Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

Spring 1995: Na 'Ohana Holo Moana
Sailing for Hawai'i (Apr. 20-May 2)

Photo right: The Rarotongan voyaging canoe Takitumu

April 20, 1995

photo of the Rarotongan Voyaging Canoe Takitumu Afternoon Update: Hokule'a left Taiohae at around 3 p.m. this afternoon.

Hokule'a Crew: Chad Baybayan (Navigator), Moana Doi and Pi'ikea Miller (Asst. Navigators); Snake Ah Hee, Tava Taupu, and Mike Tongg (Watch Captains); Clyde Aikau, Sam Pautu, Mel Paoa (Medical Officer), Mau Piailug, Sesario Sewralur, Gary Suzuki, Nainoa Thompson (Fisherman/Education), Gary Yuen (Cook). The two Cook Island canoes Te 'Au o Tonga and Takitumu left earlier in the day at 10:30 a.m. The Tahitian canoe Tahiti Nui apparently did not leave and will not make the journey north. The morning satellite report placed Hawai'iloa 49 miles north of Nukuh iva at 7 a.m.:

Latitude: 8 degrees 5 minutes S Longitude: 140 degrees, 14 minutes W

The canoe was east of the uninhabited island of Eiao, which in ancient times was a source of basalt used for adzes and of the highly prized red tail feathers of the tropic bird. The island was once inhabited and is occasionally visited by fishermen today.

Hawai'iloa left Nukuhiva yesterday, April 19, at around 6 p.m., with Makali'i and Te 'Aurere.

Hawai'iloa Crew: Bruce Blankenfeld (Navigator), Max Yarawamai (Asst. Navigator); Kainoa Lee (Watch Captain); Kimo Lyman (Watch Captain & Asst. Navigator); Wally Froiseth (Watch Captain); Terry Hee (Fisherman); Archie Kalepa; Ka'au McKenney; Cliff Watson (Documentator / Cameraman); Dr. Nathan Wong (Medical Officer); and Wallace Wong.

Makali'i Crew: Clay Bertelmann (Captain); Shorty Bertelmann (Navigator); Chadd Paishon (Asst. Navigator); Nailima Ahuna, Pomaikai Bertelmann, Kainalu Bertelmann, Nate Hendricks, Kaeo Jones, Kamaka, Robins Kinney, Keahi Omai, Nakoa Prejean, Patty Ann Solom on.

Morning Report: Hokule'a is still in Taiohae, waiting for repairs to be completed on the escort boat for Takitumu. French Polynesian officials are debating whether Tahiti Nui will be able to make the voyage to Hawai'i. The crew has had trouble steering th e canoe because the deck sits so high out of the water; and some have questioned whether the canoe, whose wooden parts are bolted together rather than lashed with cordage, would hold together during a 2,000 miles open ocean voyage.

April 21, 1995

Hawai'iloa navigator Bruce Blankenfeld estimated the canoe to be at 5 degrees 50 minutes S, on their reference course, at sunrise. The Reference Course is a local zero degree longitude line against which the navigators plot the distance the canoes travel east or west, using a system of dead reckoning.

The satellite transponder fixed the canoe at 5 degrees 52 minutes S, 140 degrees 31 minutes W, at 7 a.m., or less than ten miles to the east of the navigator's estimate.

The canoe was making 6-8 knots in 15 knot winds under clear skies. Kimo Lyman estimated the canoe to have made 140 miles over the last 24 hours. Makali'i was about 25 miles to the west of Hawai'iloa, with Te 'Aurere just behind.

On nights when the dome of heaven is visible, the navigators of Hawai'iloa and Hokule'a will use celestial bodies for directioncelestial bodies for direction in guiding the canoes. They have memorized the rising and setting points of over a hundred celestial bodies.

The moon is in its last quarter, rising after midnight; the sky has been dark and full of stars used for navigation. Rising at the east horizon before midnight--Na Hiku (the Big Dipper), Hokule'a (Arcturus), Hikianalia (Spica), and Iao (Jupiter) near Mana iakalani (Maui's fishhook, or Scorpio); setting at the western horizon Puana (Procyon).

Yesterday the canoe passed over Ile de Sable (Sand Island), about fifty miles north of Nukuhiva, and to the east of the island of Eiao. Lyman said the crew could see the sandy bottom of the ocean and that Hawai'iloa caught its first fish as it passed over the sandbar.

