Hōkūleʻa Update | March 30, 2016

Aloha from the deck of Hōkūleʻa, currently in Stuart, Florida. Finally after traveling two days inland through the Okeechobee River and five locks, it’s the first time that Hōkūleʻa has ever done that and is a historical achievement. We left Ft. Meyers two days ago. The crew is in good health, everybody is in good spirits. We were welcomed by former Hawaii residents in Stuart, and we want to say mahalo all of those who are following us on Hokulea.com. Aloha!


At the break of dawn on Tuesday morning, Hawaii’s legendary sailing canoe Hōkūleʻa made another historic achievement by traveling the inland Okeechobee Waterway in the heart of Florida that includes Lake Okeechobee and five locks. Lake Okeechobee’s size is comparable to the island of Maui, and a lock is a waterway system used for raising and lowering watercraft between bodies of water of different levels on rivers and waterways. The end of the Okeechobee Waterway journey will mark the very first time that Hōkūleʻa will have navigated through a freshwater lake with a maximum elevation of 15 feet above sea level – the highest elevation that the canoe has ever voyaged. The completion of the 132-nautical mile inland route that will take the vessel from the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s west coast to the east coast’s Atlantic Ocean, will also be the first time that the pioneering canoe will have sailed through a US state other than Hawaii.


“Hōkūleʻa for the first time ever is sitting above calm water 10 feet above sea level. For me, it’s exciting and it’s about creating new learning experiences,” said Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society’s president. “It’s about doing what is hard to do. We’re not on a Worldwide Voyage because it’s easy; we’re on a Worldwide Voyage because it’s worth it, but it’s hard.” Thompson stated that one of the main challenges on the narrow passage was to avoid hitting the vessel on possible obstructions, since the Okeechobee Waterway contains a significant amount of shallow spots and low-lying bridges. “It’s really about controlling speed and navigating really well.” To ensure a safe sail, the crew spent Monday lowering both sails and masts so Hōkūleʻa could be less susceptible to the low bridges, wind, and the area’s frequent lightning strikes.


Following Florida, the crew will travel up the east coast making several stops including South Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, and New York City. In New York, the canoe will be a focal point at World Oceans Day events hosted by the United Nations on June 8, 2016. The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. While in New York City, Hōkūleʻa will also participate in the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, which is the east coast’s largest Pacific Islands festival and one of the world’s most competitive outrigger races.The canoe is expected to depart New York City on June 18, for several engagements in the New England area.

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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