NAWILIWILI — Mike Faye of Kikiaola Construction Co. was anxious Saturday.
“I made a promise to them,” Faye said. “I told them I would be back for this leg of the voyage, and I’m holding up my end. It’s going to be interesting to see what is the result of 20 years of cooking.”
Faye headlined the effort to move the two unfinished hulls of the Namahoe, Kauai’s voyaging canoe, when it was moved from the Halehaka shed to Nawiliwili Harbor in 2006.
“We started building in 1999,” said John Kruse, one of the key leaders and builders of Namahoe. “The last known canoe was launched on Kauai in the 1870s. This is the first one since that time.”
The public is invited to celebrate the birth of Namahoe today, starting at 9:30 a.m. and continuing until 3 p.m. at Kalapaki Beach and walkway fronting the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.
Weather conditions permitting, special ceremonies surrounding Namahoe will take place at 11 a.m.
“The winds,” Kruse said. “I wanted to launch this thing Friday night before the winds came up. But it is what it is.”
The crowd of curious spectators grew throughout the morning, including those from aboard two voyaging canoes built on other islands, as Namahoe overcame final-moment preparation bumps en route to the water.
“This is exciting,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “We finally have our very own canoe to join the other voyaging canoes in Hawaii.”
Amid of symphony of pu and the cheers of volunteers and spectators, Namahoe settled into the Nawiliwili Harbor water.
“She’ll handle a crew of 14 to 16 on her voyages,” said Marshall Mock, a Namahoe builder. “Her maximum load is about 30 people. She is built to handle classes where they can come aboard at one time.”
The canoe, weighing in at nearly 20,000 pounds based on the scale aboard the Aloha Equipment Rental crane, will be featured during the public festivities today.
Parking will be available at Nawiliwili Beach Park.
The event is being coordinated by Leadership Kauai with sponsors being the County of Kauai, the Kauai Marriott Resort and Duke’s Kauai restaurant.