Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

Journal of Wallace Wong: Rarotonga to Hawai'i

(November 16-30, 1992)

Nov. 16--Today went by pretty smooth. We went over the man overboard drill and scraped the deck because it was getting too slippery. Right now we're about one degree south and moving at a good pace north. Gary made spaghetti for lunch and it was de licious. Gary should make a Hokule'a cook book after this voyage is over. I think it could sell.

I finally took a bath today after using the bathroom. It has been a few days but I just didn't have the urge. It's probably that I haven't really been eating much anyway.

We had a few strikes today but came up losing two lures and not catching any fish. They were saying its a big fish or a shark. Everyone seems to be making little trinkets out of coconut or bone. I can't handle that right now.

Nov. 17--Well we've finally crossed the equator and we're about halfway home. It the wind keeps up and we don't get stuck in the doldrums we'll be home in about two weeks. We spent a couple hours doing a mast repair and sail adjustment. At the same time the Kamahele, our escort boat, dropped off some ice, chicken and cookies. We had shoyu chicken and cold soft drinks for dinner in celebration of our equator crossing. It was a real treat.

I may be getting used to this pace as long as the seas are calm. I enjoy steering at night under a star covered sky. It is the ultimate Hokule'a experience.

I finally spoke with Brickwood on the radio today. He asked me how to spell "Madagascar" because I worked for the phone company and that's one of their commercials. I spelt dictionary instead because that's what my English teacher used to tell me when I a sked her how to spell a certain word. We talked about steering and what we used and how much concentration it took to ensure a confident decision by the navigator on when to make the final tack to Hawai'i. I also wished my family, Keau and Malia well.

Nov. 18--The winds slowing down and coming out more from the southwest. Nainoa's not sure what's causing the southern winds, but may fear the beginning of the doldrums may be near and that means it may be bigger than what we want.

Our early morning watch was another scorcher with a mild wind added it made the whole day even longer. After that shift I went below for protection from the sun. We are beginning to tack to catch the best wind to keep us moving north. Its slow right now b ut at least its pushing us north.

Hokupa'a, or Polaris, the North Star was visible for the first time and it was very comforting to see it high in the sky. It means that we truly are past the equator.

Porpoises played around the canoe tonight and we had fresh mahi for dinner.

Nov. 19--It was another hectic morning with the wind coming mildly out of the south and the sun baking us just to within boiling point. After our watch I tried to find a cool spot on deck but there was none. So I spent the day below. It was an over cast day which

Eventually led into the night. This may be the beginning of the doldrums. It seems to be getting calmer. The only bright point is a larger northeast swell which keeps coming pretty steady. This means that there's wind up ahead that's pushing this swell. T onight there are no stars to guide us so we use the wind and keep the sails from jibing. We also use the running lights of the Kamahele just so we don't lose sight of them and get off course.

Entering into the doldrums at this point could mean that it may be wide or it could be that the doldrums are starting early and ending early.

Nov. 20--Another hot day aboard the Hokule'a and the winds are mildly pushing us north. Its been overcast for most of the day but its still hot. I spent my off hours in my hole and came out about 3:00 pm. On our night watch the sky cleared a little and we could see a few stars. At the end of our shift we saw an asteroid or large meteorite streak across the sky. It was huge and moved long and slow across the horizon and it seemed to break up into two sections. It's amazing to see all this space debr is streaking across our atmosphere. I wonder how many cross the sky during the day.

Nov. 21--Woke up to a windless morning. I'm afraid this may be the doldrums. The third watch is busy getting ready to collect rain water for cooking. I jump on the sweep to keep the canoe on the northeast swell. The rain feels good so I take a quic k shower. I should do my laundry but I'm lazy. After breakfast we have a meeting and Nainoa says that this may be the doldrums and we may be stuck in it for awhile. He is also upset that we haven't been concentrating enough on our steering. He's feeling t he pressure of trying to get the canoe back by December 5th and he wants so badly to help Bruce and Kimo do a good job. We later pick up a light wind and five small aku. Nainoa feels a whole lot better especially when the clouds begin to break and we see Cassiopeia. We are headed in the right direction. I have faith that somehow we will make it back before the 5th. We just all need to have faith.

Nov. 22--Woke up to a wet and wild morning ride. The seas are about 6 to 12 feet and the wind is howling. We asked for wind and we sure got it. We are using just the main sail. The mizzen is down. We later raise the storm sails and jibe when the wi nds begin to mellow out. I hope this weather doesn't last too long, but I hope the wind stays steady to get us home. Everyone's spirit is up and there's a lot more hope now. We are all wet but at least we're moving. Hopefully we are out of the doldrums an d on our way. There are a lot of cloud cover in front of us but it seems to be breaking up. Nainoa thinks that maybe when it cools down during the evening the clouds may dissipate.

