Kirk is a Professor of Marine Science at Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Kirk became friends with PVS President Nainoa Thompson while crossing the Kaʻiwi Channel from Molokaʻi to Oʻahu in 1990. When PVS was planning the Worldwide Voyage, Kirk was president of the American Canoe Association, which pledged support to the voyage. When Hōkūleʻa sailed through Virginia and Washington, DC, Kirk joined her crew.

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