Crew Blog | Shawn Malia Kanaʻiaupuni: A Hui Hou from Leg 18

Noe and Kawika with newest crew member for this leg, Amber

Noe and Kawika with newest crew member for this leg, Amber

Yesterday came to a close in the golden glow of Florida’s afternoon sun with a few tears and amazing memories of shared laughter, love, and learning aboard Hōkūleʻa for the crew of Leg 18. Just two days ago, we traveled from the aloha-filled community of Indian Harbor to Titusville, arriving in the afternoon to a huge crowd of over 200 people waiting for the canoe. Many had heard from local newspapers and word of mouth as the news spread between ‘ohana and friends that Hōkūleʻa and her crew were in town. Many familiar faces smiled back at us from earlier ports, greeting us anew, flowing with support and the spirit of aloha that the wa’a carries wherever she goes. It has truly been a privilege and honor for all of us to welcome Florida keiki, makua, and kupuna with open arms as they share tears, joy, and wonder stepping aboard the catwalk. For those getting to know the canoe for the first time, the message of Mālama Honua hit a strong chord, given the state of the waterways and fish environments in the area. Later, the hula hālau that performed in Indian Harbor danced on Hōkūleʻa, providing a magical moment as the sun set in addition to mea ‘ai for dinnner, wrapping up a perfect day.

Crew at Launch Site B

Crew at Launch Site B

As we boarded our flight in Orlando, our crew reflected on the past few amazing days in Florida. We watched a baby manatee chewing on some weeds in the marina before the early morning event on Wednesday honoring the nation’s space navigators, Lacy Veach and Ellison Onizuka. It was a historical moment to represent Hawai’i, meet Lacy’s family members, and receive a powerful welcome from NASA Kennedy Space Center director, Robert Cabana. Later in the day, NASA staff guided crew 18 and 19 through the various, immense space vehicle assembly and launch facilities. We learned about the many commonalities that we as sea voyaging crew share with space voyagers. What an incredible feeling! One of our crew members joked that he should be recruited for the next space crew based on his experience as a navigator, knowledge of the stars, being able to live aboard a vessel and sleep in small spaces, familiarity with port, starboard, bow and stern (also terms used on a rocket ship), and leadership of a crew. Very cool. I guess you need a little rocket science sprinkled in there somewhere, too. Study up, all you students out there, the next voyage is to Mars!


The following day, the sun blazed while both crews worked from dawn to dusk to prep the canoe. A team headed off to NASA to teach school children the star compass, while Nainoa and Bruce each gave well-received presentations at various locations. We knew they made an impact by the late afternoon visitors who said they simply had to see Hokulea after hearing their stories. The official transition to Crew 19 in the late afternoon came with a “huli” call from Cap Kawika. Although it wasn’t possible to do canoe tours because we were still working, a steady flow of visitors stood on the dock all day long watching and taking in the serene elegance of the wa’a, even as spars, booms, sails and finally the masts were lowered, pausing to applaud the crew as we took a minute to wipe the sweat away before cleaning up the stays and lines.

The evening’s festivities made the hard work all worthwhile with dinner a la ‘ohana Kamalu. Mahalo nui iā ʻoukou from all of us. That’s the best Hawaiian food I’ve had after 5 weeks of a lot of saimin and crackers (no complaints about our cooks who fed us well with many fabulous single pot meals). And so, it is with well-nourished kino and na’au that we head to our beautiful pae ‘āina Hawai’i to be in our place with our families once again, forever transformed by the mana and aloha of Hōkūleʻa and all that she embodies for our Lāhui. Ke Akua pū a hui hou. Me ke aloha pumehana from the Leg 18 crew.

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