Voyage to Rapanui
Leg 3. Mangareva to Rapanui (September 15-Octocber 8, 1999)
Course Strategy for Finding Rapa Nui: an interview with Nainoa Thompson by Sam Low
Rapa Nui (64 sq. miles, 1,674 ft.high) is only a little larger and a little higher than the Hawaiian island of Kaho'olawe (45 sq. miles, 1,477 ft. high). Because Rapa Nui is so small, it would be unreasonable to expect that we could, even with favorable winds, navigate without instruments 1150 miles from Pitcairn straight to Rapa Nui; the traditional system of navigation we use is simply not that accurate and mechanical. It requires constant thought, memorization, and estimates of distances and directions traveled; it invovles adjusting to constantly changing wind, sky, and ocean conditions. The navigator rarely sleeps, except for catnaps; the longer a voyage lasts, the more prone to error he may become. To find Rapa Nui using our navigation system, we've created a search strategy which we hope will work, although we have never tried it before. It is a unique navigational challenge to find an island so small and isolated, without a large population of land-based sea birds. Instead of targeting a number of closely spaced islands in a chain or following seabirds flying to or from the target island, we have to sail within sight distance of Rapa Nui--within 30 miles of it--in to order to find it.
Original Plan (Before Leaving Hawai'i, based on the winds we expected to encounter during the voyage): We established a block of ocean for the search--a block which begins 300 miles to the west of Rapa Nui, between 25 degrees S to 29 degrees S. Rapa Nui is at 27 degrees 09' S, centered between the north and south limits of the eastern end of the block. Targeting this block of ocean--300 miles long and 240 miles wide, 72,000 square miles in all--rather than a small island 13 miles long and 10 miles wide, 64 square miles, allows us to compensate for any mistakes in our dead reckoning (the estimates of miles we sailed east from Pitcairn) or in determining our latitude. When we reach the western end of the block, 300 miles west of the Rapa Nui, we assume that Rapa Nui is somewhere in this block to the east. So we sail Haka Ko'olau (N by E) up to 25 degrees S, then Haka Malanai (S by E) down to 29 degrees S, then up north again and so on, in a zigzaging pattern, slowly moving eastward through the block. At some point in this zigzag pattern, we would pass within 30 miles of the Rapa Nui and be able to see it.
Reports from the Crew, by Sam Low
Sept. 13, 1999
On the Hawaiian Air flight to Tahiti, Captain Nainoa Thompson is leaning over his seat, talking with crewmembers Shantell Ching and Mike Tongg. They discuss the weather--a series of low and high pressure systems are migrating from west to east along the track they will take from Mangareva to Rapa Nui and they assess the possibility of riding one of the lows to the east.
"It takes about 40 hours for a low to pass and it will bring winds from the west," Nainoa says, "so if we jump off and sail with it, we can extend our time in the low to about 60 hours. At six knots that gives us 360 miles. Getting east may not be as much of a problem as we think, but finding the island, that will be a problem. Rapa Nui is tiny and there will be few if any birds to help us find it. This is going to be a very mentally demanding trip."
Everyone in the crew knows the voyage will be unlike any they have made before and they have all prepared themselves for it in unique ways. Aaron Young, for example, stays awake for 20 hours at a time, sleeping three or four, then practices what he calls "keeping busy." "One thing you don't want to do is let yourself get in a rut on the canoe," he says. "You have to find something to do, be helpful, vigilant, look around to see what needs to be done. And to prepare mentally for that, I don't allow myself any sloppy land habits, putting things off, for example. So before I leave on a voyage I get real busy doing chores--it gets my mind in shape for the discipline needed to be on the canoe."
Aaron also takes cold showers and increases his already strenuous level of physical exercise. "It's hard to go from a comfortable life on land where you sleep in a warm bed to being aboard the canoe where you are often cold and wet and you take baths in seawater and go to the bathroom over the side," he says.
Farther back in the aircraft's cabin, Doctor Ben Tamura, the medical officer, is reading an article entitled, "Preventive and Empiric Treatment of Traveler's Diarrhea," which was written by a colleague, Dr. Vernon Ansdell of Kaiser Hospital, a specialist in travel medicine.
How has he prepared himself personally for the voyage? "I tend to get tendinitis when hauling on lines," he explains, "so a few months before leaving I carry a tennis bail in my car. On the way to the hospital in the morning, I squeeze it with my left hand and coming back home at night, I squeeze it with my right to strengthen my arm and wrist muscles."
He also spends a lot more time than normal in the sun and he changes his toilet routine. "It's not so easy to go to the bathroom in public," he explains, "so I get myself used to it by changing my routine. I began to use the lavatory at the hospital rather than the private one in my home. You know, on the canoe when you go to the bathroom the navigator is sitting just sixteen inches above you."
As on his last two voyages, Ben rewrote his will and spent a lot of time, even though on vacation, cleaning house as he puts it--tidying up his office work, sweeping out the garage, mowing the lawn--so he can focus totally on the voyage when its time to leave. He also conducted mental dry-runs of what each day aboard Hokule'a might be like--counting up the number of tee shirts, shorts, towels and underwear he might need. "That helped me pack just what was really necessary," he says, "and allowed me to simplify, to lighten up on what I brought."
The result? Instead of four shorts, he brought two; three towels were replaced by one; and five tee shirts became two.
But perhaps the most important preparation was what Aaron calls "tolerance training"-- getting his mind ready for the kind of caring--of aloha--that the voyage will require. Tolerance training is partly a matter of daily meditation in which Ben visualizes life on the canoe, and partly a matter of daily "anger control exercises."
"I took the last ten days off from work," he explains, "and spent a lot of time surfing. I practiced letting other surfers take a wave, even though I was in position for it, and not getting pissed off when a surfer dropped in on me. Another thing I did1" he continues, "was even more difficult--practicing tolerance in commuter traffic."
"Voyaging aboard Hokule'a has really taught me a lot about the word love," Ben goes on, "it's a word that is really misunderstood. People think it's about sex or that you can only have real love between a man and a woman. That's not what I'm talking about. My other trips have given me a feeling of what love is in an altruistic sense that I can't put into words easily. It's different than the media or even in classic literature portrays the way love. It's like the word "aloha." How can you define that? There are so many different meanings."
Sitting next to Ben on the Hawaiian Airlines flight to Tahiti is Mike Tongg. He says: "I began to prepare about three months before going to Mangareva," he says. "Every voyage is special. I feel like I am a servant of the canoe and, given my age (55 years old) I need to get in shape to handle the sails, the steering, and being in a difficult environment for so long. I also get ready mentally. I need to disassociate myself from the land and prepare my mind for the ocean and I do that by spending more time on boats. I begin to study the clouds and pay attention to the tides, be aware of sunrise and sunset1 try to get back in tune with nature."
Mike also reads his old diaries, written on the voyages he took in 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1992, and 1995. He exercises physically and he gets in touch with members of the crew to rekindle, as he puts it, "that bond of 'ohana with the family I will sail with."
"The spiritual side of life is real important to me," Mike continues. "The Lord has given me this opportunity for a purpose. In the past voyages, He has taught me that the strength to deal with hardships comes from within. I also look to the leaders of the voyage to learn from them. I see what I call a spiritual intellect in Bruce and Nainoa, for example. They are dedicated and focussed so that is one ethic that I try to emulate. In the past, in order to survive, the navigators had to focus and they needed inner strength. I need the same thing as a crew member, so I try to work hard on that."
The crew also needs to practice the philosophy of malama--of caring for the natural environment--of helping to create what Nainoa calls a sense of pono--of balance between all living things and the natural resources of the planet. As Nainoa explained in a recent interview, "The Polynesian genius is the ability to find sustainable ways to only take only as much from nature as nature can provide."
"The concept of malama," explains Tongg, "may have evolved from our heritage of long distance voyaging. Our ancestors learned they had to take care of the canoe and that if they did, the canoe would take care of them; they also learned that they had to take care of each other."
The malama philosophy is part of the life of every member of the crew. "When I was younger," says Mike Tong, "voyaging was an adventure--a test--I just wanted to go, I didn't think about much else, just getting on the canoe. But now I think about a lot of other things before I go. I think about my family and being sure they are comfortable with my sailing. I think about my larger 'ohana, my community, and that all of us on the canoe represent our islands and our people--maybe hopefully even the aspirations of all people on planet earth. I think about what values the voyage has for all of us--both those aboard the canoe and those at home--the values of aloha, malama, of team work, self discipline, and of always having a larger vision of why we sail which will carry us through the hardships ahead."
"This voyage will test us," says Nainoa. "There is no question about it. Each person aboard Hokule'a and Kama Hele is totally committed to this voyage spiritually, mentally and physically." Pausing for a moment, Nainoa peers out the window. He sees empty ocean below, a route he has sailed perhaps a dozen times. But the voyage to Rapa Nui will be across another part of this ocean that is totally new for him and his crew. Like Aaron Young, Ben Tamura and Mike Tongg, each of the twelve crewmembers of the canoe and the seven crewmembers of the escort boat has prepared in his or her own way for the trial ahead.
Sept. 14 / Rikitea--Arrival of New Crew
The Air Tahiti STOL aircraft sweeps in over Mangareva's outer reef, flies low over a frothy turquoise sea stubbled with coral heads, and touches down on a cement strip laid like concrete frosting over the barrier reef. We disembark and collect 72 pieces of luggage shipped as cargo, 23 as baggage and 14 as hand carry - essential supplies for the voyage to Rapa Nui. After a short ride on the ferry, a forty foot converted fishing boat, we arrive in the harbor of Rikitea and moor alongside Hokule'a.
Expedition headquarters ashore is in a converted furniture workshop owned by our host Bruno Schmidt. As we unload our gear, heavy clouds scud across the mounain peaks above the vilage, bringing rain. We rig tarpaulins to shelter the crates of food and other supplies we have brought in from Tahiti.
That night, after a Terry Hee dinner of soup, fish stew, teriyaki meat and rice, Chad Babayan welcomes us to Mangareva. "I'm glad you are all here safely." He tells us, "Once we have accomplished a few chores we will be ready to jump off for Rapa Nui."
A lot had already been done. On the wall behind Chad, written on a large sheet of paper, is the work list:
- Unload canoe and wash galley utensils, tupperware, water bottles
- Empty LPG tanks
- Clean foul weather gear
- Wash compartments and air out
- Inventory supplies and equipment from Tahiti
- Repack and reload food
- Fill water bottles and load
Many of the items have already been checked off.
After Chad's welcome, it is Nainoa's turn to speak. "I'm not going to kid you," he tells us, "this is going to be a tough trip. But looking around at all the folks assembled here, I know that we are going to make it and do it well and safely. I'm not saying that we will find Rapa Nui because that would be arrogant, but I am sure that if anyone can do it, we as a group can do it."
On the wall behind Nainoa are a series of weather maps from the French meterological station on the hill overlooking the harbor. The maps show a succession of low pressure systems that have moved in an orderly procession over the South Pacific in the last week. Today's chart shows a long front has formed between a low to the south of the island and a high to the northeast. As he talks, Nainoa runs his finger along the front.
"Today, we flew into this weather on the way down from Tahiti," he explains, "and we had turbulence and clouds most of the way. This front is causing the weather we are experiencing now." Nainoa pauses to examine the maps for the previous two days, mentally calculating the front's direction and speed of motion.
"I think the system is moving east south east along the line defined by the front at about 16 knots," he explains, "so that if it continues in that direction it might pass in about two or three days and be replaced by another low pressure system which may bring in westerly winds, just what we want. I've only been here two day, so I can't be sure, but I think that we had better be ready to go on Friday if that happens. It's too early to predict the weather accurately, but I can tell you one thing, when the wind is right, we're going to leave."
As the meeting breaks up, the crew who will sleep in the workshop lay out sleeping mats in nests they have created among crates, coolers and folded sails. The rest depart to bunks aboard Hokule'a or Kama Hele. A south wind sweeps in over the harbor of Rikitea stirrring whitecaps. Rain slants across arc lights bathing the canoe and the escort boat as they pull against their mooring lines, bobbing and yawing in the choppy water of the harbor.
September 16 / Rikitea
In the last two days, the crew has been busy checking and packing gear and going over safety proceedures aboard the canoe and the escort boat, preparing for possible heavy weather. Star maps have been laid out and the navigators - Shantell, Nainoa, Bruce and Chad - have been rehearsing the star alignments they will use for determining the lattitude of Rapa Nui.
Today, Hokule'a was brought in alongside the pier so that gear could be loaded and Kama Hele took on water and fuel.
Tonight, most of the crews will sleep aboard Kama Hele and Hokule'a, readyng themselves for departure at short notice.
