February 26, 2017
We’ve been sailing for nearly three years on the international portion of the worldwide voyage. It’s hard to believe that there are only a handful of legs left before our canoe returns home. The Malama Houna movement has become something that has touched some of the farthest shores that some of us could not have even imagined when we set out of Hilo on the Big Island in May of 2014. Even in the face all of the metrics that we collect about the “movement” that this voyage has helped to bring to life I would argue that some of the biggest growth and impact has actually occurred right here, on the deck of a sailing canoe, as she has traversed all these miles across the face of the planet. This navigation team for this leg is an example of that growth and growing up that we have seen. All of them were on the fist leg to Tahiti in 2014 as apprentice navigators, and now, together, they are sailing this canoe without their teacher looking for the most isolated Island on the planet. I don't think that this was the way it was planned at which they were to step into the lead navigation role but it rarely every goes the way as planned when leadership development is in full swing.
If you listen to the early interviews we did with these individuals back in 2013 and early 2014 you wouldn't even recognize them as the same people who have grown up to be on this voyage. The people we have on board today are poised, confident, and unabashed by the complexity and difficulty of the task they have chosen to take up. And in the opinion of someone who has been watching this process intently for a few years now, they are finally ready to learn. Yes, they have all had to learn tremendous amount “stuff” to get to the deck of the canoe. But now that they are here they have all the pieces of this “stuff” to put it into practice and internalize the process of way finding unto themselves.
All that was left was to turn the deck of the canoe in to a classroom with the next set of lessons being the unending horizon that surrounds us. And over the course of the last 17 days and almost 2000 miles they were tested. The simple act of staying awake becomes a monumental test when having to stay awake and track direction and speed and distance. The patience part about this test was probably the one of the hardest. With nerves of steel they searched the horizon for three days, looking for the reef and then Rapa Nui, waiting for something to reveal itself.
And so the all elusive and isolated Rapa Nui revealed itself yesterday at about 4 pm. When we checked the range we say that we were 43 miles out when they finally sighted the island. Some hugged, some just sat in a state of almost disbelief, while one other capped off 42 years of sailing this canoe, finally closing the triangle. All elusive indeed. And that became the last lesson of this experience. I would argue that without the Birds and swell and clouds as clues we would have never found this place. Trusting your naʻau as it turns out is every bit as important as the math and observation and science behind all of this.
This will be my last “regular” update for this voyage. There are a couple more blogs that I want to get out while in Rapa Nui but this is the last one from the deck of this canoe for a while. Before I go I would like everyone who reads this to congratulate the crew who just stared impossible in the face and conquered it. But also a special acknowledgement for those who took up the task of the navigation; Lehua Kamalu, Haunani Kane, Jason Patterson and Noe Kamalu- I can’t wait to see what they do next.
From the deck of the Mama canoe, Hōkūleʻa,
Me ka haʻahaʻa
Naʻalehu for the leg 28 crew