Hawaiian canoes make first landfall after long journey

After traveling 2,200 miles across the Pacific and weathering several storms, two voyaging canoes from Hawaii have arrived at their first destination.

The Hokulea and Alingano Maisu canoes made landfall in the lagoon of Majuro Atoll on Sunday night. Crew members first sighted the tops of coconut trees earlier in the afternoon.

The initial leg of the journey took 26 days.

"They're all smiles," said Maisu spokeswoman Pomai Bertelmann, who was aboard a tour boat that met the canoes.

The crews were healthy but tired after paddling for nearly a month, she said.

The international trip is being made to honor renowned navigator Mau Piailug of Satawal, who taught Pacific way-finding to Native Hawaiians. The Maisu will be presented to Piailug as a gift.

In the 1970s, Piailug taught modern Hawaiians the ancient Polynesian art of noninstrument navigation, which had been lost for centuries in the islands.

"I'm so thrilled inside. I feel like crying," said Kawika Eskaran, one of the builders of the Maisu. "I'm just glad they are safe."

The canoe crews plan to restock their vessels and rest before sailing to Majuro for their first welcoming ceremony, which will include Marshall Islands President Kesai Note.

Afterward, the vessels will sail west to Ponape, Chuuk, Pulawat and Satawal. From there they head to Woleai, Ulithi and Yap, then to the Republic of Palau in mid-March to complete the Micronesian trip, reports AP.

The next part of their travels leads to Japan from March through May to honor King David Kalakaua for his role in opening doors to Japanese migration in 1885.

The Hokulea will sail from Palau to Okinawa, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Uwajima and Yokohama.

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