Crew Blog | Keoni Kuoha: Arrival to the Marquesas Islands

E Pae Atu i Ta ʻĀina lā: Arrival to the Marquesas Islands

Keoni enjoying the afternoonCrew blog by Keoni Kuoha

We spotted Fatu Hiva midday today. This is the fourth island our navigator, Kaleo Wong, has pulled out of the sea in the course of Leg 29 – a testament to his preparation for this voyage and the training he continues to receive from master navigator, Bruce Blankenfeld.

As we began our approach yesterday afternoon, the elements around us both guided us along the way and prepared us for our first contact with one of our Polynesian homelands. As with our approach to Henderson Island, whales lined our way as though to bear witness and support for our voyage. The birds were many, including our dependable kiaʻi, the manuokū. And a crescent moon smiled down upon us in the day’s afterglow.

At sundown, the lightning began. This would be the third night in a row that we were treated to this spectacular show of distant lights in otherwise clear skies. It was awe inspiring, but never threatening, a manifestation of the prayers for safety that the many people at home and around the world are sending our way.

As the night wore on, the elements transitioned us from the deep sea to landfall. It started in calm as a massive rain squall billowed behind us. I put on my foul weather gear for a torrent that never happened. Instead, the dark cloud split in two and escorted us toward our destination. Yet, the calm wasn’t last the whole night. The winds eventually picked up and the heavens opened up and poured, every weighty droplet washing away the salted spray of the past week.

And then it all stopped. The clouds hung low, gathered here and there, but otherwise painted in large strokes across the sky, layers upon layers of clouds. It was through this sea and cloud-scape that the trained eyes aboard Hōkūleʻa began to make out the lines of an island. Faint at first, the outline persisted in an otherwise shifting scene. Have we hit our target? Our navigator responded with a confident, ʻae! Welina mai, e Fatu Hiva!

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