HONOLULU (KHON2) — After departing Sand Island on Wednesday, May 12 and arriving on Maui on May 13, voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia continue to be moored off of Lahaina as crews wait for signs of improved weather conditions.
Once conditions improve, the crews will set sail and cross the Alenuihaha Channel, between Maui and Hawaii Island.
Meanwhile, the Alenuihaha remains under a small craft advisory with sustained winds of 30 mph.
Hōkūleʻa Captain and PWO Navigator Nainoa Thompson explained the decision to stand by saying that the Alenuihaha is known for large waves and strong winds funneled between Haleakala and the North Kohala Mountains and Mauna Kea, and when the current opposes the wind it becomes
a dangerous situation.
“It’s not like the wave is coming at you when it hits the canoe. Many times it’s coming down on you. It’s so steep and so tall that it breaks down on the canoes,” said Thompson. “We are training for the storm, but also being smart about certain areas on the earth that you need to have high respect for, so that our job is to grow as students, grow and learn by observing nature, and so we are here
waiting for nature to tell us when we can go,”
Thompson also acknowledged that in addition to observing nature, Polynesian Voyaging Society leadership is also using science and technology to help them with making key decisions. He has been consulting with NOAA’s National Weather Service Pacific Region Ray Tanabe to get his perspective on sailing conditions using satellite observations from space and at different positions in the ocean and on land.
“Right now the conditions are pretty rough in the Alenuihaha Channel. We’re seeing winds at least 25 knots and that corresponds to close to 30 miles an hour with higher gusts,” said Tanabe. “Because the trades have been around for a while now, the seas are also very high so we’re seeing wind waves as high as eight to 10 feet in the channel.”
The Polynesian Voyaging Society says if conditions improve, the earliest the crews are expected to depart Lahaina will be on Tuesday, May 18.