It took years of preparation, but the start of Hokule’a’s worldwide voyage could be delayed because of an unexpected problem.
Hokule’a is scheduled to launch this Saturday.
Last week, we told you about ants found in a hull of the voyaging canoe.
On Tuesday, the Polynesian Voyaging Society told us its plan to tackle the pest problem.
A local pest company has stepped in to help. And as long all goes as planned, there shouldn’t be any delays.
“We’re going to 28 countries and we’ll be tying up to 56 islands and we’ll be at 83 ports,” Pwo Navigator Nainoa Thompson said.
Hokule’a’s sister voyaging canoe, Hikianalia, looks ready to go. But Hokule’a’s mast has been taken down to prepare for fumigation.
KHON2 asked: “Do you know what kind of ants they are?”
Thompson replied: “They’re saying it’s one of the 54 different species that’s in Hawaii, established well in Hawaii.”
“They were probably brought on board from the dry docking phase so they’ve been on board the canoe since March,” said Kalepa Baybayan, Hokule’a Navigator and Captain.
KHON2 asked: “How bad is the infestation?”
Thompson replied: “It’s pretty limited. We have seven compartments in each hull. We found it in one compartment on the port side in the back.”
“I know they’re working their way under this rubber seal so they could be all underneath the deck,” Baybayan said.
Kama’aina Termite and Pest Control is doing the job for free. They plan to tent Hokule’a on Thursday morning, and remove the tent Thursday night.
They’re cutting it close, but Thompson says it’s a good lesson for them.
“It’s allowed us to think broader about what we’re doing and our impact to the planet. So whether it delays a day or two days it doesn’t matter because the ants are now part of the journey. they’re part of the story so we’re embracing the issue and making decisions based on our values,” Thompson said.
KHON2 asked: “Speaking of the launch date, what’s the chance that you may have to push the launch date back?”
Thompson replied: “I think we’ll be ok, I think we’ll be ok.”
KHON2 asked: “How do you ensure that you don’t pick up anything from any of the other countries and bring it back to Hawaii?”
Thompson replied: “That’s a good question. That’s what I had to ask them — can they give us a percentage of how much risk is there that we’re going to bring stuff back to Hawaii. And they’re saying the environment in Hokule’a from their point of view is there’s so much salt water it would be low, but there’s risk. So what we’re going to do is make sure that before we come home, back in Tahiti we’re going to make sure those canoes are completely clean before we leave to come back home.”