HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The wait is finally over. After years of preparation and planning, testing and training -- Hōkūleʻa & Hikianalia have departed Hilo on the first leg of their worldwide voyage.
Pwo navigator and Hokuleʻa captain Kalepa Baybayan says it was clear Friday morning that the crew was ready and focused for their mission ahead.
"They're reflecting about the reason why this journey is so important about remembering the relationships they have here at home and to ensure they take the synergy of this community along with them on the journey," said Baybayan, the resident navigator at ʻImiloa Astronomy Center.
The canoes are headed to Tahiti -- a trip that is estimated to take 15 - 20 days as crew members navigate without using any modern-day instruments, but will rely instead on the wind, current, swells and stars.
"The adventure is really the journey -- it's not so much the destination, but it's going to be great to be a part of this wonderful history and lineage of navigators who were able to pull the islands out of the ocean out of great distances," said first-time voyager, Jason Patterson, an ʻOiwi TV crew member aboard Hokuleʻa.
Their mission of "Malama Honua," which means to care for our Earth, is to create global relationships and explore best practices for caring for our oceans and planet. The 36-month journey will cover a total of 47,000 nautical miles with stops at 85 ports in 26 different countries.
"If we didn't have all of this support, we wouldnt even be able to leave today. From getting the canoes refurbished and safe and seaworthy on Oʻahu to the sails that we did around our islands to really make sure that everyone here at home feels included and that they're part of this voyage to right before departing being here in Keaukaha and the community of Keaukaha just taking care of us and making sure we're nice and plump before we leave on this voyage -- that we're healthy -- we couldnt do it without all this support. It's amazing," said Hokuleʻa crew member Kaʻiulani Murphy.
A total of 29 crew members are onboard the two canoes. They range in age from 20 to 72 years old. Several of them are apprentice navigators who will be traveling on their first deep-sea voyage. Others are their teachers, Pwo navigators who have completed similar journeys many times before.
"That's been really special this morning to get all of their manaʻo and all their blessing and all their advice on how to transition from life on the land and come together as one on the ocean, like they were taught by Papa Mau to become one once youre at sea. We're so thankful that those lessons have made it all the way to us and now we can -- after we get back -- we can edcuate and keep it going so it's never lost in our community," said Austin Kino, an apprentice navigator aboard Hokuleʻa.
Two crew members on each canoe for every leg will be from 'Oiwi TV and are in charge of capturing images and video of the journey and uploading it via an onboard satellite dish so that the rest of the world will get to experience the voyage in real time.