June 15, 1999, 9:30 p.m.
Hokule'a departed today around 4 p.m. from Hilo, Hawai'i (19 degrees 44'N, 155 degrees 04' W), bound for Nukuhiva in the Marquesas Islands, 1900 miles between Nalani and Na Leo Malanai (SE by S/SSE of Hawai')i. (....the trade winds are still light, but beginning to fill in as a high pressure system builds to the NE of Hawai'i....predicted for tomorrow: ENE 10-25 knots.)
Captain/Navigator: Bruce Blankenfeld (O'ahu)
Assistant Navigator: Pi'ikea Miller (O'ahu)
Watch Captains: Dennis Chun (Kaua'i), Terry Hee (O'ahu), Leon Sterling (Maui)
Crew: Russell Amimoto (O'ahu), Desmon Antone (Maui), Darcy Attisani (Kaua'i), Kekama Helm (Moloka'i), Ka'au McKenney (O'ahu), Atwood Makanani (Kaua'i), Hau'oli Smith (O'ahu; Sausalito, CA), Wallace Wong (Hawai'i).
Esort Boat: Kama Hele: Captain: Alex Jakubenko (O'ahu); Crew: Elsa Jakubenko (O'ahu), Tai Crouch (O'ahu), Tim Gilliam (Maui), Kealoha Hoe (O'ahu), Sean McKeever (Maui), Gary Suzuki (Lana'i).
Sailing Strategy: Hokule'a will sail close to the trade winds south to the Marquesas; it needs to make about 900 miles of easting to reach its destination. Between 10 degrees N and the equator (Intertropical convergence zone), it may encounter doldrum conditions (light winds; often cloudy weather and thunderstorms).
Three ceremonial events were held before departure:
On June 10, the crew went up to Keanakako'i Adze Quarry near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.In ancient times, basalt stones from this quarry were flaked and chipped into adzes used to carve canoes. Kaipo Frias chanted the crew into the quarry and called upon the gods. Mauna Kea is the first born child of Papa, the earth mother, and Wakea, the sky father. Crew members were allowed to commune with and pray to the spirits for guidance and protection and a safe voyage home. Visiting Mauna Kea is appropriate at the start of a voyage to the South Pacific because it is a beacon of home. This two-mile high mountain is the tallest in Hawai'i and one of the most likely physical manifestations that voyagers will sight when looking for the islands on the voyage home next January.
One June 12, the crew went up to the Kilauea Forest Reserve on the slopes of Mauna Loa to plant koa seedlings. This action was symbolic of the need to restore Hawai'i's koa forests, which have been destroyed by logging and cattle ranching over the years. The koa tree was used for the hulls of canoe. The planting was dedicated to Wright Bowman, Jr., master canoe builder, who passed away in 1997. Wrighto, as he was known by friends, supervised the building of the voyaging canoe Hawai'iloa.
On June 13, at the Naniloa Hotel on Hilo Bay, a ceremony was held to bless the canoe and focus the crew on the upcoming voyage and the return to Hawai'i with new knowledge about the ocean, the weather, and the Polynesian islands and peoples to the south. The first cup of 'awa was offered to the two ki'i of the canoe, a male god (symbolizing knowledge) attached to the back right manu and a female (symbolizing vision) attached to the back left manu.