Monday, May 17, 2004

Hokulea still on hold
for right weather

Bad weather could mean another week of waiting for the 12-member crew of the Hokulea voyaging canoe, whose 1,200-mile journey through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was originally scheduled to start May 7.

"There's a couple of low pressure systems that aren't going to give us the right conditions to get us to the islands we want," navigator-in-training Ka'iulani Murphy said last night via cell phone from the voyaging canoe, which is docked at Kauai's Hanalei Bay.

The delay could mean problems further down the line if certain members of the all-volunteer crew have to return to work before their replacements are ready.

"We have to go back and re-evaluate who's available to do the whole trip," Murphy said.

Eight Hokulea crew members returned to Oahu early last week to put in some work hours as they await a go-ahead on their departure.

The four crew members who stayed in Kauai, along with the six-person crew aboard the canoe's companion craft, are being hosted by families.

"The crew is trying to not be such a burden," Murphy said. "There are feelings of anxiousness. Some people are really wanting to go, (but there's also) ... the understanding that we have to wait for the right weather."

Murphy was aboard the canoe's Tahiti voyage in 2000. She will help navigate the 20-day leg of this trip from Kauai to Kure, an atoll at the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago.

According to the Hokulea Web site (, the current voyage is part of a project called "Navigating Change," which is aimed at raising public awareness of the environmental decline in the Hawaiian Islands.

On this voyage the canoe will sail to the remote northwestern islands, which contain 5,660 square miles of coral reefs that account for about 69 percent of all the coral reefs in the United States. The islands also support millions of nesting seabirds and are the breeding grounds for endangered monk seals and threatened green sea turtles.

During the voyage, the Polynesian Voyaging Society will maintain a teleconferencing phone line. Three times each weekday, at 9, 9:45 and 10:30 a.m., the crew will call to talk to 70 public and private schools with 1,300 students from third grade to high school.


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