Crew Blog | Kālepa Baybayan: 5˚47’ South/35˚12’ West – Last Moments in Natal

Kalepa_BaybayanWritten by Kālepa Baybayan

Nestled on the southern bank of the Potengi river, Hōkūleʻa sways on the tide and river current, at rest now after a 3,000 nautical mile passage from Cape Town, South Africa.


The new crew of Hōkūleʻa is in Natal (Portuguese for Christmas), Brazil, preparing the canoe for an early morning departure tomorrow, Friday, February 12th. We arrived here seven days ago at the start of Carnival, a five-day holiday of dancing, music, parades, and food. While the celebration has made for a very entertaining stay, canoe preparations were slowed as city offices and stores shut down for the five days and just reopened today. We were able to clear Customs, Immigration, the Harbor Master, and Port Authority in 4 short hours as our driver whisked us around the city from office to office all morning long.  


At 360 nautical south of the equator, Natal sits in the heart of the tropics; it is a very sunny and relatively dry environment. It is a tourist Mecca of sorts; close to 3 million tourists visited Natal’s white sandy beaches last year. Over the past two weeks, Hōkūleʻa’s crew has been blessed by the hospitality and kindess of a number of organizations and individuals.  We have been hosted here in Natal at Brazilian Army Base, 17˚ Grupo de Arthilhari de Campanha-Grupo Jeronimo de Albuquerque; the base Commander, Ricardo, has been tremendously generous of his facilities and staff, providing security and support for the crew and vessel, including meals and housing near the canoe.  Alexy Borges, a Brazilian who once lived in Hawaiʻi and paddled for Hui Nalu Canoe Club, has served as Hōkūleʻa’s official Portuguese translator, guide, and ground handler, making our stay here very accommodating. We owe Alexy a lot for his service to the canoe and the Mālama Honua mission.


I am incredibly fortunate and privileged to have the opportunity to serve as Captain and Lead Navigator on this sail aboard Hōkūleʻa from Natal, Brazil to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This crew of 11 men and 1 woman will work hard to represent and preserve Hōkūleʻa’s iconic legacy as we continue this journey around our planet to Mālama Honua:

1. Kālepa Baybayan, Captain
2. Brad Wong, Apprentice Navigator
3. Kalani Kahalioumi, Apprentice Navigator
4. Snake Ah Hee, Watch Captain
5. Kawika Crivello, Watch Captain
6. David Komine, Watch Captain
7. Kelly Tam Sing
8. Heidi Guth
9. Ben Dumaran
10. Puaita Pulotu
11. Nakua Konohia-Lind
12. Justyn Ah Chong

For details on the crew roster and leg of the Caribbean voyage click here.

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