Hokulea, Hikianalia crews enjoy time on Rangiroa atoll

After more than two weeks at sea, the crews of Hokulea and Hikianalia are enjoying some time on land.

Crew members have spent the past two days in Rangiroa, where their first welcome was literally music to their ears. Locals in Rangiroa held a special celebration filled with song to greet them at the atoll.

KHON2 got to video chat with crew members of both canoes during their stay.

Hikianalia captain Bruce Blankenfeld said his crew rose to the occasion. “I was happy with it. I think I think it went really well. There were a lot of things we had to iron out,” he said, “but just the fact that we had to really work to keep our position as an escort with Hokulea, I found that was a nice challenge. Everyone learned a lot.”

Apprentice navigator Haunani Kane said the most difficult part of the voyage was navigating mid-day.

“Uncle Bruce and Nainoa always tell us that the stars are the easy part and I don’t think I really understood what that meant until we tried to navigate from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and we had to learn how to read the swells and read the wind,” she said.

Click through a gallery of photos of Hokulea, Hikianalia on Rangiroa (Photos: Oiwi TV)
Click through a gallery of photos of Hokulea, Hikianalia on Rangiroa (Photos: Oiwi TV)

Now that they’re on land doesn’t mean they’re simply relaxing in paradise.

“Right now we’re conducting repairs and maintenance to the canoes,” said Pwo navigator Kalepa Baybayan. “There’s a lot of work. The canoes needed cleaning and repair badly but the canoes will be in top shape for our Papeete arrival on the 22nd.”

That arrival date was requested by Tahiti officials who have large ceremonies planned, but that caused a dilemma. The tiny atoll of Rangiroa is hosting the 28 crew members, who planned on staying just two or three days.

They expected to eat food from the canoes and sleep on the canoes, but the community had other plans.

They’ve opened their homes and insist on feeding crew members three meals a day.

With the longer stay, the canoes’ leadership was concerned they would be taking too much of the islanders’ precious resources.

“We tried to do things like (say) ‘We could feed you with the canoe food and we can take care of ourselves’ and they won’t have it,” said Hokulea captain Nainoa Thompson. “They won’t take any money and so finally we came to the place of ‘Where can we serve you the best?’ It was their children, tours on the canoe. We’ll be taking the community to sail in the beautiful bay of Rangiroa and we’ll be doing star presentations.”

Crew members took that sail Thursday and gave a special presentation at night.

It was a gift the community would accept, and that, Thompson says, is what the voyage Malama Honua is all about.

Hokulea and Hikianalia are expected to leave Rangiroa on Saturday and arrive to a large celebration on Hokulea Beach in Papeete, Tahiti on Sunday.

Track the double-hulled canoe’s voyage here.

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