Thursday, June 09, 2016

Hokule'a in NYC Post 4: Preliminary Arrival at North Cove

Hokule'a approaches North Cove Marina. More on Flickr, of course. No captions yet, but this post pretty much tells you what happened. 

So the 'Iolani gathering was lovely, the food and drink was delicious and the company delightful, and at a certain point one of the Polynesian Voyaging Society folks made the surprise announcement that in a little while we were going to have a chance to see the Hokule'a herself!

I'd paddled out on Friday evening because a clubmate who'd sailed out to see her earlier in the week had gotten the impression that they were leaving on Saturday morning (and I had the reception Saturday afternoon and one of my paddling rules of thumb is that I generally won't plan a paddle if I need to get somewhere else later in the day, I don't much like watching the clock when I'm on the water except to know when the current shifts or suchlike), but they hadn't said exactly where they were going.

Turned out they were going on up to the upper harbor for a photo shoot (including the shot I've been looking forward to since I found out she was coming here - and here it is! :D) and they were going to do a sail along the battery. The first trip out to the Battery Park City promenade turned out to be a little bit premature - we squinted and stared and finally somebody with especially sharp eyes spotted her awaaaaay off south of the Statue of Liberty. We all cheered and then we posed for some group shots and, assured that the wa'a was eventually going to head up our way and we could go back out to see her later, we went back to the restaurant for a bit. 

As we were enjoying the food and chatting, there were some phone calls going on between the PVS crew at the restaurant and the crew on the boat, and eventually the word came through that the wa'a was now actually approaching the area and that furthermore, it was likely that they were going to have a test run at entering North Cove Marina, and that further furthermore, that if that operation did not prove to be absolutely easy-peasy, there was a pretty good chance that Nainoa was going to make the call to just stay there. The wa'a has no motors; they do have a set of long-handled paddles on board that the crew can use to maneuver a little bit, but in the fast-moving current of the Hudson, they were being towed in by a motorboat. The entrance to North Cove Marina is not terribly wide and faces straight out into the current, so the issue was that there was going to be this hairy moment when the motorboat was in the still water inside the marina while the Hokule'a was still in the grasp of the moving current outside. They therefore need to go in as fast as they could while not going so fast that they couldn't stop before crashing into the Colgate Sailing School boats opposite the entrance. A fine line to tread! This was in calm conditions, and Sunday's forecast involved gusty winds, so Nainoa was very concerned about the safety of the wa'a, the escort boats, and all the people on board and wanted to try it at least once before the real arrival ceremony.

So that's how I got to see the Hokule'a's unannounced early arrival.

When I first went back out, Hokule'a was under tow on the Jersey side. I don't know what exactly they were doing (towboat captain may have just been getting a feel for moving Hokule'a around, this was not her usual escort boat, the Gershon, but a motorboat named Julie's Cat), but at first they were heading North, then they turned and cruised South for a bit, then they turned north again and seemed to be travelling that way rather purposefully. I was following them, trotting along the Promenade - at a certain point I was thinking they'd decided to scratch the North Cove idea and head for Pier 40 after all, so I picked up speed a bit, thinking as I did so "OK, at this point I think I am now officially STALKING Hokule'a!" - but then they turned again and this time they started across the river, angling south again, so I got myself back down to the marina again and got there in time to join Hokule'a's family and friends in welcoming her to North Cove.

The entrance was indeed NOT easy-peasy, in fact it was a bit on the nailbitey side, so Nainoa did decide to stay there. He held a short press conference down on the dock, then came up and explained to those of us who were gathered there what the situation was - although the wa'a was there, she couldn't really be considered to be there until she'd been welcomed by the Native Americans in whose territory Manhattan lies, so for the time being, out of respect to them, she was kapu and couldn't welcome us as visitors. Nainoa looked so concerned - this change of plans was clearly not something he took lightly, but I don't think anyone there questioned the wisdom of that call at all.

Sorry I didn't catch the first minute!

Pua Case, a noted Hawaiian teacher and leader from the Big Island, did offer up a chant of welcome, which the Hokule'a crew answered with Aue Ua Hiki E (I found a little bit about the chant on the Kihei Canoe Club's site, click here to read about that and other paddling chants) , which I was told Kumu Pua had written for Hokule'a - so not the official welcome (that would be on Sunday, and it was indeed splendid, I will never forget that day), but still a very moving thing to witness. I felt so fortunate and honored to be there!

Here's a news clip that ties in:

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