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By Julius Tigno

RAPA NUI (October 3, 1999 – The Honolulu Advertiser)---Hokule‘a was moving east-northeast yesterday to avoid light southeasterly trade winds that were expected to continue for another day.

The 5- to 15-knot trade winds were blowing from the direction of Rapa Nui, according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Web site . The crew is trying to gain headway to the east while avoiding sailing into the wind.

The canoe’s heading "takes them a little to the north as well, seemingly away from Rapa Nui," the Web site noted.

As of 3:00 a.m. yesterday, the canoe had traveled 21 miles over the previous 24 hours and was 306 nautical miles northwest of Rapa Nui.

Hokule‘a left Mangareva on September 21. The crew expected the 1,450-mile trip to Rapa Nui, also called Easter Island, to take 30 to 40 days.

But 12 days later, thanks to favorable winds, Hokule‘a has completed over two-thirds of the distance between the two islands, nearly three weeks ahead of schedule.

The trip completes a series of Polynesian passages that Hokule‘a began 25 years ago within the triangle bounded by Hawai‘i to the north, New Zealand to the south and Rapa Nui to the east.



Navigator Chad Baybayan is sharing excerpts from his journal as the voyaging canoe Hokule‘a makes its way to Rapa Nui.

PACIFIC OCEAN (October 1, 1999 – Honolulu Advertiser)---The gray pall that surrounds us is beginning to lift. Patches of sunlight filter through the ceilings of clouds above us, rays indicating the sun’s position behind it. The sky is slowly turning blue and the sun’s touch warms my body. Soggy clothing hung out to dry resembles a multi-colored lei strung around Hokule‘a. The canoe, still under the influence of unfavorable winds, moves now at a much slower pace.

We enjoy the cool, pleasant weather, passing time sitting in small groups, sharing stories and listening to Hawaii music. (On a CD player.) Our escort boat Kamahele, now considered by all of us the second voyaging canoe on this journey, pulls near our stern. Crews exchange waves and smiles, adding to the growing warmth of the day. There is a very comfortable feeling to the spirit of this crew. Kindness and respect are displayed at all times.

When selecting the crew, you can only guess as to how the many diverse personalities of such a wide variety of people will get along together in a close, cooperative living environment such as Hokule‘a’s. With this group of individuals, the transition to canoe life has been fast, each assuming their new roles with a high degree of professionalism.

Mel Paoa, Tava Taupu Teikivaeoho and Terry Hee serve as watch captains. Mike Tongg is our radio operator. The electrical systems are maintained by Aaron Young. The canoe’s doctor is Dan Tamura. Our photographer and videographer, Sonny Ahuna, has been sending pictures back to our Web site. It is through his eyes that so many people have been able to experience the voyage.

Sam Low is our documenter, sending back to Hawai‘i the information used to support the education effort of this project. Shantelle Ching and Max Yarawamai are apprentice navigators. Bruce Blankenfeld and myself share navigational responsibilities with Nainoa Thompson.

Nainoa serves as captain and primary navigator for the voyage.

When I look at the many shades and complexions that share Hokule‘a’s deck, I realize it is more than the Hawaiian community represented here. It is Hawai‘i’s community of today who sail her. Not since 1987 have Bruce and Nainoa and myself sailed together as crew. It is the first time that the three of us are sailing as a navigational team.

Working with the two of them is an honor and a privilege. It has been to this point, a rich and powerful personal experience for me. Bruce and I rotate through six-hour shifts at night and four-hour shifts during the day. The four-hour daytime shifts allow Bruce and me to alternate watches. We experience navigating at different hours each day while the other person rests. Nainoa is always on watch.

In the morning and evening, we meet at the stern of the canoe, assess the voyage’s progress and plan the next day’s strategy. This is a simple description of how cooperative navigation works. But the relationship we share as navigators is rooted in a friendship and a mutual respect that we have developed by sailing together for over 24 years. For a cooperative effort such as ours to succeed, trust and integrity become essential. These two elements are key to making our relationship work.

Our trust and integrity stem from recognizing each other’s competence and skill as navigators and leaders, witnessed from previous voyages together. Somehow we have been able to make this system of shared navigation work. Nainoa has empowered Bruce and me to take control on our watches. He solicits our opinions, and we collaborate on decisions. It is now through older and wiser eyes that we view ourselves, recognizing the growth and maturity that only patience brings.

It is here on the deck of Hokule‘a that I feel my strongest, sharing my time with people of common belief.

We sail to honor our ancestors and by doing so, we honor ourselves, keeping alive our most previous inheritance, our culture and heritage.

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