Crew Blog | Hina Keala: Familiar Sights Along the East Coast

This past week I have been living a dream of mine since I was a 1st grader on the dock of Kaunakakai, Moloka’i. Fast forward about 14 years, and here I am on wa’a kaulua (double-hulled canoe) Hōkūle’a in a place I least expected: Cape Cod. It has been surreal and filled with a bunch of firsts. The first time I have ever been to the East Coast, let alone past California, experiencing fog, eating lobster with claws on it, and waking up to the sound of seagulls instead of mynah birds. One of my favorite first experiences happened yesterday as we were under tow down the Cape Cod Canal. It was such a surreal moment for me when we saw a steam engine train go by. I would’ve never thought that I would be on a waʻa and see a huge train steaming past me. It was an awesome moment for all on the crew. 


I am amazed by the other individuals aboard with me, privileged to call my fellow crew members, because to me they are much more than that. They have been the watermen and waterwomen that I have been looking up to since I took my first steps into PVS headquarters at Sand Island. Being able to sail and witness them in their element has been such an honor. From hearing the many stories of adventure to the stories that came from Papa Mau. I am surrounded by so much ʻike and it is my kuleana to learn and reciprocate down the road as their legacy will be a part of mine. 


As we have been traveling, it quickly came into perspective how much this wa’a and the mālama honua movement not only means to Hawai’i, but beyond as well. From meeting people who drive 2 1/2 hours in a days notice to those who randomly show up on the banks as we pass by waving signs and Hawaiian flags, all to catch a glimpse of the canoe. There has been so much aloha along the East Coast, it feels like we’re never too far from someone with connections to Hawai’i. The East Coast is a huge boating and sailing community, and seeing their faces when a waʻa kaulua passes by is priceless. Experienced mariners and fishermen of these areas just flock to the canoe with curiosity and excitement. Mahalo nui to everyone who supports us from the communities full of aloha here on the East Coast to the loved ones back at home.

Me ke aloha,
Hina Keala

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Crew Blog | Kālepa Baybayan: Lessons from the St. Lawrence

The crew takes turns diving into the cool fresh water of the St. Lawrence River for their evening bath. Gone are the salty corrosive seas of the ocean we have traveled upon; we are now on the Great Lakes, home of 21% of the world’s fresh water. They splash, swim, lather, and shampoo as the sun sinks toward the western horizon. Keli Takenaga has made a pot of soup that warms the crew as they take dinner under a star filled sky. The afternoon has been busy with visitors to the canoe from Cape Vincent, the local town where we are stopped, who heard of Hōkūleʻa’s arrival through the coconut wireless.


At dawn before the sun rises we cast our lines and head 50 miles downstream to Ogdensburg, NY. The original inhabitants of this area were the Iroquois; we will be spending the next four days here as we await the arrival of new additions to this crew. We wind our way down the St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the Great Lakes and Lake Ontario (which we have just crossed) to the Atlantic Ocean. We skirt mid-channel on this narrow river, in international waters – to our left is Canada, and to our right the US.  Both coasts are lined with large homes, elaborately landscaped yards and gardens, and boat houses to store pleasure craft  – those craft used for family and personal recreation.  We are transiting the Thousand Island region, home of 1,800 tiny islands; freighters, fishing boats, jet skis, and pleasure craft motor by Hōkūle’a as we work our way down river.


Tomorrow the crew will visit Adirondack Park, a New York State park and forest preserve. The park is part of the IUCN Protected Area Program and is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States – it is considered one of the greatest experiments in conservation, as half of the land is privately owned, with 102 towns and villages included in the park boundaries.

Today we bid farewell to crewmember Art Harris, our navigator and pilot, who will return to work in Maryland and will be sorely missed. Also departing is Nikolas Powell, a student and PVS volunteer, who will be returning to school in Toronto.


As we cross the border into Canada with plans to stop in Montreal, we will need to transit an additional seven locks. These are “commercial locks”, which means that Hōkūleʻa will need to share the locks with large freighters hauling grain and ore. We hope to connect with members of the Mohawk Nation and leaders of the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo (ʻAPL) in Kahnawake, Canada. Dorothy Lazore, a Mohawk nun, started the first indigenous language immersion program that we know of, even before Kōhanga Reo and Pūnana Leo, and she has helped and encouraged other indigenous peoples in search of language revitalization over the years. In the late 1980’s, she helped to develop 1st Grade materials for the newborn Kula Kaiapuni immersion program. I am excited about being reunited with my friends Pila and Kauanoe Wilson, Namaka Rawlins, and Amy Kalili, who are traveling on behalf of ʻAPL to meet us, and to mālama and honor this connection.


