LAHAINA - The double-hulled voyaging canoes Hokule'a and Hikianalia are embarking on a Worldwide Voyage (WWV) this summer. The sister ships from Hawaii will travel more than 45,000 nautical miles across the globe, visiting at least 26 countries, with stops at 62 ports of call.
The 36-month crossing commences in Hilo in June, sailing to Maui in July and the rest of Hawaii to the end of the year.
The Pacific Voyaging Society (PVS) expedition is on a mission to Malama Honua (Care for the Earth).
According to the Hokule'a website (hokulea.org), the PVS was founded in 1973 to answer a basic question: "How did the Polynesians discover and settle small islands in ten million square miles of ocean, geographically the largest 'nation' on earth?
"How did they navigate without instruments, guiding themselves across ocean distances of 2,500 miles?"
The Hokule'a (Star of Gladness) was built and launched in 1975. Designed by PVS cofounder and famed artist Herb Kawainui Kane (1928-2011), she is a replica of an ancient double-hulled voyaging canoe.
From her first successful voyage to Tahiti in 1976, the over 61-foot wa'a kaulua has served as a symbol of Hawaiian culture and pride.
After 40 years of voyaging, she has sailed the Polynesian triangle - from Hawaii to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Rapa Nui - and beyond to Micronesia, Japan and the West Coast of America.
Over the years, the vision of the voyaging society evolved from a one-culture to a universal perspective, with a goal of sailing the Hokule'a around the world to share traditional Hawaiian values and practices of malama, to learn from other cultures and to join forces with like-minded peoples across the planet in an effort to "navigate towards a sustainable future."
The focus of the WWV is on education.
Nainoa Thompson, PVS president and navigator, said before embarking on a crossing in 1999 (and it is as appropriate now as it was then): "When we voyage, and I mean voyage anywhere, not just in canoes, but in our minds, new doors of knowledge will open, and that's what this voyage is all about it's about taking on a challenge to learn. If we inspire even one of our children to do the same, then we will have succeeded."
Toward this goal, the PVS has enlisted a crew of professional educators to bring the global trek to the classroom.
From a competitive pool of applicants, 20 teachers across the state were selected to participate in the A'o Hawai'i program, and Mary Anna Waldrop of Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina was chosen.
"We felt that your experience and enthusiasm will make an important contribution to the overall goals of the Worldwide Voyage education outreach and connection to educators on all islands," the e-mail announcement of her selection read.
"A'o Hawaii," Waldrop explained, "is a grant that is supporting the Worldwide Voyage and the professional development of teachers."
According to the course philosophy, "through the WWV, PVS seeks to become a catalyst for positive change in Hawai'i by nurturing relationships that share values of, and responsibility for, caring for Island Earth, her oceans and children, while honoring their heritage and perpetuating their cultures.
"Education is a key priority of the WWV. Each leg of the voyage will aim to have at least one P-12 teacher crewmember who will also serve as a STEMS education ambassador connecting Hokule'a and Hikianalia's journeys to both local and global classrooms."
(Next week: Bringing the WorldWide Voyage to the classroom and the West Side.)