Today was also "Hokule'a Day" for the students of the Centre d'Education au Developpement - a vocational/technical school established by The Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a religious order from Canada. Chad conducted class for the sixty students at the school, after which Tava Taupu led a tour of the canoe. The students, 18 from Rikitea and the rest from the outer islands, learned the basics of steering by the stars and what life would be like aboard the canoe on the voyage to Rapa Nui. The most frequently asked questions: "Where do you sleep?" "Where do you go to the bathroom?" "How do you steer the canoe?" And, "how does the man overboard beacon work?"
For the last two days, Nainoa, Chad and Bruce have been making regular trips up to the weather station to analyze the daily weather maps. We have exprienced fairly steady southern winds, heavy clouds and occasional torrential rain. The prediction for yesterday is that the rain will stop today ( which seems to be happening) and the wind will begin to back around to the east, then northeast - beginning its journey around the compass to the west - just what we want - perhaps by Friday or Saturday. But no one can be sure. It is also possible that a high pressure system to the east may join with a stationary high over Rapa Nui, establishng trade winds over the entire route to the island -which will mean constant tacking. And there is a weak low pressure system forming to the east, in the path of the front, which may cause it to stall over Mangareva. This might delay the wind shift which we need to sail to Rapa Nui without tacking. The situation remains uncertain.
"So, what else is new," says Nainoa, who has seen this kind of uncertainty dozens of times before.
A Traditional Story of Mangareva, as told by Teakarotu Barthelemy, recorded by Sam Low
On Thursday, our island host - Bruno Schmidt - arrived to take us to the other side of the island to speak with a man who knew many of the ancient legends of Mangareva. We found Teakarotu Barthelemy at his home amidst a grove of orange trees near the beach. A man of ample girth and impressive dignity, he sat on his lanai overlooking the ocean and told us the story of a great Mangarvan navigator who set out to find Rapa Nui, just as we will do when the weather clears.
"Anua Matua chose his crew and set out for Rapa Nui," Teakarotu told us. "He arrived at an island that is called Maka Tea and gave it the name of Pua Pua Moku and he left his daughter and her husband there along with some of his crew and sailed on to the island now called Elizabeth and also gave it the name of Pua Pua Moku. After that they sailed on to Pitcairn Island, which he gave the name of He Ragi (pronounced He Rangi). During the voyage they searched for Rapa Nui but they passed it by mistake and found themselves in a cold place which they called Tai Koko. This place is called Cape Horn today [at the tip of South America]. They realized that they were not at a good place so they turned back and sailed by the stars in the direction they came to try and find Rapa Nui. Te Agi Agi (Te Angi Angi) was now the navigator and captain. When they finally arrived at Rapa Nui they gave the island the name of Ma Ta Ki Te Ragi (Ma Ta Ki Te Rangi) which means "the eyes look at the heavens," and another name of Kairagi (Kairangi) which means "eating the sky'" and they also called the island Pouragi (Pourangi) which means (pole eating the sky)."
"To understand the reason for the names," explained our host - Bruno Schmidt - "you must think what the island looked like to them as they approached from the sea. They saw a tall mountain thrusting up into the sky as if it were eating the sky and their eyes, following the mountain, were looking at the heavens."
Teakarotu explained that he had learned the legend from his grandmother who was a famous singer and kahu of ancient traditions. His grandmother was called Toaatakiore Karara and she helped Sir Peter Buck, the famous anthropologist who visited the islands in the 1930s with a Bishop Museum expedition. Toaatakiore Karara sang over 160 songs for Sir Peter which he recorded.
Oral traditions are subject to a great deal of change over the years and it is probable that the legend, as told by Teakarotu is not as accurate today as it was in the days of his grandmother. The islands listed, for example, do not make much sense today. According to Bruno, Maka Tea means "elvated atoll" - which could be anywhere but probably should be Oeno Island, a landmark for our voyage. Elizabeth may be Henderson Island. Tai Koko, which Teakarotu identified as Cape Horn means "place of heavy seas." Teakarotu also told us, that Te Agi Agi called Rapa Nui by the name of Te Pitu Te Henua, but this seems doubtful because, as Bruno told us, this is a Tahitian name. But the legend is interesting because it suggests the great difficulty that even the ancient navigators had when trying to find Rapa Nui. It also suggests that at least one canoe may have strayed past Rapa Nui and discovered the great continent of South America.
September 20 / Departure Imminent
On Sunday evening, at about four PM, we received word that Hokule'a and Kama Hele should be ready to depart for Rapa Nui tomorrow at first light. We have already been put on notice by Nainoa to be ready for departure, so everything goes smoothly. Kama Hele is provisioned and fueled. The crew has been working aboard Hokule'a for the last few days and the sails are rigged, the gear stowed away, emergency drills have been performed and the new crew have blended with those already here. All of us are excited by the prospect ahead, to participate in one of the most important of voyages in Hokule'a's nearly twenty five years of sailing.
On Friday, the town had a party for the crew to say goodbye so that we would be free to depart at short notice. Saturday night the crew and our hosts enjoyed a special dinner at a local restaurant.
Sunday dawned with a partly cloudy sky and a light wind from the northeast. The crews of Kama Hele and Hokule'a have moved their personal gear aboard to be ready to sail t at short notice. Kama Hele will complete fueling today. Hokule'a will complete rigging the sails and stowing gear aboard.
The Rapa Nui Crew, with Mangarevan Host Bruno Schmidt, around the Steering Sweep of Hokule'a (Left to Right): Mike Tongg, Bruno Schmidt, Shantell Ching, Mel Paoa, Bruce Blankenfeld, Chad Baybayan, Aaron Young. Stting: Dr.Ben Tamura
September 20, 1999 / Rikitea
Today dawned with slack winds - the surface of the ocean was like a lake - and about 90 percent cloud cover. The hoped for favorable winds and clear skies did not materialize adn departure was cancelled. The crews of Kama Hele and Hokule'a stood down and, after breakfast at the beach house, went about various chores.
On Hokule'a, the crew was briefed by Bruce Blankenfeld on crew procedures forsafety at sea. Ever since the unfortunate loss of Eddy Aikau during the 1978 voyage, safety has been paramount aboard both Hokule'a and her escort vessel. Each crew member is issued with their own personal flotation device, safety harness, whistle and strobe light. In case anyone should fall overboard, the waterproof strobe will assist in finding them at night. In addition, both Hokule'a and kama Hele are equipped with a man overboard device that contains a life ring for flotation, an extra whistle, and two strobe lights - one on top and one on the bottom of a long pole designed to float upright. Should anyone fall overboard, the device is tossed into the water. The strobe on the bottom will begin operation automatically to assist in spotting the device from the canoe. The person in the water will swim to it and, once he or she has the life ring in hand, the person will operate a switch to illuminate the top light. The ring is attached to the canoe by a long line which a crew member aboard the canoe will pull in once they see the top light illuminated or, during the day, receives a hand signal from the person in the water. In the meantime, the crew of the canoe will maneuver to stop the vessel and notify the escort boat trailing behind what the situation may be.
Man overboard drills were conducted today on both escort and canoe. "Safety is our most important consideration at sea," Bruce told the crew. "We must always be on guard against any kind of accident and always watch out for everyone on the canoe. Overlook nothing. Be vigilent at all times."
Both Hokule'a and Kama Hele are now fully ready for sea, waiting only for a favorable shift in the wind and clear skys. The first leg of the journey to Rapa Nui will be to Pitcairn Island, a little over 300 miles away. Once having found Pitcairn by non instrument navigational techniques, the navigators will begin the voyage to Rapa Nui - which will now be about 1200 miles away - from a known point in the ocean .
"Getting to Pitcairn is very important," Nainoa told us in a recent crew briefing, 'so I want to leave Mangareva with both favorable winds and a clear sky so that we can navigate. We will just have to be patient and wait until the conditions are right. But, as soon as they are, we will jump off."
September 21 / Rikitea
The crews of Kama Hele and Hokule'a are in final preparation for departure today at noon. Winds are still very light, but the navigators feel they have a 48-hour window to make some progress toward the east and Rapa Nui, so they are anxious to get going. Arrangements have been made to carry crew member Max Yarawamai, arriving from Pape'ete at 3 p.m., from the airport to the canoe by power boat.
At a recent crew briefing, head navigator Nainoa Thompson explained one essential part of his strategy to find Rapa Nui is to employ experienced and qualified navigators as watch captains. Bruce Blankenfeld, navigator of the first leg from Hawai'i to the Marquesas, or Chad Baybayan, the navigator of the second leg from the Marquesas to Mangareva, will be on watch to supervise the three crew members responsible for steering to insure that the course steered is accurate and precise. This is important because the only way Nainoa knows where they are is by calculating in his mind how many miles they have sailed each day in a given direction from Mangareva--a process called dead reckoning. Nainoa will catnap during the voyage and when he wakes up, Bruce or Chad will be able to tell him how far and in what direction they have traveled while he slept. Then Nainoa will be able to recalculate in his mind where the canoe is on its course between Mangareva and Rapa Nui.
September 22, 1999 / Rikitea
At 1:45 HST September 21, with pu (conch shells) blowing ashore and on Kama Hele, Hokule'a began moving out of Rikitea Harbor under tow. The two vessels left under a leaden sky, but by the time we passed through the reef the clouds begin to dissapate.
Hokule‘a being towed out of Mangareva
4:05 pm Hokule'a broke the tow and took its position ahead of Kama Hele. The escort boat will follow the lead of the navigators on Hokule'a for the rest of the voyage. Its GPS unit has been turned off.
5:30 pm--Crew member Max Yarawamai arrived at sea, shuttled out by a local fishing boat from the airport. He completes the crew of 12 that will attempt to find Rapa Nui.
About 8:30 pm--We passed Temoe island - islands really - abeam to port. The wind is generally from the N or NNW at about 15 knots, heavy swells, isolated squalls.
Nainoa: Thoughts Just before Leaving for Rapanui
"The weather will be difficult. The pattern that has established itself in this area is a day of good weather, then the approach of a low and a couple of days of rain. Today is in-between good weather and rain. Tomorrow (Wednesday) may be good weather and then Thursday, I bet it will go bad again; Friday I think we will get rain. I want to leave now (Tuesday early afternoon); otherwise we will have to wait until sunrise tomorrow to get through the reefs and that would mean another eighteen hours of delay. So in eighteen hours we will go eighty mile toward Rapa Nui and the farther we sail east, the longer we will stay with the good weather.
"I'm excited. In a lot of ways I think that we have been preparing for this voyage all our lives, we just didn't know it. All the academic stuff that we have been studying is really just the foundation for what is inside, the other ways that we understand the world. My thoughts are back with my family when I was a young kid, all the time that I have spent in the ocean. All of this has prepared me for thinking about the ocean and the heavens and the environment, learning about our culture and our history and our heritage, learning about being at sea, learning about the canoes and about each other; I believe that we are on the eve of tremendous growth as a crew. So I'm both pretty excited about it all that, but also pretty apprehensive about the difficulty of the trip ahead of us. This trip is going to be very hard navigationally because of where we are trying to go and the weather. The weather is now becomng a real factor but we cannot afford to wait another five days because it sets everything back and it puts us in the wrong phase of the moon. [The moon is used for navigation, when it rises and sets at different times of the day; also the cut of the moon is used to find north and south; see below.]
"I did not expect tropical lows forming and then dissipating [around Mangareva]. I expected subtropical lows forming to the south of us and moving to the east. They are there but that is not what is affecting us now--we are getting tropical lows from the north and that brings100 percent cloud cover, rain, changing winds, squalls.
"I think that we will be able to use some swells to navigate, probably from the south, it depends on where the lows are situated to the south of us. They are the only weather systems that will build waves. The swells will come from low pressure areas at thirty five or forty degrees south. As long as the fetch [area over which the wind blows] is long enough, the lows will generate swells that we can use. It's not like we are going to go out there and there will be no swells, but are we going to have the ability to read them. That's what we have to go out to sea to find out.
"The moon is big now [waxing; full moon on Sept. 25], and that will be a help. I think the skies are going to stay overcast, about 70 - 80 percent, but if it stays like this or improve we can navigate. We have a big moon that will rise about 2 pm. The sun goes down, then we will have Jupiter and Venus. The moon has a cut to it, an edge, so we can know where north is--the horns of the moon, tip to tip, they point to north. Especially on the equinox. So the cut of the moon will help tell us where north is when the moon gets high. We can navigate with the moon as long as we can see the edges, until it sets. And I am hoping that tomorrow the visibility will improve because that is the weather pattern we are in. The weather was bad yesterday, so hopefully it will be better tomorrow, but we don't know. But at least we will be 100 miles along on our voyage."
