HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A moment of triumph for the crew of the voyaging canoe Hikianalia as it returned home to Hawaii Tuesday night.
“We’re excited. They’ve had a long trip. It’s been cold for them and rainy so I’m sure they’re all excited. Their families are all here behind us and they’re all excited to see them,” said crew member Mariah Hugho.
It was a joyous reunion as Hokulea's sister canoe pulled into port at Sand Island around 10 p.m.
Crew members have been away for more than four months.
The traditional voyaging canoe has sailed more than 2,800 miles across the Pacific Ocean to California carrying a message about the need to address climate change by demonstrating the value of nature, the oceans, and indigenous knowledge.
The crew sailed using solar and wind power as well as using traditional Polynesian way-finding techniques: following cues from nature including the sun, stars, waves and birds.
After several delays because of weather threats, the Hikianalia embarked on her voyage to California in August racing to avoid two hurricanes on its way to San Francisco.
At the helm, Lehua Kamalu, the first woman to serve as captain and lead navigator of a long-distance voyaging canoe.
“This year has been particularly challenging as the high (pressure system) has moved around quite a bit causing winds where we didn’t expect them to be,” Kamalu said on day 14 of the voyage.
Using traditional navigation, the crew crossed the North Pacific and arrived in California in 23 days.
The trip was timed to coincide with the Global Climate Action Summit. The crew joined Hawaii’s Governor, Honolulu’s Mayor and leaders from around the country to talk about fighting climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
From San Francisco, the crew headed south down the coast to San Diego spreading their message of “Malama Honua” (to care for our Island Earth).
Hikianalia set sail to return home 18 days ago – and 2,253 miles later – the canoe was spotted off Oahu’s north shore just after sunrise Tuesday morning.