HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The famous voyaging canoe Hokule'a and her sister vessel Hikianalia left Oahu Saturday evening around sunset for "Malama Honua", a three-year voyage around the world to spread a message of global sustainability and the importance of caring for our oceans.
Although Hokule'a and Hikianalia are gone, Saturday's festivities captured the amount of support they left behind at home.
About one thousand people came out for the farewell. The send-off event also featured various speakers sending their well wishes, great entertainment, incredible food and educational booths because the outreach isn't just meant to engage, but to educate and pass knowledge down to future generations.
"I think the best part is learning from our teachers. The Nainoas and Bruce…they're passing everything they can down to our generation. So just being open to that every single day is like the most amazing gift you can get," said crewmember Jenna Ishii.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell even got a little teary-eyed talking about the journey.
"It's going to be chicken skin," Caldwell said.
"I get choked up just thinking about it now. Just that they're leaving and it's an incredible voyage and it's going to be dangerous at times but they carry our hope, our pride, our joy and it's an amazing feat," he said.
More than 300 crew members from all over the state will be sailing on Hokule'a.
Their journey will cover 47,000 nautical miles with stops at 85 ports in 26 different countries.
The first leg is from Hawai'i to Tahiti, as Hokule'a retraces its 1976 sail to Pape'ete.
"They're all going to be amazing and special in their own way. But I think this first one...I've just been really psyched about it because it is so traditional to Hawaii's history and Hokulea's history," said crewmember Austin Kino.
The voyagers will be navigating without modern instruments.
Crew members will be using stars, ocean currents, winds and birds as mapping points for direction.
"I just want to thank Hawaii. As you can tell, they're with us and that means so much especially on the hard days out at sea," Ishiii said.
The crew will sail to Hilo where weather permitting, they will depart for the worldwide voyaging on May 24.
Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.