Blogs by documentation crew member, Kaipo Kiaha, narrating Hikianalia’s sail south from Hawaiʻi approaching the equator, or ka piko o wākea.
Day 11: Mar 31
We entered the ITCZ, or the Intertropical Convergence Zone, late yesterday and today we felt just some of its unpredictable effects on the weather. The ITCZ, sometimes called the doldrums, is a legendary place among sailors, and after hearing about it for so many years, it is awe inspiring to actually be in it.
Clouds covered us most of the night, but it cleared up for a bit on our 2-6 watch. We raised the Genoa head sail (#34) off the outer head stay this morning in the twilight hours, taking down the Palekai working jib (#16) and our storm jib (#7) in the process. The genoa helped us gain some speed and turn the bow south towards Haka Malanai. By turning south, our goal was to cut down the distance and therefore our time here in the ITCZ.
During the 6-10 watch after the genoa went up, Hikianalia was able to do about 8-10 knots, which is great especially when wind is something you don’t take for granted in the ITCZ. However, after that, wind speed was variable throughout the day, and Hikianalia dropped in speed, ranging from 2-6 knots. We had clouds blanketing the sky and had to use the swells to determine our heading.
Another benefit by turning down a bit was a little bit calmer ride, as the swells were now quartering us off the stern instead of hitting our beam as they have the whole trip down. We took advantage of this by cleaning up the canoe and several of the crew took showers and did their laundry. Lunch was an easy but tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
In the early afternoon we changed our head sails again, dropping the Genoa and going back to our Palekai/Storm jib combo. Because the winds were somewhat slack, we decided to go with these sails and take a higher point of sail, going back to our Nālani Malanai course. After our dinner of chicken long rice and cole slaw, we thought we wouldn’t see a sunset because of all the cloud cover. However, the winds picked up just as the sun reached the horizon, clearing out some of the clouds and putting on a spectacular show for our crew, who gathered around for a group photo in the excitement as we all stood there in awe.
No matter how many sunsets you see, no two are the same, and the sight of one never loses its luster. As a hōʻailona for reaching this point of our voyage, we felt blessed to bear witness to this simple yet magical event in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
Our navigation team convened shortly after at dark, as we do every night, and plotted our position on our chart. We estimate we are at 6.5 degrees north and 149 degrees west as of this writing. Longitude wise this puts us just north of Mataiva atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago which is in our target box. If we hold Nālani Malanai we predict another 2 days until we get out of the ITCZ if we average 5 knots, and another 3 days after that until we reach the equator, the next big milestones of our voyage. We are being conservative on our speed predictions as we are not sure if we will continue to keep this good wind we’ve had up until now.
Day 12: April 1
“Kau Ka Lā i ka Lolo”
Today marked our 6th day at sea on our sail down to Tahiti. It also marked the start of a new month, April. However, perhaps the most significant event of the day was a phenomena known as “kau ka lā i ka lolo,” or the sun is placed overhead. The declination of the sun, or the point where it rises on the horizon, was 5 degrees north today, which just so happened to be the latitude we were at. As the sun moves throughout the year, there are solstices and equinoxes, and its change in position dictate the seasonal changes of weather here on earth.
Simply put, the sun rose and set in a perfect arc, straight up and down, and when it reached its midpoint it was at the zenith, or directly above us. To commemorate this event, as well as us being in the realm called “Ka Houpou o Kāne,” or the diaphragm of Kāne (aka the doldrums or the ITCZ), we held a modest and simple ʻawa ceremony on the deck of Hikianalia. ʻAwa was made and served with the sun overhead, and most of us sat in quiet reflection, while others engaged in softspoken conversation. As we near the midpoint of our voyage, it was an important time to reflect on what has transpired and what is yet to come.
It was not a ceremony in the sense that rites and rituals were performed, rather it was just the passing around of the ʻapu, or cup of ʻawa, to each crew member, who then drank from it. Once everyone got a cup, our Captain Kalā Tanaka said a few words, casually remarking on the camaraderie and feeling of ʻohana among our crew. After that, we finished the rest of the kanoa, or bowl, and then went back to the business of the day. Everyone is getting along splendidly and is happy and healthy and we are making great progress along our course.
Mai ka hoʻokuʻi o Hōkūleʻa, a hiki i ka hoʻokuʻi o ka lā, eia nō mākou. From the zenith of Hōkūleʻa to the zenith of the sun, here we are. We are cherishing each moment out at sea and are reflecting on everything we have learned and experienced so that we can share it all with you upon our return.
