Visiting Hokule’a

Hokule'a docked in Koko Marina. Koko Crater in the distance.

Hokule’a docked in Koko Marina. Koko Crater in the distance.

Hokule’a. Ho-ku-lay-uh. That is how you say the name of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s sailing vessel currently on an educational tour around Hawaii as a precursor to its very ambitious sail around the world that begins in May 2014. When Hokule’a was scheduled to dock at Hawaii Kai Towne Center in Koko Marina on Friday, October 25, one of Kid2’s teachers arranged for her students to tour the vessel. She needed chaperones and drivers. It was an opportunity I could not pass up.

Crew members talk about life on the Hokule'a.

Crew members talk about life on the Hokule’a.

I drove three groups of very well-behaved students from Niu Valley Middle School to the shopping center and back. I toured the vessel with my first and third groups. I had only planned on going on board once, but after the first time I wanted to know more. I guess you could say I was one of the more excited ‘students’ there that day.

Mrs. Chang, the students’ teacher, had us all remove our shoes outside the dock before boarding. She calmed the excited kids (and adults) and turned to face the crew that was greeting us to chant an  ‘oli,’ a poem-prayer-plea-song-greeting to invoke our respect and desire to board. Representatives of the crew welcomed us with their response sung in Hawaiian.

Let the chicken skin begin.

Students learn about the Hokule'a.

Students learn about the Hokule’a.

Never in all my days did I ever think that I’d have a chance to board the Hokule’a. Many of us who live in Hawaii know of its background, the purpose of its first voyage in 1976 to Tahiti — to prove Hawaiians could have sailed great distances long ago using only the stars and ropes to navigate. And let’s face it, I’m not Hawaiian. I always felt that the Hokule’a, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and all things native in the state of Hawaii were things I should keep at a respectful distance. I completely understand the desire for Native Hawaiians to protect, preserve and sustain their culture. I am eager to learn and to know, but I do not want to intrude. I, like many people, know that there was more to Hokule’a than the phrase, “Eddie Would Go.” I cannot stress enough how huge this opportunity was for someone like me. I may never get to sail on Hokule’a, but I know its importance to inspire future generations of explorers — on the ocean, around the globe and into space.

That’s why this tour of the Hokule’a is mostly for the keiki. While on board with the seventh graders, I asked a few questions to “pop the cork” and to tip the kids into asking questions of their own, from “Where do you go to the bathroom?” to “Is there a refrigerator?” to “How can I join a voyage?”

Solar panels to power the lights required for night sailing are a modern embellishment.

Solar panels to power the lights required for night sailing are a modern embellishment.

The Hokule’a is beautiful. Made of plywood, resin and fiberglass, the double-hulled, twin-mast vessel is 61.5-feet long and 15.6-feet at beam. It is steered by a long paddle and has no auxiliary motor. A modern embellishment is its solar panels used to power its lights required for night sailing, and to power a few high tech items, including a laptop used for journaling and updating the website. Ropes are everywhere. Knowing knots is a requirement among her crew.

Bruce Blankenfeld gives a captivating talk to the students.

Bruce Blankenfeld gives a captivating talk to the students.

Crew Training Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld of Niu Valley mesmerized the students as he held up his hands and showed them how to position the stern and the ropes to navigate by the stars. He showed them how to tie a basic bowline knot while discussing what kind of candidates make great crew members. He talked about how different birds were indicators of where they were, even if there was no land ho. Gently, Blankenfeld encouraged the students to aspire toward their dreams. Knowledge is power. Know math, astronomy, oceanography, geography, zoology. Know compassion. Be resilient. Be resourceful. Go with the flow. Deal with the unexpected. Rejoice in the accomplishments of the crew. Support those who struggle. Batten down the hatches when a storm rolls through. Secure your harness to the boat and ride it out. Survive. Accomplish. And always keep in mind those who’ve sailed on Hokule’a before. All eyes on deck were on Blankenfeld, inspiring storyteller, experienced sailor and fisherman.

And then it was time to explore. Down into the bunks where the crew sleeps. around the deck, taking pictures with their camera/phones, posing with the each other and the crew members. Finally, Blankenfeld had the keiki circle the mast and help him drop one of Hokule’a’s triangle sails. The ropes were untied, and hand over hand, the tanned sail filled with the breeze that at that moment launched a few dozen imaginations across the seas.

Please visit to learn so much more about the 2014 voyage, the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the history of Hokule’a and low-tech ocean navigation. You can also make a tax-deductable donation of $10 or more at the site. For $50 you will receive a member T-shirt.

Below are the videos of the oli to board the vessel and of the children helping with the sail.

The Honolulu Marathon Game Plan


By now, about 11 months after my husband signed me up for the Honolulu Marathon, I thought I’d be fit, skinny, and ready to run. Isn’t it interesting how your body has other ideas? You may be in your 20s, … Continue reading

I used to swing.


This gallery contains 1 photo.

@postaday 317; #postaday2011. Maybe you misunderstood? I’d stand on the wooden seat and hold onto the chains and swing so high. My friends would bob up and down on the other swings. Some with rubber seats, some with wooden seats, … Continue reading

A few Na Wahine Pics and Others Taken by @AlohaJohn


This gallery contains 10 photos.

@postaday 252; #postaday2011. Many of you who know my husband John are aware that he’s been toting cameras around with him since he was a kid. He got to take all kinds of pictures back in the olden days when … Continue reading

What a crock.

@postaday 226; #postaday2011.

I’ve been a fan of the Rival Crockpot for as long as I can remember, but the last one I got at Costco was big and hard to clean in our double sink. And I was also finding that chicken tended to dry out in it. I would get a meh reaction from John and the kids.

Chicken Provençal in the crock. Man-made by John. Delicious!

