Former Hokulea crew members, pilot sharing stories of survival in new film
The Hawaiian Airlines pilot who spotted the sinking Hokulea is being called "hero," as he returns to the islands to praise the crew for their incredible efforts.
HONOLULU - "We got hammered. It was relentless. It was us against nature," said 1978 Hokulea crew member Waikiki "Kiks" Hugho.
As if playing back a never-ending movie, Hugho relived the night the Hokulea sailed into danger. He said the crew fought for hours to stay alive.
"The waves go over us. We go under water. As the waves wash over you. Come back up for air. We had to do this every thirty seconds for six hours," he said.
Joining him at the Waikiki Elks Club on Friday were friends and other crew members on that voyage in 1978.
There here to share stories and mark that a voyage on film.
Kiks is spearheading a new documentary called "Miracle on the High Seas."
He says part of that miracle came from Hawaiian Airlines pilot Andrew "Butch" Avallone, who by chance in the dead of night, saw their flares.
"We circles for a bit and sure enough they shot up more flares and so we turned on all the running lights and put the sign up the Pualani which Kiks says they saw real clearly," said Avallone. I didn't know until the next morning that it was the Hokulea!
"I still have a hard time processing what happened," said another 1978 crew member Curt Sumida,
Their words are emotional, and to some, controversial.
Kiks and other crew members said with a heavy heart, that maybe what happened... shouldn't have.
They say they're beloved crewmate and waterman Eddie Aikau knew too of clouds of doubt over that decision to go.
"We didn't want to go. We wanted to wait and try to weather the storm. I wish we did, because brother Eddie would be with us today," said Sumida.
The pain of the past will now be a story for the future.
"It was so nice to make that connection after so many years," said Avallone.
"I'm still honored to be part of the crew of 1978 and 1978 will live on forever," said Sumida.