Hokulea has made her first touch on the U.S. Mainland at Everglades National Park to pay homage to nature, the National Park Service and the area’s indigenous people.
Arriving at Everglades National Park on Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. (EST); 1:00 a.m. (HST), the Hokulea crew were welcomed by The Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples in a sacred ceremony honoring the Voyage. Following this sacred ceremony, The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Everglades National Park Service hosted a welcoming ceremony at the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, where the public was invited to meet the crew and learn about the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
“We thought it would be most appropriate to have Hokulea’s arrival into the U.S. mainland take place where we could honor and pay respect to the area’s native people and to our National Park Service,” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo navigator and president of Polynesian Voyaging Society. “This arrival represents two key pillars of our voyage, which are to connect with other indigenous cultures and to discover the efforts of our environmental mission partners such as the National Park Service, which is celebrating its Centennial,” he added.
Everglades National Park is a public park for the benefit of the people. It is set aside as a permanent wilderness preserving essential primitive conditions including the natural abundance, diversity, behavior, and ecological integrity of the unique flora and fauna. The park is visited on average by one million people each year. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and Wetland of International Importance.
Hokulea sailed to Everglades National Park from Key West, FL where she entered the US on March 23, 2016, after two years of sailing around the globe. The canoe departed Key West on March 25, 2015 to set sail for the Everglades. Her next destination after Everglades National Park is Fort Meyers, FL.
From Fort Meyers, Hokulea will cross the Florida peninsular via the Okeechobee Waterway to the eastern coast of the state where the crew will honor the late Lacy Veach at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in early April. Veach was a Hawaii-born NASA astronaut who first suggested the idea that Hokulea should sail around the world to share the message to care for Island Earth.
As Hokulea sails up the East Coast of the U.S. for the first time in history, the Polynesian Voyaging Society has been developing the canoe’s sail plan based on stops where the crew will be able to make deeper connections with schools, Native American tribes and environmental mission partners such as National Park Service, UNESCO, NOAA and Mission Blue.
Following Florida, the crew will travel up the east coast making several stops including South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, where PVS will celebrate Earth Day with the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, offering canoe tours and dockside outreach to the public. Additional engagement stops in Virginia include Yorktown and Tangier Island, where the crew will focus on many of the environmental issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay and the efforts to protect the country’s largest watershed. From there, the iconic canoe will arrive at the nation’s capital by sailing down the Potomac River and docking at the Washington Canoe Club.
After spending about a week in Washington DC, Hokulea will sail to New York City, where she will be a focal point at World Oceans Day events hosted by the United Nations on June 8, 2016. The theme of this year’s World Oceans Day is Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. While in New York City, Hokulea will also participate in the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, which is the east coast’s largest Pacific Islands festival and one of the world’s most competitive outrigger races. Hokulea is expected to depart New York City on June 18, for several engagements in the New England area.
Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Hokulea has sailed more than 21,500 nautical miles and made stops in 12 countries and 55 ports, weaving a “Lei of Hope” around the world. Along the way, more than 160 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Hokulea accompanied by escort vessel Gershon II to spread the message of malama honua (or taking care of Island Earth) by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited. So far, crew members have connected with over 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa and Brazil.
For a midway recap of the Worldwide Voyage, please view http://www.hokulea.com/2015-worldwide-voyage-recap/
Hokulea first set out on the Pacific Ocean in 1975. Since then, she has traveled to multiple countries across the globe, reawakening a Hawaiian cultural renaissance in the process through reviving the traditional art of wayfinding – navigating the sea guided by nature using the ocean swells, stars, and wind.