A ceremony to welcome traditional Polynesian sailing canoe Hōkūleʻa with members of the Wabanaki and Mount Desert Island communities is set for John Williams Boat in Hall Quarry on Saturday, July 23, at 9 a.m. The boat is one of many links between Acadia National Park and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which share centennial anniversaries in 2016. COURTESY OF POLYNESIAN VOYAGING SOCIETY

Sailing canoe links MDI with Hawaii

MOUNT DESERT — A traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe is set to visit John Williams Boat Company (JWB) in Hall Quarry this week as part of a worldwide voyage covering more than 60,000 nautical miles, 100 ports and 27 nations.

Hōkūleʻa is a double-hull sailing vessel that is used to undertake voyages without the use of modern instruments. The crew uses stars, winds and waves for navigation and power. She was launched by the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) in 1975 with an educational mission.

During this leg of the voyage, the crew is honoring Native American tribes in the region and teaching and learning about traditions and practices of protecting cultural and environmental resources.

The visit also is part of the Acadia Centennial celebration and a larger effort to link Acadia National Park and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which share centennials in 2016. Hōkūle‘a represents a physical connection between the two island parks because parts of the boat, the beams that connect the canoe’s two hulls, were built here on Mount Desert Island.

A public arrival ceremony hosted by the Wabanaki and MDI community is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, July 23, at JWB. The crew plans to be available for canoe tours and public engagement following the ceremony from noon to 4 p.m.

Two other public presentations about the boat and the PVS are planned. The first is set for 6 p.m. Sunday at JWB. The other will be in Bar Harbor at the Abbe Museum on Tuesday, July 26, at 4 p.m.

Groups from various summer camps and sailing schools also will visit the boat and talk with the crew.

John “Jock” Williams met the members of the PVS several years ago while he was on vacation in Hawaii. He has volunteered with them ever since. He will be aboard the boat when it arrives, having joined them in Salem, Mass., last week.

A few years ago, Hokulea’s crew asked Williams for advice on making new beams to connect the two canoe hulls. The beams had to be strong enough to withstand an ambitious voyaging plan.

“They asked us to build new iakos (cross beams) as part of the preparation for sailing Hokulea around the world,” JWB manager Bill Wright said in 2014. “We collaborated with the composite engineers at the University of Maine at Orono in the testing of the laminates and began building the beams in August 2010. They were shipped to Hawaii in early 2011 and are now installed on the canoe hulls.”

The beams are 22 feet long and required a fabrication team of eight during the laminating process.

Ironically, the state-of-the-art beams are connected to the fiberglass boats the old fashioned way. They are lashed together with rope.

“It’s a mix of tradition and technology,” Wright said.

Visit www.hokulea.com.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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