HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) delayed the departure of the Hokulea and Hikianalia to Hilo.

The canoes were scheduled to depart Sand Island, Oahu on Monday to make a stop in Hilo then set sail on the Kealaikahiki Voyage to Tahiti.

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Because of strong winds and big waves throughout the state, PVS said the crew will wait for conditions to improve.

Master navigator Nainoa Thompson said the voyage to Tahiti will be an experience second to none for the crewmembers.

When their voyage begins, crew members will embark on a training voyage that will focus on leadership, navigational training and cultural protocol.

“It’s hard and I think in the difficulty and the struggle is where they are going to grow. The boys with them I hope they take the voyage with them as a way to understand nature in a deep way. And understand who they are their identity. They’re navigators. They’re captains. They are voyagers”

Nainoa Thompson, Polynesian Voyaging Society President

For some crew members, it will be their first voyage. But for Lehua Kamalu, it will be much more than that.

Thompson said Kamalu will become the first known woman to captain and navigate a canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti.

The Kealaikahiki Voyage will also prepare the crew and test the canoes for the more extensive Moananuiakea Voyage in 2023.

Because of the pandemic, the voyage to Tahiti has been postponed three times over the last two years.

A medical team with the Polynesian Voyaging Society has been closely following COVID case numbers and has plans and protocols set in place.

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The canoes are tentatively scheduled to arrive in Papeete, Tahiti on April 30 and return to Hawaii in mid-June.