Keani Reiner (1952-1994)

Glen Schot

Photo Courtesy of Glen Schot.

Gayle Keani Reiner was born in Honolulu on March 20, 1952, of Blackfoot Indian and German ancestry. She grew up within view of Diamond Head a short walk from "Tong's" which became her favorite surf spot. At seven she sailed her own catamaran which her father had built. She graduated from Punahou School and was a member of the Outrigger Canoe Club.

After exploring California and the Rocky Mountains during the 60's she returned to Hawaii and settled on the island of Kauai in 1975. Her imagination was captured by friends who had begun planning an historic voyage to reenact the great Polynesian voyage of discovery from Tahiti to Hawaii. She became involve in the planning and construction of the Hokule'a, and traveled back and forth to Honolulu to assist in the project.

Keani Steering Hokule‘a. Photo Courtesy of Glen Schot.

Unfortunately, no women were chosen for the first voyage of the Hokule'a from Hawaii to Tahiti. She wrote in her log:

Preparation for departure from Maui was rich in spirit, headed by the powerful and deep Sam Ka‘ai. Our participation in the Kava ceremony will be a long cherished memory. All the love and dedication directed to our canoe is shared not only by her crew, but all Hawaii. At 2:25 PM, after 3 years in the making, Hokule'a and her crew of 15 left Honolua Bay for Tahiti. Everyone seemed anxious to go. In spite of my sadness of missing them, I shared their excitement. Penny and I sailed behind on the "Mo'olele". Our final aloha from the water and thru the wind seemed perfect...

Keani flew to Tahiti to meet Hokule'a and was chosen as one of two women for the crew to sail Hokule'a from Tahiti to Hawaii. A ten-minute video based on Keani’s journal from the voyage, Hawai‘i to Tahiti in 1976, is posted at YouTube:

Keani Reiner 1976, posted by sapsuckingseaslug.

Keani returned to the South Pacific aboard the yacht "Aventura" exploring many remote archipelagos. Always married to the Sea, she became a certified captain. She was a member of the first all girl crew to complete the "Na Holo Kai" sailing canoe race from Oahu to Kauai in 1990.

Keani welcomed everyone with a smile into her world, an oceanic playground, far from cares and worries, full of beauty. Even cancer could not destroy her spirit, though after an 8 year battle she had to pass on in 1994 at the age of 42. She was survived by her son Kepa. "There is really nothing I would like to change, but many things I would like to do again... I've had a great life and I'm looking forward to another voyage."

"Keani" translates to: "soft breeze with a gentle fragrance."