Updated: October 1, 2023
The end of Leg 2 of the Moananuiākea Voyage came to an end Friday, bringing to a close Hōkūleʻaʻs Heritage Sail through Southeast Alaska, paying homage to the Alaska family of the canoe that dates back more than three decades.
Hōkūleʻa started leg 2 in Yakutat on May 30, sailed into the Gulf of Alaska – about 160 miles of “cold and squally ocean” in 24 hours – then into Cross Sound.
Among the crew were two Alaska Natives: veteran voyager Joey Mallott, son of the late Tlingit elder Byron Mallott who in the early 1990ʻs enabled the donation of spruce logs for the hulls of voyaging canoe Hawaiʻiloa, and Tlingit Heather Powell of Hoonah, niece of the late Alaska Native Ernie Hillman, who lead the effort to find and fell the spruce trees.
“It was a pretty emotional thing for me coming from my grandfatherʻs land (Yakutat) and coming down the outside and coming past Lituya Bay, seeing the waters,” Powell said in a PVS news release update, “theyʻre not always forgiving, and seeing the waves come crashing over the front of the waʻa was a pretty amazing thing, to see the power of the water, the strength of the people, but seeing everybody join in calmness.”
Hōkūleʻa and crew then made their way past kelp, a few icebergs, humpback whales and sea otters on the way to their first stop on leg 2, Glacier Bay National Park. They were offered to stay the night at Xunaa Shuká Hít – The Huna Tribal House.
From Glacier Bay, Hōkūleʻa sailed to Hoonah, guided to the dock by a Yakutat community canoe that met up in Icy Straight. The Hoonah community greeted canoe and crew, and elders then gave permission to disembark, with song and dance ensuing. Days were filled with Hōkūleʻa tours, learning and cultural exchange.
“I know I can speak on behalf of the crew that we are overwhelmed with gratitude,” said crew member Philamer Felicitas. “The Hoonah community has been nothing but welcoming, have made us feel at home, and more importantly have made us feel like a part of their family.”
From Hoonah, Hōkūleʻa sailed to Haines, home of the late Alaska Native elder Judson Brown whose friendship with PVS co-founder Herb Kawainui Kane led PVS to Mallott. Crew members visited Brownʻs resting place with his ʻohana and heard PVS CEO Nainoa Thompson recount Brownʻs kindness and generosity. Crew also heard from elders who stressed the importance of protecting their land and water, met a master Tlingit carver, paddled a traditional Tlingit canoe (yaakw), and they went to a traditional Hooligan Pit where they prepare the fish in a way that extracts oils for medicinal purposes, with most people in the area consuming a spoonful a day.
Hōkūleʻa was scheduled to depart Haines early Saturday morning June 10, arriving in Juneauʻs Auke Bay by 3 p.m. for the Tribal welcoming. While in Juneau, the crew also will host dockside canoe tours from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday June 11 through Wednesday June 14, 2023.
The Global Launch of the Moananuiākea Voyage, a circumnavigation of the Pacific, will take place on June 15, 2023.