Sept. 23, 10:00 a.m. HST--The wind speed has dropped to below 10 knots, blowing from E to NE. The crew put on larger sails for the light winds. Hokule'a is making 3 knots, sailing Noio Malanai (SE by E) on a heading for Pitcairn. The weather is clear and sunny, with cumulus clouds; nights are chilly, so the crew has been bundling up in fleece and foul weather jackets and pants.
Sept. 24, 9:15 a.m. HST--Landfall! Pitcairn was sighted off Hokule'a's starboard bow at sunrise this morning (4:35 am HST; Hokule'a is about 1 hour ahead of HST). The island was a small shadow on the horizon under the dawn sky when navigator Nainoa Thompson spotted the 1/2 by 2 mile island.
Beautiful sunrise this morning (Sept 24), beautiful night of winds from the NW last night. The wind speed has picked up to 15 knots from the NE and Hokule'a is currently sailing at 4.5 knots. Calm seas; swell from the SE; fair weather, cumulus clouds. The wind is forecasted to increase to 15-20 knots in the next 36 hours and remain northerly...perfect wind for sailing directly east, without tacking. Escort boat landed a 24 lb. mahimahi yesterday (Kama Hele: 1; Hokule'a: 0). Navigator Thompson is undecided about landing on Pitcairn or not; landing would mean a delay... and the winds are perfect now for going east, so the canoe may have to just keep going. If the winds go west of N, the canoe will target Henderson Island next, 108 miles, or less than a day sail away, to the NE; if the winds are NE, the canoe cannot head for Henderson without tacking, so instead it will head for Rapa Nui. According to Thompson, Ducie Atoll will not be a target, as it is too low and dangerous to approach if the canoe reaches its vicinity at night. Latest thinking: Head for Rapa Nui; after making 3/4 of the distance there (825 miles), begin the search pattern for the island from 275 miles to the west of it. Wind Watch: Northerly winds are forecasted to pick up to 15-20 knots within the next 36 hours...Hokule'a is at the back end of a high and the front end of a low now at 140W and moving east, hence the good northerly winds that are allowing the crew to sail east without tacking.
Sept 25, 5:30 a.m HST.
Hokule'a stopped yesterday afternoon at Pitcairn to greet the people of the island. After a reunion of the 42 inhabitants and the crew of the canoe and escort boat who had visited the island on Aug. 24-25, the canoe departed under moon-lit skies at 9:30 p.m. last night.'
Memories of Pitcairn
You arrive at Pitcairn on the back of a swell aboard a silver aluminum speed boat piloted by Jay Warren, the island's mayor, constable, conservation officer and just about everything else. Jay seems to be aiming the boat directly at cliff at alarming speed but, at the last possible moment, he turns abruptly to the left and ducks behind a steel and cement breakwater into a calm but tiny harbor.
The island is tiny, a finger of volcanic rock jutting out of the sea. Our time there was short-- a few hours. Even so, Pitcairn has given us many fond memories:
- Of dirt roads, the color of chocolate that rise precipitously from the harbor to houses that perch over steep cliffs and look upon a vast murky sea.
- Of 4-wheel Honda motorcycles--the island's only vehicle.
- Of Wayne and Charlene's garden where we find banana, papaya, mango, passion fruit, mandarin oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, cabbage, beans, corn, squash, carrots, cucumber, sweet potato, beets, watermelon and taro--as Wayne puts it, "everything you need."
- Of VHF radios squawking in every home--the island's only reliable telephone service.
- Of Jay Warren's reply when asked if there was any crime on the island, "Not that I know of. The only time I remember the jail being occupied was in the 60's, and that was a family matter."
- Of a pet frigate bird soaring over each house or settled into a tree branch overlooking the yard.
- Of large freezers and shelves crammed with tinned goods to tide people over between supply ships, which arrive once every 4 months.
- Of Charlene Warren telling us that once a year the entire population of Pitcairn goes to Oeno Island for a two-week vacation. They travel in 2 motorized lifeboats and spend their time fishing and living communally in a large tent.
- Of someone else telling us that mail is delivered by passing freighters in watertight containers thrown overboard.
- Of the entire island gathering in the town hall to host us with a sumptuous potluck dinner and singing haunting 18th century songs in acapella harmony.
- Of Fletcher Christian's Bible in 7th day Adventist church.
- Of Brenda Christian, 5th generation descendant of Fletcher, talking about the unique Pitcairn "language"--a heritage of the old style English spoken by the Bounty mutineers. Some examples:
"Bouyou gwen" / "Where are you going?"
"Fer yo nor lerna us yorly cumin des dey" / "Why didn't you tell us you were coming today?"
"He yeckle ya es gudon" / "The food (victuals) here is good."
And most of all, of the kindness and generosity with which the people of Pitcairn shared their beautiful island home with us.
Sept 25, 5:30 p.m HST
The wind began to accelerate yesterday afternoon while we were anchored at Pitcairn and continued into the bright moon-lit night as the canoe departed that island at 9:30 p.m. As the sunset today both canoe and escort boat were plunging through 6-8 foot seas frothed with whitecaps. In 25 knots of wind, Kama Hele has to put up more sail and increase the revolutions of its diesel engine to keep up with Hokule'a, which is flying along at about 7 knots on the same heading as out of Mangareva, roughly La Malanai, or E by S.
Dawn was clear this morning with precisely etched fair-weather cumulus clouds around the horizon.
By midday, the horizon was obscured by what sailors call "smoke"--gray haze, the result of salt and seaspray stirred into the atmosphere by strong winds. This is an indication that we may expect the strong winds and favorable progress to continue for the near future.
Sept 26, 5:30 a.m HST
Hokule'a continues on its brisk pace toward Rapa Nui, covering 150 miles in the last 24 hours. It is travelling at 6 knots in 25 knot winds from NNE, heading La Malanai (E by S).
Hokule'a sailing in 25 knots of winds , heading into the rising sun, sea spray flying over her bow, atmosphere hazy with "smoke". The crew has put on smaller sails for the higher winds. (Photo by Sam Low, taken and e-mailed at 6 a.m. HST, Sunday, Sept. 26, 1999)
The canoe is at about 126° W longitude, having covered about 1/3 of the distance to Rapa Nui in five days. The depature was perfectly timed, with northerly winds, increasing in strength, allowing the canoe to sail straight for Rapa Nui. The northerly winds are forecasted to hold for the next 36 hours, extending all the way out to 118° W, another 480 miles, or three days of sailing. The sailing may get more difficult and progress toward the island may be much slower when the winds lighten and go easterly as the canoe gets closer to Rapa Nui.
Wind Watch: Northerly winds are forecasted to continue at 15-25 knots from between NW to NE within the next 36 hours...Hokule'a is at the back end of a high and the front end of a low, hence the good northerly winds that are allowing the crew to sail east without tacking. A front associated with the low to the SW of the canoe does not look like it will reach the canoe.
Sept 26, p.m. HST
At sunset on Saturday, September 25, a dark golden moon breaks the horizon and rises above a tumultuous ocean. The moon is a perfect circle. Hokule'a is framed within it, heading east in front of Kamahele. The image of canoe and moon is as perfect as the voyage has been so far. As Hokule'a and Kama Hele breast heavy swells, taking spreay over their decks, Rapa Nui lies about 1000 miles dead ahead; we appear to be averaging about 130 miles a day. Kama Hele is following Hokule'a as a second canoe might have on an anceint voyage of exploration and discovery.
All of Kama Hele's electronic navigation instruments are turned off, and our compass, which has not been properly adjusted for the vessel's own magnetic field, is sufficiently inaccuarate so as to be useless.
We are sailing a course that two whale ships sailed a few months and almost a century and a half earlier. Dr. Ben Finney studied the logs of the two ships and noted they were able to make the passage from Pitcairn to Rapa Nui in 8.5 days and 7.5 days, respectively. Both voyages occured in late July. The first whaler departed Pticairn on July, 19, 1850, and arrived off Rapa Nui on July 28 . The second left Pitcairn on July 20, 1851, and saw Easter Island on July 28. Both vessels experienced winds that circled the compass during their passages, beginning to blow out of the NW and veering counterclockwise (probably with the passage of a low), first to the West, then South, then East, then back again to North and NE, but during both voyages the wind prevailed from the northern quadrant, and today almost 150 years later, we sail the same route, riding the same northerly winds as we make our way east.
During the night on the 10 p.m.-2 a.m.watch aboard Kama Hele, Kamaki, Tim, Makanani, and Kealoha were inundated three times by large swells, breaking into the cockpit. Makanani interpreted the swells to be "our aumakua [ancestral spirits] guiding us, as if by magic, to Rapa Nui."
Hokule'a changed jibs twice in the last 24 hours, to adjust to fluctuating wind speeds.
At sunset on Sunday, the navigators studied the cloud formations for clues to weather. There are high layers of cumulus, statocumulus and cirrus clouds, and a low layer of cumulus. Winds from the north, swells from the SW, and increasing humidity indicated by moisture condensing on the deck are all signs of a front to the south. Chad Baybayan believes the winds will continue from the N until the front passes to the south of the canoe, and then trades may fill back in, which will require tacking. Meanwhile the steering sweep has been manned aboard Hokule'a 24 hours a day and sails are constantly trimmed to keep the canoe at an optimal angle to the wind. "Our crew of veteran sailors are doing an excellent job of steering," reports Baybayan. "We have been blessed with fair winds so far and we are praying that they stay with us a while longer."
Sept. 27, 7:09 a.m. HST--The northerly winds are beginning to decrease in strength as a front passes to the south of Hokule'a. This morning, the canoe was doing 6-7 knots, heading La Malanai, or E by S (96° true) in 15-20 knot NNE winds (down from 25 knots).
At its present speed, the canoe will be half way to Rapa Nui this evening. The navigators believe they passed south of Ducie Atoll last night (100 miles to the the N at 125 degrees W), as they saw Manuoku (white terns) from that atoll flying in the direction of home last night and flying from the direction of home to fish at sea this morning.
The sailing may get more difficult and progress toward Rapa Nui may be much slower once the winds lighten and go easterly as the canoe gets closer to Rapa Nui. Swells are from E, ENE (trade wind swells) and SW (from a low pressure system to the south). The trade wind swells indicate that the canoe is appraoching the easterly trade winds. Navigator's Estimated Position at sunrise (Sept. 27): 25° 51' S latitude, 773 miles from Rapa Nui; Actual Position at 6:43 a.m.: 25° 39' S, 755 miles from Rapa Nui.
Sept 27, p.m. HST / Report from Nainoa
My original sail plan for the voyage called for us to leave Mangareva early enough to find Temoe (22 miles away) during daylight. My decision to leave in the afternoon (around 4 p.m.) was based on instinct. It meant we took the risk of trying to find Temoe at night, but I was pretty confident because we would have bright moon light. As it was, we passed the Temoe close abeam (at about 8:30 p.m.) and we could clearly see the surf breaking on the reef and the trees, almost as clear as day.
I was concerned about the Pitcairn leg. I hadn't been at sea for a long time, and I felt pretty rusty. I wondered how long it would take to get into the navigation mentally and spiritually. Finding Pitcairn restored my confidence; it also allowed us to begin our navigation anew from a known point in the ocean, but now 300 miles closer to Rapa Nui.
When everything is going right, I get into a zone, a special place in which all of my relations with the canoe, the natural world and the crew are integrated. I felt pretty disjointed at first, but when we got to Pitcairn I began to relax and feel like I was getting into the zone again.
Originally, we thought we might pass close by Henderson Island as another known point farther along toward Rapa Nui, but because the wind would not let us sail high enough to the north to make Henderson easily and because finding Henderson would give us a known point only 100 miles closer to Rapa Nui, we decided to continue straight on, instead of going toward Henderson. Right now we are in an incredibly good position with a low presssure system behind us and tracking with us. This low pressure system is drawing our winds down toward us from the north. I think the low pressure system is following us, but we are also beginning to see big waves from the E and ENE, so I think the easterly trade winds are close by, ahead of us.
Last night at sunset I thought the low pressure trough was close behind us, but now it seems to be traveling away from us from us, or it may be just dissipating. A sign that this is happening is that the humidity is going down. I don't feel as sticky as I did before. The air is getting colder and drier. A low pressure area is associated with high humidity, and a high pressure area with dry air, so we may be leaving the low behind and approaching an area of high pressure [the ridge of high pressure that will bring easterly winds].
Yesterday the sky to the Southwest was dark brown on the horizon. We saw thick low clouds, mixed with mid-level stratocumulus clouds--a sign of an approaching cold front associated with the low pressure system. But today the clouds seem to have lifted, and the winds shifted a little more to the east. The day before they were more to the north. A typical wind pattern when a low passes through this area is for the winds to clock around the compass, turning E to N to W to S then back to E. But this doesn't seem to be happening because the winds, instead of going from north to west, seem to be shifting from north to the east.