April 22, 1995

Hawai'iloa navigator Bruce Blankenfeld estimated the canoe to be at 3 degrees 2 minutes S on their reference course at sunrise this morning. The canoe made about 168 miles since yesterday at sunrise. Winds were 8-10 knots out of the east, and the canoe wa s making about 4-5 knots. Weather was squally over the last 24 hours (50% cloud cover with showers). Swells from the E and NE.

Kaau McKenney reported that the canoes are trying to stay within 120 miles of each other. They check in on the radio with each other at sunrise and sunset. They are no longer able to see each other.

Satellite Readings:

Hokule'a: 5 degrees 39 minutes S, 141 degrees 12 minutes W
Hawai'iloa: 3 degrees 20 minutes S, 141 degrees 01 minutes W

April 23, 1995

No Navigator Reports on Sundays.

Satellite Fixes at 7 a.m.:

Hawai'iloa: 1 degree 27 minutes S; 142 degrees 22 minutes W
Distance from Nukuhiva: 467 nautical miles
Distance to Hilo, Hawai'i: 1480 nm
Current Speed: 5 knots; Current Course: 340 degrees (NNW)

Hokule'a: 3 degrees 41 minutes S, 142 degrees 08 minutes W
Distance from Nukuhiva: 336 nautical miles
Distance to Hilo, Hawai'i: 1602 nm
Current speed: 6 knots; Current Course: 329 degrees (NW by N)

April 24, 1995

Hawai'iloa's 5th day at sea: Far from any islands now, the only life on the open ocean are lone 'a (boobies) and 'ake'ake (petrels). The canoe crossed the equator yesterday and entered the North Pacific.

Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld estimated Hawai'iloa to be at 1 degree 10 minutes N, 51 miles W of the reference course at 7 a.m.this morning; the canoe made about 120 miles yesterday, an average day of sailing. The winds were slackening--6-8 knots out of the east, and the canoe was travelling at about 4 knots.

Overcast skies and light winds suggest the canoe was approaching the Intertropical Convergence Zone, where doldrum conditions usually prevail.

Sailing up near Hawai'iloa are Makali'i and Te 'Au o Tonga. About 140 miles behind are Hokule'a, with Te 'Aurere. To the east is the Takitumu.

Satellite report at 5:30 p.m.

Hawai'iloa: 2 degrees N; 142 degrees 35 minutes W
Hokule'a: 0 degrees 26 minutes S;143 degrees 13 minutes W

April 25, 1995

A rain squall was swirling around Hawai'iloa this morning. Winds were gusting up to 35 miles per hour, so the crew lowered the sails to prevent damage to the rigging. 100 percent cloud cover over the last 12 hours. The conditions are typical of the Intert ropical Convergence Zone, which the canoe has entered, along with Makali'i and Te 'Au o Tonga. These three canoes are staying within 120 miles of each other for safety.

Navigator Blankenfeld estimated Hawai'iloa to be at 2 degrees 54 minutes N, 52 miles west of the reference course at sunrise. Navigator Shorty Bertelmann estimated Makali'i to be at 1 degree 46 minues N, and 40 miles west of the reference course.

At 7 a.m., satellite reports placed Hawai'iloa at 3 degrees 1 minutes N, 142 degrees 17 minutes W (about 10 miles from Blankenfeld's estimate) and Hokule'a at 0 degrees 52 minutes N, 143 degrees 18 minutes W.

At 5:20 p.m. a satellite report placed Hawai'iloa at 3 degrees 40 minutes N, 142 degrees 27 minutes W (the canoe had made about 39 miles to the north during the day). Hokule'a was at 2 degrees 4 minutes N, 143 degrees 5 minutes W (it had gone about 72 mil es north during the day),and will probably cross into the Intertropical Convergence Zone by tomorrow. Hokule'a, Te 'Aurere, and Takitumu are staying within 120 miles of each other for safety.

April 26, 1995

A roll call of the six canoes takes place each morning; the navigators' estimated positions were reported over KCCN Radio in Honolulu:

Hawai'iiloa: 4 degrees 52 minutes N; 5 miles W of the Reference Course (RC)
Te 'Au o Tonga: 4 degrees 2 minutes N; 60 miles W of the RC
Makali'i: 3 degrees 43 minutes N; 33 miles W of the RC
Te 'Aurere: 2 degrees 43 minutes N; 61 miles W of the RC
Takitumu: 2 degrees 38 minutes N; 18 miles E of the RC
Hokule'a: 1 degree 57 minutes N; 5 miles E of the RC Satellite Reports:

