As part of our duties as escort vessel for the Hōkūle’a we have an on-board doctor who is responsible for the health of our crews. Many things can go wrong at sea, and if they do, we need to be able to transport the doctor from Hikianalia to Hōkūle’a.
Hikianalia carries an inflatable pontoon raft for this exact purpose. Once inflated, it can be deployed alongside the wa’a. Hōkūle’a deploys a tow line which is captured by by the crew of Hikianalia, and then attached to the inflatable raft. At this point, the doctor and two safety swimmers board the raft. Hōkūle’a’s crew is notified, and the raft is pulled back to Hōkūle’a via the tow line.
We practiced this entire process today, from start to finish, to ensure every step of the way went safely and correctly. It took only about 20 minutes! After we finished, the safety crew transported the boat back to Hikianalia, where it was rinsed off and hung to dry on the front of the vessel before it was deflated and returned to its storage.