Crew Profile: Saki Uchida
“My name is Saki Uchida. I’m from Yokosuka Haema, Japan, and I volunteer for PVS.”
“I didn’t really know about Hōkūleʻa until 2007, and now I’m here. I decide to come here, I just know that if I don’t come here, I know that I’m going to regret it. I didn’t just want to lose the chance that could change my life,” said Hikianalia crewmember Saki Uchida.
“When we first met Saki back in 2009, she knew two words of English – hi and sorry. Nainoa told me and Haunani, ʻThis is Saki, she’s from Japan, she wants to learn navigation,'” said Jason Patterson, an apprentice navigator on Hōkūleʻa.
“So I learned to watch people, how they work on the canoe. I just watch really carefully and how they move, and I try to follow them,” said Saki.
“Once we got to know her, we saw what a great person she was and how nice and caring she was. So it was just easy after that to just become good friends,” said apprentice navigator Haunani Kane.
Her newfound family and passion is what inspired Saki to grow as an individual and as a valued crewmember for the Worldwide Voyage.
“I think one of the amazing things about Saki is she learns and she catches on super quickly,” said Haunani.
“I went to HCC (Honolulu Community College) and went into the boat repair, small fabrication and boat repair program in METC (Marine Education Training Center). I thought that’s really good for my voyaging skill too, so I know how to fix the canoe and how to build the canoe,” said Saki.
“She’s just one of those people that when she sets her mind to it, she’ll get it done. She’s also really dependable. I think she’s probably put in close to the most hours out of anyone in dry dock. Without her, the canoe wouldn’t be nearly as ready as it is,” said Haunani.
Saki was selected as one of the apprentice navigators onboard Hikianalia on the first international leg of the Worldwide Voyage. And while the entire voyage is a dream come true, there is doubt that the defining moment was when Saki was the first onboard Hikianalia to sight land outside of Tahiti after being out on the open ocean for more than two weeks. After completing her 2,500 mile voyage to Tahiti, Saki continued her inspiring journey as a crewmember through French Polynesia, Samoa, and now Aotearoa.
“I just decide, and then I just do it. I don’t really get scared, especially on the canoe. I miss my home. But right now, what I want to do is not in Japan, So, I’m really happy and I think I’m really lucky because my family is really supportive. They are happy that I am doing what I like to do,” said Saki.