Homecoming



Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia conclude worldwide voyage. ©Oiwi TV/Kaipo Ki'aha

When Hōkūle‘a and sister ship Hikianalia return to Oʻahu in June, Nainoa Thompson will be on the beach waving a palm frond to welcome members of the waʻa (canoes), fulfilling a vow he made when this worldwide journey began in 2014.

“I made a personal promise that only young people would bring [Hōkūle‘a] in,” says Thompson, president of Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and Hōkūle‘a master navigator. “Our ancestors gave us the canoe and it’s my job to now hand it off.”

After sailing more than over 31,000 nautical miles with 150 ports of calls and visiting 23 countries and territories, crew members will tie the knot on their “Lei of Hope,” concluding PVS’ “Malama Honua” (“Care for the Earth) circumnavigational journey, which has crisscrossed the waters of the South Pacific, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Tasman Sea, and the waterways of Canada and Panama Canal.

The historic journey has inspired a new generation of seafarers who are determined and committed to perpetuating their ancestors’ way of sailing, forgoing modern navigational equipment — no compass, sextant or GPS devices, not even an iPhone — in favor of wayfinding, a traditional navigational technique that relies on gauging the position of the sun, moon and stars, taking into account variations in ocean currents and wave patterns and even the behavior of fish and birds.

“When you make landfall, there is a certain sadness that overcomes you and you just want to get back on deck,” Thompson says. “But there’s always a constant need for meaningful, educational and compassionate opportunities and you don’t have to do it on deck.”

Thompson says another year (from July 2017-June 2018) has been added to this journey, but this time it will be limited to Hawaiian waters. “This worldwide voyage created a platform to join in the community,” says Thompson, who recently received the 2017 Explorers Club Medal, the most prestigious recognition in exploration. “It has given us a chance to see what’s happening in other communities, and to connect with individual teachers and students.”

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