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Crew Blog | Eric Co: Hōkūleʻa’s Magic

Eric CoWritten by Eric Co

Sailing Hōkūle‘a is an intensely emotional experience.  It is humbling to be with her, knowing what she means to people back home in Hawaiʻi, and increasingly, people around the world, too.  It is an honor to be part of something so much greater than oneself; to have a turn on the leading edge of what comes next for her and her storied history.  One of our watch captains, Kamaki Worthington, put it best when he said that Hōkūle‘a’s first sail to Tahiti was one of the seminal moments of the Hawaiian Renaissance, the cultural revival of the Hawaiian people in the 1970’s.  It is a heady exercise to think about where we would be as a community, native Hawaiian or not, if she didn’t exist.  It is equally heady to think about where she’ll bring us next.

Puaita watching the sunset
Puaita watching the sunset

Being on board lends itself to this kind of mindset.  Maybe it’s a function of perspective so far from home.  Maybe it’s the whirlwind of senses that blur together from one incredible experience to another.  Maybe it’s the lack of sleep.  But whatever it is, it is most certainly heavy and at times overwhelming. While sailing, the sea around you is mirrored by an equally deep and vast sea of thoughts in your mind.

Kamaki noticing a new dominant swell
Kamaki noticing a new dominant swell

The good thing, at least, is that you’re not left trying to navigate this sea of thoughts alone. All of the crew are searching their own naʻau too, and sooner or later emotional introspection turns to expression with those around you.  The result being that an intense bond is forged with your fellow crew members.

Austin me ka lā
Austin me ka lā

You may arrive as good friends, sometimes perfect strangers, but you go home family.

Todd congratulating Doctor Dave on the mahimahi he landed
Todd congratulating Doctor Dave on the mahimahi he landed

In my experience from past legs, this is often an organic process.  With little privacy on the canoe, and with the basic human need to share incredible experiences with others, it is inevitable.  Two night before we left our other watch captain, Kawika Crivello, decided to jump start the bonding when he had us sit down and share about ourselves.  One by one, we all took as much as time as we needed to share our history, our lives, our families, and our intentions while sailing on this leg of the voyage.  The night went late, and it was truly awesome to see into others and understand who they are and what led up to being with them in this time and place.  It is uplifting to see the best in people being expressed through this kind of opportunity as part of Mālama Honua.

Molokaʻi ma ka waʻa!
Molokaʻi ma ka waʻa!

I learned that we all come from different places, both in terms of geography and perspective. But we all share a love for Hawaii, a love for Hōkūle‘a, and the sense of urgency to do what we can to make our islands and Island Earth better for our children and future generations. For me, it is this coming together of different people, perspectives, and stories around a common cause to better each other and our home—like the woven strands of rope that lash Hōkūle‘a together—that is critically important to enacting comprehensive solutions to our shared problems across the globe.

Sailing on Hōkūle‘a is a magical experience.  But I think her true magic is the incredible people she brings together, time and again.


More than Adventure

Beyond a daring expedition, the Worldwide Voyage is quite possibly the most important mission that Hawaiʻi has ever attempted. As people of Oceania, we are leading a campaign that gives voice to our ocean and planet by highlighting innovative solutions practiced by cultures around the planet.

We could not have begun this great journey without your support, nor can we continue to its completion.

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