Tisbury Wharf prepares for the arrival of Polynesian vessel Hokule’a

Hokule'a arrives in New York City — Courtesy of the Polynesian Voyage Society

On Tuesday, June 28, Vineyard Haven Harbor will welcome Hokule’a, a replica of an ancient Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoe making her way around the world. On the 19th leg of her three-year Malama Honua (translation: “caring for our earth”) Worldwide Voyage, the Hawaiian vessel relies solely on ancient modes of navigation. Following the direction of stars, the size of swells, and the flight of birds, Hokule’a is working to weave “a lei of hope” by sharing stories of the men and women working hard to achieve sustainable ways of life.

Launched in 1975, the vessel has voyaged over 150,000 miles, following the routes taken by the Polynesians who settled the Pacific Ocean. Hokule’a’s four-day Vineyard visit begins in Tisbury Wharf, where many Island organizations will rally to greet her.

A welcoming flotilla will escort Hokule’a into the harbor Tuesday afternoon, where members of the Wampanoag tribe will welcome the crew in a mushoon, a traditional dugout canoe. The Hawaiian crew will display two strands of wampum, which were sent by the Aquinnah tribe as an invitation to the Island. Sacred ceremonies between the First Peoples will kick off the visit, followed by a welcoming from the Tisbury board of selectmen and the Edgartown School. Finally, a meet-and-greet with Hokule’a’s crew will conclude the first day.

The event will continue from 10 am to 3 pm on June 29 and 30. Guests can tour the Hokule’a and learn more about the Malama Honua voyage. Tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis. “These are stories few people have heard,” Sam Low, a Hokule’a crewmember and Martha’s Vineyard native, said. Mr. Low directed a documentary on Polynesian sailing in 1983, then published a book on Hokule’a in 2013.

Three large tents will exhibit displays from the Hawaiian crew members as well as Island organizations. The first tent will house the Hokule’a star compass and presentations from the navigators, who will demonstrate how they steer by the stars. There will also be exhibits on sustainable Island initiatives from the Wampanoag Tribe, Cottage City Oysters, the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, Island Grown Initiative, Felix Neck, Earth Education, Biodiversity Works, and the Edgartown School. A second tent will screen several documentaries from the Malama Honua voyage as well as from our Island’s own organizations. The third tent will feature an intimate exchange of stories from the Hokule’a crew as well as traditional performances. Hui Lehua from Boston will share hula, Faith Ako will fly in from California to perform authentic Hawaiian music, and Mele ‘Uhane, Keikilani and Leokani Lindsey — a father and son duo — will come from Hawaii to present traditional and slack-key music. Island performers will introduce their interpretations of indigenous and New England culture. Carole Vandal and Steve Hart will present native American flute music, Mark Alan Lovewell will sing sea shanties and tell stories about whaling ships, and the Featherstone Ukulele Group will perform Hawaiian melodies. A food truck with chef Jacqueline Foster will feature a Japanese/Balinese menu of rice bowls with local meat, fish, and eggs, which will be sold throughout the day.

The visit will also include activities for kids, with an aloha ‘aina flag craft, lessons from visiting Hawaiian teachers, and a create-your-own-habitat activity presented by Biodiversity Works. Sassafras will conduct a “fire by friction” demonstration, as well as interactive “nature museum” learning games.

It is recommended that visitors consider parking at the Park and Ride lot and take the shuttle to the Steamship Authority, where they can walk to Tisbury Wharf. Drop-off for handicapped and elderly visitors is available at the Wharf.

Hokule’a departs for Woods Hole on the morning of July 1, where it will stay until July 5 before it continues its journey up the East Coast.

In anticipation of Hokule’a’s arrival, the Vineyard Haven library will screen Sam Low’s “The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific,” with a discussion of the Malama Honua voyage by the filmmaker. The film screens at 7 pm on Thursday, June 23.

For more information, visit hokulea.com.