After spending several months sailing up and then down the East Coast of the US, Hōkūle‘a left US waters in Key West, Florida headed to the Panama Canal. The crew spent Christmas and New Years in the Caribbean, sailing to the west of Cuba on their way south.
After two days of transit through the Panama Canal, iconic voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a reached the Panama city of Balboa on Wednesday, January 12, at 2:54 p.m. EST. The canoe went through three sets of locks on the man-made waterway and returned to Pacific waters for the first time in nearly two years. Because Hōkūle‘a has no engines, and because of the turbulence and currents within the canal, the canoe was safely towed by a powerful work vessel, DWS Linda, through the canal.
Crewmembers moored the double-hulled canoe at Balboa Yacht Club and remained docked in Balboa for about seven days.
While in Balboa, Hōkūle‘a crew engaged with several indigenous organizations and leaders of the Panamanian community. Crewmembers used their time in Balboa to provision the vessel for her upcoming sail to the Galapagos Islands and then Rapa Nui, paying close attention to hull cleanliness to assure respect and care for these vibrant ecosystems, and ensured she was in exceptional condition for the remainder of her voyage home to the Hawaiian Islands.