After a 36-month voyage around the world, the Hokule’a is finally on her way home.
The Hawaiian sailing canoe and her escort vessel, the Hikianalia, departed Tautira, Tahiti for Hawaii around 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to a Polynesian Voyaging Society spokeswoman.
It marks the last leg of the Malama Honua (“Care for the Earth”) Worldwide Voyage, a three-year expedition that saw Hokule’a leave the Pacific for the first time in its 42-year history and travel more than 40,000 miles around the globe under sail and tow to promote better protection of the world’s natural resources.
The traditional Polynesian sailing canoe replica, widely credited with helping to revive Hawaiian culture in the 1970s, has visited more than 18 countries and 150 ports since leaving Hilo in May 2014. More than 250 crew members have participated in the voyage, according to a PVS tally, with crew-changes occurring about every month.
The sail home from Tahiti is expected to take two to three weeks depending on the winds and the weather. Longtime voyagers and Hawaii Island natives Pomai Bertelmann and Ka’iulani Murphy will captain and navigate Hokule’a, respectively.
Murphy, a Hawaiian Studies instructor at Honolulu Community College, will use traditional wayfinding navigation to guide the canoe back to Hawaii.
A public homecoming ceremony on Oahu is slated for June 17 at Magic Island.