Day 13: April 2
Today was a rainy day. As we exit the ITCZ and near 1 degrees north latitude tonight, we are passing through squall after squall after squall. We had two periods of decent sunshine which happened to coincide with sunrise and sunset. This was beneficial for our navigation as we could get an accurate bearing but also it timed well with breakfast and dinner.
During the first pocket of daylight today we caught a short billed sailfish off our port stern fishing line. Puaita Pulotu set the lure early in the day during the rain and it caught maybe an hour later. After pulling it in, Uncle Gary Yuen went to work cutting and cooking the fish a few different ways. The head was boiled to make a fish soup, which he used to make a chowder for dinner. Some of the meat was made into sashimi as well, which we ate at breakfast and dinner time. He cooked the bone and fried the belly and we ate it with shoyu and wasabi. Also, the skin was saved and is drying out to make lures, and the Uncle Gary will sand down the bill once it is dry and give it to Puaita as a trophy.
The sunshine didn’t last too long after that as the rain was strong and steady throughout the day. Luckily there was still some wind and we were able to maintain a speed of about 5 knots along our course of Hema/Haka Malanai. After the sky cleared around dinner time and we enjoyed the fish chowder, the wind died down and with it our speed, with Hikianalia doing only 2-3 knots on the slow end. As a Hikina swell picks up our stern and drives the bow up, the big Code Zero sail we are flying off the front luffs loudly but snaps back into place. Although the wind is light now, the squalls continue to come. We are expecting similar weather to this for the next few days.
Sometime late tomorrow we estimate we will cross the equator, which is a milestone for myself and a few others on board, Lohiao Paoa and Jackie Meggs. Soon after that, it is about 15 degrees latitude south to our target block between Mataiva atoll and Rangiroa atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago: a distance of about 900 miles.
It’s hard to believe we have gone this far in little over a week. The crew is happy and healthy and having the time of their lives on board. We are all getting along well and the morale is high. We miss our family and friends back home but want everyone to know we are okay and working hard out here at sea.
Day 14: April 3
“Ka Piko o Wākea”
We crossed a milestone today on our voyage from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti. We crossed the equator in the early afternoon today. In stark contrast to yesterday’s constant downpours, today was sunny and clear all day, and we had steady winds at 10-15 knots. Hikianalia has held Haka Malanai most of the day at around 5 knots, with a swell out of Hikina and a building ʻĀkau swell as well, but both relatively small around 3-5 feet. So all in all it made for a gentle and calm crossing into the Southern Hemisphere.
As the sun rose overhead today again, everyone gathered around for a more formal ʻawa
ceremony. Everyone said a few words after we offered some ʻawa to the waʻa as well as the sea. Following the ʻawa ceremony we had an offering of wai, where water from Maui was poured into the ocean as a hoʻokupu. We also offered our lei lāʻī which have followed us from Oʻahu and Hilo.
As the sun got low in the sky we ate our third day box meal of salmon patties and rice. Jackie Meggs made the patties and they were delicious. We continued our jarred food items taste test and opened the pickled eggplant, kim chee, and papaya slaw. The jars containing this preserved foods are meant to keep for long periods of time without refrigeration and detailed notes on taste, appearance, smell, and other factors are taken by a couple of the crew members.
Night was a time to “make happy,” where first time equator crossers myself, Lohiao Paoa and Jackie Meggs entertained the rest of the crew, and we played music into the night hours. We are steering by the ʻOle moon tonight, ʻOlekūlua, which is significant for a few reasons. The moon appears as half full, mirroring our own position on the globe. ʻOle, meaning Zero, reminds us we are at zero degrees latitude. Finally, kūlua, the two halves of the earth we are traversing across, the northern and southern hemispheres.
This place called Ka Piko o Wākea is significant as well for the constellation Wākea, also called Ka Heihei o Nā Keiki or Orion, for Mintaka, his piko, one of the three “belt” stars, has a declination of zero degrees which is the latitude we are at.
We are steadily moving south and everyone is reflective, humbled by this incredible experience we are all sharing together. We are using some southern stars to check our latitude, Miaplacidus, Atria and Musca, as well as the northern stars Hokumau and Holopuni, and Hikukahi and Hikulua. As of 6pm tonight we estimate we are at 0 degrees 30 minutes South, and 149 degrees 10 minutes west.
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