Lahaina tragedy prompts return of Hōkūleʻa to Hawaiʻi in December before continuing Pacific circumnavigation
Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO Nainoa Thompson today announced a major change to the Moananuiākea Voyage sail plan. In the wake of the devastating fires on Maui, Hōkūleʻa will return home from San Diego, California in late December, before continuing on the circumnavigation of the Pacific.
Thompson said, “The level of hurt thatʻs happening in our home is something I canʻt comprehend. All I know is that we have to come home because of it… Lahaina is a voyaging powerhouse,” he said. “I believe the family is going to need the canoe and the canoe is going to need the family.”
Thompson said another contributing factor to leadershipʻs decision is the earthʻs unprecedented weather patterns including the current El Niño phenomenon, a period of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean, which has global impact.
Thompson said “This is the first time that I know of that we’re having to really make decisions about a really established hot earth plus the heat of El Niño. Add it together and we donʻt know what the risk is gonna be anymore.” He said, “the job of the navigator is to protect that canoe and those who sail it and the way to do that is to watch nature, and make decisions on when it’s time to go and when it’s not time to go.”
It has not yet been determined how long Hōkūleʻa will be in Hawaiʻi, but Thompson said the Moananuiākea Voyage will be completed within the original timeframe, and commitments made to communities around the Pacific will be kept.
The circumnavigation of the Pacific will cover an estimated 43,000 nautical miles, 36 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and more than 300 ports. Led by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Voyage is a global educational campaign that will amplify the vital importance of oceans and indigenous knowledge through port engagements, education and storytelling.
Hōkūleʻa has been sailing south from Southeast Alaska since the Polynesian Voyaging Society held its global launch of the four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific in Juneau, Alaska on June 15, 2023. The canoe and her crew also sailed through British Columbia, to Washington State, and down the West Coast of Oregon and California, where she is now docked in San Francisco, engaging with First Nations communities, Native Hawaiian communities and the general public throughout.
The goal of the voyage is to ignite a movement of 10 million “planetary navigators” by developing young leaders and engaging communities around the world to take part in navigating earth towards a healthy, thriving future.
The voyage itself is a global educational campaign that will amplify the vital importance of oceans and indigenous knowledge through port engagements, education and storytelling shared via a virtual “Third Canoe” called Waʻa Honua, which translates to “a canoe for the earth” (www.waahonua.com).
PVS and its educational partners are creating stories, and lessons for all ages with the goal of inspiring people to care for and make better choices for the earth.