Hokulea: Heading back to Pago Pago

The voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia are on the move again. They left Swains Island on Sunday and are heading back to Pago Pago in American Samoa, bringing to a close the part of the journey that begins to delve into caring for the Earth’s oceans.

“It’s like opening a new chapter on our three-year educational campaign on protection of the world’s oceans,” said navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Weather prevented the canoes from going to Tokelau and the Phoenix Islands, both of which are challenged by climate change. But they did get to to tiny Swains Island, north of Samoa.

The tracking map shows three days of movement as Swains is poor in safe mooring spots, but it is rich in biodiversity.

“The reason we went to Swains is because it’s pristine, it’s uninhabited and pretty much untouched. Its coral reefs are amazing.”

The canoes also went to Swains at the request of the Samoan community. At one time it was inhabited, with a 100-year, family-owned copra, or dried coconut industry.

When they heard Hokulea and Hikianalia was coming, the family returned to aloha the canoes. “They brought up family members from Seattle, San Diego, Miami, Hawaii, Samoa, all came together just to go to Swains. Some of them who are in their 60s right now, and haven’t been back to Swains since they left when they were seven years old.”

Thompson says the family is committed to protecting Swains and Hokulea can help by telling its story. A crew member decided to stay, Henk Rogers of Blue Planet Foundation, which works on creative ways to get Hawaii sustainable.

“He stayed with the family in Swains to help them envision how they can look at sustainability, primarily from the area of energy.”

Hokule’a and Hikianalia end this leg of the voyage in Samoa Wednesday.

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