Hōkūle‘a Returns to the Pacific, Ready for the Galapagos

Jan 16, 2017

Nakua leads the Hōkūleʻa Haʻa as the ship enters back into the Pacific Ocean.

Kāneohōkūleʻa holds the guiding star as the water drains from the final lock of the Panama Canal.

The Hōkūle‘a is back in Pacific waters after crossing the Panama Canal.  The ship is taking on a new crew in Panama City before setting out on her next leg to the Galapagos Islands.  We caught up with Media Specialist Bryson Hoe as part of our ongoing series Hōkūle‘a: Voyage of Aloha.

Hoe says “We transited through the Panama Canal a few days ago, and our crew flew in a few days ago to take over for the previous crew and we’re just provisioning now, putting water on board, putting food onboard, and making sure our safety systems are in place and working.  We’re making sure everyone who’s a part of this crew is ready mentally, physically and spiritually for the next leg that will take us all the way from Panama to the Galapagos.

"I believe this is the 28th crew of the worldwide voyage, and we switch crews about every 30 day or so.  We have people on board that have sailed multiple legs, as well as previous voyages, so you have veteran watermen that are a good asset to have on board for younger crew members to ask questions about why things are the way they are, and just to hear the stories of Hōkūle‘a and where she’s been.  So that it means something to the newer crew members that the tradition continues.

Nakua dips the koʻi, stone adze, into the Pacific Ocean to consecrate our return to our home waters.

"For the crew that sailed from Miami to the Caribbean, to the (Panama) Canal, it’s probably one of those historic moments where I don’t think anyone could imagine Hōkūle‘a going through the canal after crossing the Atlantic, and getting back into her home waters of the Pacific.

"For 40 years, the Pacific was her home, and I think in general, the conditions are a lot calmer and more predictable.  So when we crossed into the Indian Ocean and then the Atlantic, there was somewhat of a learning curve.  But our leadership was definitely prepared for safety and sailed the course correctly.  Now coming home, back into the Pacific, it’s familiar waters and home seems a lot closer although though we’re still six months away from coming back to Hawai‘i and are making sure that Hawai‘i’s canoe returns back home. 

"The weather’s a little hot, maybe a little more humid than we’re used to in Hawai‘i with the trade winds. But the crews in good spirits. Everyone’s in the right mindset and making sure that they’re prepared, so that when we leave, we all leave as one crew."

You can read past stories of the Hōkūle‘a’s voyage by visiting our website. 

The leg 26 crew celebrates the passage through the Panama Canal.