Hawai'iloa: 4 degrees 50 miniutes N; 142 degrees 14 minutes W
Hokule'a: 3 degrees 18 minutes N; 142 degrees 52 minutes W

Weather Report from the canoe: Both Hokule'a and Makali'i are reporting 80-100 % cumulus cloud cover. Winds are steady from E by S to ESE at 5-15 knots. Both canoes are heading due north at about 5 knots, and averaging about 5 knots over the last 24 hours . Both canoes made an estimated 120 miles yesterday. The canoes have not been becalmed yet, and are making steady progress through the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

Dominant 3-5 foot swell coming from the NE (generated by the NE tradewinds) and a small swell coming from the SE (generated by the SE tradewinds). Nighttime visibility has been poor, but last night Makali'i was able to steer by the Southern Cross and the Little Dipper; Hokule'a by Na Hiku (the Big Dipper) and Jupiter rising ESE. Navigator Chad Baybayan of Hokule'a used Miaplacidus in the constellation Carina to check his latitude (His hand measurement estimated the star at about 19.5 degrees in altitude a s it crossed the meridian over due south; the star at his latitude was actually closer to 18 degrees in altitude.)

Fishing Report:

Hokule'a landed a 25 lb. aku yesterday and is catching one fish every two days; Makali'i has caught two fish since leaving Nukuhiva on April 19.

Animal sightings: Hokule'a sighted nai'a (porpoises) two nights ago.

Mau Piailug has been cooking on a traditional stone oven on Hokule'a. A couple of the crew members are eating a traditional diet.

April 27, 1995

The canoe fleet ran into full doldrum conditions over the last 24 hours--100 % cloud cover and 0-5 knot winds. After 16 hours of almost no progress (0-1 knot) the canoes decided to allow their escort boats to tow them through the doldrums so they can make it to Hawai'i in time for the planned ceremonies on May 11 and 13.

The navigators are still directing the canoes/escort boats, steering by the sun, the faint waning moon rising and setting near the sun (New Moon tomorrow night), and the swells, which are 4-5 feet from the NE. All the canoes are heading on northerly cours es.

Estimated positions at sunrise:

Hawai'iloa: 5 degrees, 15 minutes N, 11 miles E of the Reference Course (RC).
Te 'Au o Tonga: 5 degrees, 15 minutes N, 50 miles W of the RC.
Makali'i: 5 degrees, 12 minutes N, 23 miles W of the RC.
Takitumu: 5 degrees 10 minutes N, 6 miles E of the RC.
Te 'Aurere: 4 degrees 16 minutes N ,51 miles W of the RC.
Hokule'a: 4 degress 16 minutes N, 1 miles E of the RC.

Satellite reports (Actual Positions at 7:15 a.m.)

Hawai'iloa: 6 degrees 6 minutes N, 142 degrees 5 minutes W, 1131 miles from Hilo
Hokule'a: 4 degrees 46 minutes N, 142 degrees 56 miniutes W, 1152 miles from Hilo

Animal Sightings: Hokule'a reported seeing a 6-7 foot shark and a few birds.

Mau Piailug, Sesario Sewralur (his son), Tava Taupu, and Mike Tongg on board Hokule'a are eating only traditional foods.

April 28, 1995

The canoe fleet found wind again and are undersail. Makali'i reported 10-15 knot winds out of the NE; the canoe was sailing at 5.5 knots.

Last night, with almost total cloud cover, Shorty Bertelmann and Chad Paishon guided Makali'i by the 4-5 foot NE swell and the bright planets Jupiter rising ESE in the early evening and Venus, rising east in the early morning.

By morning, the sky was clear and sunny and the winds had returned.

Estimated positions at sunrise:

Te 'Au o Tonga: 8 degrees 32 minutes N, 72 miles W of the Reference Course (RC).
Hawai'iloa: 7 degrees 7 minutes N, 35 miles W of the RC.
Takitumu: 7 degrees 6 minutes N, 30 miles E of the RC.
Makali'i: 6 degrees 38 minutes N, 7 miles E of the RC.
Te 'Aurere: 5 degrees 31 minutes N, 36 miles W of the RC.
Hokule'a: 5 degrees 30 minutes N, 4 miles W of the RC.

Satellite Reports (Actual Positions at 7 a.m.)

Hawai'iloa: 7 degrees 59 minutes N ,142 degrees 58 minutes W
Hokule'a: 6 degrees 16 minutes N, 143 degrees 42 minutes W

April 29, 1995

Satellite Reports (7 a.m.)