As we make our way down the St. Lawrence River, I am amazed by how these inland waterways feed the ocean I call home. Snow melt feeds the lakes, the lakes feed the rivers, the rivers feed the ocean. We live on a planet that is 70% water and seen from space, we are a pale blue dot.  Dr. Sylvia Earle says, “without the blue of the ocean, there is NO green on the planet”. As we wind our way down the green banks of the St. Lawrence River to once again connect with the salty ocean we call home, let us not forget the lessons of the inland lakes that are a part of the source of our oceanic homeland.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Crew Blog | Kālepa Baybayan: 6 Days on the Water

In the quiet of early morning, we slip our docking lines and silently leave Newport Marina, on the shores of New Jersey. It’s 3 A.M. but the New York skyline is lit up as we skirt the east side of the Hudson River.  Even at this early morning hour, towering skyscrapers are aglow in the “City That Never Sleeps”. As we cross under the Washington Bridge, the New York skyline disappears and is replaced by the rich and fertile Hudson River Valley.


The Algonquian-speaking Mahican and Lenape peoples inhabited the Hudson Valley; peoples from the six tribes of the region still call this area home. The Hudson Valley is also a home for farms and industry, as well as a Tech Valley that rivals Silicon Valley in the West – IBM has a large facility in Westchester County. Supporting this technology ecosystem are a number of institutions, including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and New York Polytechnic Institute. As Hōkūleʻa makes her way towards Poughkeepsie, we also pass by the West Point Military Academy, and can see cadets lining the shoreline taking part in drills and exercises. At Castleton, we lower the masts and prepare to enter the first of 30 locks in the Erie Canal System.


Locking is a new experience for the crew and we are excited about the process. We will climb 420.5’ above sea-level before being lowered 157.5’ back down to the level of Lake Ontario, where we will end our 30-Lock passage. Federal Lock 1 in Troy raises the canoe 14’ above sea level. We park the canoe in the town of Waterford, waiting for morning to transit Lock 2 thru 10 and transit the Mohawk River.

In the morning, our entry into the locks is full of nervous energy. We enter and exit the first 9 locks without incident. Upon Nainoa’s recommendation and for better stopping ability in the Locks, we have rigged a dinghy with a 25-hp engine between the bow of Hōkūleʻa, to assist the canoe by providing brakes when we need to slow down – the process works well.


The interior New York Canal System, between Troy and Syracuse, is lined with fertile farms and charming river homes. On either side of the banks of the canal, cornfields stretch inland. We are skirting northern Appalachia as we wind our way along the river. On our third day of the passage within the Locks, we transit Locks 11 thru 18. Our highest climb of the entire trip comes at Lock 17, a massive 40.5’ of height. The entire crew is aboard for the ride.

On the 5th day of our transit, we enter and exit Locks 19 thru 22 and pull into Sylvan Beach on the western shore of Lake Oneida. Upon our arrival we are greeted by the 115’ Norwegian Viking ship, Draken. They are on a 1-year voyage to learn about their Viking seafaring traditions. We exchange tours, share our voyaging missions, and socialize into the evening.


We are only 8-Locks from finishing our transit of the Erie Canal System; by now the crew has turned into a professional lLocking tTeam. We clear the final 8-Locks without incident and are now moored at Oswego, the southeastern corner of Lake Ontario. The crew quickly re-stands the two mast and sails of Hōkūleʻ’a and the deck is restored to order – we once again look like a canoe.

Yesterday, we were invited by the six tribes of the area to an event at the New York State Fair. We offer makana and our friendship to the tribes and commit to a more formal visit upon our return. In the evening we tour Niagara Falls, a fitting end to our Erie Canal experience.


We can only accomplish the complexities of such a journey with excellent planning and logistical coordination. Our Voyage Planner for this leg was Lehua Kamalu, who did an excellent job of researching the Locks – I could not consider doing this without her help. Heidi Guth has always seen to the needs of the crew, arranging marinas and hotels on very short notice, since we never really know exactly where we are going to stop until we can evaluate the distance just completed.

The brain and intelligence behind this journey is Nainoa Thompson; we could not have done this leg of the Voyage without his inspiration and vision. Mahalo to him for having the faith and surety that such a challenge as this Lock system could be accomplished by Hōkūleʻa and her crew.


