Hawaii’s voyaging canoe Hokulea is on her way to South Africa Sunday night.
Hokulea and her crew left Mauritius in the early morning, Hawaii time, and according to the live tracking map, they have sailed about 100 miles so far, and their jog to the west would indicate they spotted Reunion island, a way-finding point.
After three weeks of preparations, finally captain gave the word Sunday that it was time to go.
“Time to go, yep, let’s go find Africa, time to go,” said Hokulea captain Nainoa Thompson as the crew departed for their most challenging leg yet.
The departure was at 4:20 in the afternoon in Mauritius.
Hugs and well-wishes between canoe crew members and the crew of the safety escort boat Gershon, which will follow a mile behind.
Legendary waterman from Maui Archie Kalepa has received steering instructions.
The ace fisherman and canoe builder has his eye on the prize.
“Next stop lions tigers and zebras, oh my, ” said veteran Hokulea voyager Timmy Gilliom.
They will head for Madagascar and Thompson says it should take four or five days depending on weather, which will also dictate if they stop in Madagascar, before crossing the Mozambique Channel to South Africa.
“This crew is seasoned they’re experienced so they know what they’re getting into and so they know the extraordinary challenge and risk and they’re more than ready to go,” Thompson said.
Among those on board, veteran voyager Billy Richards, a crew member on Hokulea’s first voyage to Tahiti in 1976, and Kalepa Baybayan, captain and master navigator from Hawaii island, who has voyaged for 35 years.
Thompson says during pre-departure crew members took time to themselves to get centered emotionally and spiritually. He adds that he’s not centered until he’s out on the ocean, on Hokulea.
“We’re not just sailing Hokulea, we’re helping to move a much larger mission on the Malama Honua, and to know that everyone is behind us it strengthens us and it’s necessary for us to be prepared for the challenge,” Thompson said.