THE HANA HOU SERIES
The Last Hawaiian Mariner
by Kawika Sands © 1999
The next day, Mo`ikeha told the poet-astrologer, Kamahualele, to ready his double-hulled sailing canoe, the Kaulua, and several other sailing canoes. "Let us go to Hawai`i. Here, I am tormented by my love for Lu`ukia! When the ridge-pole of Lanikeha disappears, I will no longer think of Kahiki, or of Lu`ukia." So, Kamahualele directed the people to ready the sailing canoes and oversaw the preparations. "Will I come?" La`a asked. "No, you are heir to the throne of Moa`ulanuiakea. You must stay here and learn your station from your uncle." Convincing La`a of his royal responsibilities, Mo`ikeha began making plans for the voyage home.
A great undertaking had begun. People and provisions moved about in concert from land, to the beach, and milled about in the water as they passed their armfuls to the fleet of canoes. Mo`ikeha planned to take many people including Kamahualele, Mo`okini (his priest), and Kilokilo (his favorite priest) who was also his astronomer and seer and many other people including Laamaomao, who would one day be deified as a demigod and worshiped as an aumakua (a family god). From Laamaomao's calabash, it was said, the imprisoned winds went fourth to do his bidding by chanting their names. Overall, it was one of the most impressive group of sailing canoes that ever sailed from the sacred harbor of Opoa.
Preserving food was essential for the voyage. It was compact, light, and nutritious. Drying and fermenting were the two techniques used in food preservation. Fresh foods were eaten at the start of the trip. Among the provisions were breadfruit, banana, sweet potato, sugar cane, taro, pandanus flour/paste, yam, pig, candle nut, fish (dried and fresh), chicken, coconut, dog and calabashes of fresh water. Fresh fruits, fish, and cooked fowl and pigs were also prepared and stowed for early consumption. All of which were carefully stowed aboard.
As a matter of survival, the only way to supplement food supplies at sea was to catch fish. A good-sized fish could help provide a ration of food and allow the crew to stretch its supplies to lengthen the time they could survive at sea. Mo`ikeha knew from experience that on long trips, food was as much a source of sustenance as morale. When the weather is cold and rainy, or the days long and hot, a good meal could do wonders.
In the event of heavy weather, certain safety procedures were adopted. Although the steersmen could sail in most any condition, crew safety was the highest priority. So, careful storm sailing procedures were intended to prevent these mishaps from occurring. The most potent danger faced by the voyagers were high winds and seas, which could flood the hulls, capsize the canoe, break a mast, boom or spare, break the hulls apart or wash people overboard.
Kilokilo, observing the signs on land, sea and in the air, determined the moon would be favorable throughout the voyage and the weather fair for at least the first few days of the voyage. All that could be done to prepare for the journey had been done. At the sighting of the star `A`a, Mo`ikeha and the other voyagers boarded their vessels. Mo`okini performed a chant to bless the voyage. Kipunuiaiakamau, the navigator, reckoned the way to Hawai`i in his mind, noted the patterns on the surface of the ocean and the stars above, and fixed his eyes on the horizon.
With his fellow voyagers aboard, Mo`ikeha gave the command and they left shore. As the crews bade farewell to their friends and family ashore, Mo`ikeha waived farewell to `Olopana and La`a from the raised and sheltered platform in the waist of the canoe. He thought of the time he spent in Moa`ulanuiakea and Lanikeha. But as he watched the ridgepole of Lanikeha slowly disappear, he solemnly turned his eyes northward.
TLHM Writer's Notes:
For the keiki o ka aina (children of the land), it helps to give us a sense of belonging, history and continuity. For the malihini (newcomer), it is important to understand the culture and foster it's awareness, lest the canoe become just a "thing" to be used (or abused) instead of representing something so central and sacred to tropic culture that without it, nothing of the ocean nations would have been possible.
I chose to share this particular lei of interesting and romantic legends because it represents an important era in Hawaiian history. A time of high adventure and the "last hurrah" of voyaging before the Hawaiian archipelago (like Hawaiian wayfinding/navigation) was discovered (Gaetano), forgotten and rediscovered (Cook).
Hele on to Canoe Club News
Last Modified: 19991205.1019 HST Sunday
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Last Modified: 19991205.1019 HST Sunday