The Voyage to Rapa Nui / 1999-2000
Chad Baybayan's Journal / Leg 3: Mangareva to Rapa Nui
October 4: The night sky on the ocean can be mesmerizing. Stars cascade overhead showering the canoe and ocean below it with light from the heavens. The moon rises slowly out of the sea, making a trail of golden light beneath it. Wavelets lap against the hull of the canoe like little hands that reach up and touch Hokule'a, gently pushing us along the way. We move to a gentler and softer pace, influenced by the rhythm and pulse of the sky and sea that surrounds us. As the planet slowly turns and the sun begins to flood the morning sky with brilliant streaks of oranges and reds, another night has ended and another day begins, the cycle of this voyage once again renewing itself.
Hokule'a, now in the heart of the tradewind belt, pushes slowly eastward under the soft undersides of the fair weather cumulus clouds that float above us. The conversation of the day centers around how the many male members of this crew met their spouses. One crew member remembered starting a new job and walking into her office on the first day of work without knocking. She looked at him, shouting "Excuse me, were you raised in a barn? Don't you knock before entering?" It was love at first sight. We married two years later.
The canoe is filled with this type of light humor, the mood matching the pleasant weather of the day. In the quiet breaks that fill my day, my mind drifts off, contemplating and remembering the many evolutions that both Hokule'a and I have experienced in the 24 years that we've shared. Time and the powerful experience of voyaging have bonded me in a strong set of beliefs that orient the internal compass that navigates my life. Twenty-four years ago the job that I do now was called navigating. Today, recognizing the broad roles that navigators must play and the leadership skills that they need to possess, we redefined the term navigation, calling it now the art of wayfinding. Wayfinding is more than guiding the canoe. It is about nurturing a crew of friends by building positive relationships on the deck of this canoe and among the communities we visit. It is also about continuing the tradition of honoring our ancestors, and the culture and heritage they represent. Lastly, it is about cherishing the spirit of the many friends and supporters that fill Hokule'a's sails through their effort and work.
In 1995, when Bruce Blankenfeld and I sailed Hawai'iloa, the newest of the Hawaiian voyaging canoes, to Tahiti on her maiden voyage, we set a very simple goal for our crew. We would work to be better friends when we arrived than we began. As navigators and as a crew we would "raise" the islands we were seeking if we all did our jobs. But how we felt as a crew about the totality of the experience was as important a goal as making that landfall. On this voyage it is that very spirit that we embrace, one of caring, making new discoveries and building new and deeper friendships along the way. So our voyage continues at a much slower pace, but with that strong feeling very much intact.
To Other Entries in Chad's Journal: September 20, 1999--Thoughts on Departure; September 22, 1999--Decision to Depart; September 24, 1999--Pitcairn; September 27, 1999--Getting into a Rhythm; September 29, 1999--Life at Sea; October 01, 1999--The Crew; October 04, 1999--Cherishing the Spirit; October 06, 1999--Gray Skies; October 08, 1999--Landfall!