It's countdown time for one of the most ambitious sailing adventures on earth. In less than two weeks, the voyaging canoe Hokule'a and her sister vessel Hikianalia will set sail from Hawaii. It's the first international leg of the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Malama Honua sail, a four-year circumnavigation of the world these traditional Hawaiian sailing canoes.
Hokule’a planned route
The journey will start with Tahiti, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand this year.
In 2015 they will sail to Fiji, Australia, Bali and Madagascar.
2016 will find the canoes sailing to South Africa, crossing the Atlantic to Brazil and then a tour up the U.S. east coast.
2017 will be the voyage home through the Panama Canal with stops including the Galapagos, Rapa Nui and back home to Hawaii.
Holule'a and its crew have been sailing for six years, but it was the world circumnavigation that was alluring, and it's not just about the journey. According to the organisers, it's about 'Malama Honua' -- taking care of mother earth.
'We've been training for six years. We've sailed over 50,000 miles in just north of the equator and Hawaii just to ready for this voyage,' said Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. 'It's time to go. It's time to go.'
After an intensive dry dock Hokule'a is now lighter, faster and more watertight than ever before. Her sister vessel Hikianalia is loaded with the latest technology.
The ambitious voyage has been years in the making as organizers looked at where the winds would allow Hokulea to sail and how to keep it safe from mother nature and human violence.
'Hurricanes define our sail schedule. We sail in the non-hurricane season in those parts of the world and we don't compromise them,' said Thompson. 'Part of it is avoiding human violence. The piracy issue in East Africa, West Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines; we knock out places specifically because the risk was too high.'
The mission of this voyage focuses on the Earth's cultural and national treasures, how we can all work together to protect them and highlight the good stuff that's being done by communities all around the world. It brings it all together on a global platform using technology to bring everyone together.
'We sail on the belief that at the commonness of all of us is a people who care about their children, care about their home and they care about a world that they deliver to their next generation. That's our fundamental belief and so we sail for it,' said Thompson.
Hokule'a is a full-scale replica of a wa'a kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Launched way back in 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaii to Tahiti voyage performed with Polynesian navigation techniques. Many thousands of miles later she is to embark on this much more ambitious voyage.