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.