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Hokule'a departs - a tradition restored

by KHNLHD/Sail-World Cruising on 15 Mar 2009
Hokule’a crew farewell SW
After a nail-biting ten day delay to her departure caused by bad weather forecasts, the historic Hokule'a has finally set sail from Sand Island in Honolulu on its latest journey.

Its crew of 24 departed Oahu and headed for the isolated nature preserve, Palmyra Atoll. It'll be a nearly 1000 mile voyage that will take about 20 days.


The Hokule'a is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a wa'a kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, which was built both to aid in the practical establishment of the theory of the origins of the Pacific, and also to revive the old traditions of the Hawaiian people. The craft is preparing to circumnavigate the world in 2012.

Using the stars as its compass, Hokulea's tradition of sailing without instruments dates back 35 years. Recent bad weather kept the sailing canoe docked, but on departure day this week the clear conditions couldn't have been better to begin its journey.


Kailin Kim is the youngest crew member ever.

She said she that while preparing for the journey she learned not to eat greasy foods and how to use the Hokule'a bathroom.

'You have to use a harness and hang off the back,' she told KHNLHD.

But this 17-year-old also wants to teach.

'I really want more people my age to be inspired by me going on this voyage and get involved with Hokulea and learn about the old ways,' said Kim.

Captains, scientists and young navigators embark to Palmyra Atoll, an isolated nature preserve south of Oahu. Its landscape looks like Hawaii did a 100 years ago. The crew wants to find ways to restore it to the old and make the state sustainable.

'We need to strengthen the things that make Hawaii so special,' said Executive Director Nainoa Thompson.

'What the future is going to bring in terms of changes, positive changes here and abroad,' said Hokulea Captain Bruce Blankenfeld.

A tale of Hawaiian tradition, Hokulea is hopeful the strength of the state's youth fills its sails into the future.

Aside from ways to restore land, this trip will also help train new crew members.

Hokulea will need about 260 people for its attempt to sail around the world in 2012.





About Hokule'a:


Hokule'a is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a wa'a kaulua,a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Launched on 8 March 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawai'i to Tahiti voyage performed with Polynesian navigation techniques, without modern navigational instruments. The primary goal of the voyage was to further support the anthropological theory of the Asiatic origin of native Oceanic people, of Polynesians and Hawaiians in particular, as the result of purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents, or sailing from the Americas. (Scientific results of 2008, from DNA analysis, illuminate this theory of Polynesian settlement.) A secondary goal of the project was to have the canoe and voyage 'serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians.'

Since the 1976 voyage to Tahiti and back, Hokule‘a has completed many more voyages to destinations in Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation. On 9 June 2007, Hokule‘a completed the 'One Ocean, One People' voyage to Yokohama, Japan.

When not on a voyage, Hokule‘a is moored at the Marine Education Training Center (METC) of Honolulu Community College in Honolulu Harbor.

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