Hikianalia Update | Oct 23, 2018: A Tongva Welcome is Like No Other
Crew Blog by Hiapo Elderts
Aloha kākou, we are wishing everyone well as you follow us along on leg three of the Alahula Kai o Maleka. We were sad to see the departure of our leg two crewmembers and our beloved Pwo navigator Tua Pittman–we wish them all well and a safe journey back home.
We were all excited and ready to and get on the moana and set sail for beautiful Santa Catalina Island that is called Pimu by the first nation people of Tongva. We had such a huge reception from the Pacific Islander community and the King Harbor Yacht club. The dockside tours were a homecoming for some as crewmembers reconnected with friends and family members–it made it hard to say goodbye.
With very light winds and dolphins guiding Hikianalia from the mainland across roughly 34 miles of water, we arrived just before sunset and were greeted with a wonderful reception ceremony from the Tongva who are the indigenous people of Catalina. While we approached Avalon Bay, they honored the occasion by paddling and meeting us with their traditional canoe called a tiʻaat, with this particular craft named Moomat Ahiko. This traditional canoe design is being revived by the Tongva and until today, has not been taken onto the waters of Santa Catalina for decades.
We were also told that Hikianalia might be the first Polynesian voyaging canoe to come to their shores in as many as 780 years and it was agreed all around that the event was historic for both cultures. After clearing and blessing ceremonies that included gift giving, we were treated to a traditional dinner that included acorn mash, venison and vegetable stew, local island lobster, and desert with locally grown chia seeds.
After dinner we were treated to an up-close and personal view of Moomat Ahiko canoe by paddler Gabe Robles–it is large enough to carry 6 paddlers and it is made with redwood plank strips lashed with cordage and bonded in a way as not to let in water between planks.
The night continued with cross-cultural sharing of tradition including a raven dance performed by the talented Miztla Aguilera. Craig Torres shared the story of how the ti’aat canoe design came to Cindy Alvitre in a dream from her ancestors.
As for me, this voyage has provided an exciting opportunity to reunite with Sr. Captain Bob Perkins and Captain Mark Ellis. It’s been 6 years since we were together for Hikianalia’s maiden sail from Aoteroa (New Zealand) to Tahiti, and then Hawaiʻi back in 2012. The second leg of that voyage from Tahiti to Hawaiʻi Island is some of the most spiritual voyaging I’ve experienced–truly following the footstep of my ancestors.
As for new beginnings, I have the pleasure of sailing with one of my Pa brothers Iliahi Doo from our school Pa Ku’i a Lua (Hawaiian martial arts): so here voyaging with me on this leg, I get to unite two of my traditional passions.
While I have this opportunity, I want to mahalo to the Polynesian Voyaging Society for making this voyage possible. This morning as we sail away from the island of Pimu (Catalina) we are all wishing we had more time in this beautiful place than the half day we spent there. However, looking forward, we are also excited to continue on to Dana Point–there was a Coast Guard warning over the radio airwaves to beware of over 70 outrigger canoes waiting for our arrival.
The crew, which is still new to each other, is excited and working very well together–we are already telling bad jokes and getting silly. I always feel blessed to lend my hand for the opportunity to be at service to my crew, my culture, and to share learn the message mālama honua!
Malama pono ke akua bless