Crew Blog | Nāʻālehu Anthony: Aʻo aku, Aʻo mai

Blog by Nāʻālehu Anthony

Looking at this crew at work on this canoe, I am constantly reminded of how much I have learned over the years of voyaging.

Most of this crew, myself included, have sailed multiple legs of this voyage, and have thousands of miles of sailing under our belts. But beyond that, one of the things that is so great about this leg is that many of us have earned those sailing miles together over decades. In the case of our captain Archie Kalepa, he has been sailing on board Hōkūleʻa for about a quarter century; on many of those early sails, he was side-by-side with the likes of fellow Leg 28 crewmembers Max and Keahi. For me, I came into the organization at the same time with one of the other Leg 28 watch captains, Russell; and I have been privileged to sail with at least half this crew before sometime in my 20+ years of sailing on Hōkūleʻa. As we recount different destinations and share stories about previous voyages, it’s hard to believe that this canoe has traveled so many miles and witnessed so many events.

One of the most amazing features of this canoe and all her voyages is the learning that has taken place on board, which has shaped the lives of so many individuals. If one counts the education and outreach efforts of the crews over the last 40 years and dozen or so voyages, literally hundreds of thousands of people have been on board to experience the mana of this canoe in some way.

For us on board sailing in the old way, however, we experience “learning” as totally different. Different because this crew all have large amounts of sea time and have gained years of expertise in sailing this vessel; and yet, the more we think we know, the more we realize just how much we have to learn. It’s a pretty interesting paradigm to be in as we move forward in life – realizing how with each step forward, we gain more perspective of the long road ahead. More interesting still because we get to learn this lesson and work together as a team in these “isolated from the rest of the world” experiences, where we absolutely cannot reach our destination without understanding how much we have to learn and being humbled by the journey.

And so all of us must be our best selves to get to the destination. That physical destination is an island a little smaller than Kahoʻolawe, and about as isolated as you can get. But the metaphorical destination… that’s a different story. While we are all here to do and learn more about this act called sailing and the practice of voyaging, I really believe that we are all here to learn more about ourselves. You cannot help but be introspective out here. That state of introspection is occasionally broken by the need to do something immediate, like stand for watch or sheet a sail. And even in those acts which seem routine but somehow we always have to be prepared for something different, there are those among us who haven’t spent as much time trimming sails or steering in these types of conditions, and so we have to teach as well as learn.

The ability to come to this – to any voyage, in life or at sea – with a humble heart, to balance out the teaching and learning, requires us to be true to what we know. Perhaps more to the point, we must be true to what we don’t know, and in that we will maybe find some true knowledge. It’s no wonder Hawaiians use aʻo for teaching and learning, the two must go hand in hand if we are to truly attempt either.

For me, I’m just really stoked to be here and honored to be with this incredible crew.

SB 72,


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