CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bruce Blankenfeld spoke during a party celebrating Hokule'a's 33 years of voyaging. The party was held at the Hawaii Maritime Center and was attended by the vessel's crew and volunteers from the past and present.
Hokule‘a voyaging could go worldwide
Society floats 3-year-long, 'round-the-world voyage
STORY SUMMARY »
The Polynesian Voyaging Society is exploring the idea of sending the canoe Hokule'a on an ambitious three-year, around-the-world journey beginning in February 2011.
Committees have been formed to discuss how to fund the trip and how to make the most of educational opportunities as the voyaging canoe travels across three oceans, through the Suez and Panama canals, and visits the continents of Australia, Africa and South America and the subcontinent of India.
The voyaging canoe, which uses ancient Polynesian navigation methods, is operated by the voyaging society and led by master navigator Nainoa Thompson.
Voyaging society officials caution that the trip is still in the planning stages and could be scuttled by serious safety concerns.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Wedemeyer Au, Nainoa Thompson, John Ho'apili and Bruce Blankenfeld attended a party yesterday celebrating 33 years of voyaging for the Hokule'a. The party was held at the Hawaii Maritime Center and was attended by the vessel's crew and volunteers from the past and present.
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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Honolulu Community College student Kari Nakayama began the task Friday morning of varnishing the underside of the sailing vessel Hokule'a at the Honolulu Community College Marine Education and Training Center at Sand Island.
The voyaging canoe Hokule'a may embark on its most ambitious trip yet -- a three-year passage around the world beginning in 2011.
Kathy Thompson, wife of master navigator Nainoa Thompson and a volunteer with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, briefed the University of Hawaii Board of Regents on the trip Thursday as part of a presentation about a partnership between the society and Honolulu Community College's Marine Education and Training Center.
While the planning has started, the trip is far from certain. Safety concerns, including the threat of pirates in Indonesia and Somalia, terrorism and diseases like malaria, could cancel the voyage.
But for now Nainoa Thompson is planning a voyage that will tentatively take the canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Australia, across the Indian Ocean to the Maldives, India, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, the Galapagos Islands, South America, Rapa Nui and back to Hawaii.
The canoe will travel mostly in tropic latitudes and avoid hurricane season.
The journey would involve 120 crewmembers and 22 crew changes, with 30 percent of the crew from other countries.
The crews of the 62-foot-long, double-hull voyaging canoe use ancient Polynesian wayfinding techniques to navigate. Last year, the Hokule'a completed a more than 8,000-mile journey to Micronesia and Japan.
Hokule'a is housed at HCC's marine training center and students work on it as part of their education in marine repair and maintenance.
If the world trip happens, Hokule'a would go into drydock at HCC for a year to be taken apart, refurbished and put back together. The deck would also be widened to accommodate more supplies and communication gear for its educational mission, said Bob Perkins, director of the Marine Maintenance and Repair program at HCC.
HCC also would help train new crewmembers in preparation for the voyage.
The college is starting new Hawaiian studies classes at the center this fall to teach traditional navigation techniques.
Instructor Ka'iulani Murphy said the class incorporates culture, science and a respect for the environment. "It gives students a better understanding of how the world works and their place in it," Murphy said.
Murphy said she eventually would like to design a degree program in traditional navigation.
HCC student Lono Kealoha, 20, who is also a volunteer with the voyaging society, plans to take Murphy's class and eventually pass on what he has learned to his children.
Kealoha is part of a group of young navigators and captains who would likely be part of the voyage around the world.
"The main message is basically peace," Kealoha said. "It's not just bringing the islands together. It's bringing the world together."
The twin-hulled voyaging canoe Hokulea sailed on the south shore of Oahu during sea trials before its 2006 trip to Micronesia.
Murphy, who traveled for five months on Hokule'a during its voyage to Micronesia and Japan, agreed.
When you travel and meet other people, you find that "we are much more alike than we have differences," Murphy said.
The canoe is like an island, she said.
"We could be part of a model of what a healthy and sustainable world could be," she said. "It would be really awesome for Hawaii canoes to string that lei around the world."