- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - A traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe will not stop in Europe as planned during its around-the-world sail.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/22rvq1F ) that the Hokulea and its crew had been scheduled to make port in Europe later this year, but instead they plan to sail north along the U.S. East Coast to Nova Scotia.

Polynesian Voyaging Society President and Hokulea Captain Nainoa Thompson said voyage organizers weren’t able to plan enough in advance or establish relationships in Europe, making it hard to justify the risk of sailing to Europe.

“We’re going to miss an extraordinary part of the world,” he said. “Not everybody liked it, but it’s a judgment call. Foundational is safety.”

The double-hulled canoe left Hawaii in May 2014 and its crew members are sailing without modern navigation equipment. Along their three-year journey they are stopping to teach people in other countries about traditional navigation, Native Hawaiian culture and caring for the ocean.

The Hokulea is now in the Caribbean Sea and is expected in Cuba this week.

Instead of heading to Europe, the crew is planning to sail to Maine, around Nova Scotia, down the Saint Lawrence Seaway and into Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The canoe would then travel back to the Atlantic on the Erie Canal system.

The canoe has been scheduled to sail for Europe in July after heading up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The society would then ship the canoe back to the East Coast for dry dock repairs that are scheduled for the fall. After repairs the Hokulea will hopefully head to the Panama Canal by January 2017 to re-enter the Pacific Ocean.

Thompson said the change of European plans just means there will be uncharted paths for future long-distance canoe voyages.

“The good news is, maybe it’s the next voyage,” Thompson said. “So when we find peace in the Middle East, they can go right up the Red Sea.”

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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