Crew Blog: Kala Baybayan on Finding Nihoa

Nihoa, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

8 September 2013

Six years ago was the first time I visited the island of Kauaʻi.  It was truly kupaianaha, since the vessel that carried me there was a double-hull voyaging canoe.  Before the island revealed itself to the canoe, fronting it was a night rainbow.  That was the first time I had ever seen a night rainbow and it was so special to share this experience with my dad (pwo navigator Chad “Kālepa” Baybayan).

Pwo navigator Kālepa Baybayan and apprentice navigator Kala Baybayan work together to find Nihoa.

Here I am again, and it is as special an experience now as it was then because it is my first deep-sea sail and this time I will be co-navigating with other young navigators to Nihoa.  I am here with my father who is my mentor and my teacher, and on this journey he and other pwo navigators will be there to help us as kumu.

As a student, I have always wanted the chance to learn from different teachers, and this trip is now giving me the chance.  This is truly such a special opportunity that may not present itself again, and I just hope that I will make the most of every interaction that I may have with each pwo navigator.

My father has taught me so much about voyaging and I still have so much more to learn.  I am always grateful for any and every moment I get to spend with him on the water, and I hope that this journey together will bring us even closer.

Alas, after about 25 hours of no sleep, the team of apprentices found the jagged island of Nihoa!

9 September 2013

Today Nihoa rose from the ocean.  I will never forget this day and seeing that grey jagged outline of the island on the horizon.  The navigation team did an amazing job, and I feel so privileged to be part of this.  It is so chicken skin how our approach put Nihoa between the two manu of the canoe, I have no words to explain this feeling.

Last night I was so anxious just trying to anticipate sighting the island.  I was talking to Uncle Shorty and he said something so profound to me that was told to him by Papa Mau: “You don’t need to see the island to know it’s there; you need to have the courage and trust that it’s there.”  In this modern day and age, we need to see things to believe that they are real.  Papa Mau’s perspective is that of deep wisdom and raises the importance of trusting that it is there.

I have so much appreciation for what Papa Mau has done for Pacific Island people.  His wisdom and teachings will be carried on for future generations because he has shared with us the magic of bringing the island to us; it is priceless and transcends boundaries. Mahalo e nā kūpuna.

Crew members rejoice as 6 apprentice navigators successfully located Nihoa

Crew members rejoice as 6 apprentice navigators successfully located Nihoa

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