Thursday, February 26, 2009

Haole Honu Luau

I caught a TV news spot last night announcing a local event to benefit our Sea Turtles who frequent South Florida coastal waters; several species return to our local beaches to nest. The nesting season for some of these species is closing on us, and the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, whose purpose is to support conservation and rehabilitation of the Loggerhead and other Sea Turtles down the road a ways in Juno Beach, has announced the Loggerhead Luau event to be held on Saturday February 28, proceeds to benefit the Center.

The town of Juno Beach (among others) undertakes an annual practice of turning off lights along the nesting beaches and encouraging residents to minimize outdoor lighting to help prevent the turtles' becoming confused during their terrestrial navigation to and from their nesting sites, as they instinctively follow the brightest light back to the ocean.

Sadly, some imported cultures here consider sea turtle eggs a delicacy and people ignorant of or uncaring about laws protecting these creatures are sometimes caught looting the sea turtle nests for their eggs. The education of the public here is a significant effort to reduce the artificial lighting problem for the turtles and prevent the needless turtle egg poaching. Beaches are surveyed during nesting seasons to locate and mark the nests to prevent their being disturbed.

I hope these keiki haole honu can grow up to return for a future Luau in their honor one day. Their odds of survival are astronomical, with seagulls, dogs, marine predators and worse of all, poachers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"The Hidden Gem of Puna" is Spot-On

Aloha e, mea kipa hauʻoli nā maka;
Those who really appreciate the natural beauty around us and are on board with the paradigm of preserving our surroundings in the state which our predecessors entrusted it to us, need to read my friend Devany's story of her hike to Shipman Beach last weekend. Next chance we get, we are going to see it for ourselves.
Mahalo Devany, for sharing.
My Hawaiian Home: Shipman/Ha’ena Beach, The Hidden Gem of Puna

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hokule'a, Star of Gladness - A Sea Story

This is a sea story about Sailors from a different time and their amazing skills of navigation. Like many sea stories, inconsistencies exist here in details, and much of the information can only be characterized as theory. Although extensively studied and documented, the history of migration of the first people to arrive in Hawaii is a favorite of mine that tells of ancient master seamen who, without instruments or nautical charts expertly navigated from The Marquesas, and later Tahiti in double-hulled voyaging canoes across thousands of miles of ocean.

The Navigators

These accomplishments of expert seamanship are described in stories and legends dating back at least twelve hundred years, but because no written records exist to date these voyages the first Polynesian settlers’ arrival in Hawai’i can only be estimated. Because the people of ancient Hawai’i had no written language they preserved their history in chants and legends that were passed down by the kahunas and other men of special status whose job it was to teach those generations that followed.

The Hawaiian language and archaeological discoveries suggest that the ancient settlers arrived in two groups. Canoes sailed by people from the Marquesas are believed to have arrived and settled in Hawai’i either around 300 BC, or 600 to 700 AD; a second arrival of newcomers from the Society Islands, possibly occurred around 1100 AD.

The voyages across vast distances of open ocean upon which these ancient mariners embarked were made using no instruments with which to determine course, speed or time, all considered essential for successful navigation beyond sight of land. They instead used their knowledge of the sky and the motion of its celestial bodies, physical appearance of the sea, direction of swells and the feeling of the motion of the canoe’s reaction to them, sightings of birds and other wildlife species, and colors of the skies and seas, to find their way to their distant destinations. There is a story that tells of a shark, Mano who aided the ancient navigators on their voyage by leading the way when traditional navigational methods failed to keep them on course. None of these techniques were recorded; all instead passed down through folklore alone to enable these adventurers’ successful arrival on Hawai’i.

The Vessels

A principal Polynesian voyaging canoe was a double hulled craft with hardwood hulls joined by crossmembers lashed to the hulls. Platforms were built across the spans to accommodate the vessel’s occupants and cargo. A typical size of such a craft could be 50-60 feet in length. Sails were made of matting woven from Pandanus fiber and provided the primary mode of propulsion.

