Hōkūle‘a & Hikianalia: First WWV Training Sail Together
Blog by Karen Holman—
Hōkūle’a is infinitely surrounded by nature’s wonders, at times in the form of subtle whispers, and at others, in the fierce, jolting beauty of the open sea. At each significant moment, as she enters or leaves the water for dry dock, expansive rainbows have stretched across the sky.
Today, March 4th, 2013 is her first sail with her sister vessel Hikianalia. Just as the two stars, Hikianalia and Hōkūle’a rise and set together across the sphere of the night sky, so too do the two canoes parallel each other as they sail across the curvature of the Earth.
A seemingly parallel lifetime also unfolds at sea, seeped in new perspectives… the crevassed storylines of the Ko’olau range, the silver, luminous light that creates pathways across the ocean in the late afternoon, the momentum and power of the ocean swells, and the unimaginable blue green color of icebergs that appear at the tip of a breaking wave.
Witnessing Hōkūle’a as a speck amidst the vast blue reminds us of why we sail. The Worldwide Voyage carries the message of Mālama Honua, to care for the Earth, our precious island floating in the vastness of space, and deeply in need of our care now as never before.
On this occasion, we sail to join the humpback whales, nomadic and majestic animals that, as voyagers of the sea, share many parallels with us.
In the Pailolo channel, between Maui and Molokai, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray of “One World, One Ocean” will be filming Hōkūle’a amongst the whales, as near natural companions, both gliding seamlessly through the sea and leaving a powerful mana in their wake.
Simultaneously, this sail is an ideal opportunity for crew training. Captain Bruce reminded us that every knot we tie, every sail we raise, and indeed every experience we have on the canoe deepens our knowledge of the sea.
We will also use this opportunity to test communication between the two vessels and pilot the education at sea program for the upcoming Worldwide Voyage. Students at Kamaile Academy have spent the week researching a myriad of topics related to humpback whales, such as their migration patterns, behaviors, song, cultural significance, and the threats and challenges humpback whales face as an endangered species.
We will test out a Skype video call from canoe to classroom and interview the staff at the National Marine Humpback Whale Sanctuary.
Several scientists are offering proposals for research to be carried out as the canoes circumnavigate the planet. One is a simple but fascinating set up that allows us to trail a ‘sock’ made of a fine mesh in the water to gather plankton. We can then examine the findings under a microscope and find a variety of tiny organisms! It is as though we are watching the ocean from a microscopic level of all that is invisible to the naked eye, to the macro world of large whales; beckoning us to consider the interconnectedness of all life.
It is a special gift to sail Hikianalia and Hōkūle’a together for the first time alongside our remarkable cousins, and to be immersed in whales as teachers while the crew trains for the worldwide voyage. To witness a whale breaching enables us to see through the eyes of a child again, to be completely present in this moment here and now, a focus so necessary for a journey as momentous as the Worldwide Voyage
The sun has just descended below the horizon and just as we spoke of the humpback whale or kohalā as being the kinolau or animal manifestation of the canoe, whale and her calf surfaced 5 feet from our bow, so close that we could feel her breath dissipate into the air around us. First came the feeling of magic and awe, then came a sense of responsibility for the future.