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huahine ~ the Hōkūleʻa

Posted by on October 28, 2015

July 16 – 17, 2014

We had not planned to stay in Fare for the first 14 days that we did, but in addition to all of the Heiva festivities, we learned that the Hōkūle’a, a Polynesian voyaging canoe whose crew only navigates by the stars and the waves, was expected to arrive soon. The leg sailed from Hawai’i to French Polynesia was the beginning of her worldwide voyage, as well as her first voyage since 1999 when she had sailed to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The people of Huahine were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Hōkūleʻa, along with her sister ship, Hikianalia, and they were ready to celebrate the momentous occasion.

arrival of

Faafaite’s masts were the first to appear on the horizon

On Wednesday, July 16th, voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia, and Faafaite graced Huahini with their presence. We may have been the first to notice the set of double masts on the horizon. We peered through our binoculars and radioed s/v Liward for verification. At the same time, a local who had been pulling a bunch of kids on boogie boards behind his motor boat noticed our commotion. He stopped to ask us if it was the Hōkūleʻa we saw. When we told him we thought it was the Hōkūleʻa, all the kids cheered. Immediately, the little motor boat zoomed throughout the anchorage with the children voices shouting, “The Hōkūleʻa’s coming!! The Hōkūleʻa’s coming!!” The moment touched our hearts.

conch horn blowing

the sound of a conch horn announcing the arrival of the Hokule’a

Within minutes, people began to collect on the beach and docks. A conch horn began blowing from the shore. The news of the Hōkūleʻa’s arrival spread like wild fire. We contributed to the announcement with the sound of our own conch horn. Some people took to the water to greet the arriving canoes.

Faafaite, a voyaging canoe of French Polynesia, was the first canoe to arrive. As she got closer, we realized that it was not the Hōkūleʻa, but the air was still filled with excitement.





getting ready to greet the Hokulea

getting ready to greet the Faafaite


s/v Liward dinghy following Faafaite


Hokule’a’s approach to Huahine








The dark red canvas sails of the Hōkūleʻa were a sight to behold on the horizon. For every conch horn that sounded from the shore or a boat, the Hōkūleʻa answered each song with her own conch horn filling the air. Again, our hearts were touched, and we felt so extremely lucky to be a part of something so sacred to the Polynesian community.

The Hōkūleʻa has no engine, so they approached slowly in the slight breeze. As they neared the reef entrance at Fare, a boat went out to tow them the remaining distance. At the same time, more and more people were finding their way out to greet the Hōkūleʻa and her crew. They were using whatever means necessary to get themselves to the beloved canoe. There were small boats, outrigger va’as, kayaks, dinghies, surfboards, and even swimmers.


everyone rushing to greet Hokule’a


a mom & child making welcoming splashes


crew of the Hokule’a waving and blowing a conch horn


Hokule’a being followed by va’as as she makes her way past Fare


Hikianalia arriving in Fare & greeted by the chief
























The Hikianalia, sister ship to the Hōkūleʻa, was the next and final canoe to arrive. Hikianalia has photovoltaic-driven electric motors, as well as modern navigational, communications, and scientific equipment. She sails along side the Hōkūleʻa as they gather ocean research data and transmit their experiences to the rest of the world. However, the Hikianalia has her own sail plan during the worldwide voyage, and will only be sailing with the Hōkūleʻa during the first and last legs of the journey.




chief in ceremonial attire


the chief leading the canoes into port


the Hikianalia being welcomed to Huahine


Hikianalia (left), Hokule’a (right), and Faafaite (behind)


















Once all three voyaging canoes had entered the lagoon, they continued to Bourayne Bay where the welcoming ceremony and celebrations would occur. Ceremonies would begin about 0800 the following morning, and we planned to be there.

At 0730, we hauled anchor and motored to Bourayne Bay. However, by the time we arrived and found a good spot to drop the hook, we were late for the opening ceremony. Being late didn’t matter though, as we were still able to have an incredible, up-close and personal experience with these special canoes and their crew.


the Polynesian sailing canoes docked in Bourayne Bay, Huahine


spectators around the canoe hut where the crews have gathered


the crews gathered in the canoe hut










décor hanging inside the canoe hut


probably a village kite from Heiva


music & song to celebrate the Polynesian voyaging canoes and their journey


























After viewing the tail-end of the ceremony, we returned to the dock to have a closer look at the canoes. Every crew member we spoke with was extremely friendly and eager to share their experiences. One even offered us the use of his home, laundry, and shower for when we reached Hawai’i. And then, to our surprise, we were invited aboard for a tour of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia. We felt extremely honored.


storage rack on the side of the Hokule’a














Ki’i Wahine’s eyes represent seeing and foresight


Ki’i Kale represents knowledge














The Hōkūleʻa’s ki’i “embody the spirit of Hawai’i and watch over the canoe while it voyages.” The male and female ki’i work together to guide the canoe.


Hokule’a’s rudder lifted from the water


seeing how the Hokule’a tiller feels


traditional swim wear hung out to dry on the Hikianalia!


looking from deck down into a bunk room


only a flap of canvas to keep the crew dry!


in remembrance of Eddie and his great sacrifice for the Hokule’a and her crew





























Eddie Aikau was a renowned big wave surfer and the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay (Oahu, Hawai’i). In 1978, he joined the crew of the Hōkūleʻa. Sadly, at the start of the voyage, and just 12 miles south of Molokai, the Hōkūleʻa was overturned in nasty seas. Eddie attempted to paddle his surfboard to shore for help, but he was never seen again. Today, Eddie’s legend lives on, and throughout Hawai’i, the local saying “Eddie would go” helps many to face the impossible and to live with Aloha.



kauri cleat on Hikianalia from Waitangi, Aeotearoa (NZ)


engraved bird on the kauri wood cleat


symbols carved in wood on the Hokule’a


on Hikianalia ~ lava rock wrapped in ti leaves ~ a symbol for good luck


getting fishing tips from Hikianalia crew


checking out the Hikianalia crew quarters




























Words cannot express how truly incredible this experience was to us. We were the only cruising boat in the anchorage at Bourayne Bay. Seeing the Hōkūleʻa and her crew in such a personal setting, as well as the Hikianalia and Faafaite, couldn’t have been more special. Little did we know at this point in time, the Hōkūleʻa and the Hikianalia would continue to touch our lives in many ways as we continued our journey through Polynesia and the Pacific Ocean.


anchored in Bourayne Bay ~ quite literally the only cruising boat to be at this special event

street art in Honolulu ~ POW! WOW! x Hokule’a of Papa Mau Piailug, Master navigator













“In order to be a Navigator, you have to be fierce” ~ Mau Piailug

Watch “The Talk of the Sea Video” and learn more about the Hokule’a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

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