Hikianalia returning home, Hokulea will get new escort boat for - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hikianalia returning home, Hokulea will get new escort boat for Indian Ocean

Hokulea and Hikianalia (Image source: Polynesian Voyaging Society) Hokulea and Hikianalia (Image source: Polynesian Voyaging Society)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hokulea will have a new escort boat when it continues its journey around the world early next year.

Polynesian Voyaging Society officials have announced a major shift in the sail plan for Hokulea's sister escort canoe Hikianalia -- rather than continue along the Worldwide Voyage, the wa'a will instead return to Hawaii.

Pwo Navigator and Hokulea captain Nainoa Thompson first spoke to Hawaii News Now about this possibility in November. He said it was not a decision that was made lightly, but one he spent months weighing when faced with the potential dangers of sailing outside of the Pacific for the first time in the rough unchartered waters of the Indian Ocean.

Thompson said that while Hikianalia has done an exceptional job in the first several legs and nearly 7,000 nautical miles of the Worldwide Voyage, which has taken her and Hokulea from Hawaii to Tahiti and throughout French Polynesia and Samoa down to Aotearoa -- there were concerns about the canoe's ability to serve as a powerful enough escort vessel. As a result, Polynesian Voyaging Society officials say Hokulea will be joined instead by another escort boat with increased towing capabilities that can ensure the safety of the crew and the wa'a in case of an emergency.

"Hikianalia has been an incredibly successful education and communication platform for the Worldwide Voyage thus far," said Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. "As Hokulea continues to thread together stories of hope on her voyage around the world, Hikianalia will bring these examples home and add our own Malama Honua stories. This will build connections between children and communities around the globe as we work together towards a more sustainable Island Earth."

Hikianalia has served as the communications hub for "Malama Honua" -- a worldwide voyage designed to seek out and share best practices for caring for our island earth with communities around the globe. The wa'a is equipped with state of the art technology and satellite capabilities, which has allowed all of Hawaii to "jump on board" and experience the historic voyage in near real time. Hikianalia has also been the center of the educational component of the journey -- serving as a scientific research platform and outreach for schools across the state.

Officials say her education role will be greatly expanded as Hikianalia returns to Hawaii -- where over the next 13 months the canoe will travel an additional 16,000 miles to bring lessons learned during "Malama Honua" back to students and educators back at home. They say future crew members will also get more opportunities for training expeditions to 12 Hawaiian Islands, including Nehoa, Moku Manamana, and the French Frigate Shoals.

"One of the greatest benefits of our partnership is seeing students excited and engaged in lessons connected to the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "Many of our teachers have brought lessons into their classrooms, while tracking the wa'a throughout their journey. The return of Hikianalia to Oahu offers greater learning opportunities for our children and their families, as well as strengthens the connection to this important mission."

"We were inspired by the work being done at home, and unprecedented collaborations between public schools, private schools, and university education leaders," said Thompson. "Our safety decisions came at a time when we also wanted to do everything possible to support our visionary partners here in Hawaii. This is an opportunity to come together at home and around the world to prepare the leaders and navigators of our future."

The two canoes will go their separate ways from Australia in April. Polynesian Voyaging Society officials say they still plan for Hikianalia to re-join Hokulea when she enters the Pacific near Central America in 2017. They say after reuniting in Panama, they will complete the Worldwide Voyage together.

Polynesian Voyaging Society statement on Hikianalia's new sail plan:

Hauoli Makahiki Hou! We are excited to share that beginning this spring, Hikianalia will add 16,000 miles to her sail, including 13 months in Hawaii where she will bring the Worldwide Voyage closer to students, educators, and future crew members. She will then sail to ports along the west coast of the U.S. mainland, including Seattle and San Francisco, before rejoining with Hokulea in South America.

Hikianalia is an incredible sister vessel to Hokulea and we are very proud of her. As Hokulea continues to thread together stories of hope on her voyage around the world, Hikianalia will bring these examples home and send our own local Malama Honua stories back to Hokulea, connecting children and communities around the globe as we work together towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

We believe Hawai'i can be a "laboratory of hope" for the world. Upon Hikianalia's return to Hawaii, we will pay tribute to our place and deepen our crew preparation and educational partnerships with training expeditions on 12 Hawaiian Islands. These expeditions will help us to learn how to care for our incredible islands, and honor communities, classrooms and organizations that are planting seeds of hope for future generations.

Hikianalia's new sail plan will also help to ensure the safety of the crew and the wa'a. Due to the rogue waves and other potential dangers of the Indian Ocean, Hokulea will be joined by another escort vessel that has increased towing capabilities, allowing Hokulea to be towed quickly in the event of an emergency.

After three months of consulting with education and voyaging communities, we collectively decided to take this opportunity to expand our sail plan and our education work. We are inspired by the collaborations that have been established through this voyage, and wholeheartedly support our visionary education partners as they help all students gain the skills and values to be the navigators of a more sustainable future.

We look forward to continuing the journey and sharing updates right here on our website and via social media. Stay tuned as we embark on this new and exciting voyage towards a more sustainable Island Earth."

Related story:

Inside Hikianalia: Hokulea's sister escort canoe

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