Canoes to return for repairs
Steering problems send the Hokulea and Alingano Maisu back to the Big Island
KAWAIHAE » Steering problems have forced the canoes Hokulea and Alingano Maisu to return to the Big Island.
Polynesian Voyaging Society spokeswoman Kathy Thompson said voyage leadership wanted to repair a crack on the handle on a steering sweep of one of the canoes. It is not clear how long the repairs will take.
After several delays caused by foul weather, the Hokulea left Friday on its epic 7,000-mile expedition to Micronesia and Japan.
One of the goals of the trip is to honor renowned navigator Mau Piailug with the gift of a new voyaging canoe, the Alingano Maisu. The canoe will be presented to Piailug at the island of Satawal. However, it's homeport will be in Yap because Satawal lacks a proper harbor for the 54-foot canoe.
"This is Maisu's first voyage, so maybe the excitement is a little bit more," Thompson said as the boats prepared to leave the Big Island in light winds.
The two canoes are being escorted by the motorsailer Kama Hele.
In the 1970s, Piailug taught modern Hawaiians the ancient Polynesian art of noninstrument navigation, which had been lost for centuries in the islands.
Two of the current voyage's leaders, Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson and captain Shorty Bertelmann of the canoe Alingano Maisu, were Piailug's students.
Piailug named his canoe after a particular wind that knocks breadfruit out of the trees. In his culture, only chiefs are allowed to eat breadfruit straight from the trees. But any fruit knocked down by the wind is free to all.
The name is intended as a metaphor for Piailug's act of sharing his knowledge of navigation with a culture far from his home.
En route to Micronesia, the crews will use noninstrument methods of navigation, said Bruce Blankenfeld, captain of the Hokulea.
Crew members will use the stars, angle of the moon, location of the setting and rising sun, and winds to direct them on their journey.
They are expected to make the 2,200-mile crossing to Majuro in the Marshall Islands in about three weeks. From there they will hop from island to island to reach Satawal.
As part of the mission. The canoes will also carry medical personnel to some of the remote islands of Micronesia.