I am only the “Bus Driver” on this leg, and could not have done this without the assistance of 13 dedicated volunteers who are a part of a much larger volunteer ‘ohana back in Hawai’i:

Keala Kimura, Captain, Julie’s Cat
Art Harris, Navigator and Pilot
Haunani Kane, Watch Captain
Nakua Konohia-Lind, Watch Captain
Kaʻ’ai McAffee-Torco, Captain, Land Wa’a
Nikolas Powell, Safety Officer
Trissi Chun, Doctor
Sam Kapoi, ‘Ōiwi TV and IT
Keli Takenaga, Cook and Quartermaster
Michi Wong, Makana Coordination
Kalau Spencer, Dinghy Operator
Waimea McKeague, Crew
Maleko Lorenzo, Crew

My heartfelt thanks goes to all of you, on wa’a and on land, for all of your support.

Mahalo a nui,
Kālepa Baybayan
Captain, Hōkūleʻa

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hōkūleʻa Update | August 15, 2016

Crew members of Hawaii’s voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa discovered another story of hope during the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage’s current New England sail: the amazing restoration and beautification of Boston’s Charles River, a result of the community coming together. 

Two decades ago, Boston Harbor was known as the “dirtiest harbor in America.” This was partly because for over 100 years, the daily waste from Boston and its surrounding communities received limited treatment before it was disposed into the harbor. The Charles River watershed includes 23 cities, making it the most densely populated watershed in all of New England, and empties directly into Boston Harbor.


These days, people view Charles River as a “Great American Jewel.” The Boston Harbor Project, a combined effort from engaged community members, government entities like the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and non-profits such as the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), worked tirelessly to restore one of Boston’s precious natural resources. As a result, the Boston Harbor cleanup is widely recognized as one of the nation’s greatest environmental achievements.


MWRA invested $3.8 billion in the treatment facilities at Deer Island, a part of Boston Harbor Islands State and National Park. The organization is also spending $850 million on combined sewer overflow (CSO) projects to protect beaches, shell fishing beds and other sensitive waters from overflows due to heavy rains.

CRWA is one of the country’s oldest watershed associations, focused on advocacy for Charles River and other watersheds through a combination of scientific data, long-term vision and solutions, and an emphasis on revitalizing and expanding public parks and recreation spaces. In September 2011, CRWA on behalf of the Charles River received the Thiess International Riverprize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award from the International River Foundation (IRF) in Brisbane, Australia. The Thiess International Riverprize recognizes individuals and organizations who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management.


“What happens on land affects the health of our waters, the blue lungs of this Island Earth,”said Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.  “The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage seeks stories of hope and success, exploring ways others have worked to restore and revitalize culture, environment, and education. Like the Charles River Watershed, Hawaii’s watersheds are densely populated, multi-use, and priceless resources for this and all generations. Through stories like the amazing Boston Harbor cleanup project, we know that restoring the health of our watersheds is possible within a lifetime,” Thompson added.

Hōkūleʻa continues her journey on the US East Coast seeking out more stories of hope. She recently left Newport, Rhode Island late Sunday night and is scheduled to dock in New York’s Oyster Bay today.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Crew Blog | Kaʻai McAfee-Torco: Gifts from the Heart of Hawaiʻi

Being from Hawaiʻi, my parents taught me that you always bring gifts when you visit someone’s house. Whether it’s malasadas, cocoa puffs or flowers, never show up empty handed. I think there might be rules like this in different places or cultures. And with these same local values, Hōkūleʻa always brings gifts to the places she visits.


When we sailed in to Yarmouth, my first port arrival since joining the Worldwide Voyage, we were welcomed by a ceremony with representatives from the Mi’kmaq (“mik-mah”) tribe and Yarmouth community.  We exchanged words of admiration and gratitude, and gifts significant to us and our cultures.

When we received eagle feathers from the tribe, I felt thankful knowing that we also had feathers in a form of a kahili to give in return. Peace quilts made with artwork squares designed by children in Hawaii and around the world were also given to government officials, in hopes that this colorful gift will serve as a reminder of our special meeting when it’s hanging on their wall. For me personally, the ipu (gourd) containing a piece of kaula (cordage) is my favorite gift.


For waʻa, gourds are known to carry two of the most important provisions on waʻa, food and water.  These ipu were the sustainable and original version of hydroflasks and tupperware, ensuring survival by providing the sustenance needed without being contaminated with salt water. Unlike their modern cousins, ipu are also powerfully present in myths and legends, like the wind gourd of Laʻamaomao, that describe the capabilities of a particular ipu to carry wind. Uncle Kealii Bertlemann teaches a chant to that helps us to ask when to bring the ipu nui (the gourd with lots of wind) or ipu liʻi (the gourd with little wind). Another legend tells of a man who whispered his words of love into an ipu with hopes that his wife would leave her other lover. She opened the gourd that was filled with his love and returned home. From food and water to wind and love, the ipu is known to carry one’s most valuable belongings.

