The Hawaiian double-hulled canoes Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu finally arrived in Pohnpei under the cover of a moon-lit sky on March 1, sailing gently through the incoming tide of Palikir Pass and the watchful gaze of Sokehs Rock. After more than a month and 2,500-miles of traditional sailing from Hawaii, the 11-member crew of the Hokule'a and 13-member crew of the Maisu came to rest on the sandy shores of the FSM.
The so-called "Voyage of Gratitude" left Hawai'i in mid-January and arrived on the small coral island, Aneko, in the Marshall Islands more than two weeks ago, where Marshallese President Kensai Note welcomed the group. The voyage is in honor of Mau Pialiug, the famous Carolinian navigator from the island of Satawal between Chuuk and Yap. The Hawaiians revere Mau for his teachings on how to use wind, stars, seas, birds and other cues to make accurate landfalls after long voyages; for sharing the long-lost art of traditional navigation.
The next morning, amidst the baleful call of the conch shell, a Sakau ceremony held in the presence of U.S. Ambassador Suzanne Hale and traditional leader Iso Nahnken of Nett welcomed the sailing group, which includes five Micronesians, including the son of Mau. Iso Nahnken welcomed the group and passed a traditional chiefly title to the group's navigator, Chad Paishon
Reporters from Pacific Magazine and the Honolulu Advertiser were also on hand to chronicle the momentus event. The canoes will go on to Chuuk and Yap, which is expected to be Maisu's home port. Hokule'a will leave Maisu in Micronesia as a gift to Mau and the Micronesian people, and continue to Japan, where Hawaiian voyagers will meet with residents in communities with ties to the Hawaiian Islands. - O. Wortel