Crews train to sail Hokulea around the world

The statewide voyaging group Ohana Wa‘a is helping to organize more than a hundred crewmembers who will sail Hokulea around the world.

KHON2 was there as people from around the state came to Oahu to train and, for some, to qualify to sail the traditional double-hulled canoe. From the young to the experienced, crewmembers and potential crewmembers took part in a four-day training called Imi Na‘auao, or to seek knowledge.

“(This is) not only helping me with my wa‘a (canoe) and my skills with the wa‘a, but my skills in life as well,” said 17-year-old Kekuewa Kanakaole. “If one rope or one knot is loose, then everything can come apart, so you really have to be patient with what you’re doing and analyze and make sure that you’re doing it correctly and neatly as possible.”

“Way back when we first started was just like this (small), but you know that voyage we were younger, and now we’ve got all the younger kids coming in getting involved,” said Snake Ah Hee, an original Hokulea crewmember from Maui. “It’s really feels so good inside.”

“The greatest experience is getting the experienced guys together again and at the same time getting the younger guys integrated with the experienced people,” said Dennis Chun, a veteran Hokulea crewmember from Kauai. “I think that’s one of the biggest values.”

Crewmembers camped at Kualoa Beach Park, but they’re also spending time in the classroom at Honolulu Community College’s Marine Education and Training Center, learning everything from protocol training, sail plans, media training and caring for the canoes to understanding the challenges and logistics of the voyage and getting on the water.

Veteran Hokulea crewmember Chadd Onohi Paisho says there are two important lessons to be learned, “one of safety training the other of really having everyone to really understand that they are part of this larger family that will be there in support of Hokulea and Hikianalia.”

“We know there are kids who want to learn how to sail, how to be watch captain or captain and take over everything we did, but also we need to show them the way, the right way to go, how to do this and do that,” said Ah Hee.

All potential crewmembers also go through health screenings and swim tests, and not everyone will be chosen for the voyage.

Kekuewa knows that. “I know I’m in good hands with Uncle Nainoa (Thompson) and Uncle Chad guys, so I’ll be ready,” he said.

On average, there are 11 to 15 crewmembers on a canoe per leg and there are dozens of legs in the three years.

The crewmembers are all volunteers who work free of charge.

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