SAND ISLAND, OAHU (HAWAIINEWSNOW) - The Hokule'a returned to the ocean Wednesday from her home at the Sand Island to begin a six-month "mahalo" tour to 37 ports around the Hawaiian Islands.
Sixteen crew members are on board, and their first stop is Maui.
The voyaging canoe will reach Olowalu reef Thursday morning and then land at Honolua Bay at 4 p.m., where Hokulea first set sail on her maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976.
"The canoe is actually a classroom so as we are sailing from here to Maui," said Archie Kalepa, navigator and captain for the Honolulu to Maui leg. "We are not only paying attention to wind we are also learning about the place we are visiting."
Most of the crew on the leg is from Maui, including some first-timers like Mark Deakos.
"It's going to be what I call a lifetime experience. Very excited," said Deakos.
Their mission is mahalo -- saying thank you to everyone who supported the three-year worldwide voyage.
"There's one more leg in the worldwide voyage and in my humble opinion, it's the most important leg. Where we go back to our beneficiaries," said Polynesian Voyaging Society President and pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society set a new ambitious goal of reaching one-third of Hawaii's school children during the statewide voyage.
"We pulled together the educators of this state to create what we call the promise to children," said University of Hawaii President David Lassner.
That promise is already being fulfilled. Two Kamehameha Maui high school students will be picked up to be a part of the Hokulea crew.
"We see the sparkle in our haumana's eyes and their curiosity," said Jay-R Ka'awa, high school principal at Kamehameha School Maui and crew member.
Here's the schedule for Hokulea's Mahalo sail:
- August and September: Maui (Honolua), Oahu (Haleiwa), Kauai
- October: Moku O Keawe (Hawaii island), Maui (Hana)
- November: Maui Nui - Maui (Maalaea/Wailea), Lanai, Molokai
- Late-November to mid-December: Windward Oahu
- January: Leeward, East and South Oahu?