Journal: Rarotonga to Hawai'i
(October 17-December 6, 1992)
Oct. 17-25: Waiting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Oct. 17--Did my good-byes and last minute errands. The long awaited trip has come down to a few more minutes before Bruce Blankenfeld [Hokule'a's navigator] comes up the drive way. Every car that passes by sounds like Bruce's truck and makes my hea rt skip a beat.
It's a familiar drive to the airport: concrete, traffic, mountains and sea. We almost missed our flight because of the Cook Islands regulations of having a round trip ticket before leaving Honolulu. A few calls and Dutchie bright helped save the day. We a re on our way and everyone is packed and ready to go. Malia is on her way home from San Francisco and was to meet me as I was to board on my flight to Rarotonga, but we couldn't wait any longer.
It was a great flight as I noticed just how much water we were flying over and thought about that same amount of water we'd have to cross to get back. It was night when we landed in Rarotonga and we were greeted by a lone musician playing a ukulele with a collection of island classics and many smiling brown faces. Tua Pittman [navigator from the Cooks Islands] was one of those welcomed faces who greeted us and made us truly feel at home. This is surely paradise.
After loading and unloading our gear at Tua's home we drove to the ending of the Pacific Island Art Festival opening ceremonies. I really felt at home with the many different island groups being represented. This event was very special and different from anything in Hawai'i. Everyone here was here for a special purpose; and a joyous one at that.
Oct. 18--woke up early and went aboard the Hokule'a and did some minor inventory and cleaning. It felt good to be aboard again and she looks terrific.
Rarotonga looks beautiful by day. It's so peaceful and simple and the people are friendly and eager to share a smile. Some people in Hawai'i say why travel to the South Pacific islands when you can find the same thing in Hawai'i, but it's really not the s ame - the people here seem more sincere.
We attended a cocktail party this afternoon with invited guest, dignitaries and the rest of the Hawai'i delegation. We had a blast. For lunch we were served a Hawaiian luncheon complete with kalua pig, laulau and poi. We got to meet a lot of beautiful peo ple and as I sat and enjoyed the party I couldn't help but think about our journey and how vast the Pacific really is.
This was the first of many special days to come.
Oct. 19--Had an early breakfast at the local school; canned spaghetti, bread and cereal with coffee and juice. It wasn't a four star meal but it was enough. We then headed for the canoe for more inventory and cleaning. We removed all the food conta iners and began preparations for our supplies. It seems like an endless task but all necessary for a successful voyage.
Spent the second part of the day shopping and enjoying the Pacific arts festival held throughout the town. There are people everywhere and it seems like a large Polynesian Cultural Center. I bought some post cards and sent them off. I also got a few t-sh irts and other tourist items for home.
It was raining for part of the morning but everything seems to have cleared. Nainoa posted a crew watch because of the shifting winds. My watch was from midnight to sunrise. It was a beautiful night and the wind had calmed down by morning. The stars were out in full force and Orion was up in the early morning. I was fortunate to be on this watch because I was able to catch the performing arts show last night. My only regrets was that I was only able to catch the first half of the Kamehameha performance. W hat I did see of their performance was great but it seemed kind of practiced and not really natural.
Oct. 20--The morning turned out great. Our watch was rough for awhile and it was my first experience feeling the wind do a full 360 degree shift while we sat near the canoe. We spent all day loading the canoe with food and water. It took awhile bec ause we needed to divide all our food supplies into daily rations and our water was being loaded at a local water filtering company. It was a very hot day and whatever spare time that we had we visited the shops. After we were done, mike Tongg drove us to vaka village where we were to have our canoe parade ceremony. It was a beautiful lagoon type area with a nice sandy beach and a pretty good surfing spot at the point. I tried to get mike to take us around the island but we didn't have enough time.
We had dinner with the Kamehameha Schools delegation at their hotel. It was chili, rice and macaroni salad. I stuffed myself. Their hotel is located next to the vaka village so after dinner we ended up driving around the other half of Rarotonga. It only t ook us about 25 minutes but it was a beautiful drive. This is a really beautiful area and I am glad to be a part of this experience.