On the Hawaiian airlines flight over to New York, the complimentary Hawaiian Skies movie featured Kalim Smith ( He grows ipu in California and from his interview, his love and deep connection to this plant is extremely special.  Finding this movie on my way to join this leg, I felt in my heart the importance of the ipu once again, and wanted to share what I know about the ipu we carry on Hōkūleʻa.


Inside of our ipu gift is a piece of cordage braided from the olonā, known as the strongest natural fiber in the world. It is part of the very specific and special list of plants that are used to create rope and line for voyaging. When I first started sailing, I took rope for granted like most people. We use it to pull our sails, to hang clothes, and to lash every part of our waʻa together – there is no piece of metal or glue holding any two parts of this waʻa together. Kaula is flexible enough to move with the force of the ocean, but strong enough to hold everything together – a lesson we can all learn not just to be better voyagers, but to be better people and leaders.

I saw olonā for the first time last year and learned that it is difficult to grow.  Uncle Gary Eoff grows this olonā and braids the fiber in the old way, teaching children this art, gifting us with the olonā that their many hands and hearts have touched, so we can give this strong gift to others along the Voyage.


Our gifts show the many layers of meaning of mālama honua. If people of many generations didn’t take care of their natural resources on land, the waʻa wouldn’t be able to be built or tied together. We who are lucky enough to sail on the ocean understand the importance of the water and canoe, but just like Tamiko said when we were reflecting on the opening ceremony, no matter where Hōkūleʻa goes in the world, “It reminds me how many people are supporting this sail. We cannot sail without their support.” Our waʻa and crew cannot sail without the resources and support of those on land, without the support of the ʻaina itself. To the countless number of people who have graciously opened their homes to us, who have fed us, and shared their history and stories with us, and to the countless number of people who have harvested, braided, lashed, sanded, and the many millions of other acts of aloha it takes for our Voyage to continue – Mahalo nui for joining us on this amazing adventure.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Crew Blog | Zane Havens: Le Village Historique Acadien

It is calm, grey day as our rented mini-van pulls into the gravel parking lot of Le Village Historique Acadien.  Three of my fellow crew members and I have been invited to explore this recreation of an early 20th century French Acadian village overlooking Pubnico Harbour in southwestern Nova Scotia. As I travel aboard Hōkūleʻa, I try to search for connections between where we are and where she has been. We are far from her home in Hawaiʻi, and sometimes it seems that it might be difficult to see the relationships between two cultures on entirely opposite sides of a very large planet. However, after exploring the grounds around Le Village, I can very clearly see the connection between the French Acadian and Polynesian cultures. 


Arriving in the mid 1600s, the French Acadians settled in western Nova Scotia, living modestly by farming and fishing. They had a positive relationship with the indigenous people, the Mi’kmauq, who taught the Acadians how to live in the sometimes harsh environment.  However, in the late 1700s, these settlers were forced to leave their homes after the British took claim of the land. Tragically, during the deportation, over half of the Acadians died. Of those who survived, a few managed to eventually travel back to their homes in Nova Scotia. Our guide Aldric’s, last name is d’Entremont, a common family name among the Acadian population of this area.  He is excited to share his knowledge of the region, and continues to chat and tell stories as we enter the visitor center. 


Our first stop in the historic village is the Charles Duon House, a house that was at one time home to an Acadian family. Over two generations, the modest home saw over 20 children live within its walls. I am reminded of the canoe; four children sleeping in one bed, eight sharing a room, is not far from what I experience with my brothers and sisters aboard Hōkūleʻa. We share space because we have to and, while this could easily tear us apart and cause us to bicker, I find that it brings me closer to my fellow crew. 


We take the tour down the road to the Rueben Trefry Blacksmith Shop. Inside, a re-enactor tends the forge, heating metal to high temperatures to make the tools that would be needed for basic survival in the 1800s and 1900s. Somethings as simple as a fishhook, a tool that can easily be bought at a store today, were delicately made by hand here, where metal is heated, stretched, and manipulated until it forms the familiar shape used for catching fish. In modern times, GPS is used to navigate; we hardly even have to think about direction.  Those who sailed aboard canoes 2000 years ago did not have it as easy, but managed to master the art of navigation using stars, swells, and other cues from nature. It wasn’t as easy as using a GPS, but they managed to thrive through hard work and skill.

