Hōkūleʻa

One month ago, as I write this, we stepped out of our rental unit and walked the two miles from our complex to dockside at the Kona Bay. 

Why? Why expose ourselves to the heat and humidity and actually mingle with a crowd of people (some which ended up less than a foot from me!)?

That is the Hōkūleʻa.

For them not prone to click on stuff, here’s the blurb from the Wikipedia entry:

Hōkūleʻa is a performance-accurate waʻa kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Launched on 8 March 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage completed with exclusively Polynesian navigation techniques. The primary goal of the voyage was to explore 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. (DNA analysis illuminates this theory.) A secondary project goal was to have the canoe and voyage “serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians”.

Between the 1976 voyage and 2009, Hōkūle‘a completed nine additional voyages to Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada and the mainland United States, all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation. On 19 January 2007, Hōkūle‘a left Hawaiʻi with the voyaging canoe Alingano Maisu on a voyage through Micronesia (map) and ports in southern Japan. The voyage was expected to take five months. On 9 June 2007, Hōkūle‘a completed the “One Ocean, One People” voyage to Yokohama, Japan. On April 5, 2009, Hōkūle‘a returned to Honolulu following a roundtrip training sail to Palmyra Atoll, undertaken to develop skills of potential crewmembers for Hōkūle‘a’s eventual circumnavigation of the earth.

On May 18, 2014, Hōkūle‘a and her sister vessel, Hikianalia embarked from Oahu for “Malama Honua“, a three-year circumnavigation of the earth. She returned to port in Hawaii on June 17, 2017. The journey covered 47,000 nautical miles with stops at 85 ports in 26 countries.

I plan to link a lot of stuff here, but I also advise doing your own research if at all interested in this particular boat. I removed a lot of links from the above blurb, so if doing your own research, that entry is a good general place to start.  Maybe a better place to start is the Hōkūleʻa webpage (HERE). 

So, a few more things before I recount our visit to the vessel . . . I once before wrote about these kinds of boats but it was in a different context. It was interesting traveling back to that time and read how we would have loved to move here . . . and now, here we are. 

Here’s one photo from that post just for them who won’t click on the link . . . 

. . . the aft view . . .

. . . the aft view . . .

So, back to March 30th . . . 

The reason we were going there was that the crew would be on hand to answer questions and that one could also board the boat. I imagined the worst as I contemplated the idea of thousands of people waiting in line to put foot onto a piece of modern history celebrating older history. 

And, indeed, on approaching the boat, I could see something that normally chills my blood even as I break out into a sweat . . . 

. . . people . . . 

I tried distracting my flight or fight reptilian brain by framing a few photos I would then artistify . . .

It was no use . . . no matter the angle, it looked like people were there in droves despite us having made the effort to get there early (before the official time that people would be allowed to board the boat). 

However, you know what? See those yellow robes and other colorful outfits? Those were local students performing various indigenous dances and songs, and the crowd wasn’t nearly as humongous as I had feared. In fact, we were pretty close to the front of the line (within a half hour of shuffling in the hot sun in the proximity of people who had little concept when it came to proper line etiquette). 

We dutifully got in line even as I barely contained my frustration with people who seemed oblivious to keeping up with people ahead of them and others who went around people and still others that blocked the passage as they stopped to look at some of the displays  . . . I really miss my guns. Not that I would use them, but if I had one on me I would be a lot more successful at maintaining my calm and not letting my annoyance with people eat at me.

You can see the big gaps in the line . . . at one point, it was because of these guys (and gals) . . . 

The Hawaiʻian islands have a sizable Japanese population and significant Japanese culture, but still . . . I’m not sure what the drummers have to do with the Polynesian sailors we were here to celebrate. 

I took a video of the players and because the people ahead of us wouldn’t move, I held the camera above my head. Unfortunately, the sun was very bright and I couldn’t quite see the screen. Oh well, you can at least get a little of it toward the end and hear the performance. 

The video is short because I actually moved when the people ahead of us moved. 

Once they stopped performing, the line achieved a semblance of proper movement . . . did I mention I don’t like crowds of people?

I spent some time snapping photos of stuff as we shuffled along. 

A lot of that stuff has to do with navigation. Some might recall this photo from last December: 

Here’s a framed version of it . . . 

So, that’s a navigation chart. If interested, you can read the description of the symbols and how they were used HERE and HERE. I think at one time the thinking was that the people who sailed these waters and tooled around Micronesia were just aimlessly wandering around as the currents and winds would push them. Eventually, it was proven they knew what they were doing and not only sailed with purpose, but were expert navigators.  

The Story of Hōkūleʻa is in part the story of recapturing the tradition of those sailors and the art of wayfinding.

The canoe itself is a reproduction of the boats that once sailed these waters and as such, it’s a mix of modern and traditional design and materials.

Yes, those are solar panels, but before anyone scoffs at the idea this boat is but a poor mirror to the originals, know that it moves with the wind and currents; there is no motor. Also, it navigates by the same methods used by the original sailors. Well enough, in fact, to have sailed around the world. 

The crews were trained in local waters and did progressively longer excursions before embarking on their circumnavigation of the world. 

As we waited, we had a chance to speak to some of the crew. The boat is manned by a crew of twelve but sometimes there are a few more. Crews are replaced after each leg of the journey so a typical crewmember is away from their family for around a month. Replacement crews are flown to the next destination ahead of arrival both to prepare for the arrival and to set up the logistics for replenishing supplies and handling media demands. 

You can check out the crews for each leg of the circumnavigation trip HERE. You can read a bit about life at sea HERE. That should answer most question people have about making this trip on this kind of boat. 

