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Sailing 101

The art of sailing is as old as the islands of Hawaiʻi. Skilled Polynesian navigators traveled far distances to settle alongside native Hawaiians, using double-hulled sailing canoes known as waʻa kaulua. As Polynesian settlers made their home in Hawaiʻi, the evolution of the vessels included using locally-sourced materials like koa wood. The waʻa kaulua evolved to become known as the Hawaiian sailing canoe, or wa’a kaulua Peleleu, used for fishing, travel, and wayfinding. The crafting of these vessels was and is still a very spiritual experience for the boat builder. The craftsman creates with aloha in their heart, producing strong boats with mana built right in.

Kauai sailing tours

We sat down recently with crew member Cinzia Bruno to chat about one of our favorite topics…sailing! 

In her two and a half years at Holo Holo Charters, Cinzia has been a boat crew member on Leila, our 50-foot sailing catamaran. Like many members of our team, Cinzia had an affinity for the ocean, and was mentored in the ins and outs of sailing after joining the Holo ʻohana.

Napali Coast sailing“I didn’t have experience sailing before working at the company, but having been born and raised on Kauaʻi, I have extensive experience on the ocean,” Cinzia explained, “from open-water swimming to surfing to free diving to kayaking to scuba, sailing just felt like the next natural extension of my relationship with the ocean.” 

Curating an unforgettable experience is our passion, but first and foremost is safety. If you’ve been on tour (or plan to join us) you will be familiar with the three-points of contact rule while on board. (One hand for you, one for the boat, and both feet firmly planted on the ground.) The crew takes care of the rest, which includes keeping guests away from working lines, pulleys, and other mechanics on the vessel. The crew will also advise passengers when to be mindful to hold on during maneuvers that could cause the boat to shift dynamically, such as tacking.

“One of the reasons I decided to join up with the company was because it would allow me to share my love of Hawaiian history and culture with others,” Cinzia said, explaining that Holo Holo’s vessels are not dissimilar to the boats used by early Polynesian wayfinders. Designed and built right here on Kauaʻi, Holo boats follow the general premise of the double-hulled canoe of native Hawaiians. With a platform in the middle and a large sail, the simplicity of our vessels has proven to be the best for traveling in and across the Pacific for a millenia. 

“One thing we regularly touch on is the immense talent, bravery, and gumption that it took early Polynesian navigators to make their way across the ocean,” Cinzia said, “as we gaze upon the glory of  Nāpali, we can picture for ourselves what those early settlers must have felt when they saw that landscape for the first time and knew it would be their new home.”

Now for a little Sailing 101 featuring the Five Best Things About Sailing according to Cinzia:

  1. SERENITY – It’s quiet! Boat engines are loud, and being able to turn them off and enjoy the sound of the wind and waves is extraordinary.
  2. TEAMWORK – It takes a team. In order to hoist the sail, maneuver the boat, and keep everyone safe, it’s “all hands on deck” so to speak. This means you really get a chance to bond with and trust your teammates! Even the passengers on a sailboat get involved by moving around when necessary to free up space for the crew to work.
  3. TRADITION – Sailing is an incredibly old skill that has been passed down through generations. By sailing a boat, you are joining a very small group of people throughout human history who have learned to master this incredible pastime. 
  4. AUTONOMY –  If you know how to sail, you could ostensibly travel around the entire world using no fuel! Wind is the ultimate source of power–free, ubiquitous, and infinite. 
  5. THE COOL FACTOR – Let’s be real- it just looks cool. Standing on the deck of our boat and looking up at the sail stretching over 50 ft in the air, with the wind in your hair, and the sea mist kissing your cheek is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Nā huakaʻi palekana! (Safe Travels)

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