PACIFIC OCEAN – An emotional moment aboard the Hōkūleʻa: The crew of Hawaii’s iconic voyaging canoe spotted Rapa Nui – also known as Easter Island – after a 16-day journey in the Pacific Ocean.
Captain Archie Kalepa said it was no small task to find the island using only the traditional wayfinding techniques.
“Finding Rapa Nui was by far one of the biggest challenges our crew has faced,” said Hōkūleʻa captain, Archie Kalepa. “With a few more months left in this journey, we’re glad to be back in Polynesian waters and for the opportunity to reconnect with the Rapa Nui community.”
On February 10, the crew set sail for Rapa Nui from the islands of Galapagos, part of Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Hōkūleʻa had already traveled more than 31,000 nautical miles and made stops in 16 countries, weaving a “Lei of Hope” around the world. Its been a long journey; Hōkūleʻa left the shores of Hilo, beginning the worldwide voyage in May 2014.
According to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Galapagos to Rapa Nui leg would be the most difficult, due to Rapa Nui’s remote location and its tiny size, just thirteen miles wide and 1,600 feet high.
ʻOiwi TV documented life aboard Hōkūleʻa during the challenging trek, as a team of four apprentice navigators turned studies into practice.
Finally, after more than two weeks and 1,900 nautical miles over deep ocean, the island was spotted.
With famed archaeological sites and an isolated environment rich with unique diversity, the Polynesian Voyaging Society says the small volcanic island of Rapa Nui represents an opportunity for the crew to learn more about the island’s status as a World Heritage Site as well as the strong cultural history of its Polynesian ancestors.
Following Rapa Nui, Hōkūleʻa will sail to French Polynesia before her return home to Magic Island on June 17, 2017.