Remembering Chad Kālepa Baybayan
- Posted on 16 Apr 2021
- In Newsletter
Hawai’i’s voyaging community is mourning the loss of an important leader, teacher, captain and pwo navigator. Chad Kālepa Baybayan dedicated his life to community, education, Hawaiian culture, exploration and voyaging. He believed that Hōkūleʻa was a vehicle to carry the values of kindness, compassion and generosity. When asked about sailing on Hōkūleʻa, he said “it’s about stewardship in the way that you aloha the canoe, and aloha each other on board the canoe, it’s about life-long friendship, it’s about building good and healthy relationships, it’s about committing to the idea of aloha to your community and service.” He saw Hōkūleʻa as a symbol for successful aspirations and a promise for all that is possible. “It is a reminder of all that we have accomplished in the face of enormous adversity,” he said
Kālepa first sailed on Hōkūleʻa in 1975 and participated on all major Hōkūleʻa voyages since 1980, including 18 legs of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. He also served as captain on the voyaging canoes Hawai‘iloa and Hōkūalaka‘i.
A constant learner passionate about teaching, Kālepa shared his knowledge and inspired thousands of students through his work as the Site Director of Honuakai, the Exploration Sciences Division of the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, which teaches Hawaiian Language to participants that crew aboard Hōkūalaka‘i. He also served as the Navigator in Residence at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i developing wayfinding activities, curriculum materials, and conducting outreach. In 2007, on the Micronesian island of Satawal, his teacher, master navigator Mau Piailug, initiated Kālepa and four other Hōkūleʻa navigators into the order of Pwo, the two-thousand-year-old Micronesian society of deep-sea navigators. Mau had said a navigator never becomes a master until he/she passes away, and after having trained and taught someone else to carry navigation. That places Kālepa among the great masters. He will be extremely missed on the deck of our canoes, but we know his legacy will live on through his children, grandchildren and students, and he will continue to sail with, guide and teach us.
Mahalo nui loa Kālepa.