The Voyage to Rapa Nui / 1999-2000
Chad Baybayan's Journal / Leg 3: Mangareva to Rapa Nui
Photo Below: Chad Baybayan.
Chad Baybayan: Bio
September 20: Sunshine at Last! It's been raining for days and mud puddles now surround the beach house that has become Hokule'a headquarters. I hope today the sun will dry the tiny island of Mangareva and the deck of Hokule'a so that we can begin to load the final provisions for our voyage to Rapa Nui. The crew that will sail Hokule'a to Rapa Nui arrived a few days ago. The rainy cold weather that welcomed them was a sign of what we could expect for the next 30-40 days as we sail to the last corner of the Polynesian triangle. It was nice to see the familiar faces of friends step off the fishing boat that shuttled the crew from the airport to the main town of Rikitea where Hokule'a is docked.
This is a veteran crew of senior sailors from the Polynesian Voyaging Society. All except one have sailed on long voyages. Mature and focused is the best way to describe the collection of individuals who will now build a new team and family. As I write this, my senses capture the beauty of the landscape that surrounds me. The many hues of blue from the lagoon lap into our back yard. The deep green of the lush Mangraven vegetation rolls into the ocean. The wind that blows through our beach home keeps us cool throughout the day.
As the days count away, I think of my wife and children at home, the many family and friends in Hawaii, and of the very special crew that brought Hokule'a with me from the Marquesas to the enchanted shores of Mangareva. More than three months will have gone by before I return home and I hope that day will come soon. The winds will shift to a favorable direction soon and we will be on our way, carrying with us the loving and caring spirit of the many friends that we have made along the way. I am sure as we continue to sail we will build many new friendships and discover that both a common culture and ocean join us together. Hokule'a has been a catalyst for the Mangarevan community, reminding them of the importance of preserving our rich Polynesian traditions. Every school age child on Mangareva has visited Hokule'a.
On the clear, star-lit Mangarevan evenings, fishermen have gathered on Hokule'a's aft deck and learned how Hawaiians have navigated this voyaging canoe. It is with a deep sense of gratitude and thanks that I look back at my almost twenty five years of sailing on board Hokule'a. I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about my cultural history, and especially about myself in such a unique way. So I enter this voyage with a sense of excitement, an opportunity once again to explore, discover, and make new friends. To find a new island one last time, to celebrate a generation of voyaging and herald a new one, to continue to honor our ancestors, and then to return home to my family and once more know that place from where I started all over again.