Earlier, I was concerned that the cold front might catch up to us, bringing 100 percent cloud cover, and we would have no stars to steer by and the seas would get confused. And even worse, if the low were moving slowly east, along with us, as it seemed to be doing, it would track along with us, and we would be in it for a long time. But it doesn't look like that is going to happen.
This voyage is a learning process for me and for all of us. The weather we expected based on average conditons in this area is not what we are getting. To learn we have to be flexible, to adjust to new conditions, and that is what we are trying to do now. This area is new to me, so any prediction I make are just a guess based on past experience in other areas of the Pacific. As we move along, we are gaining more experience with this part of the world, so our guesses will get better and better.
The trough of low pressure behind us has been a gift. It has allowed us to get a good jump to the east, which is what we hoped for. But at best we thought we might get a jump to Pitcairn. We never dreamed we would be able to sail almost one-half of our voyage on a single port tack. If you look at the map that shows what we thought we had to do, you will see that it shows we expected to be tacking.. .tacking constantly against the wind [going sideways to the wind, first southeasterly, then northeasterly, zigzagging to try to get east]. But here we are sailing to Rapa Nui in a straight line. If you ask a meteorologist why this is happening, he will tell you that a low pressure area to the west is cutting off a high pressure system and bending the normally easterly flow of winds down to us from the north.
But others might see it as mana, or a blessing from the gods. Before we left Hawaii, Mahina Rapu from Rapa Nui told me, "Don't worry. Your ancestors will take care of you." And when we held a press conference before departure, I told a group of school children from Kamehameha Schools about my anxieties over the voyage, and they told me that the gods would be with us. It's interesting that there are such different explanations for the wind which has so far been so favorable to us.
Now we have passed any islands we might have used as stepping stones toward Rapa Nui (on the night of Sept. 26, Hokule'a passed Ducie Atoll, which lay to the north along 125 degrees W), and we are on the open ocean portion of our voyage. Our first task was to get to east, and we have done well so far, but we still have to remember that we have 500 miles to go before the next segment of our voyage--the search pattern for Rapa Nui when we are within 275 miles of it. That is our next big challenge.
This morning I feel completely in the zone. You have to be in that special place to navigate well. When you are in the zone, you feel ahead of the game. You find yourself naturally thinking about what will happen next and you are reacting to things in future, not things in the past. You have the star patterns in mind and you seem to know where you are even when the sky is cloudy and you can't see the stars. You begin to anticipate the weather. It is like being inside the navigation, participating from the inside.
Sunrise, Tuesday, Sept. 28
The ocean is a dark grey blue. The sky is the color of lead as we continue to sail east toward Rapa Nui. During the evening, the canoe and Kama Hele hove to in order to to allow a squall to pass. Now the sunrise is skewered by clouds ahead of us and we trim the sails in gusting winds.
Chad navigation report: Sunday 6 p.m. Sept. 27. Heading: La malanai (E by S). Distance made good in the last 12 hours: 76 miles; net miles with current subtracted: 72 miles. Distance to Rapa Nui 701 miles. Estimated Latitude: 26 degrees S. Wind: Nalani Koolau (NE by N) 17-18 knots.
Sunrise 6 am. Sept. 28: Heading: La malanai (E by S). Distance made good in the last 12 hours: 69 miles; net miles with current subtracted: 65 miles. Distance to Rapa Nui: 636 mile. Estimated Latitude: 26 degrees 10' S.
Makana--a story from the voyage to Rapa Nui
A few hours before our departure from Mangareva, I am riding in the back of our host Bruno Schmitt's Land Rover with Makanani Attwood, a crew member of the first leg from Hawai'i to Nukuhiva who has continued on as a crew member of the escort boat. We carry a two foot by three foot sandstone slab, with strange symbols etched into its surface. Makanani is an elfin man in his forties, with a pointed beard and a gleam in his eyes, which seem to explode with mirth when he speaks, which he does now in non-stop commentary on the meaning of life, the voyage to Rapa Nui, his ancestors, and the signficance of the slab we are conveying to a garden in front of Bruno's house.
"This is a traditional way of recording of a historic event," Maka explains. "It's a petroglyph which I carved to give to Bruno in return to his hospitality in Mangareva. It's a mo'olelo, a story, which could easily be oral, in an oli or chant, but in this case, it's carved in stone."
As the truck bumps along Rikitea's main road past the gendarmerie and the post office, Maka runs his finger over the design he has etched into the stone. "Here is a representation of Hokule'a , and this is Kama Hele . Here is a mano, a shark, which represents one of our ancestral guardian spirits, an 'aumakua. I chose the mano because it is an 'aumakua that is common to many of the families of crew members sailing on the two vessels.
"The mano was chosen for another reason: when Hokule'a passed through the reef surrounding Mangareva, a number of crew members saw a shark swim directly in front of the canoe...Timmy Gilliom saw it clearly. The shark seemed to be guiding us through the reef and as soon as we got through safely, it disappeared."
The Land Rover now bumps over the final dirt road leading to Bruno's house. We pass by the technical school created by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and arrive at Bruno's bungalow which is set on an ample lot bordering the ocean . We unload the petroglyph, and the three of us struggle to lug it to its space in Bruno's garden.
With Bruno and his wife present, Maka continues his explanation of its significance: "I also carved a mo'o, a lizard, which is a land 'aumakua. The mo'o lives in freshwater streams on land, so now we have here both a land and an ocean 'aumakua, a lizard and a shark which repersent the fact that all life depends on the land and ocean, which is a typical way that all island people think.
Now maka points to a checkerboard of deperessions, 64 of them. "This is a konane board. Konane is an ancient game of kings, which is equivalent to chess. Konane is symbolic of wisdom; it makes me thinks of the need for our leaders to plan carefully to care for our land and our ocean, to malama our natural resources.
"One goal of our voyage to Rapa Nuii to encourage all of us to respect our natural world, the sea we sail over, the islands that we sail to." For a time we all sit quietly, admiring the petroglyph and the garden, and listening to the chickens in a nearby henhouse and Bruno's sheep bleeting in a pasture a short distance away.
Tuesday Sept. 28, Sunset: Hokule'a continues east under a dark sky that offers no celestial clues to direction, buffeted by fast moving squalls. (Squalls are windstorms, with strong gusts of wind; they can damage the canoe by pulling down the mast, breaking a spar, or ripping a sail. When a dangerously looking squall approaches, the crew will close the sails and wait it out. Squalls at night make navigation difficult, as the seas and swell patterns get confused and clouds and rain hid the sky.) Nainoa decides to wait for moonrise to provide a secure sign to steer by, but rain and clouds are so thick, the moon never appears. The crews of the escort boat and canoe endure a long night, alternately raising and taking in sails as the vessels contend with roiling, temptuous seas.
Wednesday Sept. 29, Sunrise: A gray dawn breaks to reveal squalls all around the horizon and Hokule'a hove to under bare masts . It's cold and damp, but the wind is clocking around to the W, a sign that the front may be passing us, moving to the east. The crew waits for the weather to reveal its intentions. By 4:40 HST Hokule'a opens its sails, and under clearing skies, with wind veering around to the SW, continues her voyage to the east toward Rapa Nui.
September 29, 6 a.m.
Hokule'a spent the majority of the night hove to. The canoe sailed a little, but any progress to the east was negated by the west-flowing current. Estimated Latitude at 6 a.m.: 26 degrees 15 ' S. The front that went through last night was a routine passage. We experienced squalls, and after the squalls, the wind turned North, then West, now South. Because the canoe does not handle well sailing downwind (with the wind behind the canoe from the west as the canoe sails east) we decided to heave to during the night.
September 29 Modification of the Original Plan an interview with Nainoa Thompson
The incredibly good winds we've gotten now allows us to modify the strategy. Because we've been able to sail directly toward our destination in less time than we had originally planned (both of these factors reduce the possibilities of errors in our dead reckoning), we have now decided to begin our search 200 miles west of Rapa Nui instead of 300 miles to the west. This decreases the area we have to search by 1/3, from 72,000 square miles to 48,000 square miles, and will save some time in tacking in search of the island.
Contingency Plan: Our ability to be successful in tacking in search of Rapa Nui depends on the wind direction. In order for us to tack north and south in a zigzag pattern, we need easterly or westerly winds. Northerly winds will not allow us to tack north, and southerly winds will not allow us to tack south. So far the winds have been mainly northerly. If these winds continue to prevail we may not be able to tack north. So instead we will try to get a good reading of our latitude stars at night, and then sail directly east for Rapa Nui along the latitude of the island: 27 degrees 09' S. This strategy, called "Latitude Sailing," requires some precision in determining latitude...because the island is so small, we need to be within half a degree of accuracy or less than 30 miles off on either side of Rapa Nui for it to work. In this scenario, after a period of time, if we have not found the island by sailing directly east at the latitude we think is 27° 09'S, plus or minus a half a degree, we may decide that we've sailed past the island and will turn around and search back to the west. We have placed a time limit of 30 days on our search for Rapa Nui, which began Sept. 21; so we are giving ourselves till Oct. 21 to find the island....but we have 42 days of food and water on board, so conceivably we could stay at sea till the end of October. Click here for a detailed explantation of non-instrument navigation.)
The Moon: The favorable winds and our quick passage to the vicinity of Rapa Nui has thrown this timetable off. Now it looks like we may be searching for the island under a waning moon. It is difficult to see an island at night. Originally we timed the voyage so that we would be searching for Rapa Nui around the full moon (October 24). The moon will disappear on Oct. 8-9 and the night sky will be completely dark, except for the light of the stars and planets. So we plan to stop sailing at night during the search, closing our sails two hours after sunset and opening them again two hours before sunrise. We cannot sail more than fifteen miles in two hours of darkness, so we won't sail past the island without seeing it in the two hour of darkness before sunrise and the two hours after sunset.
The dark sky will also make determining latitude more difficult. The readings depend on measuring the height of stars above the horizon as they cross the meridian. (See above.) As the moonlight diminishes and nights get darker, the horizon gets less distinct, the ocean surface less easy to distinguish from the night sky.
At 9 p.m. HST last night, Hokule'a was moving 0-1 knots in an easterly direction (107 true).
At 1:30 a.m. HST this morning, Hokule'a was moving about 2 knots in an easterly direction (98 true).
At 9:00 a.m. HST this morning, Hokule'a was sailing about 2 knots toward 'Aina Malanai (ESE). Winds were from the NW at 8 knots; seas were calm; the sky was clear. A ridge of high pressure has settled over the area the canoe is in (25 degrees 04 S, 382 miles W by N from Rapa Nui as of 1:21 a.m. yesterday morning)...at the center of this area of high pressure is little to no wind and generally clear skies. The canoe has moved about 36 miles closer to Rapa Nui between yesterday morning and 1:21 a.m. this morning. North of the ridge axis, which is situated east-west, are light easterly winds; south of the ridge axis are light westerly winds. The canoe is working its way ESE in order to find these westerlies while heading for Rapa Nui.
This pattern of light, variable winds is typical of the area the canoe is in: the area is called the Southern Subtropical Divergence Zone (cold air descending diverges outward); it is noted for light winds and balmy weather. It is equivalent to the "horse latitudes" in the northern hemisphere, where similar conditions prevail. (Question for students following the voyage: where are the horse latitudes in the northern hemisphere? why was the area at these latitudes given this name?)
The next major weather feature that may affect the canoe is a cold front associated with an area of low pressure moving eastward to the south of the canoe (around 40 degrees S)...at the leading edge of this front are the kinds of northerly winds that the canoe rode for a week out to within 400 miles of Rapa Nui; behind the front are southerly winds....however, this front may move to the south and never reach the area the canoe is in...in which case the winds will remain light and variable.
10/1; Aboard Hokule`a( Sam Low was transferred from the escort boat to the canoe two days ago.)
Every day at sunrise and sunset, Nainoa, Chad and Bruce gather at Hokule`a's navigator's station to assess their progress in the previous 12 hours. On Friday morning at dawn, Oct. 1, the three of them look out over and ocean stirred only by gentle undulating swells and ruffled by tiny wind ripples. Cumulus clouds gather on the horizon all around the canoe and, for a time, the sun warms her deck while the crew go about their daily routines of cooking, coiling rope, and writing in their logs.
Navigators meeting: Bruce, Shanell, Chad, and Nainoa. Tava behind them at the Steering Paddle.
All the meetings follow a quiet routine. This morning, the navigators analyze the canoe's progress in three watches of twelve hours between sunset and sunrise--the 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. , the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and the 2 a.m. to 6 a.m..
