A look back at Hokulea’s first voyage, 40 years ago


On Tuesday night, KHON2 airs a special look back at the 1976 voyage that spawned a cultural revival here in Hawaii and across Polynesia.

Forty years ago, two crews sailed Hokulea to Tahiti and back without modern-day instruments, guided only by nature’s clues.

They were made up of 27 men and two women.

Keani Reiner of Kauai was a surfer and experienced sailor who had done many long sails with her father, who raced in the Transpac.

Penny Rawlins Martin of Molokai would be the first to tell you she was the opposite. At 23 years old, Hokulea was the first sailing vessel she’d ever been on.

“They probably could have or should have flagged the escort boat down and said, ‘Eh, take this wahine off,’ you know?” Martin said. “But they let me stay on and, you know, they picked up my slack and they never, ever said anything negative to me, but looking back on that, they could’ve easily done that because I was like really inexperienced.”

Martin, 12 other crewmembers, and Hoku the dog sailed from Tahiti and arrived to a hero’s welcome at Magic Island.

“Hokulea: The First Voyage Sailing into History” airs Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on KHON2. Click here for more information.

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