After Hōkūleʻa’s first crossing of the Atlantic and first touch to South America in Natal, Brazil, she continued into new waters of the Caribbean. Here, she and her crew expect to encounter some familiar themes among new archipelagos and cultures – stories of precious marine and terrestrial resources on tropical and subtropical islands and the efforts to protect them.
Hōkūleʻa sailed north from Natal, Brazil to first visit the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands before continuing north to Cuba. In St. John, USVI, crew engaged with the local community and the US Virgin Islands National Park, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. In the British Virgin Islands, the canoe and crew planned to visit Necker, Moskito and Virgin Gorda Islands. Hōkūleʻa covered approximately 2,085 nautical miles on this leg, over the course of 17 days of voyaging.
While in the Caribbean, Hōkūle‘a crew learned more about how the Caribbean islands are working together to find solutions for a healthier planet. Since leaving the Pacific, Hōkūle‘a has traversed several new oceans which have brought new perspectives and lessons. The Caribbean was yet another new ocean for Hōkūle‘a yet there was something familiar about the islands and the stories she encountered there. The freckled small islands, wrapped by amazing coral reefs, share similarities with Hawai‘i and other Pacific Islands, such as their tropical climate, unique terrestrial and marine resources and stressors on those resources from tourism, fisheries and other anthropogenic forces.
Given these shared values and challenges, Hōkūle‘a crewmembers were interested in learning how Caribbean Islands work to mālama honua, such as the Caribbean Challenge – an initiative in which Caribbean nations and their partners have pledged to protect 20% of their marine resources by 2020. This large effort which stems from a consortium of small island nations illustrates how individual efforts can combine to create meaningful change.
“Everybody should start thinking about this, considering what kinds of contributions you can make at your home to the totality of protecting the earth,” said Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson. “Because when we look at it as individuals or just from small communities, a tiny place like the Hawaiian Islands… from our lens, no matter what we do, it’s not going to have enough scale and impact to really save the earth. But if you do it, and hope and believe that others are doing it at the same time, when you look the thousands of efforts that are taking place on earth – then you have scale. And so the Caribbean Challenge is a very significant statement both again symbolic and real for all of us to pay attention to. “