Crew Profile: Bruce Blankenfeld

PVS Member Since 1977

HOMETOWN: Niu Valley, Hawaii
PRIMARY DUTY: Pwo Navigator
OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES: Crew training coordinator and waʻa maintenance
Bruce Blankenfeld serves as PWO Navigator and crew training coordinator for the World Wide Voyage. He is employed as a foreman by McCabe Hamilton and Renny (stevedoring contractor) and is a long distance paddler and coach for Hui Nalu Canoe Club. His most recent voyage as captain and navigator was the 2009 training sail from Hawai‘i to Palmyra and back in preparation for Hōkūle‘a’s Worldwide Voyage. Bruce serves as a director of crew training for the voyage.

Bruce began his association with Polynesian Voyaging Society in 1977 by volunteering for the maintenance of Hōkūle'a while training for crew on day and night sails.

He was a crewmember when the canoe swamped after leaving Honolulu in 1978. In 1979, he again worked on repairing and maintaining the canoe for a voyage scheduled for 1980.

On the 1980 voyage from Tahiti to Hawai'i (2,500 miles, 25 days), he served as fisherman, a role he was well prepared for: as a child, he accompanied his father on fishing expeditions in Hawaiian water.

During the three-year voyage to Aotearoa and back (1985-1987), Bruce again served as Hōkūle‘a’s fisherman, from Rarotonga to Aotearoa (1,700 miles, 17 days); from Rarotonga to Tahiti (800 miles, 8 days); and from Aitutaki to Rarotonga, Cook Islands (1 day). He began his leadership training on the final leg of that voyage, serving as both watch captain and fisherman from Rangiroa, in the Tuamotus, to Hawai'i (2,500 miles, 27 days).

In 1990, he began formal navigation training with Nainoa Thompson and Mau Plailug, which included a nine-day sail on Hokule'a out of sight of land in 1991. On the 1992 voyage to Rarotonga, he served as an apprentice navigator on Hokule'a from Rarotonga, Cook Islands to Tahiti (800 miles, 8 day) and then as co-navigator, with Kimo Lyman, from the Tahiti to Hawai'i.

After many decades of sailing and navigating, in 2007, on Ku Holo Mau, the voyage to Satawal, Bruce was captain and navigator of Hōkūle‘a from Hawa'i to Pohnpei. He rejoined the crew for the sail from Chuuk to Satawal, where he was one of five Hawaiians inducted into PWO by Mau Piailug.

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