Going aboard the Hokule’a is a dream of mine, but I literally missed the boat when the Polynesian Voyaging Society came in June on the Malama Hawai’i leg of their Malama Honua trip–the Worldwide Voyage. Luckily, I have another chance this Monday when the Hokule’a and her sister voyaging ship Hikianalia will be anchoring in Honolua Bay, honoring our island with another opportunity to learn about their journey around the world and its significance to the planet.
“We are building better relationships with people around the world,” says Kaiulani Murphy, one of the few crewmembers who will make the entire voyage around the world on board the ship. “People who have the same desire to take care of our planet, our island Earth.”
The Hokule’a has seen over 135 nautical miles since she first set sail in 1975. What began as an exercise to disprove the theory that early explorers were not able to deliberately navigate using the stars has put in motion one of the strongest icons of Hawaiian and Polynesian pride. Now the Polynesian Voyaging Society will share that internationally taking a 46,000-mile round-the-world odyssey that is projected to visit more than 21 countries through 2017.
“Hawaiian culture has not only emerged, it is strengthening,” says Voyaging Society Captain Nainoa Thompson on his worldwide video post at Hokulea.org. “That is not common around the world. That is unique. There are cultures and languages lost every single day on this planet.”
The expedition started in May with their Malama Hawaii voyages, in which the crew anticipates making connections at more than 30 ports and sailing 1,000 miles statewide. Then by May 2014 they will sail for Tahiti.
Living in balance with the environment and bridging the gap between what is modern and ancient are key messages they will take with them, says Lehua Kamalu, one of the new generation of crew members aboard the PVS vessels.
“This is a truly special occasion, as the broader community celebrates recent successes in preserving Honolua Bay,” says Surfrider Maui Vice Chair Timothy Lara. “We are pleased to be able to offer these tours to our visitors and the local community as a way to connect with our local culture and be a part of something very meaningful in our history.”
Space and parking in the area are obviously limited. The groups recommend arriving early. Hawaiian Paddle Sports and Jean-Michele Cousteau’s ambassadors program will transport visitors on six-man canoes from the ramp at Honolua Bay. Once on board, self-guided tours of the ships await you.
The best thing to do is park in the back of the valley and then walk the trail by the stream out to the rocky boat ramp at the innermost curve of the bay. If you’re staying at the Ritz, just call Amanda Gravitte of Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment at 808-665-7292 to arrange transportation.
The Surfrider Foundation will also host a 6pm reception that’s open to the public after the tours end on the Beach House Lawn at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. West Maui’s Hui O Wa’a Kaulua will also talk about the crafting and launching of Mo’okiha O Pi’ilani. And Thompson will lead a talk about the worldwide voyage for the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
“It will do us nothing if we are tied to the dock,” says Thompson of the trek of the canoes on their website. “We are not going to change the world, but we are going to go and build a network of people around the Earth who are going to change it. Our job is to help them be successful.”
The Surfrider Foundation, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment, Hawaii Paddle Sports, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Save Honolua Coalition and Hui O Wa’a Kaulua will partner up this Monday to bring you this rare opportunity to witness the traditional Polynesian seafaring craft in a stunning natural setting. The local community and island visitors are invited to take complimentary tours of both canoes from 2pm to 4pm. The canoes depart for Molokai on Aug. 20.