After a year and a half in dry dock and thousands of volunteer hours spent on renovations, the Hokule'a set sail once again.
Under a full moon, a predawn blessing Thursday marked a new beginning.
Thirty-seven years to the day the Hokule'a was first launched, a faster, safer and more stable canoe got it's first taste of the water.
But to get here, volunteers put in more than 26,500 hours to rebuild Hokule'a. The hulls remain the only original part of the voyaging canoe.
"We had the opportunity to be perfect in caring for her. In taking the time to do each lashing perfectly, to sand that thing until it's exactly the way you want it and you're doing it to honor her," said volunteer Heather Nahakukalei
In addition to caring for the Hokule'a, the most important objective of the reconstruction was to teach the next generation of leadership and deep-sea voyagers how the canoe is built.
As one of the original crew members of the first voyage, Billy Richards recalled the unexpected wave of pride the Hokule'a created.
"It opened our eyes to the many parts of our culture that we were not aware of before," he said. "It opened up a floodgate of cultural possibilities for all of us."
Under sunny skies and a rainbow, the Hokulea was carefully placed into the water at Sand Island to test her sea-worthiness.
Once the mast and sails are rigged, the canoe will undergo several weeks of sea trials, followed by a journey to each of the neighbor islands.
"It took a community to rebuild her, but in many ways, this canoe rebuilt a community," said Polynesian Voyaging Society's Nainoa Thompson.
The Hokule'a's worldwide voyage is scheduled to begin in June 2013.