THE HOKULEA VOYAGING CANOE: Sailing in the wake of the ancestors

Meaning “Star of Gladness” in Hawaiian, the Hokulea is a double-hulled sailing canoe that was built in 1975 to re-create historic voyages and preserve ancestral culture. Since there were no existing examples of ancient voyaging canoes, artist Herb Kane based the design on drawings from the time of Captain Cook and other early explorers of the Pacific. Launched by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the full-scale replica has made a total of nine voyages using ancient way-finding techniques. In 1976, she completed her maiden voyage to Tahiti, successfully retracing the traditional migratory route in 33 days and arriving to be greeted by a crowd made up of over half the island’s inhabitants. On a repeat voyage to Tahiti in 1978, the canoe capsized and legendary surfer and crew-member Eddie Aikau lost his life after paddling away to find help. All the Hokulea’s voyages shed light on how Hawaiians traditionally navigated across open sea, discovered islands and settled in Polynesia. The team not only proved it was possible to complete the routes without modern navigational equipment but also sparked a revival of interest in Polynesian culture and instilled pride and self-confidence in Hawaiians. In the summer of 2014, the Hokulea embarked on what will be a three-year circumnavigation of the Earth’s oceans to support the movement toward a more sustainable future. Called Malama Honua – “to care for our Earth” – the voyage aims to raise awareness of the Earth’s natural treasures and the importance of protecting them. When not at sea, the Hokulea can be found at the Hawaiian Maritime Center in Honolulu.
Jun 1, 2015
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