Crew Blog | Archie Kalepa: The Test

Blog by Archie Kalepa

For me, the sea has always brought some of the greatest tests of my life; my strength, my courage and my leadership.

But this test — it is different.

I have been a crewmember in many capacities on board Hōkūleʻa over the years, but this is the first time that I have been asked to be in charge of it all – from the sacred vessel, Hōkūleʻa, to the sacred 13 souls on board, I am humbled by (and honestly a little afraid of) this new responsibility.

Our journey started with pulling up anchor at Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, the first of many tests of this 1900-mile journey. We have had three anchors down for the better part of a week, to keep us secure in this bay that so many ships are moored in. The first order of business was to pull the anchors in the correct sequence, being careful not to get too close to the other vessels, and then safely hook up a tow with Gershon II. Our crew worked together to get through this seemingly small but immensely important task, building trust and confidence together at the start of our journey. IMG_1256They didn’t say anything in particular, but I saw big smiles and got head nods as if to say “Good job, Captain!” Uncle Billy Richards, veteran crewmember and mentor, later came to me and said our departure was “textbook” – again, a great sign that we passed some test and learned what the lesson had to offer.

These lessons have come in bits and pieces, like a puzzle – lessons to be found in the elusive wind, the swell direction, the clouds and how they hide our precious stars. The patch of rain last night taught us a lot about ourselves — the test was having to use our other senses, as our eyes were muted by the dark sky where not even the moon could get through. By early morning we entered into a dark black hole of a cloud that maybe would not have been a daunting sight for a Pwo navigator, but this new navigation team is testing themselves, under myself — a captain new to this position. This may have been intimidating, but lucky for us we have a seasoned crew, with many deep-sea crossings in their past, who are eager to support the navigation team in every way. Our navigators held the line, and when we IMG_1433popped out of the cloud having nothing to rely on but swell, the navigation team was right on point. The lesson? Be patient, trust your decisions, and trust your crew. These are lessons lived and learned in the purest form!

All this is possible because we have had great teachers; Nainoa, Bruce, Kālepa, Snake, Terry, Clay, and many many others – all of them come to my mind. We would not be right here, right now, without them. On behalf of the Leg 28 crew – Mahalo.

We’ll be standing by 72,
Captain Archie Kalepa


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