Crew Blog | Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni: Are We Ready to Mālama Honua?
Greetings from the Galapagos islands to all of our ʻohana at home in Hawaiʻi and around the world. I started writing this blog on our fifth day on the ocean after leaving Panamá. We were heading South for the most part, turning westward on Day 5 as we continued toward the Galapagos Islands. That day, we sailed directly into the sun as it slowly made its way through the sky toward itʻs ocean home. As fellow islanders, the whole crew was looking forward to reaching our destination and the opportunity to learn about lifestyles and perspectives from other islanders like us. We also welcomed the chance to share the message of Mālama Honua and the importance of a deep kinship with the ocean that binds us together. Some see the ocean as something that separates humanity, but itʻs actually an amazing life-giving force that connects us all.
Life aboard mama Hōkū has been positive and upbeat. Weʻve been eating healthy, truly living the ideal state of ola kino. Weʻve also been working out every day. Exercise is important to keeping physically fit and mentally stable. This crew is very diverse and I like to think ours is special with nearly as many wahine as there are kane aboard (just sayinʻ!). Not all of us are highly experienced sailors, but as a crew, we are ocean people, and together create a light hearted, hardworking, thoughtful, and caring spirit, treating each other with respect and camaraderie. Plus with leaders like Nainoa, and watch captains, Billy Richards and Archie Kalepa, we are in very good hands.
Day 5 to Day 7 whizzed by like a whirlwind with a high degree of urgency, requiring all hands on deck to be focused and fully present. As a crew, we learned about how to prepare to enter the Galapagos. In particular, it was critical that we avoid carrying any undesirable and potentially dangerous life to the fragile Galapagos ecosystem. The Galapagos islands have been well protected and are one of the unique places of the world where native marine, plant and animal life are healthy and abundant. Many of the endemic species in the Galapagos exist nowhere else in the world except on these islands in the middle of the ocean. To enter the Galapagos, we needed to clear an environmental inspection, which meant fumigating the entire canoe to remove any foreign species that could present a danger to the island habitat.
We immediately started planning ways to use up all the organic material aboard the canoe in order to prepare for our arrival in the Galapagos.For example, because we have about five pounds of onions on board, we tried to think up all the many ways to use them in the next 3 days or so. One of the crew made pickled onion, another volunteered to make onion soup, we cut up a bunch to put in tonightʻs fabulous salmon chowder, and so on. Next on the brainstorming list – what do do with three hundred eggs? Yikes. We also organized all of our rubbish into organic waste, recyclable waste and non-recyclable waste and stored it for inspection.
For the next two days, the crew sweated around the clock to unload all of the holds, scrub them down with an antibacterial solution, wipe down everything in them, rinse with saltwater, and then a final wipe down with freshwater. Everything, and I mean everything, was cleaned, even the lines, which we dragged in the saltwater for a couple of hours. We wiped down all of our personal gear and stored it in one of the holds, so that we could leave the bunks clean and empty for inspection. We scrubbed the decks for a couple of hours, including the buoys, catwalks, and manu. On Day 6, we and the Gershon escort boat stopped in the ocean to clean the hulls. Three divers went into the water and scrubbed the hulls down while the rest of the crew kept watch for white tip sharks and any other curious sea creatures.
We arrived in San Cristobal, Galapagos to a beautiful sunrise on Day 7 and waited for several hours for the authorities to arrive. Several agencies came on board, including police, immigration authorities, the fumigator, and a dog. It was fairly chaotic as they filled out a ton of paperwork in the blistering sun. As one of the crew who speaks Spanish, I ran back and forth between agents, trying to answer questions and get them the information they needed. All of the crew helped out, showing the authorities what they needed to see. Some of the crew became fast friends with the dog. We also were hugely grateful to Luis Rodrigues, a ship agent and guide. He was critical in expediting all of the paperwork so that we could clear customs and then helped show us around San Cristobal the next day while we waited for the final permits from the authorities. He and his colleagues work alongside Aulani Wilhelm, one of our crew members, and have been wonderfully supportive and appreciative of the message and mission of Mālama Honua. They see all too clearly that caring for the oceans around the world is essential to the survival of the Galapagos islands and all of us.
As we waited for all of the inspections to clear, the crew reflected on how we at home could be better about protecting our islands and the precious marine, plant and animal life that makes Hawaiʻi so special. For example, are all incoming vessels inspected before reaching our islands? Do we require that they remove all organic products before arriving to our place? That they clean and scrub down, that they not discharge black water or fuel runoff into the ocean, that they include anti-pollution signage on deck? This everyday process on the Galapagos Islands is a powerful example for the kind of change needed to more effectively protect the biodiversity of our precious Hawaiian islands, our ʻāina kulaiwi. What can we do together to link hands, to create the community that supports and implements these needed changes?
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