Kumu Crew: A Grateful Arrival

April 14, 2016

In from Starr Johnson ‘98

Aloha kākou! We are currently in Charleston, SC, and feeling blessed for making it safely to the dock and being welcomed by the native tribes of the region as well as the paddling and surfing community here.

After a pretty mellow first few hours cruising up the ICW in awe of enormous old southern homes along the waterway, we arrived into the mouth of the river and were hit head on with small craft advisory conditions, wind-chopped waves and winds hitting us straight on of more than 20 mph. To deal with Hōkū's lack of power in such conditions, Captain Bruce Blankenfeld got us rigged up to our escort on a side tow (a first for me).

The conditions were pretty radical and at times scary, but getting through the winds, over the extended minutes of "uni" (on the steering sweep circling her as hard as possible – very exhausting!), a broken cleat and cracked catwalk, this was the most powerful experience I have had on Hokule‘a thus far.

To watch our captain and watch captains take the conditions with such focus, peace of mind and calm behavior was truly amazing. At no point did the crew panic. Instead we worked together – each person immediately reading the situation or following directions to take care of each challenge that arose, ultimately bringing her into a tiny marina and sliding her into the dock as if it were a game of Tetris. Kaniela did an amazing job as a watch captain helping control the area between Hōkū and our escort boat.

We then had to take a few deep breaths and immediately gather ourselves to partake in a special welcoming ceremony with the nine tribes in the area. To be welcomed by First Nations people beating their drums and providing speeches and a meal truly helped the day feel that much more valuable.

It was a day to remember and the most powerful one I have had since we began our journey from Titusville, FL. We will be in Charleston for one more night to participate in some outreach and school visits tomorrow. Mahalo for following!