Michael “Buddy” McGuire ’58

Story of a Seafarer

Department: Alumni Profiles

Hōkūle‘a’s Storytellers

Over the last 40 years since her first voyage, Hōkūle‘a’s story has been told by many voices through verse, song, dance and imagery, each story taking on a life of its own through the eyes of the person who experienced it.

The alumni featured here have found their own unique ways to continue sharing Hōkūle‘a’s story: from behind a lens, in Google Hangouts across oceans or simply by sharing tales of the sea.

Read additional stories in this feature by Monte Costa ’74 and Maui Tauotaha ’97.

By Erin Teruya ’93 Kinney

Michael “Buddy” McGuire’s ’58 involvement with Hōkūle‘a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society spans more than 35 years. His career is bookended by Hōkūle‘a’s ill-fated second attempt to reach Tahiti in 1978 and the triumphant beginning of its Worldwide Voyage in 2014.

McGuire has been immersed in saltwater since his childhood growing up in Portlock, off O‘ahu’s south shore. Next-door neighbors let the pre-teenager tag along on sailing trips and deep-sea fishing expeditions, and he paddled and surfed often.

Today, McGuire lives with his daughter next to the water where he can see boats coming in and out, and throw a shaka to the young fishermen. His niece, Punahou Hawaiian language teacher Emma McGuire ’93, recently met up with Hōkūle‘a during its sail up the East Coast as part of the School’s Malama Kumu program.

But it was early in 1977 when a chance encounter with a Punahou connection at Lihu‘e Airport got him started with Hōkūle‘a. Getting off the plane and heading to the passenger terminal, McGuire ran into Dave Lyman III ’61, who had sailed on Hōkūle‘a’s inaugural voyage the year before. Invitations were made, and soon McGuire was training with the Hōkūle‘a crew.

The following March, thousands had gathered at Magic Island to see the canoe off to Tahiti. Nervous, but ready, McGuire said goodbye to his wife and two children. It was a blustery evening and despite initial hesitations about whether to postpone the trip, Hōkūle‘a set off.

“We made it from Magic Island to the Diamond Head buoy in 30 minutes. That’s huge, she was flying,” said McGuire. As the journey continued, the double-hulled voyaging canoe developed a leak in one of the hulls and capsized south of Moloka‘i. McGuire recalled, “When I heard Cap Lyman say ‘all hands on deck,’ everyone came flying out. Quickly, he was giving instructions to everybody."

“I remember going up the deck as the hull was going over. Then I remember it was John Kruse, when we were all in the water, saying, ‘Everybody hang on, think ‘opihi.’”

In the dark, tumultuous water, McGuire dove under the canoe and found a bag of racing bicycle tires he had earlier tied to the mast foot that he then used to secure himself and others to the overturned canoe.

He remembers the conversations throughout the night after big wave surfer and crew member Eddie Aikau volunteered to take his surfboard and go for help. “And everyone said ‘No, don’t go Eddie, don’t go.’ We turned him back three times. And finally everybody agreed, OK, let him go, even though all of us knew in our heart of hearts that you don’t leave the vessel.”

He recalls how a plane spotted the crew’s last parachute flare and how they were eventually rescued. McGuire was one of the last out of the water as a 12-foot shark circled nearby.

The 1978 voyage, he says, “had a dramatic effect on my life, in that I know now how insignificant we as individuals are when it comes to something immense as Mother Nature. It made me a better person because it certainly brought home humility.”

Now retired from his job as an arbitrator, McGuire keeps his eyes on the ocean and recalls the glory days of his Hōkūle‘a voyages. “I’m just an old seafarer.”

Parts of this profile have been excerpted from a 2010 oral history interview with McGuire conducted by Grade 8 social studies faculty and former Hōkūle‘a crewmember Marion Lyman-Mersereau ’70.


  • Submitted by Scott Gaffney

    10/29/2016 1:04:43 AM

    We go back long ago, and many stories. "Da Bud" was/is a good guy

  • Submitted by TobyTobin

    11/2/2016 7:27:36 PM

    Buddy - howzit from an old Portlock Roader. Fantastic to hear about you.

  • Submitted by Kelly Hutchinson McMahon

    11/2/2016 7:50:18 PM

    Great articles!! Thanks, It is fun to read about interesting alumns.

  • Submitted by Martin Griggs

    11/2/2016 11:14:55 PM

    A great article about a great man. It is illustrative of of Mr. Mcguire's character that I was lucky enough to know him when I was a child, knew he was involved in the Hokulea, but never knew he was on that fateful voyage. Thank you for the great but short article and the best to him and his family.

  • Submitted by Tom Wenska

    11/5/2016 9:06:52 AM

    You did it. Good on you. Love you, Dude -- Tom

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