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?
Lexile

The Polynesian voyaging canoe that is guided solely by nature as it circles the globe has reached South Africa.  That is the halfway point on its three-year journey and the most dangerous leg partly because of complicated 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.
 
By the time the voyage is expected to end in 2017, 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, 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 recounted 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, 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, before reflecting on 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 and was built in an attempt to revive 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, which 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 (155)
  • zackd-ver
    11/25/2015 - 12:17 a.m.

    Wow, I thought for sure it wasn't possible to travel around the world in a canoe it seems surprising since people don't really give to much attention to canoes, you would normally think of a boat.

  • macil-nar
    11/30/2015 - 03:02 p.m.

    The crew isn't using gps because they aren't using the regular navigation system because the ocean is very dangerous and it is a long trip.

  • jamesj-1-nar
    11/30/2015 - 04:07 p.m.

    It is the way that brought the Polynesians to Hawaii. They are trying to recreate how the Polynesians came to Hawaii. The crew believes that if their ancestors could do it they could do it too.

  • isabelles-nar
    11/30/2015 - 05:29 p.m.

    This is cool! I love how the people aboard are working toward building relationships with the people they meet. Plus, it was a really good idea to go without an gps for the long ride.

  • davidc-nar
    11/30/2015 - 05:39 p.m.

    The crew isn't using GPS because they want to uphold their traditions. The first time their ship sailed in 1976 they had no modern equipment so they want to relive that experience. I think what they are doing is very dangerous but I think that with their willpower, they can do it.

  • reaganh-nar
    11/30/2015 - 06:17 p.m.

    They want a natural trip. They want to enjoy nature and use nature to guide themselves.Also they are bringing back old Hawaiian traditions.

  • diyap-nar
    11/30/2015 - 08:10 p.m.

    diyap-nar
    This is surprising of the crew not using navigation but I thought they did but they don't because it is dangerous. The crew isn't using GPS because they don't have real navigation system in order to use the GPS to know where they are going. Also the GPS may damage and kill people it is that dangerous.

  • sunl-nar
    11/30/2015 - 08:29 p.m.

    It seems quite cool that these people are traveling around the world in a canoe. I wonder how easy it is to navigate without a guided GPS system. The journey itself sounds quite fun but dangerous.

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    11/30/2015 - 09:25 p.m.

    I think that it is amazing for the Polynesian to be voyaging. Not only that but the canoe is guided solely by nature. So it circles the globe until it has finally reached South Africa. I think that this idea could possibly lead up to new relationships. So I want to support them as much as possible.

  • carterl-nar
    12/01/2015 - 01:38 p.m.

    Its amazing that they are going around the world in a canoe and its old.

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