GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Crew members of the Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu performed a dance yesterday during ceremonies on the docks of Majuro in the Marshall Islands. The two canoes used native way-finding techniques to sail 2,200 miles from Hawaii. The Alingano Maisu will be delivered to Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug for teaching Pacific way-finding to native Hawaiians and sparking a renaissance in voyaging canoes in Hawaii. CLICK FOR LARGE
Land ho! Canoes arrive in Micronesia
Hawaiian voyaging vessels cross 2,200 miles of ocean
MAJURO, Marshall Islands » To the sounds of ukuleles and a conch shell, the Hawaiian double-hulled canoes Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu arrived at a dock here today, completing their 2,200-mile journey from Hawaii to Micronesia.
The vessels are on a pilgrimage to Satawal atoll to deliver the Alingano Maisu to renowned navigator Mau Piailug, who taught Pacific way-finding to native Hawaiians and sparked a renaissance in the building of voyaging canoes in the Pacific.
FOLLOW ALONG» Follow the voyage of Hokule'a at the Polynesian Voyaging Society web site at: www.pvs.hawaii.org
» Star-Bulletin reporter Gary Kubota is sailing with Hokule'a and will respond to selected reader questions from the canoe via satellite hookup, when possible. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The crews were greeted yesterday afternoon by Marshallese President Kesai Note and more than 150 people.
"I am impressed," Note said. "It took a lot of courage and strength to make the trip."
Note praised the growing relationship between Micronesia and Hawaii through its canoe voyaging and cultural exchange.
Crew members of the Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu performed a dance and chanted in Hawaiian a story about the development of their canoes.
The crews were scheduled to be Note's guests at a dinner last night.
"We're all happy and thrilled to be here," said Hokule'a crew member Ka'iulani Murphy. "We're looking forward to meeting the people in Majuro."
Alingano Maisu crew member Keaka Okalani Mo'ikeha-Yasutake said she was relieved and excited.
"It's just an honor to be a part of such a historical event, with the Hawaiian and Micronesian people," she said. "It's beautiful."
The welcome in Majuro was a celebration of two Pacific cultures that have kept sailing traditions alive, and of their ancient mariners who developed ocean-voyaging methods centuries before Westerners had nautical navigation equipment to cross vast oceans.
Majuro islander Alson Kelon, who escorted the vessels into port, said he felt proud to be a Micronesian and honored to support the voyaging tradition of his ancestors.
Kelon said he helped to found a canoe sailing group in Majuro after witnessing the Hokule'a make its first voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976.
He said the teaching traditional voyaging integrates all kinds of learning, including mathematics, science, oceanography, astronomy, English and leadership.
Kelon said that as part of the education, he requires youths to interview their parents and grandparents about their ancestral history.
"It's a real rebirth of knowledge and culture," Kelon said.
The late Big Island canoe builder Clay Bertelmann promised to deliver a double-hulled canoe to Mau about five years ago, and his family has continued to fulfill the promise.
"It's not only about my brother. It's about everything were doing," Bertelmann's brother, Shorty, said. "This is very important to me. He passed away before he could see it."
Mau's son Sesario said his father's health is waning.
"The main thing is to get it there while he's still around," he said.
Sesario said his family has to discuss what to do with the Alingano Maisu, but he hopes that it will be used to carry on his father's work teaching way-finding navigation.
Sesario, a police officer in Yap, said he would like to use the canoe as a way to reach youths at risk of becoming criminals.
"With that canoe, we will try to carry on his tradition of navigation," he said.
Crew members hoped to leave by late this afternoon to keep to a schedule that would enable the voyage to Japan to be completed by May, before typhoon season.