Crew Blog | Nāʻālehu Anthony: The Mana of Hōkūleʻa
Itʻs sunset. We have about 100 miles to go, thinking we’ll be sighting Mauritius by morning, bringing this segment of the Worldwide Voyage to a close. For reference, we have recalibrated the number of miles traveled on course since sighting Rodrigues – sighting land allows the navigator to use this as a known waypoint, allowing him to clear all the previous voyage data from his calculations. So in effect, today was a whole new leg of the voyage, 300 miles from Rodrigues to Mauritius.
We’re blessed with hōʻailona – signs – that tell us that Hōkūleʻa wants us to find the island we seek in the old way, without any aid from the “stuff” from the Western world. We have worked hard to get this far, some 3,300 miles across an ocean that has not seen a vessel like this in centuries. For the first time in the last 28 days, the sweep is down, meaning no one is steering the canoe – we did our work to trim the sails, but it is clear that Hōkūleʻa knows the way. She sails her course, Noio Hoʻolua on the star compass; the star directly in front of us is Arcturus, our beloved Hōkūleʻa. Again, she knows the way.
Everyone expected for the wind to lighten today. We saw at sunrise, as the she pushed through the gray into a brilliant set of red fingers stretching through to the heavens, that the wind would turn variable waiting for the dominant system to fill in. We too searched for a straight path; we put up our big sails and kept at it all day taking any wind we could find.
Around 5 pm the wind diminished; the bubbles next to the canoe suggested we might be even sailing backwards. We called for a tow to carry us on, as we know that there are timetables to keep, expectations to be met. But still, we took our time to get our sails closed and the tow bridle out of storage, waiting for a sign… And there, stretched across the sky from one end to the other, anuenue – a rainbow. The wind scratched the surface of the water, the sails puffed. Bruce cancelled the tow for the moment, waiting to see what might happen, to see if our fortunes would change. The warmer North Easterly winds gripped the sails, lifting us – lifting too our hopes that we would have the opportunity to close out this land sighting without the aid of anything but what nature provides, in the way of the ancestors. The sails filled with the exact wind we needed to set our course, the steering became lighter and lighter, until finally we put the blade down and she held the course through the last moments of the day.
The sun set in a flash of green, and the wind grew in intensity. We let her run – sailing on her own, carrying us through that beautiful time, as the last glow of the sun gave way to the jewels of the night. The star Hōkūle’a appeared to the front of the bow, to guide us our last night. That familiar hook is still above us and the cross is spinning slowly along side of us, but it is Hōkūle’a here with us tonight that makes this such a special closing to an amazing journey.
The mana of this canoe is undeniable. She sparked a cultural revolution, she reconnected the great nation of Polynesia, and she raised a proud generation of people who will never, ever, be lost again.