Hawai'iloa: 9 degrees 46 minutes N; 144 degrees 13 minutes W
Hokule'a: 8 degrees 10 minutes N; 144 degrees 41 minutes W

Hawai'iloa has cleared the Intertropical Convergence Zone and entered the third segment of its journey (9 degrees N to 20.5 degrees N). The canoe is pointing toward the Hawaiian islands in a direction called Nalani Ho'olua (NW by N); with the west-flowing North Equatorical current, the true heading is Manu Ho'olua (NW). The canoe is travelling at 5 knots, and made about 130 miles yesterday. It is 874 nautical miles out of Hilo. In the NE tradewind zone, with average 15-25 knot winds the canoe will travel between 100-200 miles per day and should reach Hawai'i in a week.

Hokule'a is 926 nautical miles from Hilo and about 1 sailing day behind Hawai'iloa, travelling at 4 knots. It travelled about 120 miles over the last 24 hours.

As the canoes arrive, each will travel to a different port:

Hawai'iloa: Hilo, Big Island
Hokule'a: Hana, Maui (maybe?)-Kalaupapa, Moloka'i
Maklai'i: Kawaihae, Big Island
Te 'Au o Tonga: Kauanakakai, Moloka'i
Takitumu: Maui or Lana'i
Te 'Aurere: Honaunau

The plan is then for the the canoes to gather at Kalaupapa on May 10 and to sail to Kualoa, Oahu on May 11. These plans could change, depending on when the canoes arrive.

Update from Tahiti: An escort boat, "Possible," has left Pape'ete, Tahiti for Taiohae, Nukuhiva, to meet the Tahitian canoe "Tahiti Nui." The canoe and escort boat are planning to leave Nukuhiva for Hawai'i on May 4; estimated arrival: sometime at the end of May.

May 1, 1995

Satellite Reports (7 a.m. HST)

Hawai'iloa: 14 degrees 01 minutes N; 146 degrees 27' W
Hokule'a: 12 degrees 22 minutes N; 147 degrees 26 minutes W

The canoes are sailing in the Northeast Tradewinds, which are blowing about 15 knots ENE. The canoes are travelling 6-7 knots, making about 150 miles a day. They are about 600 miles from Hilo and should make landfall by this weekend.

Positions for all the canoes were not reported this morning, as radio communication from canoe to land was difficult. However, all canoes checked in with each other and are in good shape. Hawai'iloa is near the front of the fleet, and Hokule'a toward the back. However, Hokule'a is farther west than Hawai'iloa, and therefore almost as close to Hawai'i as Hawai'iloa is.

May 2, 1995

Nainoa Thompson reported this morning that Te 'Au o Tonga ("The Southern Mist"), the 72-foot double-hulled canoe from the Cook Islands,is a couple of sailing days from Hilo, Hawai'i. Estimated time of arrival (ETA): Wednesday night into Hilo Harbor. The c anoe plans to sail to Kaunakakai, Moloka'i, arriving on Saturday, May 8, for a welcome ceremony.

Thompson also gave the following ETA's and Destinations of the arriving canoes:

Hawai'iloa: May 5, Friday morning into Hilo
Makali'i: May 5, Friday morning into Kawaihae
Takitumu: May 5, Friday night into Ka'anapali or Kahului, Maui, depending on weather.
Hokule'a: May 6, Saturday into Hilo or Kawaihae; or Ka'anapali or Kahului, depending on weather.
Te 'Aurere: May 7, Sunday into Kawaihae

A storm front may come through the Hawaiian archipelago on Sunday, so canoes will seek shelter in the closest, safest harbor available.

Navigator's estimated positions (Sunrise)

Makali'i: 16 degrees 45 minutes N, 116 miles W of the reference course
Hawai'iloa: 16 degrees 29 minutes N, 153 miles W of the reference course
Hokule'a: 15 degrees 00 minutes N, 59 miles W of the reference course

The canoes reported winds from NE to ENE at 12-15 knots; swells from the NE at 3-4 feet. Yesterday was squally, but the night was clear, with all the navigation stars visible, as well as the planets--Mercury setting with the crescent moon (Hoaka) at sunse t, and the rising Jupiter and Venus.

Makali'i reported seeing Hawai'iloa on the horizon to the West yesterday.

Satellite reports (7 a.m. HST)

Hawai'iloa: 16 degrees 39 minutes N, 147 degrees 54 minutes W
Hokule'a: 14 degrees 49 minutes N, 148 degree 37 minutes W

Both canoes were travelling at 6-7 knots and were about 450 miles or three sailing days from Hilo.