Hokulea returns to the water

Published On: Feb 23 2013 03:02:00 PM HST

The Polynesian Voyaging canoe Hokulea returned to the water Saturday for the first time since being dry docked in September.

This is the first step in preparation for the upcoming worldwide voyage planned for this summer.

It was a gentle and graceful entrance back into the water for the Hokulea at dawn.

This time back at sea, she's wider, faster and lighter.  Master navigator Bruce Blankenfeld led the Hokulea's overhaul.

"Our vision and our goal in mind was to put her back together knowing that she would easily have 30 to 40 years of service for the next generation," said Blankenfeld.

At 37 years old, and having logged nearly 150,000 miles at sea, the Hokulea was ready for a major makeover.

2,200 volunteer hours provided the canoe a new paint job, new solar panels and 3,000 feet of new lashing.

About the only original part of the vessel remaining are her hulls.

 "The beauty of using modern materials is she'll spend more time at sea instead of on land being repaired and maintained," said Blankenfeld.

Also still the same, the Hokulea's mission.  It's not just about building a canoe, but a community to share ancestral wisdom, messages of peace and hope for the children.

The responsibility of the task is not lost on Haunani Kane, 25.

"It's huge, it's scary.  But I think it's something the younger generation has to take upon themselves," said Kane.

Kane is training to be one of the next generation of navigators.
"I like being challenged and having to think and problem solve. I like having to figure things out, get lost and try to find your way back," she said.

One thing missing on the Hokulea right now is the mast. That's going to go up next week in preparation for a sail to Maui.

The sail to Maui in March will test the sea legs on the canoe and her crew -- as they get ready for the worldwide voyage scheduled to begin in June.

"This is a chance for a lot of us to make a small mark in history," said Mark Keala Kimura, a fisherman who hopes to be on the crew.

In the upcoming worldwide voyage, the Hokulea is being joined by a new canoe, the Hikianalia.

During the 3-year voyage, the canoes are expected to visit some 60 ports in more than 20 countries.


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