Hokule'a hits Palmyra, gets new crew members


POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2009

Hokule'a, with a fresh crew of 12 flown in from Hawaii, will set sail for the islands from Palmyra Atoll on Tuesday.

Surrounded by 400 melon-headed whales, the double-hulled canoe was escorted into the remote pacific island's main channel by a pod of dolphins and manta rays at around 10:45 a.m. yesterday, completing a 1,000-mile journey that began March 10.

The crew reported that the greeting by the whales and the dolphins was “;the most amazing thing they have ever seen,”; said Mei Jeanne Wagner, spokeswoman for the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The canoe dropped an anchor outside of the atoll, located south of Hawaii and owned by the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the crew took a small boat to shore.

The voyage is to allow younger crew members to take charge. It is the first of at least 12 long-distance training missions to prepare for circumnavigation of the earth in 2012.

The crew that took the canoe to Palmyra is expected to leave the atoll tomorrow.

“;This is an amazing day,”; Polynesian Voyaging Society lead navigator Nainoa Thompson said in a news release. “;These young people have done wonderfully under really difficult conditions. This experience is really transformational, and I know that we are seeing the future not only of the PVS, but of our island home.”;

In an e-mail, Nahaku Kalei, one of the young voyagers, said, “;There's been a heightening of our senses and awareness of what's going on around us. From learning about the star lines to sail manipulation and understanding weather and ocean patterns, we've learned to adjust.”;

Hokule'a captain Bruce Blankenfeld said before the crew leaves it will conduct experiments for schoolchildren with whom they have been working over the Internet.