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Hokule‘a crew celebrates crossing equator on voyage home

  • COURTESY POLYNESIAN VOYAGING SOCIETY / ‘ŌIWI

    Hokule‘a has sailed more than 31,000 nautical miles since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, making stops in 16 countries. More than 200 volunteer crew members have participated in different legs of the journey.

Crew members aboard the Hokule‘a performed a traditional awa ceremony on Friday to mark the storied voyaging canoe’s traverse over the equator on its way back to Hawaii.

Ten days into the final international leg of Hokule‘a’s three-year Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, the crew paid close attention to the canoe’s position relative to its surroundings to track the precise moment when it entered the equatorial crossing point — “piko o wakea” in Hawaiian.

Now in the Northern Hemisphere, the navigators will be more easily able to hone in on Hawaii via the star Hokule‘a, also called Arcturus, which each night this time of year reaches its highest point in the sky directly over Hawaii.

“To be in this space, and to be able to confirm where we are based on what we’re seeing in the sky—and to then justify it, back it up one more time with our mileage and navigating process — has been very gratifying,” said apprentice navigator Pua Lincoln Maielua.

To mark the crossing, crew members took turns placing stones that represented their home and family into the water, establishing what master navigator Bruce Blankenfeld hopes will be a new tradition for practitioners of traditional Polynesian voyaging.

Hokule‘a has sailed more than 31,000 nautical miles since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, making stops in 16 countries. More than 200 volunteer crew members have participated in different legs of the journey.

The canoe is expected to return to Hawaii on June 17, with a cultural welcoming ceremony scheduled at Magic Island and week-long celebrations — including a three-day Malama Honua Fair and Summit at the Hawai‘i Convention Center — to follow.

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