When the Hokule'a sets sail its apprentice navigators will be putting what they have learned in the classroom to the ultimate test. The instructor who is guiding them to a destination you won't find on a map.
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That's Haunani Kane. She is one of several apprentice navigators with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
We caught up with her on her final day of classes at the University of Hawaii Manoa. She graduates with a master's degree in geology and geophysics.
Her interest in voyaging began a decade ago when she was just 16 years old. She is now among the small group on the first leg of an around the world journey who are hoping to find Tahiti.
She says learning to navigate using only nature has not been easy, but Kane says they have had an advantage over their teachers.
"When Nainoa was learning with Uncle Will Kyselka, they would have to go to the planetarium and study – learn the stars there in this big room – didn't always have access. For us, we can look on our phones, use the star walk app and we can also just use our basic computer or laptop and just try to see where the moon is going to be throughout our whole, entire voyage," said Kane.
But, once they climb aboard the canoe, they will be unplugged.
"Once we get out there, all we'll have is what's in our heads. So, hopefully we've remembered everything," said Kane.
Last September the apprentice navigators passed their first big test and navigated and found the island of Nihoa.
"We knew we wanted to find the island early in the morning cause that was the easiest to see it as the island was backlit. And I just remember all of us standing on the front of the canoe and we watched as the stars started to disappear and we're like, 'Ok, that's where Nihoa should be,'" said Kane. "It was hard. It was a struggle, but afterwards Nainoa told us, 'You thought that was hard? Just wait. You gonna be challenged 100 times more to Tahiti.'"
The apprentices will have great navigators on board to help them: Nainoa Thompson, Bruce Blankenfeld, and Kalepa Baybayan.
But, Thompson says for the most part he wants to see the apprentices challenged and to grow into their roles as navigators.
"I hope they get lost. I hope the doldrums is really cloudy. I hope that they can get to the place where they don't know and then they're going to find someplace inside of them. They're going to know without knowing how you know," said Thompson. "I don't want the trip to be easy. I want it to be hard. Then they grow."
The canoes Hokule'a and Hikianalia are set to leave Sand Island Saturday evening as they make their way to Hilo to begin the first international leg of their voyage around the world.