Hokulea is making good headway on her voyage to Tahiti

The crew of Hokulea is young and now seaworthy, according to navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Hokulea is 10 days into her journey to Tahiti and she’s making tremendous progress.

On Monday, Nainoa Thompson spoke to KHON2 News from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the first time we’ve heard from Hokulea’s captain since the canoe’s departure from Hilo.

“We’re really well,” Thompson said. “The crew is doing awesome. The canoe is doing awesome and we’ve had really good weather.”

And that crew is young, with 75 percent of them under the age of 40, and half under the age of 30.

“Out of a crew of 13, only four have sailed deep-sea, nine have not,” Thompson said.

It’s a strategic choice to prepare for Hokulea’s future. But the adjustment to being at sea was not easy. At least half of the crew dealt with seasickness during the first two days of the voyage, but Thompson said that is no longer an issue.

“If you look at them today, they’re 100 percent seaworthy,” he said. “They are totally functioning, they are pairing, they are supporting.”

The crew’s biggest challenge came several days ago when they reached the doldrums, periods of long-term calm when northeast trade winds and southeast trade winds collide on the equator.

Thompson said there’s no way of getting around it.

“There was a massive squall that was from right across the whole ocean world, from east to west. We were down for two hours to let it go by. But we kept sailing. There was always wind that came after the squalls. There were no calms.

“It’s the fastest voyage so far,” he said, “at least for the place we’re at.”

After only 10 days at sea, two-thirds of Hokulea’s first leg of the voyage is already over.

“Given the average speed that we’re sailing right now, we should be targeting these islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago within five to six days.

“Sometimes this canoe is magic,” Thompson said. “You know that and it needs to go where it’s got to go and we just kind of hang on.”

The master navigator couldn’t be more pleased and had this message for the people of Hawaii.

“When things get hard out here, when we get challenged or we get put on our knees, it’s the strength of knowing that we have that support. And so I’m humbled and I’m grateful to all those that made this departure so special, so aloha, to Hawaii.”

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