Crew Profile

Mark Noguchi


Mānoa, Oʻahu


Moananuiākea Voyage – Leg 9: Ventura to San Diego


Mark first sailed on a waʻa kaulua more than 25 years ago. He was on Makaliʻi off Kawaihae, Hawaiʻi Island in 1997. Since then, many have grown to know Mark as “Chef Mark” or by his nickname “Gooch.” What many may not know is that he has been on a long journey of navigating both his love for food and for the waʻa.

“I have always used the metaphor that Food is my waʻa, that food is my way that I communicate, aggregate, and share ʻike. And most important, how I say ʻI love you.’ To be a crew member with Hōkūleʻa is like coming home. The way that we travel from place to place, sharing our moʻolelo with numerous communities around the world, I have had the fortune of doing the same with food. My metaphor has become my reality and I can’t be more proud to say that.”

Mark says that in college he had a choice of hula life or waʻa life and he chose hula, which took him around the world and led to his life as a chef. But, he says he missed his “pilina with ʻohana waʻa and hula.” On the waʻa side, he reconnected, having put in countless hours in dry dock and now as a crew member and cook on the Moananuiākea Voyage. Mark says “I would like to see how my skill set can share new ideas on what we eat on a waʻa. And in the same way that Keli (Takenaga) and Uncle Gary (Yuen) share their knowledge with the new generation of voyagers, I hope to do the same as well. ʻHe waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,’ resonates. If we can learn to eat and nourish ourselves better on a canoe, we can do the same when weʻre on land.” Mark, who is also an educator, says “To be a part of this voyage, I hope to be a small and productive part of the moʻolelo. I would like to share with our global ʻōpio to dream huge and always believe in yourself. And for them to know that dreams do come true.”

As for what he craves from his everyday life, while out at sea, he says there are four things: “Morning coffee and kilo with my girls, Mānoa, and Saimin.” When back at home, what he misses about being at sea is “The distillation of kuleana - how life breaks down to a simple act of surviving and harmonizing with your environment. And sharing that life work with your crew members.”