The line moved surprisingly fast despite only a few people being allowed onboard at any one time. Few abused the privilege, mindful of the people waiting behind them. I spent most of the time while in line by taking photos (a few more will be in the gallery at the end) . . .  

Soon enough, it was our turn to step aboard. Having had the time to examine the boat from the dock, I had my photos already planned . . . 

An example of the type of supplies the original sailors might have had with them.

Crew members sleeping quarters.

Chests that are bolted to the deck secure implements and supplies.

I forgot to ask, but I assume some of this is for emergencies and for the live-tracking of the Hōkūleʻa while under sail.

There is the option to track the location of the Hōkūleʻa both when in port and under sail. Some of the tracks that head onto land are of the crew members. It’s currently at the Kawaihae Port (about 30 miles North of where we are) and I plan to go see it one more time although we don’t plan to take advantage of the tours (EVENTS).  

A mix of old and new.

Many of the people who came onboard wanted their photo taken with crew members. This family spoke little to no English but they still managed a shot with the captain. 

Melisa is not big on photos of herself and I’m even less inclined to show my face . . . but I did manage a photo of the rudder and the captain.

. . . before moving on to the rest of the boat (it’s not that big a boat).

Lots of solar-powered stuff.

Basic cooking stuff.

Here are two views of the sleeping quarters . . . 

I neglected to snap a photo of the “toilet” but Melisa informed me it was basically a bucket. 

By the time we got off the boat, the line had grown and we were glad of our decision to get there early. After leaving enclosure associated with the event, we wandered about the rest of the dock (we’re seldom there) and encountered one of two UFO boats. These are the boats that pull tourists behind them with a parasail. 

. . . and continued toward the King Kamehameha Hotel because I wanted a few shots of the racing canoes that are usually parked there. 

Did you notice something on that first photo?

You find whatever shade you can when that sun starts beating and beating it was. 

I snapped a few more photos while Melisa went to one of Kona’s 857 ABC stores to buy a bottle of water. It turned out they had a sale — $1 for a 2.5-liter bottle. We just wanted a couple of small bottles, but those were $2.50 each. No dummies we, we bought a 2.5-liter bottle. 

Some of the kids that had been performing at the function were resting by the shade of the big banyan tree that’s right at the end of the dock. 

I took one last photo of the canoe . . . 

and of the small beach at the other end of the break wall . . . 

. . . and then walked the two miles back to the condo. All in all, a nice few hours. 

Here are a few more links to resources and information on Hōkūleʻa . . . 

http://www.hokulea.com/category/history/

http://learningcenter.hokulea.com/resources/library/

http://archive.hokulea.com/hoonaauao/resources_content.html

http://archive.hokulea.com/hoonaauao/resources_visual.html

http://archive.hokulea.com/hoonaauao/resources_songs.html

Here’s Izzy singing about her . . . 

Oh, what the heck . . . gotta add one of my favorite of Izzy’s songs (includes the spreading of his ashes):

As usual, you can click on the above photos and they will open in a new tab or window. There is a SmugMug gallery for them who want to visit it (HERE). 

Here’s the gallery (random order):

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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15 Responses to Hōkūleʻa

  1. Good post, I enjoyed it!

    Like

  2. mvschulze says:

    Reminds me of Thor Heyerdahl and Kon Tiki in the 50’s or late 40’s. In that case I believe the entire craft including the hull was period Polynesian, which differs from what looks like fiberglass on the Kai ‘Opua. (I could read the links above but thought I’d just throw this out at you because I’m time-frustrated) Nice pics. M :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      The Hōkūle‘a is more a means to establish the navigation prowess than to prove whether they did or didn’t sail to Hawaiʻi as that is an established truth.

      It’s also a mission of education and not a true recreation of the feat. I do remember reading Kon Tiki and that was to prove South Americans were capable of sailing Westward and colonize Easter Island. Still an inspiring tale.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating! Thanks for spending the time waiting in a crowded line behind people who didn’t seem to understand moving forward when the people in front of them moved forward. Great pictures, and a very interesting post!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Thank you. It’s not often I venture out among people so I thought I should document it.

      Also, I’m thinking cattle prod for future events.

      Like

  4. Eddy Winko says:

    And not a single link to Moana.

    Like

  5. OHMYGOSH! This is so interesting and cool! Thank you for sharing the Hōkūle‘a and it’s history with us! What a fascinating boat! Love all it’s details shared in your photos.
    Izzy’s Over the Rainbow is one of my fav vids to listen to. I play it often.
    HUGS!!! :-)
    PS…the birdies in the shade are so beautiful!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Glad you enjoyed it. Lots of information linked in there, including how they go to the bathroom (a must read).

      Izzy is on my playlist and he’s always nice to hear.

      I thought the doves were cute. Never seen them take shelter from the sun like that before.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pied Type says:

    Have been fascinated by Polynesian sailing skills since reading Kon Tiki as a kid. Sailing around the world with only those skills is a tremendous feat, and I can’t imagine getting through the stormy southern oceans in a boat like that.

    I’ve got that “Over the Rainbow” video on my blog too. Makes me cry, thinking of Iz.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      To be clear, the original sailors didn’t go around the world but certainly covered a good portion of it. Not to take anything away from these guys (and gals) but they did have a large support staff and rotating crews and supply points and so on.

      Still, given the size of the boat and the lack of many modern conveniences, it’s an admirable accomplishment.

      As for Iz, he was loved and he is missed . . . that’s all one could ask for in one’s life.

      Like

  7. AnnMarie says:

    Very interesting blog, E! Thanks for all that history and great photos, and for my favorite version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow . . .

    . . . I think I’ll listen to it one more time . . .

    Like

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