Oct. 21--We awoke before sunrise and headed for the Hokule'a. We are to sail from the harbor to vaka village for the ceremonies. We were towed out of the harbor and we raised our sails and the canoe began to move. There were a lot of hands on deck so I went below to catch up on some sleep. I forgot to bring my camera on one of the best day for photo opportunities. As we lowered the sails there was a giant double hulled paddling canoe at the entrance to the bay. It was an awesome sight to see that c anoe as well as the rest of the canoe contingent from around the South Pacific. The beach was filled with people as we marched to the stone altar to place our ki'i from Niu Valley. It took us awhile to get there because we first had to secure the Hokule'a . There was a brief ceremony then we were led off to lunch at the local marae. Lunch consisted of kalua pig, chicken and taro and coconut. It was a delicious meal and very filling. The entertainment that followed was great and complimented the meal. The C ook Islands dances and costumes are similar to Tahitians to the untrained eye.
We later moved all of our gear out of the tents at Tua's house to the luxurious Pacific resort. We should have moved here first.
Oct. 22--We may sail on Saturday depending on the weather. Nainoa wants a favorable wind to help us with the whole trip.
We did more loading on the canoe then we had some free time. It was another scorching hot day and it felt good to take a swim.
I caught a ride into town with Steve and Ka'au. Ka'au just finished a foot race carrying two bunches of banana's around a sizeable field. It was a Tahitian sport and Ka'au finished sixth. When I got to town I borrowed some money from Kathy Kam-Ho for a pa ir of badly needed sandals and more souvenir shirts. I called Malia and it was good to hear her voice and her funny sense of humor. I can't wait to begin our voyage and get back home. The phone company is right down the street from Tua's house and I walke d over and caught a ride back to vaka village to watch the maori canoe welcoming. The Maori canoe, Teaurere, was supposed to have sailed in with us but they were delayed by storms and escort engine trouble. The beach was equally crowded and I was envious of the Maoris as they were doing their haka or ceremonious welcoming chants to each other. Canoe to beach crowd and beach crowd to canoe, combined with the Cook Islands welcoming contingent of chanters and dancers as well as the Hawaiian contingent welcom ing Clay Bertelmann home. It made proud to be standing on the beach today and gave me a good feeling for my voyage back to Hawai'i where my family is.
Oct. 23--Everyday there is a little more work to be done on the Hokule'a to prepare it for its journey home. Everything is checked and rechecked to ensure a safe journey as I slowly get acquainted with this beautiful sailing vessel.
Nainoa checked the weather forecast and says we may leave on Sunday or Monday and he's hoping for good sailing winds to get us up to the equator and out of the southern hemisphere where we should be cleared of the southern typhoon season. We are all ready to go, but the safety of the crew and canoe as well as the success of this voyage is the main concern for now.
With our free time today, Carlos, Archie and I rode bikes around the island. Carlos took us through the back roads where there was less traffic and more island life to explore. Carlos is a wealth of knowledge and I was glad he was with us. He taught about Cook Islands customs and helped us a little with the language. He told us that the Cook Islands people as well as other people of the South Pacific are easy to talk to and approach because they are into people and not much material things. It was a great ride with beautiful scenery as well as people. It took us awhile but it was worth the ride. We met a lot of people along the way as we stopped to shop and enjoyed the arts and craft programs.
After a swim and a delicious spaghetti dinner we headed for the night performance at the park. Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Maoris, Hawaiians and Tahitians performed till the cold early morning hours. It was an excellent show which was a great cultural an d uplifting experience.
Oct. 24--We made final preparations on the canoe then we all went to town for a luncheon in honor of all the participants of the arts festival. The people of Rarotonga put in a lot of work to make a feast for everyone. I hope this festival doesn't put a dent in the' economy of Rarotonga. These are a very giving people. If this festival was in Hawai'i you'd be on your own and spending a bundle.
I didn't feel to well today. Had a slight fever and a touch of diarrhea. Went to see doctor Sharman and he gave me some medication. I later went to dinner and had a t-bone steak. It was the first time in a few years that I've eaten any meat, but I needed the protein. I called Malia later and talked to her about our trip. I miss her and we haven't even started yet. After the call I stopped at the fashion show and caught a few of the latest Pacific I sland fashions. The best that I saw was a tapa made dress fashioned in the Cook Islands. Mr. Hoe and his family was there and I caught a ride home with them.
