There’s a group of us that are navigating, and that brings our own set of challenges that are distinct from just one person navigating and carrying that burden.
“I was told, you got to ask yourself do you want to navigate? It’s a real deep, personal question, and I was kind of taken back. I didn’t have an answer,” said apprentice navigator Austin Kino.
“Navigation kuleana is a big pressure, and it’s an awesome challenge. But because people are watching, you just feel that pressure,” said Kaiulani Murphy, an experienced Hōkūleʻa navigator.
In this leg in Tahiti, however, the pressure is a bit different in that it is also a training experience for Hōkūleʻa’s apprentice navigators.
“So there’s a group of us that are navigating, and that brings our own set of challenges that are distinct from just one person navigating and carrying that burden, and the fatigue, the whole responsibility of it,” said Lehua Kamalu, who is learning navigating onboard Hōkūleʻa.
“The trip to Nihoa, all the apprentice navigators were up for 23 hours out of a day, and so we got our first sense of exhaustion and hallucinations that first morning and experiencing that. But afterwards, we found the destination so we all crashed. You hear most of the navigators do that after they find their target, their job’s done and they are going to sleep,” said apprentice navigator Jason Patterson.
This short sail to Nihoa served as the stepping stone for the challenge ahead.
“I think it’s a very different situation now with six apprentice navigators as oppose to one. The stress level that Nainoa had in 1980, he had to find Tahiti for all of Hawaii. Luckily, we get to share the responsibility.. But Nainoa really wants us to feel a little bit of what it’s like, a little pain, a little sleep deprivation. So he’s looking at between three and four days at a time where one person takes on the responsibility because if you keep navigating as a team, you’ll never know yourself if you can navigate,” said Jenna Ishii, who is onboard Hōkūleʻa as an apprentice navigator.
“I actually asked Nainoa once about navigation and the idea of what you do when there’s more than one navigator on board, and he brought in a story about Mau and even if you had two navigators on the same canoe there was always only one navigator, and the other navigator, no matter what the decision was made, even if he did not trust in it necessarily, or believe it was the right one, he respected the position of the navigator to the point of death. If it took you completely of course, you would never step in and take that away from the person navigating. And so, now we have this group idea of working together, and it’s gonna take everyone trusting in each other individual. If you backtrack that from what that’s gonna look like on the canoe, it’s really helping each other out on that journey to the actual departure so that we all are understanding of each others capabilities and know areas that we can help each other out and work on things ahead of time,” said Lehua.