Hōkūleʻa Update| May 19, 2017
Blog by Nāʻālehu Anthony
We sighted Tikehau early this morning.
At about 3 am we could see a light marking the southern tip of the atoll. We stayed at a slow 3-4 kts until sunrise when we could see all the land features that we had to avoid. It took us about 3 hours to sail by the whole atoll as we make our way in to deep water, with no more land to be seen until Hawaiʻi some 2200 miles from here. The wind has been really good, steady trades for this area, 15 kts from the east southeast. The sea state is pretty steady except for the occasional bump. Our sail set changes multiple times a day now, trying to maintain speed and an acceptable distance from our escort. As of this writing at sunset today, we are running #15 jib up front and #13 jib behind that in place of the main. Our mizzen is a #32A crab claw. The Southern Cross is behind us, and Orion just set. The moon will be rising in a few hours just in time for my watch.
From Tautira to Hawaiʻi, this journey will span over 2500 miles. Because the atoll of Tikehau is the last land that we will see and therefore our last exactly known location, it is the starting point on this trip for counting miles to go to Hawaiʻi. The 170 or so miles it took to get up to Tikehau from Tautira are no longer part of the equation of getting to Hawaiʻi. From this point our navigators have broken this into 4 distinct segments.
The first piece is 1,110 miles, taking us past the equator to about 3 degrees north latitude. Weʻll know we are at three degrees north because Hoku Paʻa – Polaris, the North Star – will be three degrees above the horizon. Our heading for these 1,110 miles will be as far east of north as the wind will allow us. We are currently making more easting (our team is calling it “money in the bank”) in anticipation that our wind will go more north, forcing us to head more west as we move along this path. We are currently 53 miles along this course line, so by morning we’ll have just under 1000 miles to go on this segment.
The second piece of our trip is through the ITZC or the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. Most people call this the doldrums, where the winds in the southern and northern hemispheres can cancel each other out, making for very light wind conditions. There are stories about Hōkūleʻa waiting in the doldrums for more than 2 weeks for the wind to fill in. In 2014, however, when Hōkūleʻa sailed south to Tahiti, there were no doldrums and the entire 2500 miles took only 16 days. Needless to say we are hoping for those 360 miles to go quickly. Because of the variability in the potential for wind or no wind in this area, our plan is to sail directly north through this region.
Once we get to about 9 degrees north latitude, we will make our course a little west of north, giving up some of that easting to travel another 670 miles until we are at 20 degrees north latitude, the latitude of Hawaiʻi. This should set us up to be about 275 miles east of Hawaiʻi Island. From there we will turn west to look for the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa that mark our destination.
Stay tuned for more navigation updates as our apprentice navigator, Haunani, will be adding in more detail to help articulate each of these segments of our journey home.
Event registration is live!
Join thousands of supporters and fans to welcome Hōkūleʻa home to Hawaiʻi in June 2017! Register now for the Mālama Honua Summit, reserve your tour aboard Hōkūleʻa, and RSVP for the Polynesian Voyaging Society benefit dinner.