Welcome home, Hokulea.
Over the past three years, since departing in Hawaii in May 2014, her crew sailed more than 46,000 miles, visited more than 150 ports in 23 countries and territories and raised more than $10 million. It has been, by any terms, a spectacular adventure of heart and hope.
The crew of some 250, which rotated out in crews of 12 to 13 at major ports of call, displayed brilliant nautical skills, courage and strength, and extraordinary resolve. This was not a pleasure cruise through calm waters where everyone rose to watch the sunrise and enjoyed mai tais while watching the sunset. They endured rough waters, lousy weather, challenging conditions. They did not falter.
Hokulea, led by its captains, Nainoa Thompson, Bruce Blankenfeld, Chad Kalepa Baybayan and Billy Richards, sailed across oceans guided by a crew using ancient wayfinding practices. What’s that? It involves observations of the stars, the sun, the ocean swells, the winds, birds and other signs of nature. There is a reason for that — to lead the way toward a more sustainable world. To show what can be done. To show what we can do if we believe and if we work together. The Hawaiian name for this journey, Malama Honua, means “to care for our Earth.”
That, it did.
We should all be paying attention. We could all learn from this lesson.
This mission seeks to engage communities worldwide on practicing how to live sustainability while sharing the Polynesian culture, learning from the past and from each other, creating global relationships, and inspiring action to care for Earth. This journey has done all it hoped when it set out. It “sparked a reawakening of Hawaiian culture, language, identity and revitalized voyaging and navigation traditions throughout the Pacific Ocean.”
How could it not?
Its achievement inspires, uplifts and invites us to a better and brighter future.
The homecoming is scheduled 7 a.m. Saturday at Magic Island on Oahu with the arrival of the Polynesian canoe and the celebration will continue throughout the day and the weekend. Thousands of people will be there to welcome Hokulea, her sister Hikianalia, and their crew. It will be an unforgettable day.
But that is, as some say, only the beginning.
We can’t all be there physically for Hokulea’s long-awaited return. It’s going to be very hot and very crowded and very busy. But we can be there in spirit. We can be there in heart. We can cheer them on just as those who do this weekend.
The quest of Hokulea doesn’t end when it glides into the Magic Island marina. It will live on with the hundreds of crew members. It will live on with the thousands of lives it touched along the way. It will live on with each person who has followed this voyage and believes in the spirit that guided Hokulea safely home. It will live on with the next generation of navigators and voyagers and the generation after that.
It will live on in each of us as we take its message to heart and soul — and don’t forget.