Hawaiian Canoe Hokulea Arrives in the Adirondacks (Lake Champlain)

I've been following the mission and journey of the Hōkūleʻa  as she and her crew continue their world-wide journey promoting a sustainable future. There is always so much more to learn.

According to Hōkūleʻa  Ka'ai McAfee-Torco,
a teacher and consulant on board from Honolulu, Hawaii, the name Hōkūleʻa (Arcturus) is a lode star for the Hawaiian culture and for McAfee-Torco. “The name means 'Star of Gladness.' It is the star that passes over the islands. It is the sign that lets you know you are home. It has a very special meaning to us all.”

Hōkūleʻa, the flagship for the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) continues on her four year-long, 47,000 nautical mile round the world trip to bring awareness of the fragile nature of our water systems and the need for a sustainable world.  The first voyage came in 1976 after artist Herb Kane's vision of building the iconic double-hulled sailing canoe came to realization. Kane saw his own cultural ancestry becoming extinct and spearheaded a journey to revive the canoes that first brought Hawaiians to the islands.

Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage Navigator Kālepa Baybayan started with the PVS in 1978, just two years after the Hōkūleʻa’s maiden voyage.

“We started this tour in 2013 with a one-year voyage around our islands,” says Baybayan. “This leg is part of the three-year Mālama Honua project.”

Baybayan explains that the initial Hōkūleʻa canoe was based on social science, reviving a legacy of exploration and tracing how the islands could have been settled. 

Now Hōkūleʻa's goal expands beyond the need for cultural survival, but the need to "protect the 
most cherished values and places from disappearing." Though the PVS was founded on its cultural roots of Pacific Ocean exploration, the crew and educators of Hokele'a are continuing their world trip to introduce all cultures to traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration. Through educational programs, live tracking and local organizations, the crew continues to inspire generations to continue to explore and protect the natural and cultural environments through art and science. 

When the Hōkūleʻa is welcomed back home she and her crew will have traveled 47,00 miles, 85 ports, 26 nations, 4 years, one ocean and one island Earth.

“This began a rebirth of traditions. Now 40 years later we are connecting with all cultures from each continent,” says Baybayan. “This next challenge is to let the winds blow us around the planet.”

That is what the crew and educators on this Polynesian sailing vessel continue to do is demonstrate its Mālama Honua (caring for the planet) while they voyage for a sustainable future. 

“Our main objective to share what we learn about the world ocean climate. It connects all of us,” says Baybayan. “We see this images from space of our blue planet and as Sylvia Earle says 'Without a blue planet, there would be no green.’ Seventy percent of our planet is blue. Every breath we take, we take some from the ocean.” 

Baybayan speaks with reverence about his journey. He touches on interconnecting stories where they’ve shared their story and culture or where they sailed away, absorbed in the similarities or differences that surrounded them.

“We originally weren’t planning on coming this way [ through the Adirondacks],” says Baybayan. “These fresh water systems are important. Seventeen percent of fresh water comes from the Great Lakes. We journeyed up the Hudson through the St. Lawrence and now Champlain to experience this cold,fresh water. We are meeting with environmental organizations and cultural organizations. We are meeting First Nation people who know the stories.” 

“We are all connected through water and air. We may not all look alike. We are a diverse planet, but we have a global kinship with common values,” reflects Baybayan. “We live in a beautiful place, diverse in its beauty and its stories.” 

 Teachers and homeschoolers can use the online resources in Polynesian navigation from using the star compass and celestial navigation instead of GPS and and traditional voyaging canoe construction like using the hoe lei to steer. The Canoe to Classroom program has an array of information from "Stories of Hope" to Science at Sea."

The  Hōkūleʻa may be a  precious reminder of their Hawaiian home and culture, but as she continues on her world-wide trek, she is a gentle reminder to all of us that we share the stars, water and earth.

So to everyone I wish you success on your own journey #MalamaHonua (Caring for our Island Earth) 

© Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time™ guidebook series. Adirondack Family Time™guidebooks have easy, short Adirondack family hikes for ADK kids, parents, retired, seniors, dog-owners, Adirondack swimming holes, Lake Placid Olympic activities, Adirondack trivia, Adirondack horseback rides, Adirondack snowshoe family trails and more. Look for the Adirondack family guidebooks online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the next Adirondack Family Activities™ guide.


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