Hokulea returns to water for sea trials, safety training

Hokulea returned to the water Monday afternoon after crew members and volunteers re-launched the historic canoe into the ocean for sea trials and safety training between now and May.

Hokulea’s re-launch marks the end of her last dry dock in Hawaii until 2017, when she and her escort boat Hikianalia return from their journey around the world. Hokulea’s next planned dry dock will be in Aotearoa in 2015, before Hokulea continues on toward Africa.

“Her re-launch is the culmination of six years of work,” says Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson. Thousands of volunteers helped to get Hokulea and Hikianalia ready for the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines.

Earlier Monday, Hokulea and her crew members were recognized and honored by the state Senate. Lawmakers paid tribute to the current voyage, and the decades of work revitalizing and perpetuating ancient voyaging practices.

“A floating classroom, the Hokulea will carry our diverse and accepting culture throughout the Pacific building relationships and raising awareness about the importance of ocean protection,” said state Sen. Gilbert Kahele (District 1 Hilo), who spearheaded the upcoming presentation ceremony. “As a lawmaker, I look forward to what they will bring back regarding recommendations for charting a new course or moreso how we as a state shall adjust our sails toward sustainable practices for food, energy and the environment that they’ve picked up from other places and cultures. Their manao would be an added value to helping legislators in future policy decisions.”

“Sitting there today, in that room, and listening to the depth of conversation that came from a number of senators really made me feel that they’re breaking through the layers of how this worldwide voyage is seen,” Thompson said. “What I felt was the clear understanding that that leadership in that room understood that this voyage isn’t about us. It’s about those who came before us.”

“There’s going to be times its going to be really rough out there,” he said. “There’s going to be times on your knees. There’s going to be times you’re down to the bone. And the way you get through those times is knowing your home is with you.”

“Once you are connected with the canoe, you always want to be connected to the canoe because of that feeling you gained there. A better understanding with yourself, better connections with others and the things you see in the middle of the ocean, you realize our little place in a much larger world,” Hokulea crew member Keoni Kuoha said.

Hokulea’s departure to Tahiti is scheduled for May 17, weather permitting.

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State lawmakers honored Hokulea and her crew Monday.
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