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Mo`okiha O Pi`ilani: Prep for Moving

On my just-completed trip to Maui, I had the privilege to view and photograph the newest member of the Polynesian Oceangoing Canoe fraternity — Mo`okiha O Pi`ilani. You may recall that coincidentally, I happened to have previously photographed her smaller sister canoe, Mo`olele. Both were built by Hui O Wa’a Kaulua, Maui's Voyaging Society. You can revisit my previous LAHP story by clicking here.

A major difference between the two boats is size. At 62 feet, Mo`okiha O Pi`ilani dwarfs Mo`olele, which is only 42 feet. Because of the size difference, the former can sail the open ocean and, in fact, is tentatively scheduled to meet up with the Hokule`a and its sister craft, Hikianalia (both sponsored and built by the Polynesian Voyaging Society on O`ahu) which are currently in the midst of an around-the-world cruise.

The Mo`okiha O Pi`ilani has been some 18 years in the making. It is very similar to the Hokule`a — as Captain Tim Gilliom says, there is no need to re-invent what is already working well on Hokule`a.

I really enjoyed seeing the boat up close — looking at the detail of the construction. You can see an extended video featuring the Captain explaining so many of these details — click here.

I did wish to be able to go aboard but I learned later that it was kapu (forbidden) to do so unless you were part of the crew (sailing or construction).

As an alternative, I would have been happy to be able to stand at a vantage point where I could photograph the deck from above. In fact, I thought about my brother-in-law who was a partner in a sign business (before he retired recently) because the business had a bucket truck used to reach signs as they were being installed or serviced. Every since I saw it, I wanted one for use in photography. Unfortunately, it would have been hard to bring with me on the airplane.

Here is the bow of the boat, looking back toward the mountains above Lahaina. The wire fencing is to keep visitors from getting too close and possibly hurting themselves or the boat.

As I walked to the port side near the stern, I was able to see a bit of what was on deck — including the Hawai`ian flag.

And here is the stern with the steering paddle. With the weight of the boat, the pressure of the wind against the sails and the currents pushing the boat around, I suspect that it could take several crew members to control the steering from time to time.

I also noticed the stern running light — I'll bet the ancient Polynesians did not have one of those. Of course, in those days there were no huge freighters plowing the open ocean as there are now.

This photo shows the carrier that will help transport the boat to the Mala Boat Ramp at the north end of Lahaina. At midnight, Front Street will be closed to traffic and parking. While I was photographing the boat, they had already started putting notices on cars that had to be moved.

I thought about staying to photograph the move through Lahaina but decided that the light would not be conducive to good photography and, since I am not a night person anyway, I would just return to my condo.

One of the challenges for the ancient Polynesians was carrying enough food and water to survive the trip plus root stock or seeds to plant once they arrived at their new island home.

Breadfruit (or ulu, as it is named in Hawai`ian) was one of the few subsistence plants the Polynesians brought with them when they sailed to the Hawaiian Islands. It never became a staple food here as it was on islands further south. Taro played that role. Even so, ulu's mythical origins, its fame in history, and its immense usefulness to islanders have made the tree an immortal symbol of Hawai`i Nei.

Bananas (mai`a) was another crop brought to Hawai`i together with taro and coconut plus a few animals — pigs, chickens and poi dogs. It is altogether fitting that the small park (Kamehameha Iki) where the canoe club has its workshop has ulu, mai`a and nui (coconut) growing. There are other items of Hawai`iana here too— be sure to visit.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com