Training for the Impossible
“When we first started training to do this, everyone thought it was impossible.”
With this simple statement made from the deck of Hōkūleʻa as she prepares to enter the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time, captain and pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld reminds us of the boldness and audacity of our founders and first crew, those who channeled the knowledge gathered by generations of our ancestors, over thousands of years of sailing and teaching, learning from and guided by the natural world.
The clues provided us by earth, ocean and sky only become useful if you can read them—stars that are known through chant, winds that are predictable based on collective experience, sea swell whose direction you can read in your naʻau. In the 1970’s, in the darkness before Hōkūleʻa was born, much of this had been lost in Polynesia, lost to the people of the largest ocean civilization of the world. What was also missing, I think, was that tenacity to reach out past the limits of what was thought to be possible and go beyond. Each time I return to this canoe, rocking between the same hulls that carried our first crew to Tahiti forty years ago on a voyage to rediscover our forgotten past, I am warmed against the coldness of the night wind off the ocean by the knowledge that the tenacity is growing around us, building on the foundation that was set a generation ago.
To be sure, what we do comes with great risk. Seas and skies are at times —> Read More