Crew Blog | Nāʻālehu Anthony: He ʻOhana Waʻa Kākou
Every morning has been similar for us here on the East Coast. We beat the sun to rise and from the warmth of the multiple blankets we make our way downstairs to the cold living room and kitchen where almost a dozen people are gathered and busily getting ready for the day. The cold does not hamper spirits, if anything it’s a new oddity that few of us are used to dealing with on workdays. We have a motley crew here with the youngest in his early 20ʻs, while some of the most senior dry dock crew was born before World War II. No matter the age the mood is joyous and the kidding around started at the breakfast table as soon as the first cup of coffee is poured and has not stopped since.
Brothers Tom and Irish Mike work the kitchen hard to provide the food for each day, making for delightful surprises at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast this morning of hard boiled eggs and fruit as well as English muffins are washed down with coffee and tea. The flurry of activity throughout the house is measured with an understanding that we need to leave on time to get to the work at hand at dry dock. We’re out the door by 7 am in two vans and the American Canoe Association (ACA) Subaru. Most mornings we’re in a bit of traffic heading over to the Mariners Museum. The timing is great though, as two mornings in a row the sun was just starting to rise as we head over the York River bridge to Newport News providing for a spectacle that only a cold morning on the East Coast can provide.
Arriving at the Mariners Museum within 5 minutes of the other cars we get ready for our day. The barn doors are heaved open and light pours into the bay where we have all of the steering paddles and the masts, spars and booms. Half of our crew works here the bulk of the day to refinish these pieces. Cracked epoxy is ground out out. Some worn parts are bolstered with fiberglass. Everyone here is a specialist of some sort. ʻAnakala Sam Kaʻai came specifically to help refurbish the kiʻi kane and kiʻi wahine, Captain Bob Perkins is here as the guy who knows about all the composites and the list goes on and on. But no matter the specialty or the letters after your name we are all here to help sand parts of the canoe. It’s amazing how much sanding there is to get done. Sanding with disc sanders, sanding with grinders, sanding by hand, the thousands of nooks and crannies all need to be sanded and scuffed so that the next coats of protective coatings can stick. I counted no less than 8 sanders in the barn the other day of all makes and models. Through the generous support of Matson navigation, a 40ʻ container sits a few hundred yards away. It carried all the equipment, tools and parts needed to accomplish this dry dock in a timely fashion. It really is a sight to see everyone’s “stuff” here like we are at METC, PVS’s home in Honolulu, or some other familiar home base that isn’t 5,000 miles and two plane rides away from Hawai’i.
The rest of us head down the hill a bit to where Hōkūleʻa is parked in a grassy field, which is hands down the best dry dock location I have ever had the opportunity to go to. The 500-acre property that the Mariners Museum sits on is mostly filled with forest and a huge pond system. Hōkūleʻa sits on the back lawn behind the museum next to the Monitor, the replica of the ironclad war ship that participated in the civil war. Hōkū still sits on the trailer that brought her just a few miles from where she was hauled out. Even though the canoe is stripped down with no canvas or masts, you can still feel how special she is. Museum guests stop by throughout the day and we all marvel at how far she has come to get to Newport News, Virginia. The next task is to ready her to make the rest of the trip home, some 9,000 miles back down the East Coast, through the Gulf, the Panama Canal and then the Pacific to Hawaiʻi in June of next year.
That’s where this crew is so critical. Be it the people sanding or making new parts or rewiring the electrical system, everyone here has the determination, intent and aloha to leave our canoe in better shape then we found her. From the original 1976 crew members who set the tone and the pace each day with a work ethic etched into their brows and hands, to the young ones who pace them trying to learn every step of the way, we all understand that this leg of the journey, too, is about perpetuation of these crafts as well as passing on knowledge.
Albeit foreign in location, the crew and the canoe being here make it feel just like home. And I guess that’s the point for today. For everyone here the canoe is home. The mood is always light here. Don’t get me wrong, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done but no one has to do any of it alone. Just like when we are sailing there are always hands to help lift whatever burden might be in front of you for the day. The collective spirit is always upbeat and filled with a sense of kuleana. I think I can speak for the whole crew in saying that it is our absolute privilege to be here and participate in this dry dock as this canoe and her leadership has given all of us so much.
ʻAe, he ʻohana waʻa kākou.
Hōkūleʻa’s Dry Dock Fundraiser
Every year since embarking on the Worldwide Voyage in 2014, Hōkūleʻa has taken several weeks of downtime annually to ensure she is safe, seaworthy and beautiful for the thousands of nautical miles that lay ahead.
Please help fund Hōkūleʻa’s 2016 dry dock efforts.