Crew Blog | Al Nip: Crew Training on Hikianalia in the ʻAuʻau Channel

Before traveling to Molokai, Hikianalia spent time on Maui; while there, Maui Nui crewmembers engaged in outreach and crew training.  See below for a blog by crewmember Al Nip about a training sail in the ʻAuʻau Channel.

Crew Blog by Al Nip

Although this day was light in winds and ocean breezes, it was heavy and rich with opportunities for crew training as the Maui crew-in-training traversed the ʻAuʻau channel between Maui and Lanaʻi aboard Hikianalia and her escort Hoʻokela.

From getting off the mooring and hooking up the tow to Hoʻokela, to securing Hikianalia back on the mooring at the end of the day, the crew was able to participate in a wide range of training exercises. Highlights included steering and sailing the waʻa to Shipwreck Beach on Lanaʻi, putting up the jib and raising and closing the main sails, even making lunch… and the most important canoe kuleana (responsibility): cleaning and prepping the canoe at the end of the sail for the next leg of the voyage.

Perhaps the most inspiring segment of this training day was a video connection with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at Princess Nahiʻenaʻena School in Lāhaina.  Students enthusiastically posed many relevant and interesting questions to Kala Baybayan Tanaka, Kaipo Garcia, and captain Tim Gilliom. When Kala was asked “Why did you decide to go on this journey?” she replied, “to bond with my father, Chad Baybayan, to understand what he loved so much about voyaging.” Tyrone C., a 5th grader, asked, “What was your greatest challenge?”  The answer, “seasickness and not being ready for the voyage.”  Another student asked the very important question “Have you run into pirates?” considering Hōkūleʻa sailed off the coast of Africa and Indonesia, where pirates are prevalent.  The reply was “so far, no pirates, but we’ve seen whales, dolphins, and other sea mammals.” Kaipo was asked “How do you prepare for a voyage”, to which he replied “the mental and physical preparation was most important to have a successful journey.” At the end of the school day, Tyrone said that what he learned from the video hookup with Hikianalia was that “it takes a lot of preparation to be ready for a voyage and it takes a lot of crew members to be able to sail around the world.”

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Another really important part of any sail is getting to know the crew. On this day, as on many days in the 40-year revival of Polynesian voyaging and wayfinding, the crew was a colorful mix from diverse backgrounds: working moms, Kala and Grace; a retired lawyer, Jack Breen; a paddler from Hokualele Canoe Club on Kauaʻi, Victory Yokotake; lifeguard, Kaipo Garcia; an Alaskan fisherman and dogsledder, Mike Barnett; and a few others who were interested in learning about Hawaiʻi and its voyaging culture.  The escort vessel Hoʻokela was ably captained by Marine Education & Training Center graduate Moani Heimuli, with the assistance of Puaita Pulotu from Tahiti.

As with any experience on any of the voyaging or sailing canoes in the Pacific, the feeling of mutual respect, teamwork, and the role of the waʻa to spread the mission of Mālama Honua continued on this day.

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