Crew Blog | Kaipo Kīʻaha: Coldest Day Since May

On the coldest day on Hōkūleʻa since May, the Leg 24 crew gets ready to head south.

Kaipo KiahaBy: Kaipo Kīʻaha

Today marked our seventh day of Leg 24, however we have been at Haverstraw Marina the whole time. Weather, especially Hurricane Matthew in the south, has delayed our departure significantly. Tomorrow afternoon, there is a very small window of time where the winds could start to slack. If the conditions are good enough, we will take that window. The current plan is to depart Haverstraw, New York and head south. Captain Bob and Nainoa are confident in our crew that we can safely move Hōkūleʻa down the Hudson River at night.

If we leave Haverstraw in the afternoon, we should arrive in the Sandy Hook Bay at dawn on Tuesday, which is about 50-60 nautical miles south of where we are now. Preferably we would not anchor there, because it is an unprotected anchorage exposed to the cold northerly winds. But we will if absolutely necessary. Today, winds were blowing at 40 knots with 50 knot gusts, which is definitely not ideal. We are now looking for a sustained window of 15-20 knot winds, which is best for moving the waʻa (canoe) through the rough and cold Atlantic waters. After leaving Sandy Hook, we will pass Atlantic City in the daylight hours and if we decide to, we will continue south to Cape May Tuesday night. If it is too treacherous, we will seek shelter at Atlantic City. One of the primary concerns is the safety of Hōkūleʻa’s ecort boat, Julie’s Cat, and her crew. Hōkūleʻa can handle the 40-50 knot winds, with 2-3 knot currents, but Julie’s Cat cannot.

We have had multiple weather challenges on this leg. Originally supposed to stop at the Newport Marina in New York City, the Leg 23 crew ended up stopping in Haverstraw, where the Leg 24 crew took over and has been staying for the last week. Hurricane Matthew, which pummeled Florida and South Carolina, was the biggest concern. On top of Matthew, a cold front out of the northeast has reached us today dropping the temperature into the 30s. Today is the coldest day on Hōkūleʻa since May!

For the health and safety of the crew, we are staying in a hotel in Spring Valley tonight, to get adequate rest in order to be fully prepared to move the waʻa tomorrow. Once we begin moving, we have until October 16 to reach Newport News in Virginia, where Hōkūleʻa will dry dock, spending 3 weeks for routine repair and maintenance. Because of permits and arrangements with a crane and a tow truck to pull Hōkūleʻa out of the water for this dry dock, we have a hard deadline to arrive at Newport News at that time. To meet that deadline, we will be moving Hōkūleʻa every day until the end of our leg.

We have spent a lot of time readying both the canoe and ourselves, as well as exploring the city and going on multiple learning journeys, to strengthen our bond as a crew. As we have cared for each other on land, it is even more important to do the same once we head out to sea. At our crew meeting tonight, Nainoa said, “Our job is to get the canoe home, for the keiki of Hawaiʻi.” Remembering this goal will help us endure the bitter cold weather and howling winds, as we make the weeklong voyage down the East Coast.

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