LAHAINA - Volunteers have moved the finished Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani out of the hut at Kamehameha Iki Park to begin final construction of the voyaging canoe's superstructure.
Hui o Wa'a Kaulua President Kimokeo Kapahulehua said, "Our organization is working very hard to get everything done well, and Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani is very close to going in the water."
Work on the superstructure includes the helm or navigator's platform, captain's chair, masts, spars and rigging.
Work on the voyaging canoe’s superstructure is underway in Kamehameha Iki Park.
Hui o Wa'a Kaulua (Assembly of the Double-Hull Canoes) crew and volunteers are working hard to finish everything required for the boating inspection and official marine survey of the 62-foot-long, double-hulled vessel.
"Everything" means not only carpentry and wood finishing, but also installing safety and emergency equipment required for any vessel this size sailing in U.S. waters.
Even though Mo'okiha's crew is trained in traditional celestial navigation and wayfinding, when storms threaten lives or the integrity of the canoe, an outboard engine, satellite phone, transponding beacon, life jackets, foul-weather gear, bilge pumps, radios and GPS must be available to the crew, by law.
Until needed, electronics will be locked in a waterproof storage box on deck, and Navigator Kala Baybayan will steer a course by the stars, winds and currents.
"We have never been here before," said Capt. Timi Gilliom. "From this point on, everything done to this canoe will be a first on Maui."
A custom boat trailer designed and machined by Lahaina Welding will transport the vessel.
Lahaina Harbor officials have never before inspected a traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe this size, and the U.S. Coast Guard on the island has never processed a Marine Registration for a Maui voyaging canoe.
In addition, a Hawaiian double-hulled canoe of this magnitude has never been launched at Mala Ramp.
"Everyone is pretty excited, but there is still a lot of work to do a lot of finishing, lashing and rigging," he said.
As the project progresses, more workers are needed.
Volunteers may go to the 525 Front St. dry dock in Kamehameha Iki Park any day after 9 a.m. to assist in final sanding, lashing, carpentry and electrical work.
Hui o Wa'a Kaulua also seeks donations for the costly emergency equipment.
For more information, visit www.huiowaa.org.