Crew Profile

Crew Blog | Michelle Knoetgen: Island As An Anchored Ship

Michelle KnoetgenWritten by Michelle Knoetgen

On the rocky shores of Appledore Island, Maine, we were greeted with periwinkle shells held fast by sea grass, hand made by a college student named Athena: one of the many touches that made us feel welcome.  A peaceful bird sanctuary inhabited by resident seagulls and a small population of seasonal humans, Appledore is home to the Shoals Marine Lab (SML), run by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire. SML is the largest marine lab in the country that focuses on undergraduate education, offering courses in underwater research, marine sciences, sustainability, ecology, and evolution. The laboratory is a model of sustainable island living, with a green-grid energy system designed and maintained by students and staff. They live the values of mālama honua by composting food and other waste and by practicing behavioral conservation ­— a new term for some of us. What does it mean? One to two military-style (turning water off while lathering up) showers a week, and similar changes in habits to reduce consumption. Per person, Appledore Island uses one-fifth of the water that people use on the mainland. As our Captain, Bruce Blankenfield, reminds us, if you can dream it, you can make it happen. This is often in reference to Hōkūle‘a’s voyages, but also applies to any courageous act to aloha ‘āina.

Mike Rosen talks to the crew about the islandʻs clean energy and power banks.
Mike Rosen talks to the crew about the islandʻs clean energy and power banks.

The gorgeous Isles of Shoals reminded me of the finite resources in the Hawaiian islands – the most isolated archipelago on the planet – and methods, new and old, we can use to improve the way we’ve come to inhabit them: the way we source our food, clean and heat our water, cool our buildings, and dispose of our waste. What can we do better? What does that look like? Shoals Marine Lab is a shining example. They think of their island as an anchored ship, in the way that we think of our canoe as an island.  Katy Bland, a lab coordinator and one of the people instrumental in getting Hōkūleʻa crew to SML, has ties to Hawai’i through time spent in dry dock with Makali‘i, learning from Uncle Chadd Onohi Paishon through the Kumu pa‘a i ka ‘āina program. We spent the afternoon with Katy and her colleagues, sharing about the Worldwide Voyage and learning about the awesome problem-solving work SML is doing to understand and protect our Island Earth.

Crewmembers Megan Kawatachi, Shelly Knoetgen, and Catherine Fuller give a presentation to the students of the Seacoast Science Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Crewmembers Megan Kawatachi, Shelly Knoetgen, and Catherine Fuller give a presentation to the students of the Seacoast Science Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

As we were about to hurry off Appledore Island on our way back to Portsmouth for another community engagement, we saw dark gray storm clouds cover the sky. Instead of stepping onto the metal boat that brought us across the body of water known as Bigelow Bight, we walked back up the lichen-covered rocks to Jenn Seavey’s house (SML Executive Director). We ate homemade blueberry coffee cake on her porch, listening to the first cracks of thunder and watching the lighting flash over the ocean. Being waylaid by the thunderstorm was a blessing it allowed us to spend more time on this special island with these special people. While we watched the storm, a couple of crewmembers played a Rarotongan ‘ukulele and sang in Hawaiian, others told jokes. We experienced island time and were gifted with the reminder that we’re not in control of everything: A lesson we learn every day on the voyage – to be flexible and open to enjoying life as it unfolds. After the sky cleared, we walked down to the rollicking pier, periwinkle shells on our wrists and ankles, carrying part of the island’s wisdom with us.


Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

[tw_button link=”http://www.hokulea.com/support/east-coast-member-drive/” size=”medium” rounded=”false” style=”flat” hover=”default” color=”#EFB043″ target=”_blank”]Contribute Now[/tw_button]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Send this to friend