Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, June 15, 2004

So far, it's smooth sailing for Hokule'a

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Science Writer

The voyaging canoe Hokule'a was sailing along the south side of Maro Reef late yesterday afternoon on its voyage back to the main Hawaiian Islands from Midway Atoll.

The canoe left Midway under tow by the escort boat Kama Hele about noon Friday for what was expected to be an eight- to 10-day passage to Hanalei on Kaua'i.

Hokule'a was heading roughly east-southeast, sailing in northeast tradewinds of 15 to 20 miles an hour. Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld said the canoe dropped the tow line and started sailing Sunday near the eastern edge of Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

"We're doing better than we expected. As long as it stays northeast, we should be able to skirt the southern side of the islands as far as French Frigate Shoals," Blankenfeld said.

The canoe carries a satellite transponder that automatically sends its position periodically to a satellite. The position is regularly updated on the University of Hawai'i Web site, hokulea.soest.hawaii.edu.

Late yesterday, the site showed that the return voyage initially followed a path north of its outbound course, and then crossed and has been sailing south of the course for the past day or two.

The canoe drags fishing lures during the day to supplement canned food on board. Blankenfeld said the crew caught a 15-pound ono Saturday, but had not caught anything since.

The 10-member crew is broken into three three-person watches. Each watch is in charge of the canoe for four hours, and then has eight hours off. Captain Mel Paoa serves as a crewman on one of the watches. He is a mobile intensive care technician and is also serving as the ship's doctor, but Blankenfeld said there had been no call for those services.

Advertiser Science Writer Jan TenBruggencate sailed as a crewmember on Hokule'a during its historic voyage up the 1,200 miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Now that he's back on land, reach him at (808) 245-3074 or email jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.