Crew Blog | Michelle Knoetgen: A Taste of Voyaging
- Posted on 31 Jul 2015
- In Crew Blogs
Steering Hikianalia by a blue moon which lit up the entire Friday night sky, we pounded across the Kaʻiwi Channel through winds recorded at 35-45 knots. Hikianalia was rocking upwind, with at least half of the crew experiencing some form of seasickness. “That’s about as rough as it gets,” said Captain Bob Perkins. As a new crew, we learned to mālama (care for) one another and revere nature as our guide.
The crew for this sail was composed of students of voyaging who ranged in age from college freshman to seasoned instructors, led by experienced PVS crewmembers Captain Bob Perkins (Director of METC), Watch Captains Adam Jenkins, Kekaimalu Lee, and Ben Dumaran Jr., and the wisdom of Keli Takenaga and Darienne Kaʻimi Dey.
Kekaimalu Lee and Darienne Dey, both students of traditional Polynesian navigation, helped the crew locate Lānaʻi, but the strong winds kept us from being able to anchor. After hours of tacking, Captain Bob made the call to head back to Oʻahu, calmly reporting, “The winds aren’t with us.” It was a difficult decision to make since the island was in sight all day—we were so close—but safety is always the primary concern and Captain Bob did not want to risk dropping anchor in ʻi’s waters after dark. We put into practice the mantra, “the canoe is your mother; the captain is your father” and trusted the wisdom of both.
The sailors were split up into three watches: 10-2; 2-6; and 6-10 (A.M. and P.M.). As a member of the 6-10 watch, a highlight for me was the watch after Captain Bob made the call to turn homeward. Hikianalia picked up a nice wind; we swiftly sailed away from the cliffs of Lānaʻi, past Molokai, and back into the Channel. We were treated to a pink, orange, and purple sunset on the ocean horizon, which gave way to stars peering through the sky in familiar formations, including Hokupaʻa (North Star), as the nearly full moon glowed yellow-orange behind us.
According to Kalikolehua Lance, a senior at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa majoring in both Meteorology and Hawaiian Language, we were primarily heading in the house of the star compass ‘Āina Hoʻolua, where constellations such as Na Kuhikuhi (The Pointers) could direct our course. Although Saturday’s moon was waning, it was still bright and enormous, so the 6-10 watch used the moon to steer until we spotted Makapuʻu Lighthouse off of the southern point of Oʻahu.
Captain Bob made the call for “all hands on deck” around midnight on Saturday when we anchored in Waikīkī. After successfully anchoring, most of the crew was then able to get some rest. Sunday morning was productive with three hours of cleaning the canoe and talking story while waiting off-shore for a tow into Keehi Channel. We were greeted by Kānehunamoku Voyaging Academy’s Ilima Choy, who paddled up alongside Hikianalia and welcomed us with oli.
This hopeful group of voyagers-in-training will continue to spread the message of mālama honua through community and educational outreach wherever the wind takes us.