Jenna Ishii

Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Editor’s note: In addition to Alan Suemori’s story tracing Jenna Ishii’s journey of self-discovery through her involvement with the Polynesian sailing canoe Höküle‘a, we invited Jenna to share her thoughts on the significance of the canoe’s current Mälama Honua voyage. She penned this first-person essay prior to joining Höküle‘a’s crew as the canoe embarked on its East Coast tour.

Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Höküle‘a has sailed more than 21,000 nautical miles, visited 12 countries and 55 ports, weaving a lei of hope around the world. We are more than halfway around the planet, and in June of 2017, WE ARE COMING HOME. So far, our crewmembers have connected with over 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean. Along the way, more than 180 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Höküle‘a to spread the message of mälama honua — caring for Island Earth — by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited.

Worth the Risk

The big question when we started planning this circumnavigation was, “Is it worth the risk?” Our fearless leader, visionary and Pwo (a designation from Mau Piailug for a master navigator who represents the light and love of the canoe) navigator Nainoa Thompson always asks, “Will Hawai‘i and our Earth be a better place because we voyaged around the world?” This question has kept our leadership awake many nights over the past six years of planning and the past two years of voyaging through unknown waters and new horizons. In these past few years, I have learned more about myself and this planet than I have in my entire lifetime. Every day as weather changes, plans shift and new ideas emerge, my job is to do everything I can to help our team accomplish our mission and make sure this voyage is worth it.

You can read this story in its entirety in the print edition of The Hawaii Herald, which is sold at:

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