Hokulea visits elementary school

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HILO — While aboard the Hokulea, crew members often pass the time by tapping utensils against buckets to create music.


HILO — While aboard the Hokulea, crew members often pass the time by tapping utensils against buckets to create music.

They also write in journals. And — when needed — they swing themselves over the Polynesian voyaging canoe’s double hulls using an elaborately engineered harness.

Most importantly, they work together and adhere to the canoe’s “Malama Honua” mission, which translates as “to take care for our island Earth.”

That’s what crew members Kolomona Shintani, Wayne Washburn and Kalau Spencer told Kaumana Elementary School fifth-graders on Wednesday during a one-hour classroom presentation filled with photos and colorful sailing stories of their recent “Leg 25” voyage from New York to Miami.

Students also had a chance to examine sailing trinkets up close — including a conch and a heavy-duty sailing jacket worn by crew members.

“It’s all about taking care of the land,” Spencer said after the presentation. “Like I told students we don’t use paper plates or napkins (while aboard). Everything is plastic and green. So it’s little stuff like that we hope (they get from it). That’s what (Hokulea’s) mission is all about.”

The three crew members were among 10 total who completed the Leg 25 trip. They gave presentations to students of multiple grade levels throughout the day. Younger students also got to chat with crew members last December via Google Hangouts and were able to take virtual tour of the canoe.

Fifth-grade teacher Claire Hamura said her students had been preparing for Wednesday’s presentation by compiling questions they wanted to ask the crew.

“We asked them, ‘What would you ask someone who was actually there? What would you be interested in knowing that only people who live through it would be able to answer?’” Hamura said. “We wanted them to get a chance to ask questions to people who actually know firsthand.”

Ten-year-old Gavin Nishida said he most enjoyed learning about daily life aboard the canoe, such as where the 10-member crew slept and how cold it got while sailing through winter climates.

“I learned a lot from this presentation,” Gavin said. “It was inspiring. I really liked them explaining what they did on the canoe.”


“My favorite part of the presentation was how they worked together to be on the canoe to get everything done easier,” added 10-year-old Cayla Carter.

According to its website, Hokulea has traveled more than 150,000 nautical miles since its launch in 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society. It began its current worldwide voyage in 2013 and is currently sailing through the Galapagos Islands.

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