Hikianalia departs Hawaii to reunite with sister canoe Hokulea in Tahiti

Hikianalia departed Hawaii from Sand Island Tuesday morning to meet up with her sister canoe Hokulea in Tahiti.

The sounds of a conch shell signaled a farewell to the crew and the beginning of the more than 2,000-mile voyage south.

Kala Tanaka of Maui will be taking the helm, her first long-distance voyage as captain, and her father Kalepa Baybayan, a Hokulea captain and pwo navigator, will be sailmaster.

From Tahiti, the crews will make their way back home to Hawaii, completing Hokulea’s malama honua, or voyage around the world.

KHON2 was there prior to the departure to speak with the father-daughter duo.

“There’s an extensive network of community of our ohana, of our family, son goes to Punana O Leo O Maui, all the teachers, the support back home, our friends, everyone, even to get the canoe ready, a lot of us live on the neighbor islands, the responsibility of preparing the canoe felt primarily on the shoulders of the Oahu crew and Bob Perkins,” said Tanaka.

“You know she’s into her game mode now, she’s starting to think through, think about strategically we going to do things aboard the canoe she’s in the process, so I’m just gonna help her along to think through things,” said Baybayan.

On Saturday, crew members were provisioning, loading and preparing for the journey. KHON2 was also there to check on the crew before departure.

“I treat all crew members equally,” Baybayan said. “I don’t show any favoritism, but it’s a proud moment for me as a father and her dad to be able to share what leadership on board these voyaging canoes is all about.”

“He’s definitely more of the stern silent type,” said Tanaka, “and just kind of says what needs to be done. Again, this is my first long distance voyage crossing with him, so I’m really excited to be with him, to be in his presence. To have him there, it’s very comforting. He’s my rock, but also to have other legends on the canoe as well.”

Hikianalia is tentatively scheduled to depart Sand Island Tuesday morning on her two- to three-week voyage to Tahiti.

Both sister canoes will arrive back on Oahu in June.

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