FleetBroadband helps Polynesian seafarers spread wisdom

05 November 2014: The crew of a traditional Polynesian canoe fitted out with Inmarsat technology are about to embark on the next leg of their epic Pacific Ocean journey.


The 72ft (22m) Hikianalia is set to sail 1,494 nautical miles from American Samoa to New Zealand via Tonga on the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

The boat is travelling alongside its 62ft (19m) sister canoe Hōkūle‘a, famous for her maiden voyage sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976 using Polynesian navigation techniques without the aid of modern instruments.

Worldwide audience

The 39-month 40,000-nautical mile journey has been organised by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and aims to spread the islanders’ message about the importance of protecting our planet and inspiring communities to look after their resources.

Each of the boats is crewed by between 12 to 14 sailors who use traditional non-instrument navigation skills, such as star and weather patterns, and ocean and marine life movements.

Hikianalia is using FleetBroadband – via a solar-powered Cobham SATCOM Sailor 500 terminal – to keep them safe and take a worldwide audience on the voyage with them.

Video link-ups

Since June, the crew have been taking part in twice-weekly video link-ups with schools and universities, using the canoes as floating classrooms which represent models of sustainability among the island people, who are famed for their seafaring skills.

Japanese crew member Saki Uchida shared the voyage’s message ‘care for our island Earth’ with students from her former university, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, during a recent videoconference.

“It’s amazing to think that we’re here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean celebrating the traditions and values of voyaging in the old ways, while using the latest technology to link up with people of all ages across the globe.

Sharing experiences

“We embrace this technology as an important tool to educate and inspire, show the relevance of our ancient wisdom in the contemporary world, and share in the experiences, wisdom, and values of others,” she said.

Keoni Lee from Ōiwi TV, a spokesperson for the voyage, said: “FB500 has been crucial in spreading our story.  So many students have been able to witness the traditions being practised today by the greatest seafaring culture in the history of mankind. The students have been able to engage and be inspired by voyaging like never before. It’s amazing to see and I am blessed to be a part of this voyage.”

The canoes left for Tahiti on the voyage’s first international leg in June after spending a year sailing around Hawaii. They are due to arrive in New Zealand around 15 November.

Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyagewww.hokulea.com