After years of training and preparation, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia left Oʻahu for Hilo, their final port before departing Hawaiʻi for the Worldwide Voyage, but not before a brief delay.
“Waiting’s not bad, waiting is smart. And what waiting does is creates time and we need to use it effectively, we need to use it meaningfully,” said pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson.
And making meaningful decisions applies to the very reason for Hilo being the final point of departure from Hawaiʻi.
“Hilo is the Eastern most point of the Hawaiian Islands, and because we need to gain Easting, cause Tahiti is further East than Hilo. It just makes sense that you depart from the eastern-most point of the Hawaiian Islands, and that’s why we picked Hilo,” said pwo navigator Kālepa Baybayan.
The time spent in Hilo was also a time of making connections.
“The whole process of a voyage is community engagement. There’s a lot of opportunity for people to just come down, talk, to look at the canoes. There is just a very very warm community feeling. So here in Palekai, we are protected and we are nurtured by this community.,” said Kālepa.
“Hilo’s own Hālau o Kekuhi brought a priceless gift to the voyage with the ʻaha māweke and ʻaha hoʻākua to prepare both the waʻa and the crew… spiritually.
“He kūpono a he koʻikoʻi ke kālele ʻana ma luna o ka pilina o ka waʻa me ke kanaka. I koʻu manaʻo, ʻo ia ka haʻawina nui o kēia pōʻaiapuni ʻana i ka honua. ʻO ia kuleana hoʻokahi, ka mālama ʻana i kēlā pilina o kākou. There is a significant relationship between the waʻa and her people. That could be the greatest lesson of this voyage around the world, building and maintaining relationships,” said Kaumakaiwa Kanakaʻole of Hālau o Kekuhi.
“The ceremony was a good time to reflect on the purpose of this voyage, and then to put ourselves in that mindset of leaving,” said Kealoha Hoe, crewmember on Hikianalia.
“For me, this is the culmination of all my training. I have trained my whole life for this moment in time. We’re performing in front of the elements, Akua. It’s like for real,” said Suzette Hauʻoli Smith, another crewmember onboard Hikianalila.
And one of the crew’s greatest mentors has given a nod of approval.
“So, again, I recognize it. I see it. I’ve been here before. This is a good crew. And so thank you for all the work and thank you for staying together and recognizing that the power of the voyage is in the challenge. There’s going to be challenges every single day for the next three years. And it’s our ability to get through them that we get stronger. And build better leadership. So, from me to all of you, it’s a big mahalo,” said Nainoa.
“You know, for myself, it’s such an honor to be amongst these people,” said Kealoha.