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Hokulea picHōkūleʻa | Polynesian Voyaging Society

Wayfinding Explorers Sailing to the Chesapeake Bay

Posted 4.1 8.16 by Carol Brighton

Ocean explores are no strangers to Virginia's shores, but the voyagers that have set their sights on the Chesapeake Bay haven't landed on our beaches before. Polynesian sailors on a historic round-the-world odyssey are scheduled to arrive in the region to deliver a call to protect our oceans and save our island planet just in time for Earth Day 2016 celebrations. The Hōkūleʻa sailors navigate without the aid of modern technology. Instead they rely on the traditional wayfinding methods that led their ancestors to populate and stay connected throughout the far-flung and remote islands of Polynesia. Following the stars and cues from nature like the waves, currents and wildlife, the crew of the 62 foot long by 20 foot wide twin hulled ocean going canoe are in the middle of a three year journey that will cover some 50,000 miles.

Hokulea Voyage Map

The Polynesian Voyaging Society gained international attention with the launch of the Hōkūleʻa 41 years ago with a series widely covered long-distance expeditions in Polynesia to demonstrate and revive the lost art of traditional navigation. Led by Society president, Nainoa Thompson, a pioneer in blue water navigation, the organization isn't just passing on ancient wisdom to a new generation of seafarers, they are sharing their island vision with folks all over the globe. By connecting and networking with the world's political and social navigators, their goal is to garner collective action to pursue a more sustainable planetary path. Thompson explains, "living as islanders teaches us that our natural world is a gift with limits, and that caring for this gift (and each other), can help us survive the urgent environmental and social challenges we are facing. As voyagers, we are blending tradition and technology to map a new course for the future, exploring our world in search of lessons, values and practices that can sustain our planet. The Hawaiian name for our voyage is Mālama Honua, which means to care for our earth."

The crew will spend the good part of a month in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and will be spreading their message through public events. Scheduled to arrive late April 22 at the James River Fishing Pier in Newport News, the voyagers will participate in the Mariner's Museum Earth Day celebration on the 23rd. On the 24th, they will sail into Yorktown departing May 8 for a stop in Tangier before heading to Old Town Alexandria and Washington, DC. The vessel will be in NYC from June 5-8. Check out locally scheduled events here. A VIMS talk is also scheduled for May 3. Follow on Facebook and view all East Coast port stops here.

In March, before arriving back in the United States for the first time since their departure from Hawaii 2 years ago, the crew made a stop in Cuba. Prior to that historic visit, they were welcomed to Moskito Island by Sir Richard Branson. Branson, along with Nainoa Thompson are members of the Ocean Elders, an influential group of public figures that includes Jackson Brown, Queen Noor, Ted Turner, Sylvia Earle and more working to address the many threats that our ocean and planet face. Read more or watch the video below to learn about the visit.

Tidewater Current Posts Featuring Eco Transport:

Reviving Sail Transport

Wind Propulsion Back on the Horizon

Sailing Into a Sustainable Future

Aviation Pioneer Plans Hemp Flight from Kitty Hawk, NC

Meanwhile legislation introduced in Virginia's General Assembly could help hemp production take off.

On 4/20, a Kickstarter campaign will launch that organizers hope will ignite a funding frenzy to lift their project off the ground, literally. They want to fly the world's first hemp plane. Read More.

Image: Virginia Tech

Automated Vehicle Testing & Research in the Commonwealth

In October, federal and state officials were treated to an automated driving experience courtesy of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Among the participants of the test drive conducted on a 10 mile stretch of Interstate 395 in Northern Virginia was Senator Mark Warner. Read More.

Avoiding a Collision Course

The Virginian-Pilot recently reported sightings of two humpback whales suffering injuries characteristic with boat strikes. The Virginia Aquarium is asking mariners to be on the lookout for our finned friends which feed in the region over the winter months. Last year the Navy initiated a local 3 year study to establish a baseline of behavioral patterns for humpback whales in training and vessel transit areas. 6 humpback whales were tagged this year with satellite tracking devices. The short-lived devices provide critical information about their activity in our highly trafficked coastal waters. Read more about efforts to protect whales from ship strikes in this Tidewater Current 2013 post.

Prior Posts:

W&M ELF Encounter - New Machine Demonstrates Sustainable Transport in Williambsurg, VA - From its North Carolina design hub, the solar and human powered ELF is emerging as an attractive form of transport all over the country. Read more.


Carbon Neutral Fuels - Companies like Algenol are working to deliver CO2 sequestering fuels. Diverting the gas from smokestacks to feed algae bioreactors is one way fuels are being derived. Another production method extracts ambient CO2 from the air. Read more.


Converting to Electric Transport

Learn about electric vehicles and how one Virginia teacher converted an old VW into a very reasonable EV.

Read More.



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