"What an awesome night that was last night," says Nainoa, "I saw Jupiter rise on the horizon, so the atmosphere was really clear. I was able to get a good view of Atria in the South and Ruchbah in the North. The latitude I got from Atria was 25 degrees S, and from Ruchbah I got 26 degrees S." Nainoa also observed Caph and Schedir--which gave him an estimated latitude of 25 degrees S and Navi which produced an estimate of 26 degrees S.
"I think we ought to average the observations," he tells the others, "so let's say we are at 25 degrees S."
[Hokule'a was at 25° 02' S, 116° 15'W at 8:00 p.m., Sept. 30, becalmed. Jupiter rose in the early evening on September 30 in the direction of La Ko'olau (E by N). The navigators measure the altitude of stars crossing the meridian to determine their latitude, using their outstretched hands, which have been pre-calibrated for distances in the sky. At 25 degrees South near the longitude of Hokule'a (116 W), on the evening of Sept. 30, Caph (in the constellation of Cassiopeia) transited the northern meridian at 05° 51' above the horizon at 9:15 p.m.; Shedir (in Cassiopeia) at 08° 28' at 9:46 p.m.; Ruchbah at 04° 46' at 10:31 p.m. On Oct. 1, 1999, 1:45 a.m., Atria (in the Southern Triangle) transited the meridian below the South Celestial Pole at 04° 09' above the horizon. Click here for naked eye astronomy data for the voyage to Rapa Nui. Click here for a detailed explanation of non-instrument navigation.]
Next, the three navigators average their course and speed during the night. On the 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. watch, Hokule`a was beset with light fickle winds caused, they all think, by the fact that the canoe passed through a convergence zone between two highs. The sails slapped as the crew tried to find a way to make progress in the light air. Finally, Nainoa decided to close them to prevent chafing.
"I don't think we made any progress in that watch," Nainoa says, "but last night was a special time. It gave us all a moment to pause and enjoy this beautiful and special place--the calm seas, the power of the rising moon right at the edge of our earth. Although we weren't going anywhere physically, I think we were all traveling spiritually. Ben Tamura and Mel Paoa stayed up all night, so I know they felt it too. Last night we all enjoyed our special planet and the privilege we have to live on it."
The canoe was not only stalled during the 6 to 10 watch but also during the others as well. When the three men add up their estimates of miles traveled during the night--factoring the effects of steering various courses as the fickle winds permitted, and the offset effect of wind and currents, they arrive at an estimate of only 6 miles of easting. But this progress was off set, they guess, by a westerly current so the net distance traveled E was only 3 miles. According to their calculations, the distance they must travel E to arrive at Rapa Nui is now 461 miles.
"So if this keeps up we will be in Rapa Nui in 80 days," says Shantell Ching, joking.
"Yeah, but factor in the currents, and you get 160 days," says Nainoa. For a moment, the group is silent. The exchange is meant as a joke but there is an edge of seriousness to it. "O.K. the next critical job is to get down S to the point we will begin our search," Nainoa says. "I estimate that we are about 260 miles W of our search point and 97 miles to the N of it. Soon we have got to transition from longitude changes to making latitude changes."
The men consider the problem, assessing the wind and their ability to steer to the S to move from their present latitude of 25 degrees 30 minutes S to 27 degrees 9 minutes S, the latitude of Rapa Nui.
"Bruce, let's try and turn down now," Nainoa says. "But check the speed please. We don't want to sacrifice speed for direction."
As Hokule`a turns from her easterly course to one-two houses to the S, heading now toward `Aina Malanai (ESE); Bruce watches the ocean flow past the canoe's hulls. 2 knots, he estimates.
"O.K., let's keep that heading," says Nainoa.
At about 7:00 a.m. local time Tava Taupu takes the tiller and begins steering a steady course to the right of the silver path made by the rising sun. Hokule`a moves deliberately toward her rendezvous with an invisible point in the ocean the place where she will begin the most difficult part of her journey--the search for a tiny speck of land in a vast sea.
Looking out over an ocean now speckled with sun glint, Nainoa says, "Last night was a turning point for me navigationally. Before, I was so focused on getting E that I did not have a clear picture of Rapa Nui. But now I can see the island in my mind. I'm not saying we'll find it--but that's the first step--to see it."
October 1: Reflections on Voyaging and Home Nainoa Thompson
"The winds did off and the sky was clear last night," Nainoa said. "We stopped the canoe and I guess from the perspective of the journey you could consider that to be frustrating - but in reality last night was very special. It was a moment during which we did not have to worry about navigating. About where we were going. About how fast we were going. We had time to just settle down and enjoy the world. When I tried to get the men on watch to go to sleep, they wouldn't. Ben Tamura said, "this is very important to my soul - to spend time out here during a night like this reduces the tension I feel in the other part of my life." Mel Paoa didn't go to bed all night. It seemed to me like he, too, was decompressing from the stress of the world that he normally lives in - that we all live in.
I began to think about that. I reflected back on the history of mankind. How many people have been to this particular spot in the South Pacific? Very few, I bet. When I think about my normal life in Hawaii, I see myself going around in a circle of freeways and highways. So much time spent on narrow cement and tar paths and so little in the special places in our mountains and seas, learning to find ways to appreciate them and love them and care for them. I thought, "We are out here being literally held up and support by this canoe in this place that very few people have ever visited," and that thought provoked powerful emotions.
Think about our technology - about the Hubble telescope and those on the top of Mauna Kea. They are looking at history through a time machine because it takes light so much time to travel through space. They are now looking at events that are a billion light years away - a billion light years back in time. And yet they have found no other planet that has life as we know it. I remember asking Lacy Veach, the astronaut from Hawai'i, "What is the next planet that we are going to visit?" He said, "Oh brother, we've got some severe physical problems to solve to get to the next planet. In the space shuttle it would take 200,000 years to get there and 200,000 years to get back."
And so, if we consider Hawaii to be a very small island within this ocean, Planet Earth is a small, small island surrounded by an ocean of space. Evenings like last night give you an idea of how lucky we are to be live. And yet, at the same token, considering how rapidly our population is growing, we have some very difficult choices to make in the next generation. Are we, or are we not, going to be caring stewards of our planet? If we don't care for it, the only place that we know can hold life as we know it will be destroyed.
Look at Pitcairn Island. Some might think of it as a place where people have nothing, a place where they would never be able to live. And yet, I can't remember in recent times when I have been in a community that seemed so civilized. Civilized! They cared for each other. They cared for us. They live with very little in a material sense but they seemed so rich. There was peace in their homes. The doors were never locked. It was a place without the kind of entertainment madness that we feel we have to have in our lives to be civilized.
I am sorry that we had to leave. I could have learned a lot from those people. They didn't know we were coming and they only had an hour to prepare, but what a beautiful meal thy gave us. They were only 42 people and we were 19 and yet they could have fed 100 people. They called everyone up on the VHF radio. It cost nothing to make the call. They took food from their gardens. it cost nothing. The whole set of values that are driven by our modern economic world didn't matter there. For me, it was a great relief to be without that economic pressure. It was just so peaceful - quietly peaceful - walking in their forests along dirt roads.
At the dinner they sang for us. It wasn't a performance, - it was an opportunity to be family together. The kids sang. The grandparents sang. And it was beautiful.
Because this voyage has enriched our lives so much there is an obligation on the part of everyone on the canoe to return to the special place where we live and to try to do something to help improve the lives of those care about. Ben Tamura, our doctor, put it so clearly when he said: "I was trained in Western medicine to treat disease, but being on this canoe and with this caring group of people, I recognized that the definition of health is much more than repairing broken bones or transplanting hearts - its about self worth, self-esteem, about how you feel about yourself. Now, when I look at a patient, I'm not just looking as someone with a physical problem - I'm looking at a human being - and I want to know how they feel emotionally and spiritually and to integrate that into the process of care-giving." That to me is one indication of how the canoe can help enrich a person's life and his ability to help the community in which he lives. That's a lesson we can take home with us.
You might think that I allow myself to think about issues other than navigation that it would be a distraction, but in reality I always think about home because this voyage is a stepping stone to returning home. How we share this voyage is important because it helps us shape those programs we want to develop at home.
Look at the people on the canoe. Look at Chad. He's not just a sailor - he's not just a navigator - he's passionate about this canoe and what it represents. Take the voyaging canoe and erase it from his life and tell me who is going to be left in that skeleton. Voyaging is who he is and voyaging is defined by his participation in it. People like Chad have to be with children in the program because that's how passion is transmitted. Look at Bruce. He's key to the success of our ocean education program. It's much more than his competence as an ocean person - it's his values.
Our challenge when we get home is to take the realizations and the values that we have learned on this voyage and others to help find a new vision for taking care of each other and for caring for the special place where we live and for enriching the lives of our people. It's about asking a key question of everyone in Hawaii." Why is Hawaii so special and how can we create ways so that everyone can participate in their own way to take care of these special quantities. Can we help educate our people, especially our children, to find a way to take responsibility for each other and for our planet because it's a wonderful thing to do - because it's full of aloha and we want to be that way - and because then Hawaii will be a better place. That's the goal of a program called Malama Hawaii that we are developing.
In February of 1995 a good friend of mine, Holly Henderson, came to me and said, "We have eighteen school children and we want to put together a visioning process so they can define their future." It was the same visioning process that we use to plan a voyage - where do we want to go, how do we prepare to get there.
So the kids came down to where Hawai'iloa was being built and we went into this shed. We sat down. The kids were very standoffish: they didn't want to talk. But we started to talk about a vision for Hawaii's future. I didn't have any answers but I had questions so I asked the kids:"How many of you are born and raised in Hawaii?" Seventeen out of the eighteen were born and raised in Hawaii. I said, "How many of you are going to stay and live here in Hawaii?" They kind of slowly raised their hands. They were shy. Seventeen of the kids raised their hands; they were going to stay in Hawaii. I asked the one girl who didn't raise her hand where she was going to live. "No. no," she said, "I am going to live in Hawaii but I am going to travel and see the world first." In the end, there was consensus -- all eighteen were going to live here.
So then I asked, "Why? Why would you pick this small little place - this small speck of land - when you have all these other choices? What makes this place so special?" And they answered - "the culture" - "family" - "it's a beautiful place" - and they had a whole laundry list of things that they all agreed on. Then I asked, "How many of you want to have children?" Now they were all participating. They all raised their hands. Then I asked, "Where do you want you children to live?" Without hesitation they all told me that they wanted their children to live in Hawaii. Then I asked, "Why?". And they told me they wanted all those things that were special about Hawaii for their future children. "How do you know," I asked, "that in twenty years that those things that you consider special are still going to be here?" At first they all raised their hands but when they really disgested the question every single one of them put their hands down. In the end, there was not a single hand up. No one could answer that question.
It was the most uncomfortable moment of silence that I can remember. We all sat there, looking at each other, without an answer to a fundamental question that seemed so powerfully important to the future of our children. That was the defining moment for me. I recognized that I have to participate in answering that question otherwise I am not taking responsibility for the place I love and the people I love. That was the genesis of Malama Hawaii, recognizing that we as a society have to hold caring as a high value otherwise it is not going to happen. We will take and not give back and we will end up destroying our islands - the most important part of our lives. We will do that because we are doing it to the planet right now. Hawaii's lifestyle - that we so much enjoy - is purchased somewhere else. What happens when there is no other place left to give us these things? I do not have the answers, but I know that I must participate in trying to find them. All of these thoughts came from being with those kids, from the very uncomfortable silence that we experienced.
The genesis of our new educational program which we call Malama Hawaii is recognizing that there are values that we must hold because they give life great meaning. The values of caring for each other and our planet, of sharing our wealth with each other, of taking responsibility for our actions because if we don't do that we will end up just taking instead of giving and we will destroy the island home we hold so dear.
Oct. 2, a.m.
Hokule'a continues to sail slowly to the east at about 2 knots. In the 24-hour period from 1 a.m., Oct. 1 to 1 a.m., Oct. 2, the canoe made about 51 miles east and 5 miles south on an 'Aina Malanai (ESE) heading (106 true). Winds are light westerlies, which are forecasted to go to light southerlies as a cold front slides by to the south of the canoe today and tomorrow. At 3:30 a.m., Hokule'a was about 327 miles from Rapa Nui. Navigator Nainoa Thompson says that latitude readings will start to get more difficult as the moon wanes past its last quarter (Oct. 1). The readings depend on measuring the height of stars above the horizon as they cross the meridian. As the moonlight diminishes and nights get darker, the horizon gets less distinct, the ocean surface less easy to distinguish from the night sky.
