Crew Profile: Bruce Blankenfeld

PVS Member Since 1977

HOMETOWN: Niu Valley, Hawaii
PRIMARY DUTY: Pwo Navigator
OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES: Pilot, Sail Master, Kumu, Fisherman, Crew training coordinator and waʻa maintenance
Bruce Blankenfeld of Niu Valley, Oʻahu is a PWO Navigator who became involved with the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) in 1977 by volunteering on Hōkūleʻa training sails and with construction and repair of the wa‘a kaulua in drydock. Since then, he has voyaged thousands of miles throughout Polynesia, Micronesia, Vancouver, Alaska and Japan. After many decades of sailing and navigating, in 2007 on Ku Holo Mau, the voyage to Satawal, Bruce was captain and navigator of Hōkūleʻa from Hawaiʻi to Pohnpei. He rejoined the crew for the sail from Chuuk to Satawal, where he was one of five Native Hawaiians inducted into PWO by Mau Piailug.

He has led Hōkūle‘a’s extensive renovations, and is currently the Voyaging and Crew Training Director for PVS as well as the Vice Chair of the PVS Board of Directors. Mr. Blankenfeld is a popular and inspiring lecturer on Polynesian navigating, voyaging and wayfinding. He is a fisherman who remains active in the paddling community as a paddler, coach and president of the Board of Directors of Hui Nalu Canoe Club. He is a long-time member and kayaker with the Hawaiʻi Canoe & Kayak Team, and works full-time as a stevedoring contractor for McCabe, Hamilton & Renny.

In 2018, Bruce received the NOAA’s 2018 Papahānaumokuākea Umu Kai Award and was recognized for educating Hawaii’s keiki and adults in sustainably. In 2016, Bruce was inducted into the The Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation’s Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame for his work interacting with Hawaii’s ocean, and reviving the art of traditional Polynesian wayfinding as well as his outstanding efforts in mentoring and inspiring the next generation to take an active role in caring for our ocean.

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