Would you go around the world – in a canoe? Crew members Glenn Biven, left, and Diane Tom-Ogata, right, use a wooden rudder to steer the Hokulea canoe. (AP Photo/Oskar Garcia)
Would you go around the world – in a canoe?
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The Polynesian voyaging canoe that is guided solely by nature as it circles the globe has reached South Africa.  It's the halfway point on a three-year journey and the most dangerous leg.  That's partly because of difficult ocean conditions.
 
The double-hulled canoe Hokulea left Hawaii last year.  Its crewmembers are sailing without modern navigation equipment. They are using the motion of the waves and the position of the stars to guide their path.  It is sailing the way that brought the first Polynesians to the Hawaiian Islands.
 
The voyage is expected to end in 2017. By that time, crewmembers will have sailed more than 60,000 nautical miles. They will have dropped anchor at 100 ports in 27 nations.
 
They recently arrived in Cape Town, South Africa.  Crewmembers are teaching the local community about traditional navigation. They are also teaching them about Native Hawaiian culture and ways to care for the ocean.
 
"We're here. We're safe," navigator Nainoa Thompson said from Cape Town. "We got around South Africa safely."
 
The journey is also about building relationships and connections at all their stops, Thompson said.
 
"To be honest, the majority of people don't know much about Hawaiian culture or Hawaii," he said.
 
He shared a moment when Hawaii students who have joined up with the voyage met with children in Cape Town.
 
"We didn't know how to connect until our children danced.  Then their children danced," he said.
 
"We had a chance today to witness what world peace looks like and sounds like," he added. He was describing the sounds of Hawaiian pahu drums beating along with African rhythms.
 
The stop was made possible with permission from a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  He blessed the canoe during a 2012 visit to Hawaii, Thompson said.
 
"We're finding the definitions of caring, compassion and aloha from many of the places that we go," Thompson said.  Then he reflected upon hearing news of the attacks on Paris. "We're just very blessed and very fortunate to be witness to it among all the stories of rage and anger."
 
The canoe will spend two weeks off the water.  Then it will head across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. South America is the next stop. Up to 200 crewmembers have sailed with Hokulea so far. They join and leave the journey at various points.
 
Hokulea was first built and launched in the 1970s.  It was built in an attempt to bring back Polynesian wayfinding. The first voyage to Tahiti in 1976 was successful.  The canoe became an icon amid an ongoing Native Hawaiian renaissance.
 
The latest voyage is called Malama Honua. It means, "to care for our Earth."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why isn’t the crew using GPS?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (85)
  • william1108-yyca
    11/23/2015 - 08:30 p.m.

    WOW! It must have been boring to be waiting about 3 years. I am sure that I don't want to ride on a ship or boat that has about 200 crewmembers. It must have ben crowded in it. But it also must have taken a long time because it is only a canoe not a motor boat. Riding a canoe for about 3 years must be hard and tough. And it is also amazing that they just used the waves and the stars to find their way to places. Maybe I should ride a canoe one day and sail around the whole world.

    Critical thinking question: Why isn't the crew using a GPS?

    Answer. They aren't because they just use nature. For instance they used the waves to guide them through their journey and thy also used the stars. Or they didn't use the GPS because it brought the first Polynesians to Hawaiian islands.

  • rachelh-612-
    11/24/2015 - 09:02 a.m.

    These people may not know about GPS, or they may want to sail the world in a traditional way. People do use GPS if you get lost, often in a car, and sometimes on a boat. But these people may want to travel the world in a more traditional, natural kind of way, to honor their people who sailed many miles without GPS, and sailed to their destination successfully

  • gjohnpaul-par
    11/24/2015 - 10:53 a.m.

    I think they could just use a map or the wind could guide them where they're going. U could also use a compass. ????

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    11/24/2015 - 04:11 p.m.

    I think that it is cool that the 200 crew members are just using an old native American canoe because they are going to be sailing around the whole world by just using a canoe. I think that just using nature as navigation is a good idea because people are going to do the things that the native Americans did because the native Americans used nature as navigation. I think that the way the the native Americans used for navigation is a good idea because using a GPS will easily run out of battery so you always need to recharge it during the journey around the world.

  • annabel1226-yyca
    11/24/2015 - 05:04 p.m.

    Are there enough space for all the people who wants to go there? If there is space then I will go. Also, what if there is a bad weather and the wave pours to the canoe? I hope everything goes all right. I hope that I could ride the canoe and feel what it is like. I think it just feels the same as riding a boat. I hope I would be safe after my trip to canoe. I am really curious about this journey. I keep wondering if I could make and be alive.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    11/24/2015 - 05:40 p.m.

    I would not want to canoe around the world because there are a lot of dangers that are involved. I am glad that the crew members of the Hokulea canoed to South Africa safely. I wonder why they wanted to pull off this incredible feat. I hope they do not run out of provisions because there are a lot of people on the Hokulea.
    Why isn’t the crew using GPS?
    Answer: The crew is not using GPS because they want to bring back Polynesian wayfinding.

  • miaw-har
    11/24/2015 - 08:29 p.m.

    The crew is not using GPS because they want to do the sailing like the Polynesians. The Polynesians go to Hawaii by the motion of the waves and the patterns of the stars. The question I ask myself is what if technology was never invented ? Well that is about the only way we would get around by sea. So never really rely on technology when there is a way you can do things yourself.

  • jtm-hou
    11/25/2015 - 07:46 p.m.

    The crew is not using a GPS because they want to use their resources.One of the resources they used was the way of the waves.The other thing that they used was the stars to navigate.

  • allisonz-612-
    11/26/2015 - 11:32 a.m.

    They are not using GPS because They are using the motion of the waves and the position of the stars to guide their path.

  • kathyl1-mac
    11/30/2015 - 08:13 a.m.

    It is interesting that some people are trying this ''activity'' that is in a way, dangerous but exciting and different.

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