Polynesian canoes set sail around the globe with FleetBroadband

06 June 2014: A traditional Polynesian canoe being sailed around the world has one vital modern addition – Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband.

Haiwaiian voyage

The 72ft (22m) Hikianalia is taking part in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a 47,000-mile (76,000km) open ocean journey, alongside its 62ft (19m) sister canoe, Hōkūle‘a – famous for her maiden voyage sailing from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti in 1976 using Polynesian navigation techniques without the aid of modern instruments.

On 30 May, the canoes left for Tahiti on the voyage’s first international leg after spending a year sailing around Hawaii.

Traditional navigation

The 39-month 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 navigation skills, such as star and weather patterns, and ocean and marine life movements.

But they need FleetBroadband to take a worldwide audience on the voyage with them – and stay safe – so chose to equip the Hikianalia with a solar-powered Cobham SATCOM Sailor 500 terminal.


Keoni Lee from Ōiwi TV, and a spokesperson for the voyage, said: “FB500 is critical to our mission because nowadays everyone expects information in real-time on demand.

“It means we can engage followers, showing them the open ocean, non-instrument Polynesian navigation.

“They can come along and witness the traditions being practised today by the greatest seafaring culture in the history of mankind.”

Daily updates

FB500 provides Hikianalia with up to a 496kbps connection to send and receive email for operations and safety information and update photos, blogs and videos daily.

The crew also take part in two live Google hangouts every week with news stations and students, who have ‘adopted’ a crew member.

The canoes act as floating classrooms and represent models of sustainability among the island people, who are famed for their seafaring skills.

Data transfer

In addition, AirMax Wi-Fi, supplied by Ubiquiti Networks, enables data transfer from Hōkūleʻa to Hikianalia at over three miles’ distance.

Keoni added: “The synergy between FleetBroadband Sailor 500 and the AirMax technologies is a game changer for the voyage and are the critical technology links to make the communications and digital engagement a success.”

Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage: www.hokulea.com