August 3, 2023 | Leg 5, Day 21

August 3, 2023 | Leg 5, Day 21.
Alert Bay to Campbell River.

We departed Alert Bay early, at about 5am, while it was still dark. The sail south to Campbell River was the most treacherous part of this voyage. We would cross some of the most dangerous waters in the world, the Seymour Narrows. Community members came to see us off, bringing gifts of food and clothing, as has been customary along the coastal communities. We are always so grateful for their kindness. We traveled for a number of hours until reaching Deep Water Bay, where we anchored for a few hours to await the slack, when there would be a brief period of time that is safe to travel through the relatively short Seymour Narrows. Locals came out to guide us through these unknown parts, Robert Duncan and friends. We learned the interesting story of his ‘ohana roots, too, traced back to one of our own kanaka who traveled to British Columbia in the 1800s and ended up staying and marrying a Native…and so it is written.

As we started through the Narrows, a number of other boats and ships were traveling along with us. Everyone had been waiting for the crossing time and we all rushed at once to make it through. Hokule’a did well, as always, she’s a blessing and is blessed. We spun out a little in the heaviest part of the riptide, but totally within control. From there, it was a couple of hours to our arrival at Campbell River, where the First Nations Kwa kwa u Kwak and Lekwitok communities welcomed us with cultural protocol, and we responded in kind. We stayed across the bay on Quadra Island, a beautiful gem of a place, with serene, gently lapping beaches and a quiet, forested island community.

The next day, we welcomed the community on board the Wa’a for a few hours before heading over to the big house for the welcome ceremony and cultural exchange with hundreds of community members. It was amazing to see the intricate dances that told the stories of the people that first inhabited these lands and seas, voyaging people that crossed great expanses of oceans like us. The crowning moment was when our entire crew (including Nainoa) donned their cultural regalia and danced around the big house floor. It was awesome! Then, we crossed over to a huge multipurpose center and were astounded by an incredible feast that had been prepared for us with very little notice (one day!). Salmon, prawns, beef, chicken, salads, fruits, incredible desserts…I can’t even name all of the items laid out on the long tables spanning the entire floor of the center. We left with full tummies, warmed by the ho’okipa of these brothers and sisters, and heartfelt pilina exchanged by all. As they say in these parts, olakxa ek, really nice.

Reflecting back on these days in Campbell River, I am so grateful to be part of the discovery and relationships of our voyaging kanaka maoli that date back more than a hundred years and that continue strongly today through the ancestral line, a wee’ na qees, mo’okūauhau. Aloha for now from Leg 5!

– Shawn Kanaiaupuni