This week of Thanksgiving is special for a number of reasons. Family and friends are always always top of mind but it is a time to take stock of the goodness that has come your way in 2009. It is also the start of the Makahiki season and a time to rejoice in rejuvenation of the land as the weather cools and the life giving rains green the islands. One of the things I felt very thankful for this week is having the opportunity to accompany the crew of the voyaging canoe Hokule`a on one of its training runs. It was a short run from Sand Island where the Hokule`a is docked out into the Pacific Ocean several miles south of Honolulu. Although the voyage was short, it gave me a sense of the strength and fortitude it took for the early Hawaiian voyagers to venture across the vast ocean. Once out on the ocean you immediately feel how small the canoe is. There is no sheltered cabin to speak of and sleeping quarters are just a small area in the hull protected by a flap of canvas. If you are not sleeping you are out on the deck in the raw elements of the ocean, winds, sun, rain and whatever nature throws your way. Extended trips on a traditional canoe like the Hokule`a are only for the most hardy. As the sun set, we were blessed with a clear sky filled with stars. The crew gave a lesson in star navigation as the northeasterly trade winds kept the Hokule`a in constant motion. Hokupa`a, the North Star was precisely 21 degrees above the horizon. You can always tell what latitude you are in by charting Hokupa`a, as long as you are in the northern hemisphere. While out on the ocean you are treated to sights not common on land. We were visited by this Hawaiian Booby or `A as it stayed with us for several minutes flying back and forth wanting to land on our sails. The amazing thing is the `A normally lives in remote areas in sea cliffs. Since we were still south of Honolulu with the lights of Waikiki in constant view this Hawaiian Booby must have come a far way, perhaps living somewhere near Diamond Head or further east near Koko Head. With the moon in the background it was an amazing sight. The Hokule`a and it's crew are preparing for the World Wide Voyage starting in 2011. This practice run was one of many to train new crew members. In 2010 the Hokule`a goes into dry dock for major renovation and refitting for the upcoming long voyage. As I look back on 2009, this experience will be one I will always remember. Mahalo to Mei-Jeanne Watson and Nainoa Thompson for making this possible.
On the second leg of her trans-Pacific solo row which started in May 24, 2009, Roz Savage has landed on Tarawa in the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. The 105 day voyage was initially thought to take about 70 days and land in Tuvalu. In late Aug, already low on water and food, slightly off course and dealing with uncooperative winds, Savage decided to change her target of Tuvalu and reset her sights on Tarawa. In her blog she writes:
"It seems to be my karma in this lifetime to be faced from time to time with tough decisions – and this one is up there in my Top Ten Tough Decisions Of All Time. I spent most of last night agonizing over it. The night seemed hotter than usual in my cabin, and I was – literally and metaphorically – sweating over my options."The decision was a sound one. And although Tuvalu has received international attention about rising sea levels and loss of land, that fact is true in any of the Pacific Islands in that region, Tarawa being no different. This Pacific atolls are so fragile and the people living there are keenly aware of balance we need to maintain to keep it healthy and life sustaining. Roz will have a couple of weeks on Tarawa before regrouping and planning the final leg of her voyage to Australia. There must be a lot going through her mind now, relieved that this segment of the journey is complete, meeting the people of Tarawa, finding storage for her boat and equipment before her next voyage, attending the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in Dec. and finishing her book. This woman is a model for us all. Stay tuned as this journey isn't over.
I had the fortune of meeting this wonderful woman last year as she entered into the Waikiki Yacht Club on her ocean voyage from California to Hawaii. For Roz Savage, this was just the first leg of a trans-Pacific quest to solo-row from California to Australia. Her mission, which she takes seriously is to bring awareness to the condition of our planet and to motivate people to do something about it. On her initial leg of her voyage it was about the pollution we were dumping into the ocean, particularly plastics. On this segment of her voyage as she continues her journey to Australia is to focus on global warming. Her midway stopover is the island nation of Tuvalu (.tv). That is if she can find it. Tuvalu is disappearing as a result of the raising oceans. What I find amazing is the commitment and focus in a woman like Roz. At each of the events that I attended she was the focus of attention where everyone wanted some time with her. And for all those people she gave them her time. Even at her launching, where frenetic activity is the norm, she took the time to turn her attention away from last minute packing and take a photo with an adoring fan. It was like she was already on the ocean, taking each wave and swell as it came, not fighting it but riding it. She was literally going with the flow. For the next 70 or so days, Roz will be alone on the ocean. Taking her 10,000 rows, one stroke at a time. We can all support her by staying in touch with her on her website and her blog. She also has this very cool Roz Tracker developed by local tech company Archinoetics. With the tracker, you not only see where Roz is but it also informs you via Twitter and announces updates to her blog. It's not often that you meet people like Roz Savage so when you do you should relish the moment. If we could all do just .1 percent of what she is doing, the world would be such a better place for all.