Hōkūleʻa prepares to circumnavigate the Pacific guided by the stars, winds and waves
After five years of planning and preparation, Hōkūleʻa is set for a four-year voyage around the Pacific starting this summer.
The Moananuiākea Voyage will see hundreds of crew members take part in a global education campaign. Their mission is to help navigate the Earth toward a more sustainable future.
Chants and prayers were offered to Kanaloa, the Hawaiian god of the ocean, in a ceremony Tuesday to bless the double-hulled canoe Hōkūleʻa and the crew members seeking permission to travel the Pacific.
"Today is about what do we look for in the next 50 years? What’s its destination?" said Nainoa Thompson, master navigator and CEO of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, as he announced the voyage at Sand Island on Oʻahu.
About 400 crew members will join in the journey to 36 countries around the Pacific.
Starting in June, the expedition will set off from Alaska and eventually end in Tahiti in the spring of 2027.
The planned route includes the U.S. West Coast, Mexico, parts of South America, Polynesia, New Zealand or Aotearoa, Micronesia, Japan and more.
"What’s the kuleana in a place like Hawaiʻi that now lives in a global society and is responsible for the future of whether that Earth of ours is good enough for our children? It’s that looking forward that drives Moananuiākea," Thompson said.
PVS is building on its legacy of ocean exploration that began 50 years ago this month and culminated in Hōkūleʻa's World Wide Voyage five years ago.
Thompson said navigating by the elements requires crew members to make 500 decisions a day based on their observations of the stars, wind and waves.
After five years of preparation, the next generation of navigators is ready to become teachers like renowned Micronesian navigator Papa Mau Piailug of Satawal.
"By the time, either the Galapagos or Rapa Nui, only young people command these canoes. And our job is to do what Mau did. Step back, but be there for the big storms," Thompson said.
Kau ka peʻa, holo ka waʻa. Up go the sails, away goes the canoe.
Check out more stories from Hawaiʻi Public Radio reporter Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi: