After traveling some 21,500 nautical miles of ocean over the last two years as part of its “Malama Honua” worldwide voyage, the crew of the voyaging canoe Hokule‘a finds itself in a most unique position: surrounded by fresh water in the middle of Florida.
The vessel arrived in Florida on March 23, and crew members have spent the intervening time meeting with indigenous tribes and plotting the canoe’s course northward.
The crew traveled to the Everglades, where they met with Native American representatives. As crew member Todd Yamashita explained in a recent online report, “As the first people of this continent, we humbly asked their permission and blessings to be here in North America.”
Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson made the call to cut through the state via the 132-mile Okeechobee Waterway instead of circling back to the east coast of the state.
In preparation for the crossing, the crew lowered both sails as a precaution against low-lying bridges and potential lightning strikes.
The canoe is being towed by another vessel through a series of five locks.
On Saturday the Hokule‘a crew drove to Miami to meet with leaders of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, which works with more than 280 schools to promote environmental awareness. The program operates through inquiry-based challenges that give students opportunities to work on science projects that have practical applications within their communities.
This year’s challenge was for students to imagine that they are Polynesian voyagers and to determine which plants to bring with them on a voyage to a distant place.
On Sunday the crew left Stuart for Titusville.
After leaving Florida the crew will travel up the East Coast, with planned stops in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, where the Polynesian Voyaging Society will celebrate Earth Day with the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News.