Leg 18: Virgin Islands, Cuba and Florida
After spending 5 days in the US Virgin Islands, where crew engaged with the local community and the Virgin Islands National Park, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Hōkūleʻa visited the British Virgin Islands before continuing north to Cuba. In the British Virgin Islands, the canoe and crew visited Moskito and Virgin Gorda Islands.
In Cuba, the crew engaged with local peoples and government as well as visit the pristine marine ecosystems of the island. “Our experience in Cuba was very memorable,” said Kalepa Baybayan, captain and pwo navigator on board Hokulea. “Once again, we discovered common threads with a community who is also perpetuating the Malama Honua message of taking care of our precious natural resources through various innovative initiatives.” The Cuba engagement gave the Hokulea crew the opportunity to see FINCA Marta, an organic farm that used mostly solar power for irrigation. The crewmembers also visited the Museo de la Canoa to learn about Caribbean canoe history as well as visiting Old Havana Town.
Hōkūleʻa departed Cuba on March 23rd and sailed north to Florida where she stopped in Key West before making the voyage’s first touch of the continental US in the Everglades. the Hokulea crew were welcomed by The Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples in a sacred ceremony honoring the Voyage. Following this sacred ceremony, The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Everglades National Park Service hosted a welcoming ceremony at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, where the public was invited to meet the crew and learn about the Worldwide Voyage.
From Fort Meyers, Hokulea will cross the Florida peninsular via the Okeechobee Waterway to the eastern coast of the state where the crew will honor the late Lacy Veach at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in early April. Veach was a Hawaii-born NASA astronaut who first suggested the idea that Hokulea should sail around the world to share the message to care for Island Earth.