October 2, 1999, p.m.
During the evening Hokule'a coasts east under full sail, but the winds are light and variable, so the canoe makes little progress. Nainoa and the other navigators examine the sky at sunset. It is clear--the atmosphere carries no haze of salt, indiciating there is no wind. The circle of sky all around us is serene.
On the 6 p.m. watch , we steer for a time by holding two strong stars, Alpha and Beta Centauri, off the starboard quarter. Then Jupiter breaks the horizon ahead of us, and Scorpio spins behind us, her deadly sting high in the sky. The stars cascade overhead while the planets roll toward daylight but we remain within the dark stain of night, moving with painful deliberation, perhaps a mile and a half every hour toward Rapa Nui.
This morning the skies remain clear, the winds light. The ocean undulates toward us like a giant satin sheet. The sails slap. Hokule'a rolls gently. Nainoa paces. "We're in the middle of a high pressure area--descending air, no moisture, clear skies," he says. "We're not going to make much progress until things change."
In the bright mid-afternoon sunlight, the crew seeks pools of shade cast by the sails. The canoe's standing rigging flowers with laundry. "Get your washing done while you can," says Aaron Young. "I guarantee you this calm weather won't last." And sure enough at about three p.m., Hokule'a changes to a larger mizzen sail. The wind freshens out of the SE and we increase speed to 4 knots headed ENE.
October 3, 1999, a.m.
3:00 a.m. HST (12th day since departing Mangareva): Winds continue light out of the SE at 5-15 knots, from the direction of Rapa Nui. The canoe cannot head in that direction with the wind coming directly at it; the navigators have to choose between going south and going ENE and have decided to go ENE to gain miles to the east, even though this heading takes them a little to the north as well, seemingly away from Rapa Nui. The canoe can only go in the direction the wind allows it to go. It is traveling at 1-3 knots. At 3 a.m., Oct. 3, Hokule'a was about 40 miles farther to the east and 28 miles farther to the north than it was at 3 a.m., Oct. 2; it was 306 miles from Rapa Nui this morning at 3 a.m.; yesterday at 3 a.m., it was 327 miles from Rapa Nui..net gain of 21 miles over the 24-hour period. Light southeasterly trades are forecasted to continue for the next 36 hours.
October 3, 1999, p.m.
Report from Nainoa Thompson, via Sat Phone 2:30 p.m. HST: The southeasterly winds increased in speed to a solid 15 knots at dawn this morning, and the canoe traveled ENE at about 5 knots until early afternoon. Then the wind gradually shifted more easterly, forcing the canoe to head first Noio Ko'olau (NE by E), then Manu Ko'olau (NE), away from Rapa Nui. Navigator Thompson decided that they could not go any farther north, so the canoe changed its tack and headed due south at about 2 p.m. HST (4 p.m. canoe time). This tack will take the canoe down around 27 degrees 09 minutes S, where the crew will begin tacking east in a zigzag search pattern to find Rapa Nui. How confident is Nainoa of his latitude readings now that the moon is waning? "It's a real drag...any clouds on the horizon and it's impossible to see exactly where the horizon is...but I estimate we're at about 24° 45' S." It will take about a day to sail from this latitude down to 27° S (about 144 miles away), where the canoe will start tacking east in the easterly trades. At 7 a.m today, the canoe was at 24° 32' S, 114° 04' W...about 250 miles east of Rapa Nui
October 3, 1999, p.m.
Sure enough, just as Aaron predicted yesterday, the calm, sunny weather didn't last. Everyone on board is atuned to the music of the ocean rushing between the hulls so when it changed at dawn from a gentle symphony to rock and roll, we emerged from our pukas and helped take in the big jib and set a smaller one. The wind has piped up to 15 knots from the SE. Hokule'a sails into choppy seas, making five knots.
Yesterday evening Nainoa measured the altitude of seven latitude stars--Deneb, Aldebaran and Miaplacidus indicated a latitude of 25 degrees South; Caph and Shedir gave 26 degrees; and Ruchbah and Navi split the two at 25.5 degrees South.
"Bloody ugly," said Nainoa of the result, "but it makes sense. We've not only been moving east, but also north."
The navigators analyze the northerly component of the courses steered during the three watches between sunset and sunrise, arriving at a figure of about ten miles north. One nautical mile equals one minute of latiude, so they subtract ten minutes from the estimate at sunset. The problem is that to get to Rapa Nui at 27 degrees S, we want to be adding to, not substracting from, our latitude figure.
"Bloody ugly. We are moving east okay, but we are also going north. We have got to start getting south pretty soon," repeats Nainoa.
Here's the problem: Our calculated position places us 78 miles west of the beginning point of our search area, but also 119 miles to the north of it. To steer directly to the beginning point we would like to turn southeast, but that's the direction the wind is coming from. The best Hokulea can sail is sixty degrees off the wind, so if we tacks south, we would go west of south, which means going back toward Mangareva.
Nainoa decides on compromise--to continue on the NE heading for twelve hours, then turn south and sail down to 27 degrees S to begin the search pattern in a day or so. "As we get closer the need for accuracy increases. We've got to be on it, really on it," Nainoa tells the crew. "That has been true throughout the voyage, but it's even more important now. I want to begin our search as near as possible to that point we drew on our map 300 miles due west of Rapa Nui, at the latitude of 27 degrees 09 minutes S. So we've all got to focus really hard and steer the canoe really accurately and make good estimates of speed because our ability to know where we are depends on it."
During the morning the crew experiments with changing the ballast of the canoe by carefully trimming the sail and moving weight forward of the mizzen mast so that the canoe will sail as close to the wind as possible. Up front goes the captain box, most of the galley, the water jugs, the spare sails, and even the crew who now sit during our watches huddled in the shelter of the weather hull.
Hokule'a responds by taking a really efficient heading of about 60 degrees off the wind. The steering paddle is lifted out of the water and lashed down. The canoe now steers itself without need of guidance by human hands.
October 4, a.m.
Brief Conversation with the Canoe this Morning at 8:15 am HST: Winds were really light--0-5 knots out of the ESE. Skies were clear and sunny. 2:26 am: Hokule'a is on a southerly tack to get to 27° 09' S (the latitude of Rapa Nui), where it plans to begin tacking east in a zigzagging search pattern to find Rapa Nui. Over the last 12 hours, it traveled about 28 miles Haka Kona (S by W), averaging 2.4 knots in light southeasterly winds; at 2:26 am, the canoe was at 24° 48' S, 113° 49' W, and heading Na Leo Malanai (SSE). At its current average speed (2.4 knots), it will take the canoe two days to reach the latitude of Rapa Nui (141 miles to the south at 2:26 am). If the canoe sails straight south along 113° 49' W, when it reaches the latitude of Rapa Nui, it will be about 233 miles to the west of Rapa Nui, which is at 109° 27' W (262 minutes of longitude away; each minute of longitude at 27° S equals .89 mile.) Tacking 233 miles east in search of Rapa Nui in the light trade winds prevailing in the area could take a while.
Mel, Ben, Terry, and Tava folding up sail
October 4, p.m.
We tacked S yesterday and for a time were able to maintain 4 knots. During the 6 to 10 watch the wind backed slightly to the W. Nainoa got a glimpse of Vega which showed our heading to be Haka Kona (S by W.) By 9 p.m. the wind decreased. Between 9 and midnight Nainoa was able to see stars three times during breaks in the clouds which showed the canoe heading Na Leo Kona (SSW) at about 2 knots. By 1:30 the wind went flat until a little before dawn. "We weren't sailing," Bruce said, "we were just pointing the canoe. We didn't go anywhere." Between 4:30 and the end of the 2 to 6 watch the canoe once again was able to sail Haka Kona.
"I was counting tens, pretty consistently," Chad reports, "so we were going 2 knots pretty steadily." (The navigators estimate speed by counting off the number of seconds it takes a bubble to travel from the canoe's front `iako (crossbeam) to the stern, a distance of 42 feet. A bubble covering the distance in 10 seconds would travel 2 nautical miles in 1 hour.)
Averaging the various courses and speeds, Chad, Bruce and Nainoa conclude we have traveled only 27 miles from sunset to sunrise in a direction between Na Leo Kona and Haka Kona (S by w to SSW). Doing the trigonometry in his head, (using a series of distance factors he has memorized) Nainoa calculates the southerly distance made good to be 25 miles. If he is correct, our latitude should be 25 degrees 13minutes S.
"So we still have to go about 114 miles S to get to the latitude of Rapa Nui," Nainoa says. "We need a good latitude fix tonight; otherwise we won't know when to turn East."
Shortly after the sunrise navigator's meeting, the wind once again dies off completely. The sky is clear, the sun hot. "Get the paddles," Nainoa orders, and for a time the crew straddles the catwalk on each side of Hokule`a's hulls, keeping time with a Marquesan chant provided by Tava Taupu, while frothing the ocean with powerful strokes. Fortunately the wind picks up slightly and we move off again under sail, but slowly. Behind us Kamahele rises on the tops of heavy swells, then sinks, revealing just the top of her mast.
Interview with Nainoa Thompson Aboard Hokule'a, 10/4/99 by Tiare Lawrence
Aloha! This is Tiare Lawrence from Lahainaluna High School. I am a senior this year. I've been truly blessed this past year. Ive had the greatest oppurtunity to crew train with Hokule'a. I attended most of the crew training sessions and sailed a couple interisland sails. I know the navigators and crew members personally and give thanks to them for asking me to join the navigation team. It is such a great pleasure to work with you. Let's make this team a living success and put smiles on each navigator, crew member, as well as our advisors faces. We are all very fortunate to talk with the crew so let's make this the best that we can. Last night I had the oppurtunity to talk with Nainoa Thompson. I used a personal format of questions I asked.
As of 10-4-99, 9:55pm
Currently the weather is great! The skies are 100% clear. No moon, only stars. And they see tons of [bioluminescent] plankton in the water.
WIND SPEED: As of 9:56 pm, wind is coming from 'Akau (N) very slowly. Hokele'a is moving approx. 3 nautical miles per hour. Winds are light approx. 8 mph.
I asked Nainoa if he could see any latitude indicators since the skies were clear...Since the skies were very clear he spotted four and is just waiting for one more to rise. The latitude indicators he was able to spot were the stars Alderamin, Phalf (Zeta Cephei, which follows Alderamin in Cepheus across northern meridian and precedes Cassiopeia?); the Constellation of Cassiopeia, with the stars Caph, Navi, Ruchbah, and Shedir. The navigators are waiting to spot Hanaiakamalama (Southern Cross). [Acrux, the bottom star in the Southern Cross, skims the horizon below the South Celestial Pole as it crosses the meridian at the latitude of Rapa Nui at about 11 p.m. at this time of the year. Seeing this star will give the navigators a precise clue that they are at the latitude of Rapa Nui.]
Now I'll go with the questions I asked.....
Based on your readings of the stars, what latitude are you at? 25.5 degrees latitude.
How are the conditions? -- Today was rough. It's been really hot since the winds died down. Very hot due to light easterly winds early today.
How is the health and well-being for the crew?-- TOP SHAPE!! there is zero illness!!
Are you tacking? Yes, we're tacking to the east heading for Aina Malanai (ESE), 2 houses south of east.
What's your strategy? We plan to hold this direction for now, we feel winds are not definite, they feel their closer to Rapa Nui. We estimate that Rapa Nui is to the east and south of Hokule'a. We plan to sail as far as we can with the wind they have now before it changes.
What are you eating? Reel in any big ones? "We caught 2 mahimahi going to Pitcairn, and since the departure from Pitcairn we caught 2 more mahimahi. The crew has spotted lots of aku but are unable to catch them because Hokule'a is moving too slow."
For ocean awareness reasons, have you seen any litter? No, but we did spot lots of buoys bopping around.
How do you feel about this sail? "PRICELESS! I feel like the LUCKIEST man on earth!!"
2:16 a.m.: The fifth day of slow going, about 2 knots, or 48 miles a day. Hokule'a has found the light westerly winds south of the axis of the ridge of high pressure that sits over the area, and has turned due east, toward Rapa Nui. At 2:16 a.m., Hokule'a is 248 miles from Rapa Nui...about the distance from Kaua'i to Hawai'i. Winds are forecasted to remain light and variable, perhaps becoming southerly and a little stronger as a center of high pressure to the west of the canoe moves east.
Steering in Light Winds
October 4th, A crystalline night, heading S. Bruce Blankenfeld stands behind steersman Mel Paoa.
"Coming up," he says, directing him to turn upwind.
Hokule`a glides over gentle swells. The canoe's deck, open to the skies, provides intimate contact with the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds and the wheeling constellations. We see dark smudges, places where the stars are not. These are wispy clouds--cumulus, probably.
