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Question: Why is the Hokule‘a being transported by cargo ship to Alaska, rather than sailing there?
Answer: Safety concerns drove the decision, knowing that the traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe would have had to set sail when storms along the way can be extreme. Here’s the full response from Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society:
“Hokule‘a is Hawai‘i’s canoe, but we have the kuleana to protect it and those who sail it. We try our best to make the right decisions in terms of, primarily, safety, and I made this choice based purely on that, safety. Our job is to watch nature and to pay respect in order to stay safe, and we have tremendous respect for the storms in the North Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska. The winter storms and even spring storms are much more dangerous than in summer and fall. And so this portion of the voyage that we’re embarking on between Alaska and Seattle must be accomplished generally between late May to early September because of weather conditions — the cold and the storms. Yakutat, Alaska, will be the farthest north Hokule‘a has ever been in its 48 years. For us to sail Hokule‘a from Hawaii to Alaska in late May, we would have had to start sailing in early April, which poses too much risk because April still has what we would consider severe storms and extreme weather. It’s too dangerous.
“The world’s changing climate gives us less confidence in making decisions based on long-term climatology because the weather has proven to be very unusual everywhere, and so we become more hesitant and cautious as storms become more severe. Because weather patterns are less predictable and weather more extreme, we have to make much more conservative decisions. And so we are also shortening the amount of time we’re allowing Hokule‘a to be in certain parts of the world known to have severe and dangerous weather. Ultimately, in order to be able to keep that weather window, we have to get Hokule‘a up to Alaska in a different way. And this is not the first time we shipped. We shipped Hokule‘a and Hawai‘i Loa to the Pacific Northwest in 1995. And we shipped Hokule‘a back from Japan in 2007. All for the very same reason: safety.”
The Hokule‘a left Honolulu on a Matson container ship April 16 and arrived Friday in Tacoma, Wash., where it will be docked at a maritime museum until about May 1, according to a PVS news release. At that point, the Hokule‘a will be towed to Seattle, then transported by Alaska Marine Lines to Juneau, Alaska. From there the Hokule‘a will sail to Yakutat to begin a “Heritage Sail” along Alaska’s southeast coast, paying homage to Native Alaskan leaders and places that helped build the close relationship between Hawaii and Alaska. All of this is ahead of the official launch of the Moananuiakea Voyage, a nearly four-year expedition during which the Hokule‘a will circumnavigate the Pacific Ocean, guided by the stars, winds and waves across 43,000 nautical miles. The voyage is to launch June 15 from Juneau. For details, go to hokulea.com.
Q: Regarding the time-of-use electrical rates, will they take volunteers?
A: Yes, if you’ve had an advanced meter for at least six months. Although we’ve heard more concerns from people wanting to “opt out” if they are randomly selected for Hawaiian Electric’s “Shift and Save” time-of-use rate plan, a few retirees and homeworkers have asked whether they can “opt in.” Customers who are selected can decline to participate, and those who are not selected but who are otherwise eligible can volunteer, according to Hawaiian Electric’s website. This pilot project, which is scheduled to begin July 1, will charge more for electricity used during the evening and at night than it does for electricity use during the day, when solar power is abundant.
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