Oct. 25--I felt a little better this morning and I was glad we didn't sail today so that I could recover completely.
We all attended church today and though I couldn't understand most of the mass the universal language of music was present. Mass seemed to have made us all more relaxed and prepared to leave.
The people of Rarotonga are by far the sincerest people that I've met so far. Coming here has really left a positive impression on me about life in general. Just sitting on the beach and talking to a local named Tautira was very enlightening. He told us a bout the people, their attitude and their way of life which was beginning to change like everything else in the world.
Oct. 26-31; Departure; Arrival in the Society Islands
Oct. 26--We got the word from Nainoa to leave today. Spirits are up and everyone is ready to go. We had missed the fronts passing late last night so we'll try to catch up on its tail end.
The beach was filled with well wishers. There were speeches and prayers and the Kamehameha Schools students sang some beautiful songs for our departure. It was sad leaving Rarotonga and its beautiful people but we are all looking forward to the trip and r eturning home to our loved ones in Hawai'i.
The canoe is moving well and the conditions are excellent for our first day at sea. We caught our first fish; a 25 pound mahimahi; it was beautiful as well as delicious.
Oct. 27--On our morning watch the wind was blowing strong out of the southeast. It began to weaken when we came on for our evening watch. The highlight for today was catching two mahimahi at the same time. I'm glad we caught those two because it wa s my turn to cook and I didn't have a clue of what would be on the menu. I didn't want to start on our dinner supplies yet.
For dinner I fried some mahi and Terry made mahi soup. We served it with rice and a tossed salad. I didn't eat much. Can't seem to hold anything down right now.
I took a shower up front in the net and it felt good to wash my hair. It's so cloudy tonight that you can't see any stars to steer by. Steering is done with the feel of the wind.
Oct. 28--Today Nainoa spoke to the space shuttle astronauts. Everyone was excited and it took awhile to get everything coordinated.
The wind has been pretty mild at times and the sun is hotter than ever but I'd rather have these conditions than stormy conditions. We didn't catch any fish today so we settled for our food boxes. On the menu for today was stew and rice, corned beef and c abbage with a nice tossed and fruit salad.
There wasn't many stars in the sky due to all the cloud cover so we just sailed with the wind.
Oct. 29--The winds were pretty mild for most of the day as we slowly inched our way across the Pacific. Carlos is helping us with our Hawaiian language as well as teaching me a few chords on the ukulele. The group practices its song that Carlos pic ked up in Aitutaki and hopefully we'll sing it when we get into port.
Things were moving pretty slow until the ono hit one of our lines then the cooking/feeding frenzy began on board. Everyone was moving and cleaning and cooking and cutting that it was amazing we had enough room on deck. We ended up with ono sashimi, ono so up, rice and tossed and fruit salad. It was ono!
The beginning of our shift was cloudy but the wind began to pick up which cleared a path in the sky for the stargazers.
Oct. 30--The wind seems to be out of the east and our direction is more of a northerly one. I thought we would start heading for Hawai'i until Nainoa changed the tack and started heading in more of a southerly easting direction to gain more eastwar d progress. The change in tack made me quiet because I didn't feel well and needed to get readjusted to the motion of the ocean. We ran into a few squalls during the night but the only major thing was pulling down the jib.
Earlier, during the day we pulled in two more ono which we served up for lunch and dinner. The left overs may even carry into breakfast.
We kept a watch out for birds and debris which would indicate signs of land because Nainoa says we are near the northern Cook Islands and we wouldn't want to run into them at night.
Oct. 31--We woke to find ourselves in the Society Islands. Ra'iatea to the north with all the other islands around. The winds are mild and the word from Nainoa is that we may end up at Papeete if the winds keep coming out of the northeast.
A hot commodity on deck during the day is shade but you need to be careful when sleeping on deck during the day. I fell asleep in the shade and woke up in the scorching sun with my speedos on.
My legs were totally burnt and if Malia finds out she is going to lecture me about the uses of sunscreen and dangers of skin cancer.