"Right on Mel," Bruce says, checking his course against the stars.
Except for Bruce, no one speaks. There is only the sound of wind, of wave slap on hull and the rush of flame from the propane galley stove. Bruce leans against the lee rail, humming softly.
"Coming up Mel.... Come up more.... Right on."
Mel Paoa's watch cap bends back off his head. He pushes down on the steering paddle to bring Hoku into the wind, pulls up to go down. In silhouette against the sky one can imagine a Druid performing a strange ritual. Stonehenge. Mesa Verde. Anakena. Paoa's silent vigil over the slender paddle transcends time and culture.
"Right on Mel," Bruce says.
Our familiar evening friends are all back after an extended absence--but, relative to the canoe, they are at new addresses. The Scorpion resides off the starboard quarter, Jupiter and Saturn rise off the port bow and the Porpoise rides a froth of stars behind us.
At a sunset meeting, Nainoa told us: "We are getting close to the box. Steering a good course is now extremely critical because we will begin searching soon." The "box" he refers to is our search area to the W of Rapa Nui.
Steering well is also critical because the winds are light and we need to maximize our speed in them.
"The key in light winds is don't lose momentum," Nainoa tells us, "go up in the gusts but come off the wind right away when it dies. The canoe weighs 24,000 lbs. If you lose momentum you have to fall off a lot to get it back and then we are zigzagging. Keep her fast, but keep her on course."
So we tune our senses to the erratic rhythm of a light breeze from the SE. When the wind accelerates, we turn up. When it fails we turn down. Bruce and Chad, standing port and starboard watches--4 hours on and 4 off--guide us.
"Steer up.... Come up more.... Right on."
Each steersman strains to feel the breeze's gentle stroke on his face, seeking an elusive harmony of human pressure on steering paddle and the natural forces of wind and ocean. We listen to the sharp lap of waves on the canoe's stern and the wash of ocean between her hulls for clues to speed. A puff of breeze--steer up. A slackening of wake sound--turn down.
"Come up, Mel," says Bruce. "Right on."
At sunrise, Hokule`a's jib arcs across a clear dome of sky. Ragged Cumulus clouds crenellate the horizon, where--through a slim crevice--the sun ascends directly between the canoe's twin manus. For a moment, we all imagined an island there. Perhaps soon.
During the evening Nainoa, Chad and Bruce obtained clear star sights. Averaging them, they calculate our latitude.
"We're getting close," Chad says.
"I think we're only about one state of Hawai`i away," says Nainoa, "the distance from Ni`ihau to Cape Kumukahi. If we steer this course and speed for the next 30 hours we will be in the box. That's when the hunt will really begin."
So we continue on in the rising heat of our 14th day at sea. The watches change in an orderly rhythm of 4-hour stints. The sun slants higher, crosses over our mast, then begins its descent. Bruce, leaning against the rail, continues to guide us toward our rendezvous with "the box."
"Come down," he says. "A little more....Right on."
We are in the box!
During the 6 to 10 watch the sky once again clouded over substantially, making navigation difficult. We are sailing beneath a trough formed by a dissipating low and a front between two high pressure systems which threatens to bring in unpredictable winds and heavy clouds for a while. During the night, the navigators obtained imprecise observations of a few stars. Even so Nainoa determines we have entered the W corner of our search box, about 280 miles W of Rapa Nui. "We have got to get S to the latitude of Rapa Nui (27 degrees 9 minutes S) as soon as we can and then take stock of the situation to set up a search pattern," Nainoa says at the evening navigation meeting. During the 6 to 10 watch Nainoa and Chad were able to sight Alderamin and obtain a rough latitude of 26 degrees S, but this estimate, because of clouds and the lack of a moon to illuminate the horizon, was uncertain.
After midnight, the winds died down and Hokule`a hove to until just before dawn when a frontal passage brought strong 25-30 knot winds from the SW, switching to the SSE. The crew lowered the mizzen mast, removed the large light wind sail, and tied on a smaller one, also changing the jib. Shrouds and stays were tightened up in anticipation of continuing heavy winds.
For a time, the canoe lay hove to in heavy rain and gusting winds with everyone on deck and dressed in full heavy weather gear.
In the early afternoon we once again raised all sail and set our course S by SE into a chill wind under a low cover of clouds which appeared to be lifting
Oct. 6 (15th day since departing Mangareva), 2:04 a.m.: No winds from midnight till dawn; then strong winds, so the canoe didn't sail.183 miles from Rapa Nui..no movement from 8 p.m. HST to 2 a.m. HST.(12 midnight to 6 a.m. Rapa Nui time.)
Oct. 6, 5:02 a.m.: Hokule'a moving on a new tack, to Nalani Ko'olau (NE by N). The canoe is 174 miles from Rapa Nui, traveling at 4 knots.
Oct. 7 (16th day since departing Mangareva): 0:13 a.m.--Hokule'a has changed tack again, to 'Aina Malanai (ESE 117 true). The canoe is 136 miles from Rapa Nui, traveling at 2 knots and about 50 miles closer to Rapa Nui after the last 24 hours of tacking.
Oct. 7 : 6:20 a.m.--Just 112 miles from Rapa Nui...the canoe could sail past the island by tomorrow mid-morning, at its current speed of 4 knots. Will the canoe sail by close enough and will the weather be clear enough for the crew to see the island?
"Sweep!" With this command from the watch captain, four beefy sailors jump to put the steering sweep into the ocean to bring Hokulea off the wind. We have been sailing in choppy seas under a completely occluded sky dome for hours. At times, the rain slants hard across the decks. Rivulets cascade off the sails which have been trimmed so Hokule`a can mostly steer herself. But in gusts, she tends to swing up into the wind, her sails luffing as a warning to her attendant crew that she needs help.
"Sweep," comes the command from the navigator. We jump to the paddle and struggle, even though there are 4 of us, to help our canoe regain her course.
We are now living in our heavy weather gear--working, eating and sleeping fully tented in glassy yellow Patagonia slickers--long jackets and pants with bibs like a farmer or carpenter might wear--only these pants are made of high-tech material that sheds water, provides insulation, and breathes allowing our sweat to trickle off our bodies in hot weather.
Bruce and Shantell in foul weather gear
The weather during this particular evening is far from hot however. A chilled 25-knot wind blows over our Port bow. Amazingly, Hokule'a seems to be enjoying herself. She rides easily over the swells and slices through the chops, directing the flow of wake cleanly between her hulls. Rarely do we take seas aboard and when we do the canoe shakes herself slightly to clear her decks. These are the times when Hokule'a seems most alive--responding to the forces of nature as she was designed to, a heritage of literally thousands of years of seafaring and a testament to the knowledge of both our ancestors and the three men--Tommy Holmes, Ben Finney and Herb Kane--who first gave life to her.
During the evening of Oct. 6th and the early morning of the 7th we continue to strike south, tacking occasionally to take advantage of wind shifts, hoping the sky may provide a glimpse of our guiding stars. This does not happen. Our navigators guide us south to our rendezvous with an invisible abstraction that geographers have used for centuries to divide the earth--latitude, in this case 27 degrees 9 minutes S--with only the swells to provide direction.
After our watch is over, we seek shelter in the canvas half tents that are drawn taut along Hokule'a's flanks. Each of us is allotted a space about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide under a sloping canvas roof. On this night the roof bleeds moisture. Brackish droplets, a mixture of salt spray and rainwater, splatter intermittently on our bunks. We slither into our berths, still carapaced in our foul weather gear and try to sleep, grateful for the respite from the cold wind and the cry of "Sweep!" "Bring her down!" "Sweep!"
But one of us almost never goes below. Nainoa spends his time on deck in all weather, mostly awake, always alert to the wind, stars and swells. He catnaps in bad weather like this, a sprawled lump of yellow pants and slicker, his hood pulled tight over his head, for maybe 15 minutes at a time. The rest of us sleep at least 6 hours a day and often more, yet we still are fatigued. When asked how he does it, Nainoa replies: "I don't know. Actually, when I'm at sea I cannot sleep for long. It's just the way it is."
The wind remains somewhat unpredictable--slacking to dead calm a few hours, then picking up in a different direction. This is, of course, the classic navigator's nightmare--cloudy skies and fluky winds. At 6 a.m., Bruce, Chad and Nainoa predict that we are 28 miles N of the latitude of Rapa Nui and 217 miles W of the island. But we have sailed a zigzag course for the last few days, which makes dead reckoning difficult. Under the best of conditions, error accumulates when navigating by stars and waves--and, for the last few days the conditions have been far from the best.
Thursday, Oct. 7 (16th day since departing Mangareva): 12:41 p.m.--Just 87 miles from Rapa Nui...the canoe could sail past the island by tomorrow before noon, at its current speed of 4 knots. Will the canoe sail by close enough and will the weather be clear enough for the crew to see the island? On its heading of Manu Malanai (SE, 132 true) as of 12:41 p.m., the canoe would probably miss the island, which is almost due east of it. However, according to student navigator Tiare Lawrence, who spoke with Nainoa Thompson at 10 a.m. this morning, he is planning to tack north this afternoon. The canoe is tacking south and north in search of Rapa Nui. The weather this morning was 100% overcast; couldn't even see the sun... (Navigators' estimated position at 6 a.m.: 217 miles west of Rapa Nui; 28 miles N of the latitude of Rapa Nui. Actual position at 6:20 a.m.: 107 miles west of Rapa Nui; 34 miles N of the latitude of Rapa Nui.
Thursday, Oct. 7 (17th day since departing Mangareva): 7:28 p.m.--Just 55 miles from Rapa Nui...the canoe could sail within sight range of the island by tomorrow at sunrise, at its current speed of 5 knots and its current heading of Hikina (E, 90 true, according to the tracking map; see below)--toward the rising sun. Will the canoe continue on its current heading, or will it tack? Will the weather be clear enough for the crew to see the island or not? According to navigator Baybayan, the weather is still overcast with steady 15-18 knots winds. (What exactly is the heading? Chad says the canoe is heading Manu Ko'olau [NE] at 7:30 p.m.; the tracking map says 90 true or due East.)
Friday, Oct. 8 (17th day since departing Mangareva): LANDFALL! Just before dawn on the morning of October 8, 1999, crew member Max Yarawamai, standing lookout with navigator Bruce Blankenfeld at the bow of Hokule'a, saw a flat black line on the horizon.
Max points out Rapa Nui to crewmember Aaron Young. Photo by Sam Low
They called navigators Nainoa Thompson and Chad Baybayan from the back of the canoe and all discussed if what they were seeing was an island or a cloud...as they kept looking and talking about it, they determined the flat line was Rapa Nui...the top of Mt. Terevaka (1674 ft.) hidden by clouds.
"Garlic Eggs for Breakfast!" Says Terry Hee, carrying the last 2 dozen eggs past a group of smiling crew members lining the rail. Terry had planned to ration the eggs for another day at least, but now there is no reason. We have seen land--and the land is definitely Rapa Nui!
Yesterday at sunrise we set our course SSE, beginning the first real leg of our zigzag search pattern. Nainoa intended to tack back N at sunset but the wind curved NE making that impossible. So instead of tacking, he decided to follow the wind around and steer ESE. This was a risky strategy. Although the Navigator's dead reckoning placed us well W of Rapa Nui, what if they were wrong and we were S of it or even to the E? We would sail by the island in the night.
To make matters worse, we had not seen the stars for two nights and our latitude was therefore based on dead reckoning from star sights that were 48 hours old. And without either sun or stars to steer by, the navigators had been relying on an unexpected blessing--a steady swell from the SW. But had the swell changed direction?
"This wind is a gift to us to go E," Nainoa explained to us last night. "So I say let's go. It's scary, but it's exciting. If our dead reckoning is good, and I think it is, we should take the chance."
Last night and on into the morning the winds continued to blow strong from the NE and Hokule`a responded by speeding ESE--6 to 7 knots at times--slicing through the waves, producing long tendrils of spray from her bow.
Near dawn, Max Yarawamai spotted two holes in the clouds ahead low on the horizon. Born and raised on the low Micronesian atoll of Ulipi, Max's ability to see islands at great distance is almost legend aboard Hokule`a.
"I looked carefully at the two holes on the horizon," Max explained later, "Checking first the one on the starboard side. I saw nothing there so I switched to the puka on the port. I saw a hard flat surface there and I watched it carefully. Was it an island? The shape didn't change! It was an island alright. We had found the dot on the ocean."
"I didn't expect to see the island this soon," Nainoa told us later. "But we knew it was near. We were following the wind around--steering more E as time went by--and the wind drew us to the island. That's a fact--you make of it what you want. In the end all we did was follow the wind, Hokule`a found the land."
