The Hokule‘a voyaging canoe arrived on Maui on Sunday, May 18 as the crew is preparing for its Worldwide Voyage, which is scheduled to depart Hilo on May 24. The crew will sail the canoe, guided by the stars and elements, without modern navigational instruments. Hokule‘a–and the Hikianalia Polynesian voyaging canoe–will sail around the world to help grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. They will cover 47,000 nautical miles, stop at 85 ports in 26 countries.
As part of the preparation for the journey, the Hokule’a crew in Maui harvested 400 pounds of sweet potatoes that were grown at Ocean Vodka’s Organic Farm in Kula. The produce will serve as nourishment and provide lessons in sustainability as navigators embark on their voyage around the world. The crop will be used as food and also in research on hydroponic farming and other methods of continuous on-vessel farming that could support the crew as they traverse the globe.
The crew, family and friends of the Hokule‘a gathered on Mother’s Day for the harvest. In doing so, they also celebrated the mother canoes, Wa’a Makuahine, that originally brought the Polynesians to the Hawaiian Islands.
The variety of sweet potatoes is “piko,” which translates to “the center.” “Piko is the starting point where we thrive,” said group leader Kealoha Hoe. “It is at this core spot that one is re-energized so that you can then go out into the world and offer your gifts. The potatoes and other sources of food serve as physical and spiritual nourishment on our journey, a tie to the Gods that incorporates mana and spirit.”
The Hawaiian name for Hokule’a‘s voyage is Malama Honua, which means “to care for our Earth.”
“We are stewards of ocean, and of land,” said Hokule‘a crew-member and Ocean Vodka employee C.J. Elizares. “By growing the sweet potato, the Ocean Vodka family is practicing our stewardship. We are all just stewards of our time, taking care of the earth and culture in this time period… serving as models for the next generation.”
Originally launched on in March 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Hokule’a is best known for her 1976 Hawaii to Tahiti voyage performed with Polynesian navigation techniques and without modern navigational instruments. The primary goal of the voyage was to 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.
Since the 1976 voyage to Tahiti and back, Hokule‘a has completed nine voyages to Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada and the U.S., all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation. Her last completed voyage began Jan. 19, 2007, departing from Hawaii with the voyaging canoe Alingano Maisu on a trip through Micronesia and ports in southern Japan.
On June 9, 2007, Hokule‘a completed the “One Ocean, One People” voyage to Yokohama, Japan. On April 5, 2009, she returned to Honolulu following a round-trip training sail to Palmyra Atoll, undertaken to develop skills of potential crew-members for Hokule‘a’s eventual circumnavigation of the globe.
Photo of the Hokule’a in 2009: HongKongHuey/Wikimedia Commons