We had tuna and cabbage with rice for dinner and it was delicious. Scott came out as the great pumpkin for Halloween and passed out candy to all of us. It was a warm night and the stars were out. It's amazing to be out here.
Nov. 1-5: Pape'ete, Tahiti – Waiting for the Right Wind
Nov. 01--Woke up early to find the wind had died and we were being towed into Pape'ete harbor. It was a beautiful sight and a wonderful feeling to think that in a few hours we would be setting foot in Tahiti. Pape'ete was bustling with its rush hou r morning traffic and the curious locals coming to see the unannounced canoe in their harbor. The sun is really beating down on us as we give Hokule'a a thorough cleaning. It felt great to rinse down with fresh water. My skin feels like its drying out and I can't forget to use some kind of moisturizer and sun screen.
After the canoe was done I walked around the town in search of a pay phone to call home. Most of the phones were credit cards or you needed cash which I didn't have neither. Luckily I stopped in at the Royal Pape'ete where Kareem's mother worked and she l et me use the hotel phone. I called Malia to let her know where we were and that everything was fine. I miss her and sorry that I left her home alone. I'm just glad that I was able to participate in this voyage.
Tonight Kareem made dinner for us at his home which consisted of barbecue chicken over a coconut husk fire which I'm going to try when I get back.
Nov. 02--Pape'ete, Tahiti; what a wonderful place. Terry said that this is a bonus stop for us and I fully agree. This is one of the places I've always wanted to visit and I finally got here. I want to get to the Gauguin museum before I leave here just to see his famous artwork.
We spent most of the day walking around the shops and not having any money was pretty hard. So I spent another part of the day trying to find a way to get some money sent over here just to get a snack or a little gift. Everything is so expensive here but beautiful.
We began giving tours of the Hokule'a to students in Tahiti to help promote the education program that we have going on throughout the Pacific . We later moved the Hokule'a to a better spot down the harbor where we had front row seats to the morning and a fternoon rush hour traffic.
We had a wonderful dinner at the Mai's home and I thoroughly stuffed myself. Later we continued our dinner celebration on the Hokule'a with our ukuleles, guitars and hinano's.
Nov. 03--Woke up to all the Pape'ete rush hour traffic. Our canoe is right on the main drive and about a mile from the Royal Pape'ete Hotel and all that means is a long walk to the bathroom.
Mike let me borrow 10,000 francs and I bought a few shirts and snacks with it. Money goes quickly here and its better to try to bargain for a lower price.
I sent post cards home today as we waited for our ride to Tautira. Tautira is at the south eastern end of the island and its where Puaniho lives. He's one of the local paddlers / canoe builders that also helps build canoes in Hawai'i. It was a long drive, but we made a few stops to enjoy some of the scenery. We collected water at a spring alongside the road and we also went swimming in a freshwater cave which was invigorating.
Tautira is a beautiful and tranquil area which really helped us to relax. We were able to borrow a canoe and paddle around the bay. Everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves as we watched the sun set. We had a wonderful dinner and we spent the nigh t in Tautira. The news for us today was that Bill Clinton was going to president and that the winds were beginning to look more favorable.
Nov. 04--After a great breakfast in Tautira, we rushed back to Pape'ete to prepare for leaving. Everyone was rushing around and tying up loose ends, while Nainoa and Mike were making a final decision to leave or not to leave. Nainoa needed to make calls to different weather agencies as well as drive out to Venus point to visually see the wind patterns. They both decided to put off until tomorrow. Everyone was able to relax a little and slow the pace down on the final preparations. I was helping mik e run errands to the canoe and to immigrations to get the official part of our voyage done. The canoe seems to be ready and all we have to do is wait for a favorable wind.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Puaniho's friends house at the top of a hill overlooking the airport and the northern island of Mo'orea. Bruce and Puaniho got their hair trimmed as we enjoyed a lazy afternoon.
We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant and invited all the different families that helped us with our stay here to thank them for their hospitality.
Nov. 05-Nov. 29: Departure, Voyaging to Hawai‘i
Nov. 05--I spent the night in the hotel because I was going to be on the canoe for a month.