Hokule`a is now tacking toward Rapa Nui which is about 25 miles away, but upwind, so it is uncertain whether she will make landfall late this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.
Friday - October 8 - Last day at Sea
When it became obvious that we did not have enough time to tack against the wind to reach the anchorage at Hanga Roa before nightfall, I think that we were all relieved - happy to have one more evening at sea. And what an evening! The wind was warm and gentle. The sky, once having cleared by mid-day, remained clear into the night. The lights of Hanga Roa glistened on the eastern horizon. We sailed along the coast of Rapa Nui, some distance off, until the watch change at ten PM when we tacked toward the island - a dark smudge on the horizon against a glittering curtain of stars.
The 6-10 watch lingered on deck, enjoying the last few moments of comradeship with each other and with our canoe. We watched Jupiter and Saturn rise over the island to starboard and to port the Pleades and their guardian, Taurus. We did not speak - yet our presence together on Hokule'a's heaving deck expressed more deeply then words the bond that has been made in the last seventeen days at sea.
Our view of Rapa Nui between Hokule'a's twin manus must have been the same - except for the lights of the town - that the crew of a similar canoe beheld many centuries earlier. Their exact Homeland is lost in time but legends tell of a great king - Hotu Matua - who settled this island. He must have heard what we hear - the soft lap of waves on twin hulls, the rush of wind over sails, the murmur of sailors as they sit shoulder to shoulder waiting for the first scent of land to reach them. Hotu Matua may have looked forward to landfall with more anticipation than we do, however. Our feelings are mixed. We are proud of our accomplishment and eager to explore the island and then to return home to our families. Yet there is also an edge of sadness. This voyage is ending - the adventure is almost over. For a short time we have been privileged to share a tiny world with each other Surrounded by an immense sea and forced to turn inward, we have discovered a harmony within ourselves and with the natural world that the rush of daily life on land isolates us from. It has been rare gift.
In the morning, when the 6-10 watch takes the deck, wisps of cloud surge from Rano Kau, the volcanic caldera that rises to the south of Hanga Roa. Motu Kau Kau is a knife thrusting from the sea - a slash of sunlight behind it. Mist spills off dark cliffs. The ocean is the color of gunmetal. A towering mountain of torn cumulus stalls over Motu Nui. In the saddle between Rano Kau and Maunga Tere Vaka, the island's tallest mountain, we see Hanga Roa. Ivory breakers rim the seam between ocean and cold black cliffs.
Shantell Ching collects passports as the rest of us methodically strip Hokule'a's decks of bagged sails, boxes of food, cooking utensils and personal gear - stowing them below - making the canoe ready for port. Kama Hele swarms with sailors garbed in red slickers doing the same tasks.
Landfall is imminent. Much too soon the sea borne routine of work and caring for each other will be broken. It is a sad thought - one that we gratefully put aside - concentrating instead on the details of readying our canoe for port.
Ko Ko Koa Tahi a te Taina...The Brothers are Happy...
HOKULE'A ARRIVED IN RAPA NUI--A touching encounter with a gone past, which is still alive. The crew landed at about 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 9
By Juan P. Soler, Gazette Te Rapa Nui
Off the coast of Tahai, at 7: 00 AM (Saturday, October 9), the gazette "Te Rapa Nui" < www.rapanui.co.cl > observed Hokule'a advancing from the west to the Island which was still slept, as it was not clear if the canoe would arrive that morning or not. At 8:30 AM, the slender double canoe with reddish sails stopped its movement, just in front of the small harbor of Hanga Piko. Chilean Navy officers went aboard to legalize its entrance to the National Territory. Marcos Rapu, a well known Rapanui artist, went up aboard too. As minutes passed by, many islanders arrived in the port area. One of the Huke Atan brothers lit a fire in the coast, saluting the canoe in the traditional way. Others did the same thing next to the Moai of that place. But, unforeseen, the canoe was towed to the north, to the neigbour bay of Hanga Roa. The sea conditions of the wind and sea waves, advised to wait before crossing the strait and risky access channel to the protected waters of Hanga Piko. Over there, artists from Matato'a and Hotu Iti chanted and danced unceasingly. Also,there were some Rapa Nui Tupana representatives (elders): Kiko Pate, Juan Chávez, Analola Tuki, among others, and HawaiianTupunas who had arrived in previous days via Lan Chile (airlines).
When it seemed that the Hokule'a would remain anchored at Hanga Roa bay, suddenly she began a quick movement back toward Hanga Piko, towed by the escort boat Kama Hele. The sound of seashells blown by strong lungs and the touching palpitation of some 300 islanders that still remained in the place received the double-hulled canoe that went in with decision through the channel of access, guided by an islander's fishing boat. The songs that had not ceased all morning acquired a thin melancholy tone from hearts that meet a remote past, which is still alive.
While the Hokule'a was being tied up to land, a crew member dressed in old Hawaiian style, greeted the island with the whole power of his voice, in ancestral language. Juan Chávez answered smoothly, while a young Rapanui woman threw flowers petals to the canoe. Mayor Pedro Edmunds headed the greetings of welcome, with Sol P. Kaho'ohalahala, member of Hawai'i State House of Representatives, and J. Kalani English, a council member of county of Maui. Once on land, crew members were hugged by deeply moved islanders. Some couldn't contain themselves, and tears flowed at the gathering and fraternal bonding with sailors of Polynesian ancestors arriving on the Island for the first time in modern times--just like legendary king Hotu Matua did some 1500 years ago. Finally, there was a brief traditional ceremony, in which a "Curanto" was ate and shared for the God blessing... Ko Ko Koa Tahi a te Taina...
Thought on Finding Rapanui /10/08/99 a.m.
At about ten AM local time, a few hours after having first seen Rapa Nui ahead off our port bow, Nainoa called us all aft to share some thoughts about the voyage.
Nainoa: The voyage is pau and this gives me almost an empty feeling. But everyone should be proud of this accomplishment. We have traveled to the last corner of the Polynesian triangle and that achievement is not just ours - it belongs to everyone who has donated a portion of the millions of man hours spent taking care of the canoe over the almost 25 years since her creation.
We worked hard to prepare for this voyage but it was not just academic preparation and physical training that got us here. It was my plan to continue sailing southeast and tack back northeast at sunset - but the wind shifted northeast and if we tacked we would have been going back the way we had come. So instead I decided to follow the wind around and in the morning the island was off our port bow. The wind brought the canoe here. It's about mana. Hokule'a has latent, quiet, sleeping mana when she is tied up at the pier in Honolulu. But when the canoe is sailed by people with deep values and serious intent the mana comes alive - she takes us to our destination.
The mana is inside all of us. It's tied to our ancestry and our heritage. Sometime, in the press of daily life, we neglect it. But when we come aboard this canoe and commit our spirits and souls and lives to a voyage like this one, I think we all feel it. I know I do. This is a very privileged moment for all of us - we have stepped inside that realization of mana on this voyage.
When we go back to our special island home, we need to remember this moment. Mana comes from caring and commitment and values. We malama our canoe and she takes care of us. When we return to Hawaii we need to remember to malama our islands just as we do this canoe. We need to commit ourselves to the values that give life meaning. This canoe is so special - and our island home is also very special - if we learn to care for our land and our ocean they will also take care of us.
Bruce: A lot of things have happened on this voyage that gave me chicken skin. The port hull of the canoe is the wahine hull and the starboard hull is the kane hull. The symbolism is that the male and the female forces give us life. The symbolism is that they also balance each other - they help each other survive in the ocean.
The mana in this canoe comes from all the people in the past who have sailed aboard Hokule'a and cared for her. I think of the literally thousands of people who have come down and given to the canoe when she was in dry dock. I think of Bruno Schmidt in Mangareva who showed up with his truck every morning to take us wherever we needed to go. I think of the people in Tautira and Aotearoa and the Marquesas who did the same. The list is endless. All of this malama - this caring - adds to the mana of the canoe. It is intangible but it is alive and well. We can all feel it. I just want to acknowledge it.
In this crew we have shown a nice respectful balance. We have shown that we all know how to work hard and how to treat each other well and that was one of the most memorable parts of the voyage for me. The work ethic among this crew was fabulous. There was not one negative word. This kind of caring for each other is part of the on-going rediscovery of what voyaging is all about.
Chad: What made this voyage so special for me was that I felt so comfortable because I knew I was among people who had earned their spot on the crew. You guys are my heroes because you all showed such a dedicated professionalism. I am proud to have sailed with you. Now we have another special journey ahead of us - to return the canoe home to our own special part of the Polynesian triangle and by doing that we honor not only our ancestors but all those people at home who have supported us at home.
October 11, 1999, Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui
Since arriving in Rapa Nui on Saturday, the crew has been largely engaged in cleaning Hokule'a and her gear in preparation for the fourth stage of her voyage - the one to Tahiti. Our headquarters is in the bed and breakfast of Jorge and Anna Edwards, in the main town of Hanga Roa, overlooking the ocean. During our first day on the island we were entertained by Mahina Rapu's family, who cooked chicken, fish and huge slabs of pork over an open fire in their yard. After a steady diet of saimin and canned food for eighteen days, the crew dug in and consumed everything offered with great gusto. Following dinner we were hosted to an exhibition of traditional dancing and singing at Hotel Hanga Roa followed by dinner. Some of us went back to the B and B for much needed moe moe (sleep) while others found a disco where they danced until it closed shortly before dawn.
The Crews of Hokule'a and Kama Hele on Rapa Nui. Front Row: Sonny Ahuna, Kealoha Hoe, Tava Taupu, Aaron Young, Max Yarawamai, Tim Gilliom; Middle Row: Dr. Ben Tamura, Bob Krauss (Honolulu Advertiser); Back Row: ?, Shantell Ching, Mike Tongg, Navigator Chad Baybayan, Mel Paoa, Sam Low, Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld, Makanani Attwood, Navigator Nainoa Thompson, Kamaki Worthington.
Sunday was a full work day for all hands. We off loaded almost everything from the canoe--heavy weather gear, food, galley utensils, safety harnesses, water bottles, coolers, life preservers, tools, personal gear--and took them to headquarters for inventory and cleaning. One contingent stayed aboard Hokule'a swabbing decks, cleaning out the holds and sleeping pukas (holes), making lists of needed repairs and generally preparing the vessel for sea once more. At base camp Max took on the onerous task of washing everyone's clothes and eighteen sets of foul weather gear. Shantell inventoried every piece of gear right down to knives and forks; Doc, Sam, Nalani Wilson (who crewed on the second leg and flew to Rapa Nui a week ago) and Sonny washed out water bottles, coolers and miscellaneous other equipment; Terry, Mike, Mel, Tava, Kealoha, Aaron, Chad, and Bruce worked aboard Hokule'a readying her for sea, her next journey to Tahiti scheduled for early November. Nainoa worked on our future schedule including plans for cultural exchange with the people of Rapa Nui, and Maka worked aboard Kama Hele with Alex to clean the ship and help make her ready for sea. After work - Bruce, Mike and Nainoa paddled with a crew from the local canoe club. In the evening, Tava and Kealoha built a huge fire and we barbecued steak and chicken for our second feast in as many consecutive days.
Monday was another day of work filled with similar activities. Sam went to the home of Carlos Sierra Barra, a local graphic artist and TV producer, to establish contact with home base in Honolulu via the internet and make arrangements for sending photographs back home, a process which was interrupted when we lost our satellite connection a few days out of Pitcairn. Hopefully, within a day or two, daily reports will be flowing once again....
From everyone here we send our special aloha to family and friends back home and especially to those who donated so much of their time to make this voyage possible.
Hokule'a was formally welcomed at a ceremony at Anakena on the north side of Rapa Nui on October 19, 1999. A triangular stone platform representing the Polynesian Triangle was built above the beach at Anakena by Carlos Hucke. Anakena is the landing site of Hotu Matua, the founder of Rapa Nui.
Stones from Hawa'i were placed at the northern corner of the platform. Stones were brought from Niu Valley, O'ahu, by Pinky Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society; Kipahulu, Maui, by Sol Kaho'ohalahala representing Maui County; Pu'ukohola Heiau on the Big Island; Le'ahi, O'ahu, by Kumu John Lake's Hula Halau; Kawainui Marsh, O'ahu, by Chuck Burroughs of the Hui Lama Club of Kamehameha Schools and the Kawainui Marsh Foundation, which is restoring cultural sites at the Marsh; a stone was also placed by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.
Holoua Stender and Kamehameha Schools students place pohaku (stones) from Hawaii during an Oct. 19, 1999 ceremony honoring the arrival of the Hokule'a at Anakena, Rapa Nui. Photo by Monte Costa