(CHARLESTON) – Charleston County Parks is proud to host the Polynesian Voyaging Society and crew members from the legendary Hokule?a, as part of the Charleston Outdoor Festival at James Island County Park April 15-17.
Formerly known as the East Coast Paddlesports and Outdoor Festival, this 26th annual event celebrates the paddlesports and outdoor recreation community. New at this year’s Charleston Outdoor Festival will be the participation of crew members from Hokule?a. A project of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, this breathtaking double-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe will be in Charleston as part of its ongoing worldwide voyage. Hokule?a’s crew members will be keynote speakers at the festival’s East Coast Sea Kayak Symposium, while their iconic canoe is docked at the Charleston Maritime Center that weekend.
Founded on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration, the Polynesian Voyaging Society seeks to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments. Hokule?a and Hikianalia, the society’s Polynesian voyaging canoes, are sailing across Earth’s oceans in an effort to join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. The ships are traveling over 60,000 nautical miles around the earth, sailing as their ancestors have for a thousand years—using traditional wayfinding. On board, there is no compass, sextant, or cellphone, watch, or GPS for direction. In wayfinding, the sun, moon, and stars are a map that surrounds the navigators.
Hokule?a has voyaged traditionally for 40 years, sailing over 150,000 nautical miles throughout the Pacific. Hokule?a began its sailing mission in 1976, with a tremendously successful voyage to from Hawaii to Tahiti. In 1978 Hokule?a set out for Tahiti again, on a mission that ended in tragedy. The heavily loaded canoe capsized in stormy seas off of Moloka‘i. Crew member Eddie Aikau left the boat on a surfboard to get help and was lost at sea. The ship’s crew was rescued, and Aikau, who is still renowned by his peers in the surfing and lifeguarding community today, was remembered as a hero.
At the Charleston Outdoor Festival, some of the ship’s current crew will speak on Saturday, April 16 at 8 p.m., as part of the East Coast Sea Kayak Symposium at James Island County Park’s Edisto Hall. The session is free and open to the public, and registration will not be required. The crew will share their experiences with the ship and its voyage to make cultural and environmental connections. The East Coast Sea Kayak Symposium is a three-day immersion in the history, technique, hands-on experience, and fun of kayaking, canoeing, SUP and other paddlesports topics. Programs range from beginner to expert level skill classes, to sessions on topics like birding by boat, kayak rolling, fishing, photography and more.
The Charleston Outdoor Festival brings together enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels with world-renowned instructors and sports equipment manufacturers. Attendees can try out equipment, take part in competitions and activities on site, and learn everything from the basics to expert skills in each sport. Featuring one of the country’s premier showcases of paddlesports, the three-day event also includes a multitude of activities like mountain biking, slack lining, archery, climbing, and disc golf. Participants can try out many of these sports in the Try It Zone, open select hours throughout the weekend. Other featured events at the Charleston Outdoor Festival include the Palmetto Pump Climbing Competition, the Island Toss Disc Golf Tournament, and the Vendor Village on the lake, where visitors can try out boats and equipment.
The Charleston Outdoor Festival will be held Friday, April 15 through Sunday, April 17 at James Island County Park. Park admission is $2 per person. To try activities, get the Try It pass for $10. Or, register for the weekend for classes, demos, competitions and more. For a full schedule and to register, visit CharlestonCountyParks.com or call 843-795-4386. For more information on Hokule?a, visit www.hokulea.com.