We departed Tahiti about 8:00 am and Kareem and his family, the Mais and Puaniho were there to send us off. It was sad to say good-bye but we are all looking forward to getting home. Once we were in the wind line, the canoe picked up and shot out of there like a jet. There was also a jet that took off and I swear it flew between the sails. The wind was full and the seas were moving. Our night watch had squalls after squalls but nothing major. Everything went well the first night out and Gary cooked curry chicken for dinner which reminded me of Malia's specialty.
Nov. 06--Throughout the day and night we were in and out of squalls. During the day I'd let the squall rinse me off but during the night I kept my foul weather gear on. The wind at one point went calm on us right outside of a small atoll. It began to pick up later as we slowly began to pull away from that atoll. That was one of the last atolls we'd see. The first one was right out of Tahiti. It was Marlon Brando's island.
I've learned a lot about the weather and wind patterns here out at sea. Out here you can feel the cool rush of a down draft before a squall is about to hit you. The down draft is the reason squalls can be so dangerous when sailing. You can also see squall s building up on the horizon and moving around.
Some stars came peeking out tonight, but not enough to steer by so we just used the wind on our shift.
Nov. 07--After a squally night it was hood to wake up to a beautiful morning. We had a terrific breakfast and we settled in for a long hot day. It's interesting to watch the clouds from off on the horizon and way up in the stratosphere. A keen eye like Nainoa's can tune into wind and weather changes. Today the wind is pretty mild, but it keeps us moving and that's all that matters. Everyone is looking forward to a record crossing so we can get home to our families and loved ones.
The sky opened up this evening on our watch and you could see the constellations rising. The moon was full and I hope Malia sees it too.
Nov. 08--The rain came down hard this morning and I dreaded to wake up. I had left my foul weather gear on deck and I didn't feel like getting into wet gear. Luckily the rain cleared a bit so I could dry it out.
Today we are changing our tack and it seems we're heading right into a big dark cloud. The wind just doesn't want to cooperate as it keeps moving around on us. I guess it's better that no wind. There were groups of birds feeding around us and we were able to bring in a mahimahi which was served up saut?ed with rice. Last night there were two sea birds trying to land on the canoe. One made it to the boom for awhile but couldn't hold its balance. We changed the back sail to smaller size. I hope we can get i nto better sailing weather.
Nov. 09--It was a beautiful morning with the sun shining right in back of a dark squall on the horizon that was far off and of no threat. The wind is coming at us right out of the north which is giving us a north easterly route. Nainoa says we may even end up in Nukuhiwa in the Marquesas islands. As long as everything keeps moving around smoothly its no problem. They pulled in a 200 pound marlin this morning and the lines came in after that because that was more than enough fish. We even sent some to the Kamahele [the escort boat], but the rest we cooked up for dinner. Whatever was left we began drying.
Pilot whales swam around the canoe today and we were having just as much fun watching them as they had watching us. Hopefully the winds will become more favorable and get us up north. Though I am enjoying myself I miss my family and Malia.
The evening sky looks promising and it should be clear sailing tonight. Terry and Gary are doing a great job cooking things up for the crew.
Nov. 10--The winds are not at our favor. Its coming straight out of the north which means that we're making more mileage on our tacks to the east and west and only a few miles to the north. A major concern is the time it will take to get us back to Kualoa. The goal is the students and their interest in the program as well as the crews best interest. We need to be back by December 5 to accomplish all goals. We may consider towing if the winds don't change. I'm getting tired of tacking and going nowh ere. I can't wait to get back to Hawai'i and I hope the wind starts to change.
Nov. 11--The wind is strong out of the northeast and we seem to be making good ground. Lots of bird activity around us and we can chalk up another ono and an aku. Both went fast; one for lunch and one for dinner. During the day the sun was out and in full force but the night was awesome. The moon came out full, but a little later so we were able to check out all the evening stars. What a sight. It's nights like this that make up for all the squally nights. During mid shift there was a flash of ligh t. We couldn't determine if it was lighting (with no clouds), a flare flash or an exploding meteorite entering the atmosphere.
