Nainoa Thompson Listed Amongst Coastal Living’s Ocean Heroes
The following abbreviated story comes from our friends at Coastal Living where you can check out the full article.
The ocean is my church; it’s everything for me.
I’m a little bit of a fish, and when I tour I feel like a fish out of water. When I return to the ocean it’s like a reset button. I feel like myself again. I’m home.
It’s easy to think that the ocean is so vast it can take care of itself. But that’s really not the case anymore, as I’ve come to learn when I travel and talk with the experts you’ll meet on these pages. When the expedi- tions are completed, or when we speak away from the cameras, our conversation continues—and it’s a conversation I hope you’ll join.
Why now? Now is always a good time. But it’s more than that: Our oceans need us. You can travel hundreds of miles from land into the bluest of deep blue waters and think all you see is beauty in every direction, without any trash in sight. Then you pull up the trawl skimming the ocean’s surface to find it loaded with plastic beads. This is what we call “smog of the sea,” which is also the name of a new documentary film I had a hand in making. These plastic particles endanger ecosystems and make their way up the food chain right back to us. Now add to this damage the threat of rising sea levels, toxic waste, whale strikes, and more.
I’ll let our heroes educate you on these subjects, and what they may mean for you and your family in the future. Instead I’ll quote Jean-Michel Cousteau: “We protect what we love.” I’m pretty sure we all love our life-giving oceans. Let’s work together to save them. Before it’s too late.
Nainoa Thompson, President, Polynesian Voyaging Society
Charting the Way Forward
If Hawaiians have a real-life folk hero, it must be Nainoa Thompson. He’s the wayfinding wonder who for 40 years has reintroduced the Polynesian art of ocean navigation, charting his course by the stars in traditional, double-hull canoes without modern tools.
Bonus: Read our Q&A with Nainoa
In June 2017, Thompson and a team of crewmembers, including scientists and adventurers, returned to home port on Oahu, manning the legendary boat Hōkūle‘a and its support vessels after an incredible three-year journey circumnavigating the globe. The mission of this epic excursion: to spread the message of Mālama Honua—to care for our Island Earth.
“We didn’t know if we could do it,” Thompson says of the dangerous sail across 40,000 nautical miles, which took six years of strategic planning, intense physical training, and a fully refurbished canoe to navigate everything from 70-foot-high waves to the threat of Somali pirates. While modern technology was used for roughly half the voyage, its risks were still considerable. “But what is more dangerous,” Thompson asks. “The hurricanes, the pirates, the mosquitoes, and the rogue waves? Or … to keep the canoe tied to the dock because you’re afraid to go?”
Thompson and 245 vetted sailors steered the Hōkūle‘a in crews of 12 to 14 at a time, spreading Mālama Honua to more than 100,000 people in ports in the South Pacific, the Indian and Atlantic oceans, the Caribbean, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, the United States, and Canada.
Thompson, now back home, considers his island neighbor Jack Johnson and his fellow ocean heroes. “We’re all on the same voyage to protect our oceans. We’re in different professions,” he says, “but we’re going to the same place.”
Take Action: Love the ocean like Nainoa Thompson actively does—as does every heroic advocate, scientist, and explorer on these pages. Pledge today to do your part to help save it. Find out how at coastalliving.com/saveourseas.