Lessons – from the voyage to Rapa Nui
By Sam Low
At about 10 AM, local time, a few hours after having seen Rapa Nui ahead off our port bow, Nainoa called us all aft to share some thoughts about the voyage. Bruce, Chad and Nainoa spoke – here are their words:
Nainoa: The voyage is pau and this gives me almost an empty feeling. But everyone should be proud of this accomplishment. We have traveled to the last corner of the Polynesian triangle and that achievement is not just ours – it belongs to everyone who has donated a portion of the millions of man hours spent taking care of the canoe over the almost 25 years since her creation.
We worked hard to prepare for this voyage but it was not just academic preparation and physical training that got us here. It was my plan to continue sailing southeast and tack back northeast at sunset – but the wind shifted northeast and if we tacked we would have been going back the way we had come. So instead I decided to follow the wind around and in the morning the island was off our port bow. The wind brought the canoe here. It’s about mana. Hokule’a has latent, quiet, sleeping mana when she is tied up at the pier in Honolulu. But when the canoe is sailed by people with deep values and serious intent the mana comes alive – she takes us to our destination.
The mana is inside all of us. It’s tied to our ancestry and our heritage. Sometime, in the press of daily life, we neglect it. But when we come aboard this canoe and commit our spirits and souls and lives to a voyage like this one, I think we all feel it. I know I do. This is a very privileged moment for all of us – we have stepped inside that realization of mana on this voyage.
When we go back to our special island home, we need to remember this moment. Mana comes from caring and commitment and values. We malama our canoe and she takes care of us. When we return to Hawaii we need to remember to malama our islands just as we do this canoe. We need to commit ourselves to the values that give life meaning. This canoe is so special – and our island home is also very special – if we learn to care for our land and our ocean they will also take care of us.
Bruce: A lot of things have happened on this voyage that gave me chicken skin. The port hull of the canoe is the wahine hull and the starboard hull is the Kane hull. The symbolism is that the male and the female forces give us life. The symbolism is that they also balance each other – they help each other survive in the ocean.
The mana in this canoe comes from all the people in the past who have sailed aboard Hokule’a and cared for her. I think of the literally thousands of people who have come down and given to the canoe when she was in dry dock. I think of Bruno Schmidt in Mangareva who showed up with his truck every morning to take us wherever we needed to go. I think of the people in Tautira and Aotearoa and the Marquesas who did the same. The list is endless. All of this malama – this caring – adds to the mana of the canoe. It is intangible but it is alive and well. We can all feel it. I just want to acknowledge it.
In this crew we have shown a nice respectful balance. We have shown that we all know how to work hard and how to treat each other well and that was one of the most memorable parts of the voyage for me. The work ethic among this crew was fabulous. There was not one negative word. This kind of caring for each other is part of the on-going rediscovery of what voyaging is all about.
Chad: What made this voyage so special for me was that I felt so comfortable because I knew I was among people who had earned their spot on the crew. You guys are my heroes because you all showed such a dedicated professionalism. I am proud to have sailed with you. Now we have another special journey ahead of us – to return the canoe home to our own special part of the Polynesian triangle and by doing that we honor not only our ancestors but all those people at home who have supported us at home.