Thousands are gearing up to welcome Hokulea home after a long, three-year journey around the world.
At Magic Island Friday, preparations continued with the addition of tents, bathrooms, water-bottle refilling stations, and a LED screen.
The water was also a big focus, where Hokulea and seven other canoes will arrive Saturday morning.
Officials want to ensure everything runs smoothly and safely for the canoes, crews, and the public.
On Friday, ocean safety officers on personal watercraft conducted practice runs from the channel on the Waikiki side of Magic Island into the small harbor where eight large voyaging canoes will enter, one at a time.
The watercraft will help tow them in, and keep the area clear.
“We’ve been training for like six weeks with the Coast Guard and lifeguards, and DOCARE (Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement) officers, DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources),” said famed waterman Brian Keaulana, Hawaiian Water Patrol. “It’s a whole Hawaii family, government, community get-together. I mean everybody is just so proud of Hokulea, where she’s been, what she’s done, and in the future what’s coming.”
Keaulana is the son of Buffalo Keaulana, who was on Hokulea’s first voyage to Tahiti. He says they’ve been tracking the southern hemisphere storm that’s been generating a rising swell for two weeks.
They’ll look again in the morning, but so far, it’s a go.
“We’re watching the wind and the surf and it looks doable, so I don’t think the surf’s going to be big enough to close out the channel, so the canoes right now will be coming in,” said Nainoa Thompson, master navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society president. “The Coast Guard has final jurisdiction on water safety and they’ve been just tremendous about both focusing on safety at sea but also being very respectful to those who love Hokulea.”
“From Diamond Head to this way, the public will be very responsible I’m sure as they gather around Hokulea,” said DLNR enforcement officer Pat Chong Tim, “and transitioning down, we have the Coast Guard representing us outside and maintaining a safety parameter if needed.”
“We want everyone from the amateur watermen to the most experienced watermen or the navigators on Hokulea, we want to make sure that everyone is safe tomorrow. We want everyone to come out and enjoy this once in a lifetime event,” said Warren Wright, Lt. Commander, U.S. Coast Guard.
At the dock where Hokulea will arrive, thousands of people are expected to be singing and chanting her in.
There will be a ceremony before crew members disembark and are escorted to the tent for an ‘awa ceremony.
We will be airing Hokulea’s homecoming live on Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on our sister station, Hawaii’s CW. It will also be live-streamed on KHON2.com. You can also watch a rebroadcast that night on KHON2 at 6:30 p.m.