After more than a week delay in Maui due to dangerous conditions in the ʻAlenuihāhā Channel, weather conditions have improved and Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are expected to depart from Lahaina at 11 pm tonight. Despite the delay, this voyage’s mission was intact as senior crew spent each day training new voyagers on safety and sailing through the storm, with lessons also focused on leadership, values, respect for community, place and nature. At the same time, because of the significant delay, they can no longer sail to the doldrums as planned in order to honor commitments made to the families of crew. They will still depart the Hawaiian Islands down the ancient sea road of Kealaikahiki, a heritage corridor that connects Hawai‘i with its ancestral homeland of Tahiti, and voyage into the cold, dark, deep region of the Pacific Ocean known as Moananuiākea.
“Nature is opening the gateway to go. The crew has been patient. It’s time to go,” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo Navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) President. “Although our intent was to take the crew into the storm of the doldrums, mother nature had other plans. We still had a robust training nonetheless, we’ll still hit Moananuiākea, and now the final exam for this crew will be crossing the ʻAlenuihāhā at night (upon their return), the second roughest channel in the world,” he added.
The canoes will sail tonight to Kamanamana, the southeastern point of Maui, then just before dawn begin crossing the Alenuihāhā Channel, which is expected to take five to six hours, and head to Keauhou on Hawaiʻi Island. From Keauhou, they will sail to Kalae, or South Point, then into Moananuiākea. The canoes are tentatively scheduled to return to Oʻahu by May 28.
Upon their return, the crew will have received 900 miles of training, crossed seven of the nine major channels (5 of them twice) in the lower eight Hawaiian islands. PVS’s goal is to have 120 new crew trained by the end of the summer in preparation for next year’s Moananuiākea Voyage, a circumnavigation of the Pacific.
Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia have been moored off of Lahaina, Maui, since Thursday, May 13, the morning after departing Honolulu for a training voyage to the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the area of the Pacific Ocean known as “the doldrums.”