson and experienced watermen, such as Maui fisherman Tim Gilliom and former Maui Ocean Safety chief Archie Kalepa. 

Baybayan said the crew has been training for this leg for six years and has done intense meteorological research as part of the preparation. 

He said the crew has multiple international weather services advising them — the most reliable for this region being the South African Weather Service. 

The South African Weather Service has advised the Hokulea and its escort vessel Gershon II to alter the course to the prearranged safety anchorage to the north at Maputo. 

Baybayan said the crews should beat the developing conditions to the anchorage. 

“Both vessels and crews are safe, enjoying the excellent sailing weather for the time being, but alert and anticipating a weather shift,” he said. 

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