Hokule'a training for global journey


POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

During the early 1990s, master navigator Nainoa Thompson recalled, his late father, Myron “;Pinky”; Thompson, told him, “;You should take the Hokule'a around the world.”;

His late best friend, astronaut Charles Lacy Veach, echoed the same sentiment and stressed that a round-the-world voyage would enable the younger generation to learn about sustainability and conservation.

Their vision seemed unrealistic to Thompson until he and his crew members took an 8,000-mile voyage to Micronesia and Japan two years ago. While in Japan, two captains aboard the canoe said, “;We should go around the earth.”;

For some inexplicable reason, he said, the feat no longer seemed unreachable.

Tomorrow the Hokule'a will embark on a monthlong voyage to Palmyra Atoll, about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, weather permitting. The voyage is the first of at least 12 long-distance open-ocean training missions crew members will take to prepare for the world circumnavigation Hokule'a will undertake in three years. Costs are still being determined but are expected to be in the millions of dollars, said Thompson.

The main purpose for the world voyage is to help bring awareness to Hawaii about the importance of sustainability and conservation. Thompson also emphasized the importance of fostering leadership among the young crew members because they will educate successive generations.

“;For the well-being of the Hokule'a to be able to be a tool for the future, you have to have young leadership. Us old guys are getting old. It needs to shift,”; said Thompson yesterday during a news conference at the Honolulu Community College Marine Education and Training Center at Sand Island.

The rigorous worldwide voyage is slated to begin May 1, 2012, and end in June 2015. A majority of the journey will take place in the Pacific. The sail plan will involve a voyage in the tropics on the windward side of the equator to avoid hurricane seasons, said Thompson. Crew members have explored risk issues that include violent storms, global health issues, crew safety and terrorism in preparation for the 24-leg voyage.

Palmyra Atoll was selected as a prime choice for the first training mission for the Hokule'a's world voyage to allow crew members to observe pristine reef and marine life conditions, a representation of what Hawaii's conditions once were.