JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Crew members and volunteers scrubbed the twin hulls of the Hokule'a yesterday morning immediately after its arrival onto the dock at Pier 1 in Honolulu Harbor. CLICK FOR LARGE
Pier 1 import
The voyaging canoe Hokule'a returns from Japan
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The Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule'a returned to Honolulu yesterday on the deck of a container ship after its historic voyage to Japan via Micronesia.
"The outpouring of kindness and the aloha we found in Japan was much more than we expected," remarked Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, as the canoe arrived at Pier 1 in Honolulu Harbor. "It was overwhelming. What it did for me and I think for everyone, it makes us look back at our home differently."
About 30 reunited crew members helped scrub the hulls of the canoe when it was lifted dockside, after which it was hoisted into the water.
Thompson said the Hokule'a will now sail to Niihau, the Big Island, Kahoolawe and then back to Oahu for closing ceremonies. The voyage began in mid-January.
Hokule'a hitches home
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EMOTIONS flowed yesterday among about 30 reunited Hokule'a crew members as they watched the Polynesian voyaging canoe arrive home aboard a Japanese container ship.
SOCIETY SITE» Learn about the voyage of Hokule'a at the Polynesian Voyaging Society web site at: www.pvs.hawaii.org
The container ship Settsu, owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha, delivered the canoe to Honolulu Harbor's Pier 1 at 8 a.m., a poignant if somewhat anticlimactic chapter in a journey that took it to Micronesia and Japan.
"I am so glad to see Hoku home," said crew member Anela Benson, 25, who had waited 20 years for a chance at a voyage. Benson, who sailed on the Hokule'a in Japan, called it the "best experience of my life."
"The people in Japan viewed the Hokule'a as a symbol of peace," she said.
"It wasn't what I expected it to be," said first-time crew member Kaleo Wong, 25, who was aboard for the 28-day voyage from Hawaii to Majuro. "It was a lot more spiritual."
Those sentiments were echoed by Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and one of the main captains of the Hokule'a.
"The outpouring of kindness and the aloha we found in Japan was much more than we expected," he said. "It was overwhelming. What it did for me and I think for everyone, it makes us look back at our home differently. It changed us."
The Hokule'a departed on its 10th voyage from Honolulu on Jan. 13 for Majuro, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Satawal, Woleai, Ulithi, Yap and Palau. Stops in Japan included Okinawa, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Iwaijima, Hiroshima, Uwajima, Ehime and Yokohama.
More than 130 crew members manned the Hokule'a in tag-team fashion, with many flying to Micronesia and Japan to take their place on the boat.
A second canoe, the Alingano Maisu, built for Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug, accompanied the Hokule'a, along with an escort boat, Kama Hele. On Satawal the Alingano Maisu was delivered to Piailug as a symbol of thanks, and there are plans to establish a Pacific-wide school of navigation.
Lifted gently by crane onto the dock yesterday, the canoe got a good hull-scrubbing, then was hoisted again into the waters of the harbor.
"The voyage ends when the boat returns to Hawaii, where it started," remarked first-time crew member Nanea Baird, 18, who returned from Japan on June 2.
Now that the Hokule'a has returned, Thompson said, the crew will take the ashes of Kawika Kapahulehua, the first captain of the Hokule'a, who died May 17, to his home on Niihau.
Then they will sail to the Big Island to host a ceremony in a navigational heiau in Mahukona. After a tribute on Kahoolawe, the crew will end the voyage on Oahu with a celebration at a beach in Kualoa, to thank the people who made the journey successful, including Nippon Yusen Kaisha for sponsoring the upwind return trip.