Colleen Uechi
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

The wind was gusting fiercely as Kalä Baybayan Tanaka hunched behind the communications box to do an interview at sea. It was May 31, a sunny Wednesday afternoon, and Tanaka was sailing homeward through the South Pacific with the crew of the Polynesian voyaging canoe, Höküle‘a.

The canoe was still 17 days away from Honolulu, and it was only fitting that Tanaka was aboard for the final leg. Three years ago, she had traveled the same waters in the opposite direction, en route to Tahiti, at the start of Höküle‘a’s inspiring Mälama Honua — “Caring for Island Earth” — Worldwide Voyage. The Tanaka who was returning, however, was bringing back much more knowledge of the stars, the wind and the sea. 

“Each of these voyages has taught me to be more in sync with my environment and see things better,” Tanaka said via satellite phone aboard the wa‘a (canoe). “I’ll probably be learning for the rest of my life. But every time I voyage, I feel a bit more comfortable than I did before and more in sync with the world around.”

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