22 Aug Honolulu, Oahu – Wednesday, 22 August , 2001
Don and I flew back to Papeete via Honolulu. When our plane arrived in Honolulu at 1130, our new friend Paul Gay picked us up at the airport and took us to the Lanikai Canoe Club on the other side of the island. Don had received an email from Paul the week before; someone named Mary Moore had sent Paul a copy of Don’s email “Rataro’s Dream” (see profiles in the pull-down box on the MV Starr page of this website). . We haven’t yet met Mary Moore, but she thought Paul would be interested in our project of finding a new six-man racing canoe for the Canoe Club in Hakahau, Ua Pou in the Marquesas Islands. In his early 60’s, thin and wiry, Paul is an active canoe builder and racer. The Lanikai Canoe Club is one of the hottest racing clubs in Hawaii and Paul has been involved since it’s beginning. Even now he races in the fifty year old class and beats the “younger guys”. Paul has also spent some time in New Zealand helping get some new canoe clubs started and teaching New Zealanders how to build racing boats.
Paul grew up in a small fishing village on the island of Oahu. Both his grandfather and father were boat builders, building fishing boats. He understands the conflict for young men who leave their village to go to school and then find there is nothing for them to return to. Rataro has already accomplished a part of his dream: giving the young men and sense of purpose and pride. Marqueseans are already a proud people, with a strong sense of their place in history. The Marquesas Islands was one of the primary points of origin for the great Polynesian migration. The huge double-hulled sailing canoes ventured out from the Marquesas Islands to discover and populated many of the islands in the South Pacific, including the islands of Hawaii. Sailing without the aid of charts, they traveled huge distances by reading the stars and the signs of the sea. As Rataro said to us: “Look all around us, we have the sea for our sport.” The boys of Hakahau have begun to learn the skills necessary to regain their heritage and to become great canoe racers. Paul will help us find them a new or used six-man canoe and he will help teach them how to build new canoes. Spending the afternoon with Paul we learned alot about different canoe designs and about the different sea conditions in which they perform to maximum ability. We learned about single man canoes, as well, and how they enable a young canoe club to hone competitive racing skills. Paul can help the canoe club in Hakahau learn to build both kinds of canoes.
At the Lanikai Canoe Clue, we also briefly met Gilbert Ane, who was crew on the 1992 voyage of the Hakalea, a replica of the kind of Polynesian double-hulled canoes that made these remarkable long distance voyages. In 1992 the Hakalea sailed from Hawaii to French Polynesia, once again without charts or compass but using the ancient navigational skills. Don also met Gilbert through email and then talked with him on the telephone. Gilbert is a retired Honolulu detective who is now helping young kids in Hawaii to become involved in outrigger canoe racing. We were told that Gilbert “knows how to get things done”. Gilbert will help us arrange shipping for the canoe, once it has been purchased.. We didn’t have much time to talk, but it was good to meet him face to face.