Four-year canoe expedition will visit 36 Pacific rim countries

Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society

The Polynesian Voyaging Society is setting sail in June on a four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific.

The expedition is due to visit 36 countries and territories, and sail an estimated 43,000 nautical miles with about 400 crew members.

On 15 June the vessel Hōkūle’a will depart Alaska after a ceremony launching the start of the journey.

It will first journey to Yakutat, Alaska to begin a pre-voyage ‘heritage sail’ to pay homage to Native Alaskan leaders and the places that played a part in building the long-standing relationship between Hawai’i and Alaska.

Hōkūle’a’s sister canoe Hikianalia will join the voyage in Seattle in August.

The society said the goal of the voyage was to ignite a movement of 10 million “planetary navigators”, by developing young leaders and engaging communities around the world.

Polynesian Voyaging Society chief executive Nainoa Thompson said it was not just about the oceans.

“This is about taking discovery and moving it towards choices and moving it towards the choices that will take action that we believe is going to help build a future that is good enough for our kids

“Moananuiākea, I believe, is the most difficult voyage, partly because physically it’s the longest time and distance and it’s hard – the currents, the tides, the issue of hypothermia in Alaska, we need to be prepared.

“But what I really mean by most difficult is achievement of the mission.

“We’re trying to reclaim our relationship to the earth and the destination is not ours. It’s whether this world is going to be healthy for our children.”

From the United States the canoes will travel through the Pacific and end up in Japan.

“I think Alaska is the appropriate place to begin because in the end this is about family – the family of the earth. And so we go from one family to another, building relationships grounded in respect and trust – a crucial pathway for peace,” Thompson said.

Expedition sailing plan:

June to September 2023 – Alaska, British Columbia, Seattle

September to November 2023 – West Coast of the United States

January to February 2024 – Mexico, Central America, South America

March – December 2024 – Exploring the largest country in the world, our country, Polynesia

December 2024 to May 2025 – New Zealand

May to March 2026 – Melanesia, Micronesia and Palau

March to September 2026 – West Pacific, ending in Japan

September to December 2026 – Shipping from Japan to Los Angeles then sailing home to Hawaiʻi

Spring 2027 – Tahiti

Some of the Polynesian Voyaging Society crew

Some of the Polynesian Voyaging Society crew Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society

Source: RNZ