Ants found on board Hokulea, canoe to be treated before voyage

Hokulea is dealing with some unexpected visitors. Crew members were cleaning the canoe when they found ants in a hull.

Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, said the ants were likely brought on board or got on board during dry dock.

According to Thompson, fumigators inspected the area Friday morning and suggested the canoe could be treated on the water without harming the environment. Experts will take another look Saturday and the society will weigh all options before determining a solution, he said.

“This issue is, in many ways for me, even though it’s stressful, even though it adds more work, even though it’s precious time, to me, it’s a good wake up call,” he said.

Thompson said the problem is relatively minor in terms of pest control, but poses a big issue in terms of the society’s values.

“This canoe is historic. She’s sacred and she needs to be cared for, and she needs to be sailed the right way,” Thompson said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes in whatever time it takes to do the right thing so when we leave home, we’re clean and that’s the same expectation when we come back to Hawaii.”

Hokulea is scheduled to leave Oahu on its worldwide voyage on Saturday, May 17.

Despite the unexpected hurdle, Thompson said the voyage’s timeline will likely remain the same, which includes a series of open houses for both Hokulea and Hikianalia before they depart Honolulu.

“(Visitors) might come one of these days next week and find it under a tent, but that’s part of the story too,” Thompson said.

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