Noelani Kamalu: Sailing on Hokulea was a 'moonshot dream'
Noelani Kamalu, also known as Noe, has been sailing all her life and remembered greeting the Hokulea home as a child.
From then on, she held onto her "moonshot dream" of eventually sailing the famous voyaging canoe.
Years later, that dream came true.
Kamalu served as an education specialist and apprentice navigator aboard the Hokulea during the worldwide voyage.
From the first leg to Tahiti to the U.S. east coast, Kamalu sought every opportunity to bring her adventures back to Honolulu public charter school Halau Ku Mana, where she was working at the time.
"I always try to incorporate the canoe into the classroom," Kamalu said, describing lesson plans based around the canoe's history and significance.
Out of all the exotic stops, she said one of the most memorable moments of her nearly two months on sea was visiting Indian Harbour, Fla.
"There were people on every bridge, every port, every stop," Kamalu said. "It was really an amazing sight."
They were offering lodging, food, even cars. Kamalu said the outpouring of aloha in Florida "was the embodiment of malama honua," the name of Hokulea's worldwide voyage, which means "to care for our Earth."
Kamalu said the dream of sailing on the Hokulea is open to determined and passionate sailors.
One requirement: "Sandpaper," said Kamalu, both literally and figuratively -- or the conviction to dedicate yourself to the boat, even when you're not at sea.
She said it took years of maintenance and volunteer work on the Hokulea before she ever set sail.
Kamalu said the last leg of her journey felt different than any other before in anticipation of Hokulea's homecoming.
"It was different this time knowing that she is on her way home," Kamalu said. "You can't walk away not changed."
Kawika Crivello: Sailing isn't just a passion, it's a legacy
"Every time I would get the email or the calls I would feel so honored," said Kawika Crivello, outreach counselor at Molokai Middle School.
Crivello has been sailing for over two decades and is no stranger to the Hokulea. He first sailed the Hokulea in 1999 on her voyage to Easter Island.
Crivello said that during that voyage, he felt unsure of himself. But that faded as he learned the ways of traditional Polynesian sailing and navigation.
"It was through that voyage I gained the knowledge given to me and with the worldwide voyage I was able to use that given to me to get to be a captain," Cravillo said.
During the worldwide voyage, Crivello filled many positions on the Hokulea -- as an educational specialist, steersman, and even a leader for one of his eight legs on the Hokulea.
He sailed to Australia, Cuba, the east coast and the Caribbean on the canoe. Although he could not choose a favorite destination, he pinpointed the historic arrival to Cuba as a powerful moment.
"It was surreal. At that time, the sun was rising," Crivello said. "On the canoe, you could hear a pin drop."
For Crivello, Hokulea's legacy lives on in the knowledge passed down through generations.
"It's not just handing it down," Crivello said. "It's in a manner that was given to me, with honor in the foundation of our ancestors."
As a young boy, he remembers watching family members sail. Crivello said he feels honored to pass on knowledge and "continue the aloha" of sailing.
Bruce Blankenfeld: Hokulea is 'our canoe. She is Hawaii's canoe.'
In 1977, an eager teenager began helping original crew members of the Hokulea by sanding and varnishing.
Some 70,000 miles on the ocean and 40 years later, Bruce Blankenfeld has become a master navigator and the voyaging director for the Hokulea's worldwide voyage.
"For myself, and probably for most of those who've sailed on a canoe, going to sea and especially being on the wa'a Hokulea, it's an honor, a real privilege," Blankenfeld said.
Blankenfeld said the cultural and educational opportunities of the Hokulea guide the mission of traditional voyaging.
"We are in the wake of our ancestors," Blankenfeld said. "All we are doing is re-learning, slowly but surely, that skill and our connection to each other."
He said the vision of the malama honua worldwide voyage is a part of the Hokulea's greater mission.
"The heart of all of this is exploration," Blankenfeld explained. "There is so much to learn, the big quantum leaps in knowledge happens when people look outside of the box."
Although Blankenfeld has sailed the Hokulea for thousands of miles, he says the canoe's ohana extends far beyond the crew members.
"From the very beginning Hokulea was built as Hawaii's canoe, she is a state treasure, a cultural treasure, she is a living treasure, but she is our canoe. She is Hawaii's canoe," Blankenfeld said.
And, he said, Hokulea's community is continuously expanding beyond vast oceans -- to all the crew members, their families and friends and all the lives touched at ports all around the world during the worldwide voyage.
"The larger community being a part of us that's a huge thing," Blankenfeld said. "There is huge mana in that, there is huge love in that, and that's what all of this is about."