OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The voyaging canoe Hokulea returned to Oahu from the Big Island ahead of schedule Wednesday morning.
The reason for the early return: Emergency repairs to damaged hulls needed after the canoe ran aground in waters off Hawaii Island.
Hokulea arrived at Sand Island just before 9 a.m.
While sailing to Kawaihae on Sunday to continue the "Mahalo, Hawaii Sail," the Hokulea crew experienced some shallow waters. That caused damage to the bottom of canoes's hulls.
Despite the damage, an initial assessment found it safe to bring the voyaging canoe back to Oahu early for the necessary repairs.
Drydock repairs will begin this week at the Marine Education Training Center on Sand Island this week.
Due to the early departure from Kawaihae Harbor, all school and public canoe tours will be postponed until further notice. The canoe was scheduled to be docked at Kawaihae harbor until May 10.
Despite the voyaging canoe's early departure, crew panel presentations will continue on schedule:
►May 3, 6-8 p.m., Kahilu Town Hall, Waimea
- Panel Presentation: Documentation team who were embedded on the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage
►May 5, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Fairmont Orchid -- Grand Ballroom
- Panel Presentation: Ohana Holomoana, 1976 Crew
►May 6, 4-6 p.m., Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Luau Grounds
- Panel Presentation: Piliwehena Ole: Inseparable Relationships
►May 24, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Kanu o ka Aina, Kamuela
- Malama Honua Community Panel
"Hokulea is a living, cultural treasure and it is our responsibility to make sure we malama her with the care she needs at this time," said Nainoa Thompson, president of Polynesian Voyaging Society. "We will be leaving Kawaihae tomorrow with a promise that we're going to heal Hokulea and she will be returning as soon as possible to the children and communities of Moku O Keawe ," Thompson said.