Hōkūle‘a Continues Voyage to Brazil and Beyond

January 22, 2016, 9:44 AM HST · Updated January 22, 9:44 AM
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Hokulea photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

After a five-day stop for reprovisioning and preparations, voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a departed the island of St. Helena on Wednesday, Jan. 13, to continue her journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil.

Hōkūle‘a was expected to pass and sight Ascension Island earlier this week. The island, part of the St. Helena British Overseas Territory, was just declared a marine protected area.

St. Helena was the first stop after traveling 16 days and approximately 1,900 miles from South Africa en route to Brazil. The voyage from Africa to South America is the longest leg of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage and the first time in history Hokulea sailed in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

More than 1,200 of the 1,900 miles traveled to the remote island of St. Helena were on open ocean, using only traditional wayfinding and no modern instruments.

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While in St. Helena, the Hokulea crew met with the acting governor of St. Helena and the St. Helena National Trust, a nonprofit that promotes the awareness and protection of the island’s environment and cultural heritage.

Hokulea photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hōkūle‘a crew members and St. Helena’s officials discussed similarities between the island of St. Helena and the Hawaiian Islands.

The crew also participated in a cleanup project and sponsored the planting of a tree in the Millennium Forest, a reforestation project to recreate the Great Wood, which at one time covered the eastern part of St. Helena, but was destroyed as settlers cleared the forest for timber and grazing land.

While on the island, the crew also explored Jamestown and toured the house where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled until his death.

St. Helena is Britain’s second oldest colony and one of the most isolated islands in the world. For several centuries the island was of vital strategic importance to ships sailing to Europe from the Far East, to take on essential stores and leave sick crew members to recover in its healthy climate.

In the 19th century, it played a huge and largely unrecognized role as a vital refuge for liberated African slaves. Since 1815, the British have also used the island as a place of exile, most notably for Bonaparte, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and more than 6,000 Boer prisoners.

Hokulea photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hōkūle‘a’s next stop will be at Ilha Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, an archipelago and UNESCO Marine World Heritage site, where the crew will engage in cultural and educational exchange.

Hōkūle‘a is expected to make landfall in South America at the coastal city of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, located in northeastern Brazil, in early February. The crew will seek stories of hope about efforts to malama the sacred natural resources and indigenous cultures of the Amazon Rainforest.

After stopping in Brazil, Hokulea will continue the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and stop in a few ports in the Caribbean before sailing up to visit cities along the East Coast of the US.

Hōkūle‘a is scheduled to arrive in New York City by June 8, 2016, for World Oceans Day.

Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Hokulea has sailed approximately 45,000 miles and made stops in 11 countries and 46 ports, weaving a “Lei of Hope” around the world.

Along the way, more than 160 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Hokulea, accompanied by escort vessel Gershon II, to spread the message of mālama honua (or taking care of Island Earth) by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited.

So far, the voyage has reached more than 25,000 people by connecting with communities in countries and ports across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Bali, Mauritius and South Africa.

For a midway recap of the Worldwide Voyage, go online.

Hōkūle‘a first set out on the Pacific Ocean in 1975. Since then, she has traveled to multiple countries across the globe, reawakening a Hawaiian cultural renaissance in the process through reviving the traditional art of wayfinding—navigating the sea through means of using natural resources like ocean swells, stars and wind.

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