Hawaii’s voyaging canoe set sail Sunday morning and is now halfway to mainland Brazil with landfall expected Monday afternoon or night.
The current crew of 12 left South Africa on Christmas eve, and the Brazil arrival marks the end of this leg of the voyage.
Last Thursday they left the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, where they were welcomed with awe and open arms by the locals.
The island is a UNESCO world heritage site, one of two places in the world with a large spinner dolphin population, the other being Hawaii.
Fernando de Noronha also has a large surf culture with great waves.
Locals guided the crew by day and crew members shared about the voyage and navigation at night and held talk story sessions about malama honua, caring for island earth.
Hokulea also picked up two more crew members before departing, both Brazilians, one is a world-class body surfer who has been to Hawaii many times and does community outreach, helping to get the word out about Hokulea to Brazil.
The other is a biologist and canoe paddler who was a volunteer taking care of Hokulea in dry dock at Sand Island. He’s considered the crew’s guide in Brazil.
“Part of that history is a Polynesian presence in the coast of Brazil, found through DNA testing, so it’s pretty interesting,” said Hokulea captain Bruce Blankenfeld.
Blankenfeld adds he’ll be getting that information and bringing it home to share.
When the crew arrives in Natal, Brazil, they will clean up Hokulea, and then the next crew arrives at the end of the week and will take Hokulea to the Carribean.
Meanwhile, this weekend a contingency from the Polynesian Voyaging Society has been in Virginia making connections and preparations for Hokulea’s arrival there in a few months at the Mariner’s Museum and Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, which is falling victim to sea-level rising.