This configuration and construction method enabled superior sea keeping ability and capacity for great amounts of cargo and passengers; the migrants were required to bring all life-sustaining supplies, livestock, plants and other materials onboard these canoes they would need to begin life at their destination. Paddles were employed to assist in steering and for propulsion when no wind filled their sails.

The Stars

The ancient Polynesian navigators relied on many stars and their movement across the skies and positions relative to the horizon as one of their primary aids to determine their location and to maintain course. Principal among these stars was what modern astronomy refers to as Arcturus, in the constellation Boötes, third brightest star in the night sky after Sirius and Canopus. Arcturus is the zenith star of the Hawaiian Islands, meaning that its direction from the Hawaiian Islands points directly upward in the sky.
Navigational folklore told by the kahunas that by sailing east and north the voyagers would eventually cross the equator and arrive at the latitude where Arcturus would be visible directly overhead in the summer night sky. With the knowledge that they were then at the same latitude where Hawai’i lies they followed the trade winds westward, keeping Arcturus overhead to make landfall on the southeastern side of the Big Island. A return voyage to their place of origin could be made following Sirius, the zenith star of Tahiti.

The name used by the ancients for Arcturus was Hokule’a, translating to “Star of Gladness,” which illustrates their belief that this star was the guide that brought the Sailors to their new home, giving them great joy that with the help of Hokule’a, they found their way. A popular song heard today in The Islands was written to express the importance to Hawaiians of Hokule’a, Star of Gladness in their safe passage from Tahiti to Hawai’i.

Modern Navigation – Mo Bettah?

Since these remarkable voyages took place, centuries of sailing and advancing technology introduced to modern mariners a great variety of tools to enable accurate and safe navigation. These tools range from the sextant and chronometer used with an Almanac to determine a ships position to advanced electronic systems that include radio navigation beacons, a Global Positioning System satellite constellation, and highly accurate gyrocompass and inertial navigation systems. The ancient navigators had none of these tools yet they successfully sailed from one remote island to another to populate the vast Pacific and her many islands across many thousands of miles. Their belief in their cultural background, coupled with an amazing bravery and sense of adventure brought these extraordinary people to the place now affectionately referred to as Hawai’i Ne’i.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Check In

Aloha Pōʻahā!
Minimal activity here, conditions normal.
Posting today to report mooring lines under light strain, all tanks and voids soundings normal, chronometers have been wound and compared.
Also, I added a music tool for your slipper-clad toe-tapping enjoyment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nothing In Particular...Learning Curve Still Vertical

Just checking in to try a few features, including tweaking some code to make things fit where they don't belong, like pictures in text fields. I might crash the site, maybe even cause the earth to implode in Goggle Earth, but until I break it, I will probably continue to try to make the tools do unintended things purely out of my lack of any formal training in this endeavor. I'm willing to take the heat from Al Gore if he calls me.

Meantime, here are a few pictures to look at; the 4 ships in which I was assigned during my years at sea. (Click links for details)

USS SAMPSON DDG-10 "Fortes Fortuna Juvat"
Charles F. Adams-Class Guided Missile Destroyer
1975 - 1977
Homeport - Mayport FL

USS CUSHING DD-985 "Non Sibi Sed Patriae"
Spruance-Class Multipurpose Destroyer
1979 - 1982
Homeport - San Diego CA/Pearl Harbor HI

USS INGERSOLL DD-990 "Cognitus Eventu"
Spruance-Class Multipurpose Destroyer
Homeport - Pearl Harbor HI

USS WARRIOR MCM-10 "Full Speed Ahead"
Avenger-Class Mine Countermeasures Ship
Homeport - Ingleside TX

Monday, February 16, 2009

Commissioning Post

This is the first post for my first blog. A test really, to see how it looks and functions. A bottle of champagne to break against the hull is traditional, as is keeping the ship from going aground on the other side of the river after she's launched.