Crew Blog | Michi Wong: We Alter the Earth

Michi WongWritten by Michi Wong

On August 25, 2016, the crew embarked on a land excursion, snaking north along the Hudson River through the small riverbank towns of New Jersey. We trekked under the George Washington Bridge, over the state line, and across the Mid-Hudson Bridge headed for Poughkeepsie, NY. The sail plan for Leg 23 of the Worldwide Voyage has been evolving day by day. En route, we stop to inspect possible places to dock Hōkūleʻa. At Castletown and Hyde Park marinas, we could see that the canoe would be battered against the dock by the wind, river currents, swells and wakes. We eventually find safe harbor at Shadows at Waterford.


Early evening is upon us when we finally arrive at Federal Lock#1. It is the first of five in the Waterford Flight of Locks of the Erie Canal. This series provides the greatest lift in the shortest distance amongst the canals in the U.S. Lock#1 is shut down so we move on to Lock #2. There Captain Kālepa speaks to the crew about the dangers of Leg 23. First is collision due to commercial traffic and leisure craft on the Hudson. The second is entering and exiting the locks. At Lock #2, the water will rise 33 feet in 10 minutes. The crew will secure Hōkūleʻa by bow and stern lines ties to ropes that vertically line the concrete walls of the locks. The third is weather. The crew is to keep the wa’a to the weather side. And of course, we will be alert to man overboard and fire.

Two centuries ago, the Erie Canal was deemed impossible. In 1823, barges for commerce and human transport were pulled by mules trudging along the canal banks. The lock system of today was designed by U.S. civil engineers and opened in 1915.  Our sail plan for Leg 23 in 2016, is to complete 33 locks in 4 days. Hōkūleʻa will reach Rome by up locking for 128 meters with a water rise of 420 feet. Downlocking from Rome to Lake Ontario is 53 meters with a water level descent of 174 feet. Captain Kālepa informed us that Hōkūleʻa is considered a “barge” and therefore canal fees are waived.


Today, we ready the wa’a for 3am crew call tomorrow as our voyage continues. 

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

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