Elvrine Chow said being at Kalapaki Beach Sunday was different than being there for other events.
“This is now,” Chow said. “It is happening now. The other events — like the unveiling of the Niumalu Canoe hale mural, or the Kokee meadow — are about things that already happened. Today, we are part of what is happening now.”
Chow was among the hundreds of people who gathered along the walk for the Hanau‘ia ‘O Namahoe, or the birth of Kauai’s voyaging canoe coordinated by Leadership Kauai.
“I want to see the boat,” said Ella Kimokeo, whose family has a history of sailing, including being crew on the Hokule‘a. “We came early to get good seats. We need to support the kupuna.”
Jim Jung of the Kauai Lifeguard Association said Hokule‘a is currently in the Erie Canal.
“Hokule‘a is 27,000 pounds and 62 feet long,” Jung said. “Namahoe, who tipped the scales at 20,000 pounds, is 2 feet longer than Hokule‘a at 64 feet. There is talk of someday Namahoe meeting up with Hokule‘a in Tahiti.”
Jayna Shaffer of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala performed a hula celebrating Hokule‘a, the sister boat to Namahoe. After her performance, she waited with the throngs of people to present her lei to a Namahoe crew.
“The canoe is inspiration,” said Kumu Kaohu Harada, who had a hand in putting Namahoe together. “Her job is big. It is about community, and bringing the community together. When I see her, I think of her with the same feeling as when I think of my grandmother. Namahoe represents the past, present and future — all at the same time.”
Malia Reghi of Ohana Wa‘a was helping Char Ravelo of Leadership Kauai pull together the different elements of the event, including the star calendar that came through the efforts of Imiloa at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, the Hokule‘a merchandise sale spearheaded by Duke’s, and the sale of a limited edition Namahoe commemorative shirt.
“This is a big day for John Kruse and Dennis Chun, two of the people who started building the canoe,” Reghi said. “We are the next generation of builders and the welcome protocol is the exchange from their generation to the younger generation. We’re ready.”
Marshall Mock, one of the original building crew, said he was getting ready to leave for the Mainland Tuesday.
“Namahoe handles well,” Mock said. “The thing that strikes me is the water line. That was from Papa Mau when the hulls were at Halehaka. He said, ‘That’s where she’s going to sit,’ and when the boat was put in the water Saturday, it’s amazing how close to that mark she sat. When you put the crew aboard, she’ll nest at the mark.”
Mock said that, looking at Namahoe Sunday, it was hard to realize that just two days before, she had never been in the water.
“Look at her,” he said. “After being in the water for about a day, she looks like she was born in the water.”
Among the throngs of people admiring the voyaging canoe was Kyoko Ikeda, who had just given birth to a baby girl Thursday.
“When Namahoe was readying to be put in the water Saturday morning, I was getting ready to go home from the hospital,” Ikeda said.
“Dennis texted me. ‘This is Day 1. We’re being launched — Namahoe, and us as family. We have left the incubator.’”