Balboa Students Meet Hōkūleʻa

While Hōkūleʻa and crew were in Balboa, Panama, re-provisioning and preparing for Leg 27’s departure to the Galapagos, Ecuador, the canoe was visited by a group of students from The Metropolitan School of Panama. Below are two of the students’ reflections on their visit with the Polynesian voyaging canoe and their activity to build a pre-Colombian maritime bamboo raft replica.

“Building the Raft”

by Sergio U., Grade 8, The Metropolitan School of Panama
When I arrived to the dock on Saturday, to put our raft in the water, I saw the Hokulea for the first time. From as far as I was, it looked a tiny bit bigger than our raft. I wondered how can they sail around the world with that boat, because it looked like it had nothing on it, just a mast. I wanted to go check it out. I was convinced that our raft was going to float, because friends, family, and I, had been working on that raft for over 30 full hours. We started on a Thursday with no school to cut the bamboo and we stayed from 9:00 AM to around 3:00 PM cutting and bringing the bamboo pieces up to the house.On the following Friday after school, I continued to cut the bamboo, and when we finished bringing them up, but now with a car. Saturday and Sunday, we cleaned them up, cut them how they should be cut, and started building the actual raft. The next weekend, we finished the raft, and took it to a lake. There we could use it, and play around and it was then after all of that work that we knew it was going to float for sure. When I first got in the Hokulea, it was huge, well not huge, but bigger than I expected. It had a big space in the center to be, beds at the sides, and even a stove. It was then I realized why they are able to sail around the world. Making a raft has made me understand the meaning of the Hokulea, and what their message is saying.

“Learning about the Hōkūleʻa”

by Camila A., Grade 8, The Metropolitan School of Panama

At The Metropolitan School of Panama in Humanities class we learned about the Hokulea. We learned about the Polynesians and the routes that where first sailed to Tahiti in 1976. We were taught about how the Hokulea uses the natural resources, just like hundreds of years ago, instead of the technology we know of today. They use the stars, the sun, the waves, the wind and a map. It’s propulsions are the paddles and the sail. The Hokulea has had its ups and downs, we know about Eddie Aikau and how he left on a surfboard to get help when the canoe flipped and he was lost at sea. We discovered that the Hokulea is the first to bring back the Polynesian navigation, and have read about the Polynesian Triangle. I think that learning about this journey and the Hokulea is important to understand the real meaning of exploring, discovering something that can change someone’s life, the process of building, preparing and planning, taking the risk and engaging young people to take on the amazing adventure. Its important to preserve and enjoy the environment, and it makes people encouraged and influenced to follow the steps of the people who are part of the Hokulea. Visiting the Hokulea is something I will never forget, I loved every moment of it and really learned the beautiful meaning behind it. It made me want to be part of the journey as well, It was a different feeling, I couldn’t believe I was in a canoe that was 42 years old and has sailed the world. It meant a lot to be standing on the Hokulea, and talking to the amazing crew members. Visiting the Hokulea helped my peers and I gain a deeper understanding on the Hokulea’s true purpose and meaning.


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