Crew Profile: Kaʻiulani Murphy

Crew Profile: Kaʻiulani Murphy

Navigation a heavy kuleana that a lot of us take seriously. The teachers that we have that invested their time in us are having faith that their students will maintain all that Hōkūleʻa has done up until now and continue that into the future.

“At the pinnacle of the sailing experience would be the navigators. The road of the navigator is not for all. In fact, very few can do it. It’s specialized. The road of the navigator is a personal one. This voyage is not engineered for us guys that have sailed long and found many islands to re-prove ourselves. That’s not what it’s about. We have to assume the role of teaching the young. When I think about the most intense training, it is going to be those young navigators that need to find islands, tiny islands in the vast ocean. So I take what I have and I take the gifts of the training of navigation and I take the opportunity for someone to take it, to take it from me. You take someone like Ka’iulani Murphy. She can find Tahiti she just has to be given the opportunity. That’s what the Worldwide Voyage is about, create the opportunity,” said master navigator Nainoa Thompson.

My name is Ka’iulani Murphy and I come from Waimea on Hawai’i island. My first voyage, deep-sea voyage was from Tahiti, back home to Hawai’i in 2000. In 2004 we sailed to what’s now Papahānaumokuākea the kūpuna islands and one of my kuleanas was to go find Nihoa. It’s a great navigation training sail because you have learn everything you need to learn for a month voyage but it’s encapsulated in a whole 24 to 30 hour period. From Nihoa we continued all the way on to Kure and then I got to return back with the next crew so that was awesome. And then in 2007 we voyaged to Micronesia and then Japan. All that learning just makes you even just a better crewmember I mean as far as the navigation goes every trip you can learn something different,” said Kaʻiulani Murphy.

“It’s about enormous amounts of academic studying. It’s about enormous amounts of time spent watching on the land. It’s enormous amounts of time going out to sea and rebuilding your relationship to the ocean, to the heavens, to the atmosphere, to the things in the sea, and then that’s just the beginning. That’s where you start to cross over from the kind of intellectual academic training and you step into the issue of the spirituality of the voyage. That journey is personal, it’s by yourself, either you find it or you don’t. And that’s the journey that to me is the most difficult but it’s the most profoundly important,” said Nainoa.

“This particular route Hawaii going to Tahiti, the very first voyage I did was coming home from Tahiti. So I kind of feel like I’m closing like my own little circle by going from home down there. The way I see it there’s layers of experience on board. So you have Nainoa and Kālepa who are Pwo navigators, and then you have Keahi Omai who’s done a number of voyages, then I come under that as a generation learning after Keahi and having been on a few deep-sea voyages, and pretty much the rest of the crew it’s their first deep-sea. As far as the navigation goes I’m still very much a student but because I have some deep-sea experience. I hope to also try to be a mentor to the younger navigation students that’ll be on board you know telling them things that we’re looking at or what we’re looking for. Like looking at the swell, you need to develop your own relationship with how you read that, cause it has to work for you cause we might see things differently and how you interpret them. Just developing that relationship. After this voyage one of the big hopes is that those of us that have been learning will be able to take the reigns you know passing the torch. It’s a heavy kuleana that a lot of us take seriously. I think the teachers that we have that invested their time in us are having faith that their students will maintain all that Hōkūleʻa has done up until now and continue that into the future,” said Kaʻiulani.

“It really is in the end those navigators that will find those islands will have to find a place inherently in themselves. They believe in themselves, not just themselves but those who taught them. It really is very deep it’s ancestral, spiritual. That’s what the voyage is supposed to do, place young people there and help them grow. If they can navigate on the sea they can navigate on land. It’s about building leadership for the future,” said Nainoa.

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