Kauai Stories 1

Kauai Stories 1: It's Magic (excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonIn 1975, modern voyagers began sailing aboard Hokulea, a handsome 62-foot long double-hulled, twin-masted canoe built as a working replica of ancient Polynesian sailing vessels. Hokulea is navigated using only the same tools available to early Polynesians: stars and planets, sun, moon, wind, ocean swells, cloud formations, patterns of migratory birds and other forms of natural guidance, collectively called “wayfinding.” 

Keala Kai, a strong and gentle Hawaiian man, speaks poetically of his experiences sailing Polynesian-style and the connection he made with his ancestors while aboard Hokulea. A former professional lifeguard who was born and raised on Kauai, Keala was invited on his first Hokulea voyage in 2005 when he was 47 years old. Since then, he has sailed on Hokulea from Fukuoka, Japan to Oshima and then onto Uwajima; and from Hawaii to Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific. After returning from his voyages, Keala was inspired to launch a new career as an artist, drawing intricate pencil sketches of sailing canoes of all shapes and sizes on canvasses and for his own line of clothing.


Sailing Among the Stars

The first thing that kind of grabs you is the sound a voyaging canoe makes when it’s just sitting. All the tension of the cords and the sails, it’s almost like the canoe is alive and it wants to go somewhere.

Before I ever sailed on Hokulea, I was sitting on a box on the canoe one day when she was moored at Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. Dennis Chun and other people that I read about in school, were discussing a sailing plan to Oahu. If I had just had that one moment, that would have been enough for me, just to be on the canoe with these people. Then out of the blue, Dennis and John Kruse (the first Kauai resident to sail on Hokulea), turned around at the same time and said, “Hey, Keala, what you doing tomorrow? You want to go sailing with us?” I had a lump in my throat and couldn’t answer. I just nodded.

My great-grandmother could speak Hawaiian but I can’t. But the next morning before we left, when we formed a circle on the canoe and the prayer was said in Hawaiian, it’s almost like some kind of ancestral knowledge came over me and I understood exactly what they were saying, even though I didn’t know the words. I could feel it. It was electric.

Then we went sailing.

Someone told me, “When you’re out there, the stars come down so low, it’s like Hokulea is lifting you up into the heavens, and you’re sailing among the stars.” Whenever you go aboard the Hokulea, it’s magic.   

Read more about sailing aboard Hokulea from Keala and two others in Kauai Stories 1


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