Nov. 12--It's amazing that there is so much to see out at sea. Not only is there miles of ocean, but different cloud formations, bird life, sea life as well as modern trash. The ocean varies with its wave patterns produced by prevalent winds or sto rms. Clouds vary from cirrus to cumulus to the ever present squall cloud which is dark and has a burst of wind before the rain falls. The birds are everywhere searching for food. Most of the birds we see now are pelagic and live at sea for months before m ating. Today we brought in an ono and a aku: the aku was caught on a bone hook made by Scott. I was pretty skeptical about that hook until it caught that aku.
Just before sunset a pod of porpoises converged and played around the canoe for awhile until they got bored with us and left for more amusing things to do.
Trash needs to be a concern for us because of the types of foods that we have provisioned. All non biodegradable items need to be stored and dumped on land and not at sea.
Nov. 13--Friday the thirteenth has really been a great day. The wind is strong and pulling us along. We had two marlin strikes but lost them both. I was glad we lost them because I was getting tired of eating fish. During the day it gets pretty unb earable with the sun beating down on you. Trying to sleep on the shaded side can get a bit chilly, so you really can't win. The best part of the whole trip is at night. Night is what I had envisioned Hokule'a to be all about. A blanket of stars to steer b y; a good wind to fill our sails and a friendly ocean to ride on. All the seminars and all those nights gazing at stars falls into perspective when your out here at sea.
A special event happened tonight while we were on watch. A meteorite broke up right near us. We first noticed a flash of light then watched the meteor move across the sky until it was out of sight over the horizon.
Nov. 14--Today was Naia's birthday and there was a party at Bruce's house. Bruce called to wish him well and everyone was there including Malia. I wish I was there too. (nah)
Everyday I scuttle for shade. The heat and having to take a bath are about the two things I really haven't gotten used to yet. The sun is so hot and it's hard to get wet when your wet most of the time.
We've made a lot of progress north and I hope it's a short stay in the doldrums. Nainoa has been teaching us a lot on the canoe compass and the stars to help us become better steers persons to help the navigators feel more confident on their decision to t urn.
I'm still waiting for my turn to talk on the radio. I keep practicing on the things that I would like to say.
We caught a nice size tuna today.
Nov. 15--The winds and seas were strong this morning, but it began to mellow down in the afternoon. I spent most of the day lying in one spot trying not to get fried by the sun. I should go below but I can't stand the smell. I also am losing my app etite. I don't really feel like eating fish or anything fried. I like soup, saimin, crackers or fruit. The bottled water taste funny so I either force myself to drink it or try to drink a lot of tea.
We caught a sailfish today and as usual it will be devoured up by all aboard.
The hole where I sleep and store my clothes has a leak. Its a leak where a wave hits the side of the canoe and splashes between the canvas on my clothes. My sleeping bag has been catching most of the water until I moved it. Now my clothes are wet. I'll dr y it and store it in my cooler from now on.
I don't know what my purpose is on this canoe. Since I'm really not cooking I do the most that I can as a crew member. Maybe I'll be able to help the program on shore.
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 it’s 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. It’s 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-Dec. 6: Sighting Mauna Kea; Homecoming Ceremonies and Celebration
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.
Dec. 01--It feels great to be back on land. It feels great to be back with Malia, Keau, my mom and the Nobrigas and friends. It feels good to be back in Hawai'i. We spent the later part of the day at Honaunau where we were fed lunch by the hale Ho' oponopono students. After lunch we took some students for a short sail. It felt good to be able to transfer what I learned and my experience to eager ears. That night we had an 'awa ceremony at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau. It consisted of drinking the 'awa follo wed by na olelo of the sail master, navigators, captains and other leaders. I was mostly impressed by Billy Richards speech as well as Carlos Andrade who spoke in Hawaiian. One of my goals is to speak in Hawaiian. We later had dinner at the rainbow ranch.
Dec. 02--Spent the day at Honaunau scraping barnacles and moss off of the canoe. I took Wally, Ku'u and her boys on to the canoe and showed them around and we were later met by Malia. They were all a big help in cleaning the junk off of the bottom of the canoe. Later, students from a school in Pahoa came aboard and snake and Gary took them around. After everything was done, Bruce and the gang paddled the canoe around and I raised the flag and blew the conch shell. I was glad that Wally and Ku'u cam e aboard. Too bad we couldn't sail.. Everyone that I talk to and everything that I read is so positive about the Hokule'a that it really makes me excited that I'm a part of this whole experience. I would like it to last and I would like to help other peop le who really want this experience.
