Why we sail: Polynesian Voyagers arrive in Northern California with an urgent message

Filed under Elemental

A new generation of Polynesian Voyagers journeyed 23 days and 2,500 miles to raise awareness about the dire state of our oceans.

As Earth warms and weather patterns shift, humanity is experiencing the dire impacts of climate change. On low-lying islands across the Pacific Islands sea level rise is more prevalent than ever before, as loss of land threatens the existence of entire cultures and communities.

To raise awareness about these urgent issues, thirteen young Voyagers from the Polynesian Voyaging Society sailed from Hawai’i to California on the ancestral voyaging canoe Hikianilia. The sister canoe to the famed Hokulea, which circumnavigated the globe in 2016, Hikianilia is powered by wind and solar energy—and the crew navigated 23-day, 2,800-mile journey in the traditional way of their Polynesian ancestors, using only the currents beneath them and the stars above.

The crew was led by 32-year-old Lehua Kamalu, the first female solo navigator to captain a traditional canoe on such a journey. In this short film, Lehua and Polynesian Voyaging Society Founder and President Nainoa Thompson explain the significance of this journey and why they chose to make the arduous journey at this poignant moment in time for humanity.