ZH5We walk to the edge of harbor, and stare out across the salt flats. It is easy to picture Acadian settlers toiling away in the inlets, pulling lobster pots and fishing for Haddock. In the distance are piles of “hay”, collected from the salt marsh plants. According to our guides, these plants were much too salty for horses to eat. However oxen, which have two additional stomachs, are able to digest the salty reeds and grasses. Acadians relied on the oxen to perform the majority of the tasks that a horse would otherwise be used for. This example suggests that these people learned about their environment from the indigenous people, and used this knowledge to survive and flourish.  I can see a parallel here with Polynesian culture, where understanding the resources available is crucial to living on an island. You shouldn’t catch too many fish, you shouldn’t waste all of your water, you should destroy you land when you live on an island; if you do, you will not survive.  

Upon leaving Le Village, it is clear that the staff of the small historical town have a mission that is very similar to ours aboard the canoe. All of the staff are Acadian themselves, and some are even related to the d’Entremont family. The connection these people have to Le Village is like our connection to the canoe; we want to share the culture, the language (Acadian is a specific dialect of French found only in Nova Scotia), and the history so that it may never be forgotten.  Their canoe doesn’t float, but its story should be heard all the same. 

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

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Crew Blog | Nāʻālehu Anthony: Rain or Shine, Canoe Tours Must Go On

The East Coast engagement for the Worldwide Voyage has been the most intense set of stops the crews and logistics teams have ever had to plan for. The fact that we are in a port almost every single night and that sometimes we have departure and arrival ceremonies in the same day means that the planning team in Hawaii and locally works around the clock to make each transition as smooth as possible. And then the weather changes, and things shift by a day or two. For the most part people understand, but we try hard to meet the commitments that we agree to, even though it is extremely complex moving a 12-ton canoe with no auxiliary power.


Nonetheless, from the start of the East Coast engagement in Florida heading up north through Washington DC and New York, all the way to Maine and Canada, we have met thousands of people and interacted with many thousands more on the web and social media in these areas.  The teams have worked hard to balance the safety of the canoe and the crews with the timeliness of the port visits and the potential educational outreach in these communities. 


But on Leg 22, besides the trip to Canada, we are in the mode of delivery to New York rather than that of engagement and outreach.  Our trip was built as a series of overnight hops to cover several hundred miles in a little over a week.  Our time in Salem, Massachusetts was only 36 hours to hold over for some expected bad weather. So Captain Kālepa said that we would do community engagement from the National Parks Dock on the one day we were in port. The only trouble was it was supposed to rain all day.  This might be the only time the weather people were right (besides Hans our weather guru – he is always right). But right at 10am the rain came in full force just as forecasted. By 2pm when the tours were supposed to start, the rain had turned back on and was not showing any signs of letting up. We set up our tent and waited to see if anyone would brave the rain and come and visit. To our astonishment, dozens came, with undampened spirits and many questions about our mission and our craft.


Thankfully the weather got a little better before we finished up at 5pm, and people got to walk around the canoe and come out from under our awning that had been the only semi dry space around. Curious onlookers from as far as Kāneʻohe and San Francisco asked questions of our knowledgeable crew as we showed them around. We talked to National Park Service staff who were incredibly interested in the rig and the sails, as they wanted to compare what we did with how they rigged their tall ship. And we talked with more than a few people who drove over an hour just to come see the canoe. All in all, it was a great time and everyone who came to visit had a genuine interest in the canoe.  So we want to thank everyone for coming out and braving the elements in Salem to learn a bit about our canoe and our Mālama Honua mission. We may not always get to port on time, but when we say we will hold canoe tours, we do so rain or shine.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hōkūleʻa Update | August 11, 2016

Hōkūleʻa, Hawaiʻi’s iconic voyaging canoe, encountered new sailing conditions on Thursday morning: thick fog that hovered above the ocean during the crew’s early morning sail from Salem, Massachusetts to Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.

The Hōkūleʻa crew had little to no visibility of the horizon during the first couple of hours of the sail – a rare weather situation for the Worldwide Voyage. Eventually, the fog cleared up at around 10:00 a.m. ET and Hōkūleʻa was back on track to her next destination: the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. From there, the Hōkūleʻa crew will sail to Rhode Island early Friday morning, where the canoe will be docked for a few days. In line with delivering the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage’s message of taking care of Island Earth by engaging with new communities they meet throughout the voyage. 

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.