Kumu Crew: Intracoastal Waterway

April 9, 2016

In from Kaniela Lyman-Mersereau ‘05

Lying on the navigation platform under a clear sky in a calm harbor I reflect upon an exciting day on the Intracoastal Waterway. Hokule‘a and Hikianalia smile down at the wa‘a as she rests here in St. Augustine, Florida, for the night. One can't help but feel connected even when so far away from home. The stars and the people who greet Hokule‘a with humility, grace and awe bring me back home. On this journey we are so lucky to be on Hokule‘a in unfamiliar waters on a strange voyage through inland waterways, under bridges, through a continent so close but so far from the mighty Atlantic and one of the most dangerous coasts in the world. It amazes me how far this wa‘a reached before she even left the shores of Hawai'i for the worldwide voyage.

After a day of traveling past people yelling aloha from the waterside and trying their best to pronounce Hokule‘a while raising their best version of the shaka, we find ourselves at our first dock: "We've been following you all day!!" A shrill boisterous voice penetrated the air as a dark-haired middle-aged woman approached with four kids. "Aloha. I can't believe you are here! This is amazing!" We smile exhausted smiles as we tie up and meet very interested, genuine beings. Former captain and navigator Ka‘au McKinney's uncle and aunt greet us on the dock and invite us to barbecue. We're all amazed at this ho‘ailona, this sign, this connection so far away from home. We eat, we sing and we dance to Ka‘au's guitar skillfully played by Maleko under a sky full of stars. Stories, tears and laughter are shared. We must make our way.

This morning starts off slow and as we work to make ready, we hear another loud voice, this time from the water; "Is that the Hokule‘a!!!!" A man in a small aluminum dingy is standing tall and staring. "Like the actual Hokule‘a??!!” Captain Bruce looks up and smiles and invites this ecstatic man on board where he shares his knowledge of Mau Piailug, Eddie Aikau and his years spent living on Hawaii. Fast forward to this afternoon after some near misses under narrow bridges and tricky harbors calmly negotiated by a cool-headed captain and a crew who strives to make him and Hokule‘a proud. We are greeted by a man with photos ready to sign. He was there on the Coast Guard boat that helped to escort Hokule‘a into Honolulu harbor in 1976. 41 years later the story goes on.

It is a strange for Hokule‘a to travel under bridges separated from the open sea from dock to dock seeking indigenous knowledge and those who care about the planet. As we make our way to our planned events In Charleston and Beaufort, SC, and Newport News and Yorktown, Virginia. I want to extend a big mahalo to everyone who has taken the time to visit us along our way. Every face, every story, every smile, every tear, every connection with honest, genuine, good people who care is worth every moment spent on the open sea. Aloha nui. Me ka ha‘aha‘a.

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