Friday, August 13, 1999

Hokule'a logo

After luau, favorable winds
await crew of Hokule‘a

By Susan Kreifels


The Hokule'a hopes to start the second leg of its historic voyage to Rapa Nui at sunrise tomorrow, taking advantage of fair winds that could carry the traditional voyaging canoe to its remote destination quicker.

Nainoa Thompson, senior navigator at the Polynesian Voyaging Society, said the normal southeast winds have switched more to the east, requiring less tacking to sail the approximately 1,000 miles to the next destination of Mangareva.

"That makes the winds very favorable," Thompson said, estimating the next leg will take nine to 15 days.

The crew had hoped to leave today, but the mayor of Hiva Oa, one of the Marquesas Islands, asked them to stay for a luau.

Hokule'a to Rapa Nui
Jun. 7, 1999
Rapa Nui, the Loneliest Island
Jun. 14, 1999


The Hokule'a recently finished a minicruise through the Marquesas, following the Polynesian tradition of saying aloha and mahalo to islanders there.

The canoe left Hilo on June 15 and arrived in Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas 27 days and 2,875 miles later.

This last sail of the century will complete the canoe's retracing of migration routes around the Pacific Ocean by ancient Polynesian voyagers, who settled every inhabitable island of the vast Oceania.

Following tradition, the Hokule'a crews navigate only by the stars, waves and other signs of nature rather than by using modern equipment.

Thompson will co-navigate the last leg of the voyage from Mangareva to Rapa Nui, 1,450 miles of the toughest sail the Hokule'a has ever faced. The 50-square-mile Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is the most remote inhabited island in the world and navigators know they could miss it. They will be sailing against the wind.

Thompson and his crew will arrive in Mangareva by air on Sept. 14. The earliest they could set sail for Rapa Nui would be Sept. 18, but winds could delay them a week longer.

The voyage will take 20 to 36 days, the canoe's limit, Thompson said.

Meanwhile, Thompson will leave next week to spend a week in Rapa Nui studying the stars.

"It's a needle in a haystack," Thompson said. "For us to find it, we have to use a slow, calculated search pattern and we could be fully lost."

The public can track the progress of the Hokule'a by looking on the World Wide Web site
Photographs from the Hokule'a are slated to be available at

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