We decided to get a smaller four-quart one. This week John has made chili and chicken Provençal in the crock with much success. Each day we Benderettes have come home to amazing smells that extend into our driveway, and we follow our noses into the house. Imagine coming home to a kitchen that’s all cleaned up and food cooking in the crock? I’m in heaven!

Last night we had to go to Niu Valley Middle School for open house, and I thought we’d be cramming dollar burgers into our faces to get there by 6 p.m. That was not the case! We had our chicken dinner with tomatoes, kalamata olives, peppers and onions with soft Italian rolls. All that was missing was my moment of wine!

Mahalo, John! So far you’re batting a thousand! No pressure, though. I have some ideas about what to make tonight if you want to be off the hook. But coming home to a clean kitchen is the cool, too!


Guts and Gusts: Kiss My Derailleur!

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For me as a bicyclist, I feel as though the wind is a formidable foe. Gusts take you by surprise and cause you to wobble at the most inopportune times. It’s fine training. It keeps you sharp. It helps you improve your reaction times to the stimuli that’s on the road, in the wild, even beyond the wind.

Here are today’s stats at Garmin Connect. I use a Garmin Edge 500. LOVE IT!

Still, the element of surprise is no fun when you’re riding a bicycle.

Wind or no wind, last night I had made my mind up that I would do the hills today. No matter how many times I go up Kamiloiki, it seems to never get any easier. Today while doing my climb I passed over a toenail clipper and a bicycle chain. Some hippy kinda guy came out of the side street at the top (cheater, LOL!) and he saw them, too. He stood up on his bike, while on that gawd awful hill, and chatted with me about the bicycle chain. Then he whipped over the hill like it was no big deal. For him, it probably wasn’t.

I followed him up to Makapu’u Lookout, but he kept going. After Hawaii Kai Golf Course I ran over a broken Budweiser bottle in the bicycle lane. Then there were two old dudes running together, so I asked them if they’d kick it out of the way. I hope they understood me. I’ll see tomorrow, I guess.

When I came down Makapu’u, I must have taken it easy, as I only topped out at 39.6mph. Or maybe that was going down Kamiloiki? No matter where I was during my ride, it felt like the wind was my constant coach, goading me, pushing me, forcing me to work harder and harder.

Two young dudes came out of the Aloha Gas Station lot at Kahala in front of me, and I thought I better let them go. But after a while it was apparent that I was going to overtake them, so I did. I said, “On your left,” to the one in the back and he got over but then his bike wobbled. I couldn’t tell if he was playing games with me or if he lost balance. Then I passed the other one. Usually when I pass guys on bikes they get all hormonal and want revenge. But these guys couldn’t keep up. Kiss My Derailleur!

Doggie School at Niu Valley Middle.

I got a kick out of seeing dogs at obedience school on the grounds of Niu Valley Middle School. I rarely stop my ride to take a picture, especially when I’m between my destinations. But I thought it was a good idea, so I created a gifshop gif. It’s better to see the pups and their peeps in person, but take a look!

Music lesson and a study date for Kid1, a birthday party for Kid2, a run for John, and a nap for me fill the rest of today’s schedule. I should probably push a vacuum around, too.

Signed up for masters swimming in East Oahu

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I want to get this done quickly so I can get to bed and get up early and let the wind torture me on my bicycle. A three day weekend! Three days to ride, swim, hang out with the family, make some healthy food and track my Weight Watchers points!

After I took a nap and woke up at 7 tonight, we Benderettes headed for The Oahu Club. The weather is cool and the wind is brisk, so, as we like it, the pool was nearly deserted except for the masters swimmers and the tennis gang. I got a lane to myself and did 500 meters. I am nursing a sore left arm, which I suspect is a bicep injury, so when I first start swimming it’s difficult to get that arm out of the water while doing freestyle. It loosens up some, but it doesn’t really ever feel good. Getting through those 10 laps and nine flip turns is all I want to do. When I get through, I get out, do my hair, hang out in a chair and play Words With Friends, Word Feud, and catch up with email, Facebook and Twitter. The girls stay in the pool until closing time, 9 p.m.

Tonight, Sophie did 1200 meters. She used to be on swim team, and she misses the workouts. When she was nine and 10 and swimming with the team for practice, I’d be amazed at her perseverance, lap after lap, never whining about the work. I had Charlotte and her on swim team for a while. I was on swim team from 6-16 years old and I loved it. I didn’t always like the practices, but the swim meets were so fun and I got my share of blue, red, yellow and green ribbons.

Many years later, I’m a new project, a work in progress. Last week when we went to the  pool for the first time in a few years, Masters Coach Joe Lileikis called me out and said he had seen that I had signed up for the masters swimming workouts. So I told him about my arm and he said we’d work with that problem. Joe is one of the world’s most positive guys, a cheerleader for everyone, just an amazing influence on those of us at the pool who want to improve our swimming techinques. He also teaches 8th grade history at Niu Valley Middle School. Next year Sophie may get him and that would be fabulous. East Oahu is lucky to have him.

Tonight he cleared a lane so I could have it to myself. Next Thursday I’ll get my first stroke clinic with Joe. I wondered as I was doing my laps tonight what he must be thinking about me. Am I an Eliza Doolittle to his Henry Higgins, a malleable form waiting his shaping and guidance? Am I an old 1968 GTO uncovered in the back of a junkyard somewhere, one hideaway headlight stuck open, one hideaway headlight stuck closed?

I am always a work in progress. In the end, I get pushed out and away, forced to step out on my own, teetering with uncertainty, with far less confidence than that of my teachers. Personal development should never really stop. There is always something within us, or about us that needs rehabilitation or maybe just a little tweaking. The first step occurs in the mind. Without making the decision that one needs something, it cannot be achieved.