Hokulea and Hikianalia have successfully navigated to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands chain after a nine-island tour through French Polynesia that promoted Malama Honua learning journeys and cultural exchanges.
But the trip was not without difficulties.
Hokulea and Hikianalia were joined by two Tahitian wa’a sailing canoes, Faafaite and Marumaru Atua. The waʻa escorted Hokulea and Hikianalia into Rarotonga.
Before proceeding to Rarotonga, however, the waʻa made a stop on the fourth island of the Cook Island chain, Mitiaro. This provided an opportunity for two crewmembers to fly to Rarotonga in advance of the rest of the crew for medical attention.
They had been attended to aboard by the waʻa medical officer and were in stable condition; however it is Polynesian Voyaging Society practice to exercise an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers.
The two waʻa are a part of the Pacific Voyagers organization inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s revival of traditional navigation.
Master navigator, Kalepa Baybayan, reported 16-foot waves and 60 mph winds en route to Rarotonga, and crewmembers kept the canoes going at a very slow pace to prevent stress on the waʻa.
The Cook Islands Voyaging Society will be hosting celebratory gatherings and events through August 6 for crewmembers of the small fleet of Polynesian voyaging canoes.
The next stops for Hokulea and Hikianalia and their crew are the islands of Aitutaki and Suwarrow.
This sail is an expression of gratitude to local leadership for their recent creation of the Northern Cooks Marine Park, which is currently one of the largest Marine Protected Areas in the world.
In late August, Hokulea and Hikianalia crew are slated to sail to Samoa, where the United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference in Apia will highlight the importance of sustainability efforts in islands and oceans throughout the world.