Dec. 03--Went running with Edwin in the morning. We caught one 80 pound boar but the dogs got to it before we did. We also found a maile vine and Ed made me a lei for my trip. There is no way that I could ever repay them for their kind generosity a nd hospitality. I will forever be in their debt.
We rushed down to Honaunau for departure. It took awhile because there was one boat transferring people. We towed from Honaunau to the Alenuihaha channel where we raised our sail and sailed to Kaunakakai, Moloka'i. The ride was wet and wild and I slept on deck and watched the stars. It is such and awesome feeling to be a part of this voyage.
Dec. 04--We pulled into Kaunakakai harbor to a pier full of eagerly waiting students. They all came aboard one group at a time for the whole day and we showed them around. It was a warm feeling to see such enthusiasm and excitement. I met Mahealani and went to her house for a warm shower before dinner. She gave me her address for mom to come visit her. We later had dinner at the hale wa'a (canoe shed). We were joined by Shepard, Lacey and Steve who are shuttle astronauts. We also took aboard Bill, Clay, Gordon, Harry, Chad, Tava and Mau for our final leg back to Kualoa. While leaving Moloka'i, the people sang us farewell songs.
Dec. 05--Woke up to the lights of Waimanalo, Kailua and Kane'ohe. What a beautiful sight. The Makapu'u light house, the Pali Highway and the airport beacon of the marine base. My watch was short and sweet. We sailed past Mokapu and stopped. It was only 6:30 am and we weren't due into Kualoa until 9:00 am. This was the hardest part of the trip. Sitting outside from shore in a rocking canoe. I didn't feel to well so I just put my head down to rest. Soon Nainoa said it was time. Everyone rushed around cleaning the deck and themselves. We began raising the sails and taking our positions. I was on the main sail with Clay, Billy and Harry. The astronauts were on the sweeps, Nainoa guided us into Kualoa with cool precise commands as swells and boats and h elicopters followed and cheered us in. I remember Nainoa on the deck in the 1987 return giving those same commands as Hokule'a guided safely into Kualoa after its rediscovery voyage. The beach was lined with well wishers as we triced up the sails. A sudde n gust of wind pushed us in as if Hokule'a wanted to kiss the shore as much as we did. Crew members from the shore rushed to greet Hokule'a and steady her embrace with the shore. We were led to a roped off area where we went through a traditional ceremony to lift the kapu as well as announce our arrival. We were then led off to the stage area where we were able to embrace our family and friends. It was also the beginning of the festivities. It consisted of songs and dances of the school children as well a s local groups. Kawailiula performed their Kaho'olawe chant and dedicated it to me. It was beautiful. It was good to see everyone especially my family, Malia and Keau. It was a beautiful day. The little drizzle didn't bother anyone a bit and we all enjoye d everyone's company. I will miss my crew-members and I'll never forget them in fact I'm going to keep in touch with them and I hope to sail with them soon.
Dec. 06--It's hard to imagine that I sailed all that way. It seems like yesterday that we left Tahiti and those storms and hot days that we endured is now just a memory. I enjoyed this experience on the ocean, sailing the Hokule'a with a sky covere d with stars. I will never forget it and look forward to the next voyage. I am happy to be home and glad that the Hokule'a is safe and at home . I will miss those twelve courageous crew-members that I spent over a month with. From Rarotonga to Tahiti to H onaunau, Moloka'i and on to Kualoa I got to know and respect each and everyone of them and I'll never forget them. Since the beginning of Hokule'a in 1976 I've always wanted to be a part of it and I finally was able to experience the feeling of what our a ncestors experienced. The adventure and agony of sailing as well as the happiness of sighting Hawai'i after such a long voyage from the south Pacific . The camaraderie of the crew, your friends; your family at sea; people you look to for strength and cour age and help when in need.
I am looking forward to sharing my experience with everyone as well as keeping that experience and using it in everyday life. I feel a part of something great and I don't ever want that chain to break. Its my duty to keep it going and keep it strong.