Kumu Crew: Heading Home

May 7, 2016

In from Kaniela Lyman-Mersereau ‘05

The new crew has arrived. The transition period is always interesting and filled with mixed feelings. I will miss this crew and the days and nights we shared aboard Hokule‘a on leg 19. The countless bridges and marina names have become a blur. The stories and laughs remain. I climb out of my cold bunk for the last time in Virginia at 3:30 a.m. Our friends reveal themselves in the heavens for the first time in a week. Hokule‘a and Hikianalia are making their way west to set near the mouth of the York River. Hokupa‘a stands tall and strong at 37 degrees north. It's time for māmā to make her way ‘akau to meet the good people of Washington D.C. and New York. It is time for us to go home.

Starr, Mikiala, Leilani and I pile into the Subaru half-awake, for the last time. Moani drives. She is quiet. She does not want us to leave. Her family for the past month is heading home. She will be staying on as escort captain all the way up the coast. You will not find a tougher wahine who cares more about Hokule‘a.

Next thing I know we are walking around the Norfolk, VA airport like zombies. Suddenly it seems we are in New York speed walking through JFK international. This is a very colorful place. The stuffed alligator I could not pack is getting funny looks from everybody. Mostly smiles. Some are startled and think it is real. Happy to provide some airport entertainment as we are herded through security lines and terminals. There's a lot of people traveling this earth getting a whole lot out of it I presume. Overwhelming people watching. Red fish Blue fish... Simply amazing. I wonder what they all do to give back.

The other half of my delirious brain wakes up during the Hawaiian Airlines safety briefing. For some reason they want their customers to know that long ago Hawaiians set sail on voyaging canoes to explore faraway islands. Somehow we are connected to these ancient voyagers who connected with nature on a level that is difficult to comprehend by stepping on this incredible flying piece of machinery with wings. They want to show the unique beauty of our islands as they teach us how to store our luggage and fasten our oxygen masks. It is good to feel connected... In all my discomfort sitting in this chair I can't help but smile as our vessel soars high above the Pacific Ocean, Moananuiakea. Nothing but gratitude for this strange, beautiful life. As captain Bruce would say, "How's that? Terrific ah."

Me ka ha‘aha‘a y'all, Starr and Kaniela