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On March 24, 2014, the traditional sailing canoe Hawaiʻiloa returned to the sea after more than a decade on land. Led by master canoe builder Uncle Jerry Ongies, a small, committed group of volunteers has worked tirelessly to accomplish this historic task.
“It has been a long time. But I feel that we – the Friends and the other people who have associated with the canoe – have done a good job. You know, this canoe was nurtured by many people. We kind of like to think that in restoring the canoe, we were giving new life to Bow’s dream. Wrighto Bowman,” said master canoe builder Jerry Ongies.
“Anytime you work on a canoe and do it consistently. I think that’s key – consistency. You’re putting your mana into the canoe,” said Kalā Thomas, a member of Nā Kālai Waʻa.
Hawaiʻiloa will now train future crew members of the Worldwide Voyage being undertaken by her sister canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia.
“The work that we’ve done, we tried to do the best work that we could. We worked on a limited budget, but thanks to all of the people who contributed to our cause, we got the job done,” said Jerry.
“I feel great. And I’m glad that I could really supply something to get this ready in time so that they would have it to use. I knew had we taken any longer, they might have gone and we wouldn’t have anything to train on. So I’m glad not only did we get it out in time but we got it done well,” said Timmy Makuakane, Jerryʻs grandson.
“Probably over the next week or two, we’ll be standing up the masts and the spars. After we do the standing rigging, we will do what we call the running rigging. So I’ll say in two weeks, she’ll be ready to sail. Hopefully she’ll be sailing for many, many years to come. And I’m hoping that a new generation of young people will become associated with the canoe, with sailing the canoe, and maintaining the canoe,” said Jerry.