The Hōkūleʻa, a double-hulled and wind-powered traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, navigates throughout Southeast Alaska in May. On Saturday the canoe and crew members will be welcomed to Juneau in preparation for the canoes launch days later for its four-year-long global canoe voyage called the Moananuiākea. (Courtesy Photo / Chris Blake)

The Hōkūleʻa, a double-hulled and wind-powered traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, navigates throughout Southeast Alaska in May. On Saturday the canoe and crew members will be welcomed to Juneau in preparation for the canoes launch days later for its four-year-long global canoe voyage called the Moananuiākea. (Courtesy Photo / Chris Blake)

Celebration of four-year Polynesian canoe voyage to kick off Saturday at Auke Bay

Voyage set to circumnavigate 43,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean beginning in Juneau.

The celebrations for the grand send-off of a four-year-long global canoe voyage launching in Juneau and set to circumnavigate 43,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean will begin this Saturday at Auke Bay.

The Hōkūle‘a, a double-hulled and wind-powered traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, is expected to arrive in Juneau Saturday afternoon along with members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society for a welcoming ceremony of the canoe as it prepares for its voyage.

The Hōkūleʻa, a double-hulled and wind-powered traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, sits at a dock as it navigates throughout Southeast Alaska in May. On Saturday the canoe and crew members will be welcomed to Juneau in preparation for the canoes launch days later for its four-year-long global canoe voyage called the Moananuiākea. (Courtesy Photo / Chris Blake)

The Hōkūleʻa, a double-hulled and wind-powered traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, sits at a dock as it navigates throughout Southeast Alaska in May. On Saturday the canoe and crew members will be welcomed to Juneau in preparation for the canoes launch days later for its four-year-long global canoe voyage called the Moananuiākea. (Courtesy Photo / Chris Blake)

The voyage, called the Moananuiākea, is expected to last 47 months — ending in 2027 — and will be the 15th major voyage the canoe has accomplished in its 50 years of life. The mission of the voyage is to unite the hundreds of Indigenous communities that are connected by the Pacific Ocean, and amplify the importance of oceans and Indigenous knowledge.

It will have its grand launch from Auke Bay the afternoon of Thursday, June 15. Currently, the crew and Hōkūle‘a are finishing a short “Alaska Heritage Sail” trip around Southeast Alaska to pay homage to Alaska Native people and communities before the Moananuiākea launch.

Of the anticipated 400 crew members set to participate in the voyage — all of which are volunteers — is Chris Blake.

Blake, who is currently back home in Hawaii after crewing the “Alaska Heritage Sail” in recent weeks, said he will be flying back to Juneau for the celebrations and launch. As a teacher, Blake took time off of work to volunteer during the trip and will do so again for the beginning of the Moananuiākea voyage.

He said the time “sacrificed” to volunteer on the voyage is “a huge honor.”

“Our legs last anywhere between three to five weeks, which we spend away from our work, away from our families — but the sacrifices that our families are making, as well as ourselves, are important for the greater good of our Island Earth,” he said. “Anytime that you get to spend in support of this great mission, whether you’re actually on the vessel or supporting it, is time well spent.”

During his time crewing the “Alaska Heritage Sail,” Blake said the purpose of the mission of the voyage was already made clear to him when he met the Alaska Native people of Southeast Alaska.

“You know, we were strangers, but the thing that was really amazing was you know you’re friends with people and you don’t see each other for a long period of time, but when you get back together it’s like you never left? That’s what it felt like — it felt like we were coming home,” he said. “There are so many similarities between our Indigenous cultures — it’s really powerful.”

He said choosing Juneau to be the launching point of the voyage is significant and on purpose.

“We could have started our voyage anywhere, and we purposely wanted to connect to our Alaska Native family in order to start this, because it anchors us in our purpose as Native people that the Pacific Ocean connects us,” he said. “Every time that we sail or navigate these pathways of our ancestors we strengthen these connections and the connection that we have with our Alaska Native families.”

He continued: “The beauties of the Juneau area, especially, but all of Alaska, is so different from our home — so the amount that the community has to share, and how much we can learn from everybody in these areas is a great opportunity.”

According to the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s website, after the canoe launches from Juneau, crew members will navigate it through Alaska, British Columbia and Seattle during the summer months of 2023 before heading along the West Coast of the U.S. from September through November. At the start of 2024, the canoe will navigate along Mexico, Central America and South America before heading to Polynesia between March and December of 2024.

It will then head to New Zealand in the first half of 2025; Melanesia Micronesia and Palau in March 2026; then to the West Pacific and Japan by September. For its final leg it will spend September through December of 2026 being shipped from Japan to Los Angeles before navigating to its home in Hawaii.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807.

Know & Go

What: Hōkūle‘a welcoming ceremony.

Where: Auke Rec. Raven Shelter. Parking at University of Alaska Southeast, and buses will shuttle people to and from Auke Recreation Picnic Area. The road to Auke Rec will be closed to traffic.

When: Approach at 3 p.m., arrival at 4 p.m. and tribal welcome ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 10.

What: Moananuiākea voyage launch.

Where: Auke Rec. Raven Shelter. Parking at UAS, and buses will shuttle people to and from Auke Recreation Picnic Area. The road to Auke Rec will be closed to traffic. The Hōkūleʻa will be anchored in front of the Auke beach.

When: 2-6 p.m. Thursday, June 15.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

A waterfront view of Marine Parking Garage with the windows of the Juneau Public Library visible on the top floor. “Welcome” signs in several languages greet ships on the dock pilings below. (Laurie Craig / For the Juneau Empire)
The story of the Marine Parking Garage: Saved by the library

After surviving lawsuit by Gold Rush-era persona, building is a modern landmark of art and function.

A troller plies the waters of Sitka Sound in 2023. (Photo by Max Graham)
Alaska Senate proposes $7.5 million aid package for struggling fish processors

The Alaska Senate has proposed a new aid package for the state’s… Continue reading

Current facilities operated by the private nonprofit Gastineau Human Services Corp. include a halfway house for just-released prisoners, a residential substance abuse treatment program and a 20-bed transitional living facility. (Gastineau Human Services Corp. photo)
Proposed 51-unit low-income, long-term housing project for people in recovery gets big boost from Assembly

Members vote 6-2 to declare intent to provide $2M in budget to help secure $9.5M more for project.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives watch as votes are tallied on House Bill 50, the carbon storage legislation, on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House, seeking to boost oil and gas business, approves carbon storage bill

Story votes yes, Hannan votes no as governor-backed HB 50 sent to the state Senate for further work.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read