PACIFIC OCEAN – Video recently recorded aboard Hawaii’s iconic Hōkūleʻa canoe show scenes of wayfinding, and the triumph of a successful catch, as the crew makes its way to Rapa Nui.
The traditional voyaging canoe has traveled more than 1,600 Pacific Ocean miles since leaving the Galapagos Islands two weeks ago. The route to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is considered one of the most challenging legs of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Rapa Nui’s remote location and its tiny size, just thirteen miles wide and 1,600 feet high, make it one of the most difficult islands to find, wayfinders say.
“The leg to Rapa Nui presents a unique learning opportunity for the young navigators to test their wayfinding abilities and refine the skills needed to navigate aboard Hokulea,” said Pwo navigator and captain Nainoa Thompson in a media release. “It’s so important that we provide ample opportunities for our next generation of navigators to explore the ocean and the complexities of wayfinding.”
The 1,900 nautical mile journey from the Galapagos Islands to Rapa Nui should be completed in just a few more days. The trek is characterized by “direct headwinds that create difficult conditions to balance the canoe against wind and wave patterns,” the voyagers say.
“The big challenge is not just beating into the wind, the problem is you’re trying to find the single-most isolated landmass on the Earth. It’s smaller than Lanai and a little bigger than Kahoolawe,” said Thompson. “Even if you’re extraordinarily precise, you could still miss it. And so it is one of the ultimate navigational challenges of all time.”
According to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a team of four apprentice navigators “have been team-navigating and turning studies into practice since departing the Galapagos Islands on February 12, 2017. They have been using their knowledge of the stars and taking directional cues they derive from their observations of nature. Learning from kupuna, or elders, to raise the next generation of wayfinders, the crew is a multi-generational group combining science, wisdom, and instinct to form one of the most challenging trials for the young navigators.”
After Rapa Nui, Hokulea turn towards French Polynesia before her return home to Magic Island in June of this year.