Heidi Sails Home

“When we pulled in, the dock we pulled into was the National Park Service dock that I used to walk from every morning to catch the 7 o’ clock ferry with the school kids to go to St. Thomas for School and walk back to every day after the 3 o clock ferry and do my homework in front of. For me it was like going home to my dad. And that was a big deal. Knowing that we were coming home to my dad, meant more to me than I probably told anybody,” said Heidi Guth, Chief Operating Officer at the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

“Aloha, my name is Heidi Guth. I was born on Maui, I grew up in the Virgin Islands and now I live in Maunalua on Oʻahu and I’m the Chief Operating Officer for the Polynesian Voyaging Society.”

As the chief operating officer, Heidi is responsible for much of the never ending logistical work that allows Hōkūleʻa and her crew to sail around the world.


Nainoa Thompson, master navigator and President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society said, “It’s easy for me to say let’s go make the sail plan form A to B and C and D, and say let’s just go do it. To actually make it happen in terms of the almost infinite amount of logistical issues that have to be weighed and measured and every time I make a change, it impacts everything and so you know Heidi is the one that deal with all of that. 

Guth said, “Basically we try to make sure that everything is in preparation for the crew and the canoe when they enter every single port. So we have to first start with asking permission from each port to enter. I mean there is quite a variety of layers that we have to go through to make sure everyone is well fed, well cared for and respectful of the place both customarily and regulatory.”

Thompson said, “What Heidi brings is that you can’t you know you just can’t go find it when you’re hiring you can’t put it in the job description. She loves these canoes, she loves what hey stand for and she believes in their work and their possibilities and their future. She’s committed to the value and purpose of the Worldwide Voyage and when I say committed she commits everything.”

Guth explained, “I only started working as an employee at PVS about 3 years ago, really focusing on the Worldwide Voyage. So the opportunity to sail during this particular voyage in a couple of different legs has not only been kind of the carrot at the end of the stick to keep me going, a lot of the times, but also it’s actually helped me to do my job better and not only do I get to do the logistics from onboard the waʻa, but I also get to learn what could be more helpful from the office for people on the waʻa.”

Thompson said, “I knew that she needed to get out of the office, and interesting I’ve asked her before and she said I can’t go, I got too much to do, but this one was almost a demand on my part because essentially she was going to be sailing home. 

In early February 2016 Heidi and the rest of the World Wide Voyage leg 17 crew set sail from Natal Brazil to make their way up the Atlantic ocean to find the island of St. John in the Caribbean.


 Guth said, “This last leg was special for a number of reasons, many of which transpired during the voyage. Everybody on board got along. And it was just this amazing amalgamation of crewmembers where everybody fit together perfectly and was really kind and just really expressed what I think we always try to exemplify from the waʻa that everyone has a special role to play independently and collectively. And then for me personally to be able to bring that crew that I had grown so close to like just as a real ʻohana to a place that had raised me and where I had hānai family waiting for us was just a blessing. And I didn’t realize the depth of affection that I had for that place until I saw that silhouette coming up in the predawn light.

 “There was a little bit of rain, there was this gorgeous sunrise, there was this amazing rainbow that turned into a double rainbow. Everything around us, all of the hōʻailona were just so positive and welcoming and gracious and approving. And then at the dock was my hānai family.”

“And I can’t express how grateful I am to both of those families, the one on St. John and then the one on Hōkūleʻa and how they each represented themselves so beautifully and caringly to each other. It was just, it’s an indescribable feeling to feel like you’ve really been welcomed home and your life has come full circle in such a happy way. “

More than Adventure

Beyond a daring expedition, the Worldwide Voyage is quite possibly the most important mission that Hawaiʻi has ever attempted. As people of Oceania, we are leading a campaign that gives voice to our ocean and planet by highlighting innovative solutions practiced by cultures around the planet.

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