NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - You don't just wake up and decide to embark on a worldwide expedition.
Same goes for the Hokulea.
Since departing Hawaii in May 2014, the iconic voyaging canoe has logged more than 26,000 nautical miles. And for every mile of Hokulea's journey, meticulous preparing and planning are essential.
Hokulea's journey is more than simply ocean voyaging. Malama Honua – caring for Island Earth – is the mission of Hokulea. It also entails an educational outreach to spread the message of caring and protecting the elements of the planet, such as the oceans, land, living things, cultures and communities.
And to do that requires more than a canoe and a crew aboard.
More than 160 volunteers have helped to sail the Hokulea and her title sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines, have been keeping busy flying them and the necessary gear to all corners of the globe.
"We wouldn't be on this voyage without Hawaiian Airlines. We fly our crewmembers every four to six weeks to different destinations and it's really wherever Hawaiian flies," Hokulea crewmember and education coordinator Jenna Ishii said. "All the planning, all the logistics – they're a big part of our team."
Ann Botticelli, senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs for Hawaiian Air, said the airline has committed nearly 50 million air miles to Hokulea's journey.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society, the non-profit organization behind Hokulea, said assistance they get from countless supporters is instrumental to their mission.
But the crew themselves still have plenty to do, besides sailing the canoe.
"Scheduling where Hokulea goes is a challenge. We talk about hurricanes, we talk about where we can sail in the ocean there, what the temperatures are, if there' a port there and the other thing is getting our crew in and out," crewmember Lehua Kamalu said.
But so far, the Hokulea and her crew have been successful in their mission. Earlier in the week, they arrived in New York City to a warm welcome. There, they were also recognized by the United Nations for their mission.
That mission, however, is not over.
Weather permits, Hokulea will depart New York on Father's Day and will travel up the east coast to Maine, then to Nova Scotia, before finally returning back to Hawaii next June.
"I just want to say thank you for all the support that we have been getting from everyone," pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld said. "It's helping this little canoe be successful in what she's doing."