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Polynesian Canoe Begins Circumnavigation

Weather permitting, the Hokule’a will depart today from Hawaii to Tahiti, the first long leg on her around-the-world cruise.

© 2014 Maui Tauotaha OIWI TV

No sailing craft has meant more to a people than the Hokule‘a. In 1976, the twin-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe completed her maiden voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti using only Polynesian navigational techniques. In doing so, she not only proved merit for anthropological theory, but inspired a revival of Hawaiian culture. Nearly four very active decades later, the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s famous canoe is embarking on her most ambitious voyage yet; the Malama Honua ("to care for our earth") Worldwide Voyage.

Sailing alongside her sister canoe Hikianalla, the Hokule‘a departed Honolulu two weeks ago on what will be a three-year, 47,000-mile circumnavigation of the earth. The plan is for her to visit 85 ports in 26 countries, including a dozen UNESCO Marine World Heritage sites.

Hundreds of islanders turned out for the initial departure of the huge canoe, which is slated to visit many far-distant ports of call.

© Polynesian Voyaging Society

Famed Hokule’a navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson spoke at the departure: "As we embark on this voyage today, we are honored to join a global movement towards a more sustainable world. Malama Honua allows us the special opportunity to perpetuate the legacy of our ancestors and inspire stewardship of the earth, sharing our aloha for our environment while nurturing and learning from local solutions and relationships."

After departing Honolulu, Oahu, Hokule’a and Hikianalla sailed to Lahaina, Maui where they were honored at an awa ceremony before sailing to Hilo, Hawaii. After crossing the Alenuihaha Channel, the boats encountered rough conditions off the east coast of Hawaii before making port in Hilo’s Radio Bay. The two canoes plan to leave for French Polynesia as early as today. Track the voyage here.

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