Crew Blog | Kālepa Baybayan: Follow the Wind
It seems that the Maraʻamu Wind that is typical in July and August, Tahiti’s winter, is starting a little early this season. This particular condition occurs when a strong high-pressure system passes to the south of the island, the pressure gradient is then compressed and a stronger than normal easterly trade winds field is created. For the past 48-hours these windy conditions have filled our eastern horizon, something that was not present last week as we slowly made our way into Papeʻete Harbor.
After leaving Cape Kumukahi, the easternmost point of our Islands, we sailed our 2,200 nautical mile track in just 16 days, making for the fastest trip ever by a traditionally navigated voyaging canoe. In 2014, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia made landfall on the Tuamotu atoll of Aratua in 16 days, we found the same atoll in 14 days. The 16-crew members of Hikianalia sailed down the route we call Ke Ala I Kahiki, The Pathway to Ancestral Homelands, through the southeastern Malanai quadrant on our star compass. Guided by a full moon, we saw the outline of Aratua atoll in the early morning hours and sailed around its western edge on a very light northeasterly wind. Two tacks and two days later, we rounded the famous Matavai Bay and Point Venus, arriving at 3 a.m. to a quiet dock with no one around to welcome us. Sleep was impossible the rest of the early morning until sunrise when we were welcomed to Tahiti by crew member Puaita Raihau Pulotu’s Tahitian family with lei, drinks, and food.
On this passage the crew simply followed the wind to Tahiti; this trip was all about optimizing the sailing angles to keep the canoe moving fast on the water. If the wind was from the east-northeast, we sailed southeast. If the wind was from the east, we sailed south-southeast. If the wind was from the east-southeast, we sailed south. We simply kept the canoe moving towards the southern horizon on the fastest sailing angle the wind provided, sailing a zigzag course line to landfall. If you can do that the wind will take you to the Tuamotus and on to Tahiti.
A sail such as this requires and involves a number of people that go beyond the 16 who have the privilege to sail onboard the canoe. First, I would like to thank Bob Perkins, Kekaimalu Lee, Keli Takenaga, and Darienne Dey and the crew of the Hikianalia Tahiti to Hawaiʻi leg for assisting with preparing the canoe for the voyage. Next there is Lita Blankenfeld and her team for gathering all the food from a local vendor. Our fantastic administrative staff of Heidi Guth, Ka’iulani Murphy, Mikiala Akiona, and Ramona Ontiveros for helping with all logistical matters. A huge thanks goes to Hans Rosendahl and Commanders Weather for providing weather forecasting services. We need to thank the Kukio Beach Boys from Kona and Young from Hilo for their assistance with tows from Oluwalu to Keoneʻoiʻo and Mahukona to Hilo. Lastly, I would like to thank all of our PVS network and families for supporting us on this journey.
Of special note, mahalo to Watch Captains Snake AhHee, Kalani Kahalioumi, and Gary Yuen for providing the leadership to keep the canoe safe. To my old friend Teikiheepotauvitava Taupu, it was good to be at sea with you for this last and final voyage of your career. Lastly, my daughter did a fantastic job captaining Hikianalia for her first time as the leader of the voyage and the primary navigator. She is very disciplined, good-natured, an effective communicator, and cares deeply about each of her crew members. All I can say is that I am proud to be her father.
Kalā Tanaka, Captain, Primary Navigator
Kālepa Baybayan, Sail Master
Snake AhHee, Watch Captain
Kalani Kahalioumi, Watch Captain, Apprentice Navigator
Gary Yuen, Watch Captain, PM Cook
Miriam Chang, Ship Doctor
Tava Taupu, Senior Crew
Kawika Crivello, Education Coordinator, Apprentice Navigator
Kaipo Kiaha, Media Specialist, Apprentice Navigator
Kalau Spencer, Power System
Nikki Kamalu, Technology Specialist, Apprentice Navigator
Liz Zeiger, Quarter Master
Jackie Meggs, Quarter Master
Lohiao Paoa, Sails, Apprentice Navigator
Ben Dumaran, Sails
Puaita Purotu, AM Cook
Mahalo a nui loa,
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