Sailing Hokulea, Hikianalia, a first-hand perspective

Hokulea and her sister voyaging canoe, Hikianalia, set sail off Oahu’s south shore Tuesday with members of the media on board.

Reporters and photographers gathered at the Marine Education Training Center at Sand Island, home base for Hawaii’s two voyaging canoes. Then, it was time for a special day out on the ocean.

The goal of Tuesday’s journey outside Waikiki and Diamond Head was to give us a taste of what crew members will experience on their three-year journey that will cover 47,000 nautical miles and take them to more than 25 countries and 12 Marine World Heritage Sites.

The first group boarded Hokulea while we were greeted by Capt. Bob Perkins and his crew aboard Hikianalia.

Maui Tauotaha is excited about the opportunity to be selected for the historic sail. His grandfather was part of the 1986 crew that sailed Hokulea back from Tahiti during “The Voyage of Rediscovery.”

“I’m so grateful to be a part of this voyage with the icon of Hokulea and now Hikianalia that we can carry across the world,” Tauotaha said. “I also subscribe to the values of Malama Honua, taking care of this island earth. Our island is much like a canoe and we have limited resources and we have to take care of the resources so that they’ll be here for generations to come.”

Tuesday’s sail also gave members of the media a chance to see how technology will allow crew members to share their story with the rest of the world.

Hikianalia, an escort wa’a for Hokulea, will carry communication technology that will provide students and the general public with a direct connection to Hokulea as she visits different ports.

“We need use modern technology to be relevant, because kids expect — and people, viewers expect — to have things on demand, all the time, 24-7,” said Keoni Lee of Oiwi TV. “For students, especially for them, to be able to have that connection with the crewmembers that have come to their schools.”

An Oiwi TV crewmember will be on each canoe throughout the voyage to capture stories of the journey and send them back to us.

“Everything is about immediacy so now we’re totally connected,” Lee said. “We need to always have safety first, and then after safety, then it’s weather permitting and if the satellite is good, there’s a lot of variables, but the technology is there.”

A few of us were offered the rare opportunity to help steer Hikianalia as we made our way back to land.

It was a chance of a lifetime, knowing in just a few weeks on May 24, Hokulea and Hikianalia will set sail on their much-anticipated worldwide voyage.

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