Hōkūleʻa Update | August 19, 2015
Aloha, this is Bruce Blankenfeld on board Hōkūleʻa in the Indian Ocean. We are still getting beautiful winds, seas, and overall weather. We are making good speed, averaging 5-6 knots. And our escort boat Gershon II is keeping up, and they’re doing just fine. We had a visitor today – an aircraft from Australia that does regular surveys of the surrounding waters. They came by and made contact with the two vessels. That was awesome that they do that. No fish today, but yesterday we caught a beautiful aku that our 10 star chef Gary Yuen used to make a beautiful sashimi platter, fried fish, and a wonderful soup. So we are keeping the voyage healthy. Thank you for following us and share your mālama honua stories at Hokulea.com.
None of us dares to move or speak lest we ruin the moment. It’s about 4am, and only three of us are on the watch. The thousands of points of light overhead are alive and bright, showing us the way just a little south of west. The only artificial light comes from high atop our mizzen spar, high enough for our escort boat to keep an eye on us. But our scene is anything but dark. We’ve been on watch for a couple of hours, most will either use no light or only red light to move about and do their work. Now that our eyes have adjusted to low light conditions, we can see the seeming glow of every splashing wave around us. At first I’m not sure if the white froth in contrast to the black sea just stands out or of the waves are truly glowing. Upon closer inspection I can see that the canoes hulls are invigorating the bioluminescent field that we are sailing through. We leave a glowing wake of these little critters about 60 feet back, the splash deck where we clean the fish and wash the dishes is glowing with these green specks of light. This is a magical morning, with not much more than couple of clouds to darken our sky.
She slips effortlessly through the water, everything is in rhythm, the steering is anticipatory in nature and gentle, just a touch here and there as if to suggest to Hoku to move just a bit to port or starboard. Our watch captain watches the course but hasn’t spoken in many minutes, as everything is in sync and locked on our destination. Our captain and navigator is down in the bunk taking a quick cat nap as he does only when he feels comfortable enough to rest his mind and his senses long enough to ease quickly into a deep sleep. This helps to keep the thousands of decisions he has to make everyday in order and his reflexes as sharp as he can. For us, it is the ultimate compliment that he would rest his mind and let us carry the burden of the course and speed, even if only for a short time. It means that he knows he will wake and everything will be as he left it, so as not to have missing information in the data set that is now more than 400 miles long filed with countless choices and hard decisions.
Our senses are heightened due to our eyes having to work so hard in the dim light. The sounds on the canoe give us directional clues. The constant splash of the 200 pound steering paddle tells us we are on course. When she goes quite and everything becomes still, we’ve gone too far down the wind and stalled. Likewise when you hear the paddle strain against the canoe running down a wave we can tell she’s gained speed run too far up. It feels like nature and us intruding in to this realm on this craft are finally in sync. Kanaloa has accepted us and now we are finally on our way. I can feel the movement of the canoe through my feet become more regular, and as the swells continue to pick us up from our port stern quarter, gently pushing us up into the wind. This rhythm lasts for maybe 15 minutes. Jarring us from this space is a call from the escort boat: We’re still too fast, we need to keep the distance close in this darkness. The call is heeded, and we close our mizzen to comply. The canoe slows and falls out of lock with her surroundings, still happy that we had this time for mutuality if even for a few minutes.