The crew of Hokulea is preparing to depart St. Helena island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean Monday.
It was an important landfall because of the difficulty, and therefore, the challenge for Hokulea’s young navigator Kaleo Wong.
The crew sighted land after 16 days at sea and 1,200 miles of open ocean.
“We were like ‘ho, there it is, right where it should be,’ that was a great experience for everybody to see that,” said crew member Jason Patterson.
“It was emotionally and spiritually overwhelming seeing this island and knowing the difficulty of finding it and it appearing right in front of the canoe,” added Wong.
St. Helena is a remote island, and tiny, just 10 miles long, six miles wide. A slight deviation could mean the crew could easily pass it, and on top of that, they sailed in fog, overcast skies nearly nightly.
“It made it extremely difficult to even know where we’re going because the wind was shifting around, no dominant swells, nothing really to go off of except faith, courage, and belief in ourselves and our ancestors,” Wong said.
And sometimes signs that couldn’t be denied.
“One of the ho’ailona we seen one day when we were drifting around with shifting winds and really light and variable winds was a orca came and visited the canoe, soon after the winds came back, the wa’a turned around and we were back on our way again,” explained Wong on his video blog.
“I think there’s certain divine help coming down and just the faith in them sailing with us, and guiding us along our course where we can’t see with our eyes but we can feel in our na’au,” the navigator added.
Birds, were a sure sign of land, and early Friday morning, their destination.
“And you could tell it was a special time for him as he took a moment on the bow to soak it all in,” said Patterson.
They’ve had three days on this British overseas territory, reprovisioning, resting, exploring this island famous as the place of exile and death of Napoleon Bonaparte, but home to 4,000 and teeming with wildlife.
Next stop is Ascension island, 700 miles away, and Brazil in about 16 days.