Our canoe Hōkūleʻa and our escort vessel Gershon II have sailed in to Maputo, Mozambique.
Two-person dhows line the horizon with fishermen. These traditionally rigged vessels, similar in sail design to Micronesian proa, speak to the oceanic heritage of African seafarers who plied this coastline as traders, freighters, and fishermen. They continue this proud tradition of using the wind to propel their vessels out to the sandbars offshore to fish, a practice that has been passed on for generations.
From our vantage point, anchored 200 yards offshore of downtown Maputo, this growing port metropolis of 1.7 million people looks very modern. Many tall, modern-looking buildings with large cranes above them frame the skyline of this former Portuguese colony (Portuguese is still the official language of Mozambique). When Portugal returned independence to Mozambique decades ago, there was a mass exodus of Portuguese patriots, resulting in a decline in Maputo’s economy and city infrastructure. From our view offshore today, the city looks like it is going through a strong recovery period. Crewmember Max jokes that a number of Portuguese expatriates must have returned to Honokaʻa after they left Maputo. I laugh, and think about my own ties to the Portuguese. My great-grandfather and great-grandmother came from Portugal… again, we feel these connections, halfway around the world.
We shifted anchorages in the afternoon from the outer harbor to the inner harbor, for better shelter from the quickly approaching low-pressure system to our south. At 2:30 AM, those of us not on watch woke to an “all hands on deck” situation – the winds had increased to gale force, and the crew had to react quickly to tend our tow line that tethered us to the stern of the Gershon. The weather has since settled, and at the moment we are riding more comfortably.
In the morning we are arranging to refill our fresh water containers, working with the incredibly helpful Port Authorities to do this. We have ample food for the remainder of our trip, although I long for a fresh garden salad.
Sailing, crossing the world’s oceans 1 foot at a time, takes endurance and patience. I sail because of the perspective it lends my life and the life skills it provides me; sailing also makes me appreciate my family more. The crew aboard Hōkūleʻa forms a family of professional and competent collaborators, but there are also those whose tie goes beyond our waʻa ʻohana – of our 12 crewmembers, 8 men and 4 women, two are sisters and two are cousins.
1. Nainoa Thompson, Captain
2. Kālepa Baybayan, Watch Captain
3. Billy Richards, Watch Captain
4. Archie Kālepa, Safety Officer
5. Carolyn Annerud, Medical Officer
6. Tamiko Fernilius, Quartermaster-Cook
7. Timi Gilliom, Fisherman
8. Sam Kapoi, Media Specialist
9. Lehua Kamalu, Electrical Specialist
10. Nikki Kamalu, Science Specialist
11. Keahi Omai, Carpenter-Sail Repairer
12. Max Yarawamai, a great guy, every family should have one of him
Aloha from all of us off the coast of Africa,