Hokule'a offers learning experience for its crew
The canoe is on the first leg of a journey of 7,000 miles
Riding on the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hokule'a as it sails southwest from Hawaii to Micronesia, Kai'ulani Murphy said by satellite telephone that she hopes to share her sailing experience with students in the classroom.
"This experience will give the presentations more meaning," said Murphy, who works with the Honolulu-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, the organization supporting the Hokule'a.
FOLLOW ALONG» Follow the voyage of Hokule'a at the Polynesian Voyaging Society web site at: www.pvs.hawaii.org
As the Hokule'a continues its journey to Micronesia, it is serving as a floating classroom for future educators and navigators learning about traditional Pacific wayfinding.
Murphy, 28, a University of Hawaii graduate in Hawaiian Studies, is in training to be a navigator and is among the few who will be sailing the entire 7,000-mile journey from Hawaii through Micronesia, then on to Japan.
She is the only woman in an 11-member crew sailing the longest stretch of the Micronesian journey, a 2,200-mile voyage from Hawaii to Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The voyage, "Ku Holo Mau/Sail On, Sail Always, Sail Forever," will stop on Satawal island to honor Mau Piailug, the master navigator who taught Pacific wayfinding to native Hawaiians and helped to spark a rebirth in voyaging canoes.
Within sailing sight of the Hokule'a yesterday -- three days after leaving the Big Island -- was the escort boat Kama Hele and the Alingano Maisu, a double-hulled voyaging canoe that is being given to Mau.
The Japan leg of the journey from March through May is to honor the late King David Kalakaua, who was instrumental in opening the doors to Japanese migration to Hawaii in 1885.
Hokule'a Capt. Bruce Blankenfeld, also interviewed by satellite telephone yesterday, estimated that the vessels had traveled about 345 miles.
Blankenfeld said the crew had encountered no problems and the vessel was traveling at a good pace with winds blowing 10 to 20 miles an hour.
Wayfinding navigators such as Blankenfeld use the location of certain stars to determine latitude and longitude, including the North Star, which is 21 degrees north of the Big Island and will decline to about 7 degrees north near Majuro.
Blankenfeld said Friday night was cloudy and crew members had to rely upon looking at a number of stars and planets to get their bearing.
"We had crew members picking out the stars. It's really cool," he said.
He said during the day, the crew was using the arc of the sun along with a rising northeast moon to help plot their course.
Murphy, a 1996 graduate of Kamehameha High School whose parents have a taro farm on the Big Island, said she's happy to have chosen to be a part of the voyaging society.
"I thought it would be a good way of life for me," she said. "It's definitely living the culture."
Murphy said she's been on previous sails, one from Tahiti to Hawaii in 2000 and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in 2003, and she's looking forward to learning more about navigation. "To me, it's a lifelong learning experience. I don't know if I'll ever be ready to navigate. But I think that would be a goal."