Nov. 23--Last night was one of the coldest and wettest nights of this voyage. It made me wish I was home with Malia. Lets hope that was the only night like that on this trip. This morning was wet for a couple of hours then it cleared up. I'll never complain of how hot it is now. When the sun did come out I soaked it up as much as I could. We pulled in a small aku which they'll probably make raw and soup out of. The winds are still pretty mild and shifting from northeast to east to south. The main t hing is that we are moving north and out of the doldrums area. On the canoe we have four white storm sail up and it looks like spaghetti, but we are making ground. We had chili for lunch and it tasted good. I feel like throwing up and I can't imagine why. I hope we get home by Sunday.

Nov. 24--Today was a pretty slow day. Winds are mild out of the south. Twice a large squall appeared behind us, slowly moved up and covered us, drenched us with rain and pushed us with wind then left us back in the mild winds again. Everyone was ta king a fresh water bath except me. The wind made it too cold. I took a bath later when it was warmer and I had a fresh water bucket to rinse myself.

I finally brought out my Patagonia underwear in preparation for a wet and cold night-shift. It turned out to be a wonderful night with the stars out in full force and the clouds scattered. There was a squall cloud out in the east with a little lighting an d hope it doesn't hit us tomorrow. The night sky is so clear, too bad I didn't bring my binoculars. We lost an ahi and let go a little shark.

Nov. 25--The winds are behind us now and moving us north at a good pace.

The pressure seems to be off now and spirits are high. Our morning watch was hot but I wasn't complaining anymore. Whatever weather we get will be greatly appreciated. You learn that when you're out at sea you take what you get because every day is differ ent. Just be thankful that you're safe and healthy and headed in the right direction. Everyday the north star is getting higher and we're hoping to sight land by Sunday. Carlos was teaching Nainoa, Bruce and snake the easy way to guitar playing. Our night shift was full of stars and the wind was blowing us at full speed. We were lucky to get off when we did because I could see a squall line on the horizon.

Nov. 26--Happy thanksgiving! It was a beautiful day, one to be thankful for. The wind was pushing us along up until the end of my night shift watch. We were hitting speeds of 10 plus knots.

Today I thought about being at home with Malia and Keau having turkey at home with stuffing and salad. Just stuffing myself in front of the t.V. All day. Gary made us ham and sardines with onions, mash potato's and a fruit cake made with pancake mix and f ruit cocktail. It was great. The Kamahele dropped off some hamburger and cookies so Gary made stew for dinner. Just before sunset we hooked up to a marlin.

They say we may turn for the islands by tomorrow.

Nov. 27--Today all I was thinking about was getting to land. We are so close that I'm getting frustrated that I can't see any land yet. The sky is overcast and gray with a few light squalls. I need to just think about taking one day at a time and n ot to think about getting to land yet. Nainoa and Bruce estimate that we should be nearing Hawai'i by tomorrow or Sunday. It all depends on the wind and if they can get a good star sighting to confirm their estimates. Our night shift didn't yield too many clues. The stars were covered by the overcast. It smells pretty bad down below and I dread going to bed.

Nov. 28--Still no land in sight and according to Bruce we're still a couple of hundred miles away but I still keep straining my eyes in case their calculations may be l bit exaggerated. I swear I keep seeing the silhouette of an island on the horiz on. The wind is behind us and its still gray and overcast. I want to get in so bad because I can't stand the smell of the sleeping area. It's very nauseating. Nainoa says we will go to Honaunau and finish there with a ceremony. I hope Malia can make it.

Life on deck is terrific. All I need to do is concentrate on my steering and time passes easily. Everyone's spirit is high and we are all looking forward to home.

Nov. 29--Well today is the day that I thought we might be in. We are close and there were possible sightings but nothing confirmed yet. On the sunrise there was haze on the horizon and a cattle egret way out at sea. It was trying to land on the can oe but never did. Again its a gray day as I scan the horizon for a glimpse of land. I keep mentioning things to myself like subway, pizza, mustard, ice water and poi. Things that I'm looking forward to getting when I reach shore. Steering helps to keep my mind occupied. Its been a long trip and a very valuable experience that I'll always treasure. I spoke on the radio today and asked them to turn up the volcano so we could sight land. We caught 3 large ahi today and we'll devour them soon.

Nov. 30--Before getting off shift last night we noticed a glow of light on the night horizon and everyone's spirit soared. At dawn I awoke to the majestic Mauna Kea which I thought was Hualalai but we were still on the Hamakua coast. It was still a beautiful sight. Land! Hawai'i! Our shift was on so I jumped on the sweep and steered until Mahukona then we towed to Honaunau. We cleaned the canoe and just anticipated the homecoming.

Malia, Keau, my mom and the Nobrigas as well as other friends and well wishers were at the end. It was an awesome feeling to be there as well as being surrounded by all the other Hokule'a members.