Hōkūleʻa Update | November 24-27, 2016

After Hōkūle‘a splashed back in the water once her dry dock was complete, she continues to move south on Leg 25 down the East Coast to Miami, Florida. Each day, crewmember Kaipo Kīʻaha faithfully documents the crew’s work, the weather (frost!) and more. These 4 days of updates begin on Thanksgiving in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Day 15: November 24

Happy Thanksgiving from the Leg 25 crew!

Today we departed Skull Creek Marina, on Hilton Head Island in Beaufort around 7am. As we continued across the South Carolina – Georgia border, a motor cat passed and hailed us on the radio. The captain told us that the upcoming bridge was closed for the holiday weekend. Thanks to his reaching out to us, we were able to anchor in a calm area and drop the masts and spar to be able to pass under the bridge. This was about 11:30. Fortunately today’s run to Kilkenny Marina was short, about 50 miles, so we had time to spare.

The lowering of the rig was smooth and painless. Once we had two anchors deployed off our bow, Julie’s Cat side tied off our starboard stern and the escort crew was able to assist in the process. After the rigs were secured on our railings, we continued on our way.

We arrived at Kilkenny Marina right after sunset, where we docked and Julie’s Cat refueled. Our land wa‘a crew was able to find a Denny’s restaurant 12 miles away that was open on Thanksgiving. Moani took two trips in the van to bring everyone to the restaurant, where we shared a holiday dinner as one crew.

All throughout today we were blessed with hō‘ailona (signs). Dolphins swam by, pelicans flew around us, and a seagull even landed on the canoe while we finished dropping the rig. Not to mention the kind sailor who warned us of the bridge, and other boats passing by waving and yelling out “Happy Thanksgiving!” Much of the crew took the time to call loved ones as well. Mahalo again for keeping us in your thoughts, we are doing well and having a blast.

Day 16: November 25

We left Kilkenny Marina in Georgia this morning about 6:30. As soon as we got off the dock and towed out there was a thick fog that covered the air. We kept the tow line short and our capable Julie’s Cat drivers guided us through the fog carefully and precisely. When the sun came up the fog began to clear and we soon had good visibility which lasted throughout the day.

The weather has been quite good for us, and we are definitely getting used to warmer days and nights as we move south. When the wind is blowing, there’s still quite a chill in the air so we still are wearing layers and going back and forth as the weather warms and cools.

Lunch today was a delicious vegetable soup, prepared by Keala Kai. We arrived at Jekyll Harbor Marina before sundown, and for dinner we had chili and rice. Captain Kalepa remarked that chili and rice is one of his favorites. We were even visited by a local couple from Hawai‘i.

Jekyll Harbor Marina is located on Jekyll Island, and right on the other side about 2 miles away is the Atlantic Ocean. A small group of us decided we wanted to go swimming, so Moani drove us to the beach and we swam under the stars. It was nice to feel sand and salt water again and hear the waves rolling on shore.

Day 17: November 26

We departed Jekyll Island at 7am, and we’re greeted with a nice sunrise. It was quite windy and with wind comes the chill, but we have grown accustomed to the weather so far. We crossed the border into Florida and passed some other islands on the Georgia coast along the way. We saw a large nuclear sub station and went under several more bridges.

After about 9 hours underway we made it to Palm Cove Marina in Jacksonville Florida.The Florida portion of this leg is 400 or so miles, so we have traveled a lot but still have a ways to go. We ate the leftover chili and made rice and got some roasted chicken to have with it too. Once we cleaned up we spent some time showering and preparing our gear for tomorrow.

After dinner a few crew members went to the movie theater less than a mile from the marina to watch Moana. Now we are winding down and settling in on the canoe for a good night’s rest.

Day 18: November 27
We departed Jacksonville at 6am this morning, to prepare for the long trek down to Daytona. Breakfast was a nice warm oatmeal in a cup which helped in the chilly morning wind coming out of the east. At lunch we passed Elkton, which was a bustling port town full of sailboats. We sometimes pass signs of Hurricane Matthew’s damage in the area, sometimes sunken ships or broken docks, which stand out against the backdrop of luxury homes  and large ports.

We went under some low bridges today, which is why we have left the rig down. Some were just above 20 foot clearance. Plenty for us now, but low enough to feel like you can reach up and touch the bottom (but really you can’t).Dinner was a delicious chicken long rice made by Keala Kai using the leftover chicken from last night. The sun set behind some clouds which rolled in after dark. After we docked at Daytona Marina, the wind picked up and some clouds rolled in bringing some drizzles. We will depart again tomorrow at sunrise.


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Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

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