The Marine Education Training Center (METC) is an off campus learning facility of Honolulu Community College. It’s a multipurpose building in the industrial area of Sand Island that sits on the western edge of Honolulu Harbor leading out to the Pacific Ocean. Honolulu Community College uses the METC building to instruct students on modern and traditional marine education from boat construction, map reading, weather study, navigation and sailing. It’s also the home to Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoes, which are both used for students to learn about traditional navigation. For the past three years, the canoes have been preparing for their Worldwide Voyage, which involves both canoes sailing across Earth’s oceans to grow the global movement toward a more sustainable future. The voyage will span nearly four years, travel over 47,000 nautical miles and visit 85 ports in 26 different countries. Both canoes have no carbon footprint and will visit ports to exchange ideas and cultural knowledge to improve the care of our Island Earth.
On May 17th, 2014 Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia culminated their preparations with a launch from METC on O’ahu to Hilo, and departed from Hilo to Tahiti on May 30th, 2014 to officially launch the Worldwide Voyage. Over 1,000 people showed up to METC to see the two wa’a (canoes) off, say their goodbyes and give their best wishes to the crew. There was chanting by crew members and Hawaiian community leaders, multiple hula halau’s performed with each telling a different aspect of the voyage and music performed by Makana, Snowbird Bento, Paula Fuga and more. Ocean Elders Jackson Browne, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Captain Don Walsh and Jean-Michel Cousteau came to congratulate fellow Elder Nainoa Thompson and crew on this historic event. As it came closer to launch, each crew member was surrounded by their family to say goodbyes and well-wishes in an emotional mix of excitement, pride and focus. At time of launch, everybody in the crowd, over 1,000 plus crew members joined hands and sang “Hawai’i Aloha” together led by Melveen Leed. The two wa’a then pushed off of METC and were escorted out of Honolulu Harbor by over 60 outrigger canoes paddling along side them out past the harbor entrance, out past the Honolulu skyline, out past Diamond Head and out to the rest of the World.
“When we started the Polynesian Voyaging Society in the early 1970’s,” said Polynesian Voyaging Society President and Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson, “The Hawaiian language was a whisper, now, and I say this with all humility, the World needs help and needs to listen to the Hawaiian voice. Sustainability and caring for Island Earth is in the traditions of Hawaiian ancestors for the World to use.”