Aloha from Papeete, Tahiti aboard Hokule’a, where crews have been busy making all sorts of final preparations for a morning departure.
I don’t want to jinx it, but the weather looks promising for our scheduled sail to Raiatea. When you join these legs of the Malama Honua voyage you really have to brace for all possibilities. During the 2014 Samoa leg, bad winds and heavy seas almost canceled plans to sail to Apia and keep a rendezvous with then-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. An 11th-hour break in the weather made our journey possible.
No such drama yet this time around. If all goes to plan we’ll set a course for the traditionally sacred channel of Te Ava Mo’a on the island’s southeastern corner.
That pass will take us to the ancient temple ruins of Taputapuatea, where a full day of ritual and ceremony under the sun awaits us Tuesday.
Many of the latest crew landed in Tahiti late Sunday and, after clearing customs, went straight to the harbor where Hokule’a and Hikianalia were docked side-by-side.
I pulled a pillow from the very bottom of my dry bag, crawled up onto the navigator’s cot, and fell asleep under the stars. Others slept on the foam pads on the deck or in the hulls. The occasional shrill buzz of moped motors from one of Papeete’s main drags was the only thing to break the serene sound of the canoes’ masts creaking as the vessels rocked in the water.
Just a few hours later we were all up and at it. Veteran crew member and chef Gary Yuen took a few younger members to shop for fresh, healthy ingredients at a local Papeete outdoor market. Crew members were assigned one of 12 cramped spaces along Hokulea’s two canvas-protected hulls to store their gear and to rest there when not on duty.
This is my first time back on Hokule’a in about two years, so I’m definitely rusty – still getting used to the routine. I’ve never really mastered the art of using the limited space in an efficient way. I’ll cram and pack gear into a small space only to laboriously dig it out again minutes later. I marvel the ease with which more experienced and veteran canoe crew members manage to pull it off. They’re pros.
Still, it’s nice to get reacquainted with this modern replica of the sailing vessels used by the ancients. Looking forward to a good sail with opportunities to learn more and to contribute to its success, as well as a and visit to one of the most important and sacred sites in the Pacific.
Star-Advertiser reporter Marcel Honoré is onboard Hokule’a this week for its journey to Raiatea. Follow his coverage at staradvertiser.com/hokulea