(BIVN) – Hōkūleʻa crew member Billy Richards, who was part of the maiden voyage of the legendary sailing canoe, shared a remarkable story of fate during the 10th Annual Wayfinding Festival on October 30 at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo.
Over 40 years ago, in the summer of 1975, the Vietnam veteran was in Honaunau at the same time Hōkūleʻa was anchored in the bay just off of Hale o Keawe at the City of Refuge. Richards recalled helping the crew, which was under captain Herb Kane at the time, shuttling them from shore to vessel in a koa outrigger.
Richards also told the story in a 2015 crew blog on the hokulea.com website:
At one point during their pule, a crew member looks down at me from Hōkūle‘a’s deck as we’re sitting along side in the outrigger. When the prayer ends, he jumps down into the hull of the large canoe and says, “I think you belong on this boat”. Confused at first, I say “what?” And he holds his hand out as if to invite me aboard and says again “I think you belong on this boat.” I grasp his hand, he pulls me aboard and I enter the making of a whole new world of responsibility, enlightenment, and change… There occurred at that moment for me, a shift in the axis of time, and it was from that point on that I have existed in two worlds, with one foot planted in the past, and the other in the present.
According to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Richards is now the Director of Communications for Partners in Development Foundation, a public not-for-profit company that serves the Native Hawaiian community through social and educational programs, and is presently the President of “The Friends of Hōkūleʻa and Hawaiʻiloa” and serves as co-chair of ‘Ohana Waʻa, a round-table collaborative of voyaging organizations from all of the Hawaiian Islands. He has voyaged aboard the waʻa kaulua of Hōkūleʻa, Hawaiʻiloa, Makaliʻi and Hokualakaʻi throughout the Pacific.