Ever since the loss of Eddie Aikau in 1978, Hokulea has had a medical and safety escort boat following her, about a mile behind, on all her voyages.
For her upcoming voyage around the world, there is a new member of the canoe family: Hokulea’s sister canoe, Hikianalia.
Even though Hikianalia is a much younger sister, by 38 years, she’s bigger and has a lot of bells and whistles Hokulea does not, like a toilet, more protected sleeping bunks and a hale on deck with a communications center. It’s a mix of tradition and modern science and technology.
“We call her R2D2 on the back,” said Hokulea captain Naalehu Anthony.
The center will send experiences from the canoes to a satellite, then on to Hawaii and the world.
“We live in a world now where people want stuff immediately,” Anthony said. “They want the ability to see what’s going on as it’s happening. We’re going to do that through daily updates, daily photos, video every other day, blogs every other day to engage an audience that wants to know what’s going on.”
A high-bandwith long frequency Wifi antenna has been installed on both Hikianalia’s mast and on Hokulea, so photos, video and live video from Hokulea transmit to Hikianalia to the center then to you.
“If you can imagine, instead of calling into a classroom, we can Google hangout with video into a classroom,” Anthony said. “Instead of calling into a news station, we can Google hangout into the news station live.”
Solar panels on the canoe capture power.
“The canoe itself is as close to carbon-free as we can possibly make it,” said Hikianalia captain Bob Perkins. “We’re trying not to use any fossil fuels.”
“We have a hydroponic system,” said Haunani Kane, Hokulea crew member and UH biology graduate student. “We’ll be growing our own fresh veggies, fresh greens and watercress as well as uala.”
Kane is also spearheading several underwater research projects during the voyage, including water quality testing and looking at life from phytoplankton to large fish and the human impact on them.
“Another project is we’re looking at marine mammal acoustics, so we’ll be towing a microphone at the back of the canoe,” Kane said.
“We’ll be able to disseminate that throughout the schools that are signed up to be a part of our program,” Perkins added.
Hikianalia is the name of the sister star to the star Hokulea. They rise the east together.