Chad Kalepa Baybayan: Looking Back on the First Voyage of Hikianalia

Kalepa gives a pule for the safe passage of Faafaite on her voyage from Hawai’i to Tahiti in Nov. 2011.
Crédits photo: Danee Hazama

Pwo Navigator Chad Kalepa Baybayan observed Hikianalia sail from Auckland, New Zealand, to Papeʻete, Tahiti, while sailing on the Tahitian canoe Faafaite which sailed in tandem with Hikianalia. Here are Kalepa’s observations of Hōkūle‘a’s sister canoe and her first voyage:

I had the privilege to sail on the Faafaite while she sailed in tandem with Hikianalia on its maiden voyage from Auckland to Papeʻete back in early October. Bruce Blankenfeld who had the honor of captaining the Hikianalia on its inaugural run did an excellent job of executing on a pre-determined sail plan, initiating a tempered pace for learning and breaking in a new vessel, and mentoring and familiarizing the new crew to the rigors of sailing a new canoe. The pace that the weather dictated offered the crew a comfortable initiation to sea.

The trip started out rather slowly, affording the crew the luxury of an easy first 48 hours at sea. The crew had to learn how to steer this new canoe, reef her sails, perform sail changes, and properly trim the vessel. This provided a very steep learning curve that the crew had to go through; they handled it admirably.   We then entered into a blustery area for 72 hours where we were constantly reefing and un-reefing our sails. Both Faafaite and Hikianalia had to constantly adjust sails to maintain pace with each other, we exchanged leader-follower roles constantly.

We adjusted course about the last 4 days of the voyage when we were in a South-Southwest position from Tahiti and slowly entered the Southeasterly trade wind field. We then encountered the final 96 hours of very windy conditions. Somewhere in those final 4 days Faafaite and Hikianalia got separated but we finally re-established contact at our anchorage in Mahina arriving only within 4 hours of each other.

From my observation, it was a total learning experience and a breaking in process for both the canoe Hikianalia and its crew. Hikianalia is extremely fast on the ocean; her design of a bit more “V” in the hulls, her wideness in the beam, and her newly designed dagger boards provide ample quickness in her hulls. Faafaite could not keep up with her in the light airs; she is truly a speedy vessel. She will definitely have to slow down while she is escorting Hōkūleʻa on the World Wide Voyage. In instances where Hikianalia will not be escorting Hōkūleʻa and sailing alone, the crew will have to get used to the new speed regime, cruising at 10 knots is the norm for Hikianalia. It was a real honor and privilege having the opportunity to sail tandem with Hikinalia, one that will be cherished always.

He pōmaikaʻi nō ia ke kanaka e hāhai akula i nā ala hōkū o ko kākou mau kūpuna ʻimiloa.

Privileged are we who have the rare opportunity to follow the star paths of our voyaging ancestors.

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