Who Holds the Steer?

July 24, 2023

Sil Kiewiet de Jonge (C302) (Best Watch), Deckhand

The Star Families Manaiakalani and Kalupeakawelo. Sil writes, ⌠I try to incorporate both the Hawai'i star lines alongside the Western constellations. I made one of them with Emily Bensen and hopefully they hang in the heads (toilets) on the Robert C Seamans for many more trips to come.]

Ship's Log

Weather
Picture Bob Ross painting a picture of sunset at sea with a few happy little birds, and maybe a cloud of rain

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-310

Who Holds the Steer?(before/while reading I invite you to listen to Paula Fuga singing Hokule'a Star of Gladness)Hi Everyone,I am Sil, a young human making passage with all my fellow co-associates aboard the Robert C Seamans. I sailed as a student on C302 where I often found myself peering into the bright night sky on look-out and frequently steering >20 off course trying to identify the constellations, their place relative to one and other and to me.I studied the Western celestial system (which has many stories and myths from Ancient Greece that were preserved by Arab scholars) intensely on my student trip. I was deeply invested in the stories of Orion and Scorpio, Andromeda and her savior Perseus and many more. Yet the Pacific Ocean is a long way away in spacetime from Ancient Greece and the Arab scholars; and it was also a long way for those ⌠first explorers like Cook, Tasman, Magellan and many other men looking for a legacy, power, and domination.The waters we sail on are sacred, guided by the wind, the current, the clouds, the birds, and the stars. Pacific Islanders navigated this ocean long before the conquest of the Europeans. The names of Na'Ohana Hoku Eha, the four star families/starlines from Hawai'i are the Ke Ka o Makali'I (⌠The Canoe Bailer of Makali'i), Iwikuamo'o (⌠The Backbone), Manaiakalani (⌠The Chief's Fishline) and Ka Lupe o Kawelo (⌠The Kite of Kawelo/the Chief).When the sun set on our first day after leaving Hawai'i the entirety of the Iwikuamo'o connected Hokupa'a (Polaris/north star) through Na Hiku (Ursa Major/big dipper) to Hokule'a (Arcturus in Bootes). Hokule'a is Hawaii's zenith star, which means it rises and sets directly above Hawai'i. Although lightyears away, the warm red glow can be felt on earth and at sea, thus it is known as ⌠the star of gladness. If we follow Na Hiku through Hokule'a in an arc we get to Hikianalia (Spica in Virgo) and then we get to Me'e (Corvus) from there we can go straight down to Hanaiakamalama (Crux/Southern Cross), so the backbone is complete covering north to south above us in the night sky. Hokupa'a (Polaris) is almost exactly the zenith star of 90╟ North (directly above the north pole) making it seem ⌠fixed (the meaning of Hokupa'a in Olelo Hawai'i). When the star disappears below the horizon, one knows that they have passed the equator and are in the southern hemisphere.

The other stars are definitely not fixed in the night sky though! A couple hours into evening watch and the star line Manaiakalani displaces Iwikuamo'o above us, which is now setting in the west. This star line consists of Huinakolu (⌠The Navigators Triangle), which consists of the stars Pira'etea (Deneb in Cygnus), Keoe (Vega in Lira) and Humu (Altair in Aquila) and Ka Makau Nui O Maui (⌠Maui's Big Fishhook) known as the constellation of Scorpio. It is nothing short of magical to see Maui's hook; pulling the ⌠big fish (the Milky Way) all the way through Pira'etea across the night sky (in other Pacific Island cultures this is same; they speak of a long shark in Aotearoa/New Zealand and of a long sea-monster in Rarotonga, some other sources say that Maui isn't hooking the Milky Way but Pimoe a magical Giant Trevally which would be Sagittarius in the West). In mythology Maui uses his powerful hook to lift lands from the sea and bring the islands of Hawai'i closer together. When the watch switches from evening to dawn at 0100 we see the third star line appear, Ka Lupe o Kawelo (Kawelo's Great Kite), which consists of connecting the western constellation of Pegasus to the sea monster (Cetus) and the southern fish (Pisces Austrinus), south all the way to Iwa Keli'i (The Frigate Bird, Cassiopea in the West) which will point north. Ke Ka o Makali'I (⌠the Canoe Bailer of Makali'i) cannot be seen this time of the year as it is hiding behind our big lovely day-star (the Sun).I understand me explaining this to you, feebly attempting to communicate what these star lines look like and mean, from one side of the world to another, may not be of much use to your spacetime. However, they have provided me with a profound sense of place both physically in the universe and the world, but also to our mutual mother earth and my life in this spacetime.These star lines are a miracle in one more way; it is that they come from peoples who have been subject to colonisation and imperialism; my ability to learn them is a direct result of their fight to keep their culture and heritage alive in the face of colonisation and all the horror that has come with it and the wake of terror it has left behind. It goes without saying that learning these star lines is a privilege and that there is something about them that I (a kid from the other side of the world) may perhaps never truly understand or be able to connect to, but to me, that is what makes them so much more special.Here is a poem I wanted to share with you.Who Holds The Steer?A canoe now sets for sailing,Her sails hang like huge claws in the calm lagoon,I hear the sounds of its conch shell,And the voices of the menWho will sail it through unknown waters.May they travel back in hearts and minds,Our ancient seafarers millenniums before Cook,Their compasses, the stars, winds, tides and current,But above all each other.The canoe out there has not even lifted its anchor,Yet its crew are at each other's throat,Not in mutiny,But as to who should hold the steer.I, the old man who sees into the pastAnd into the future,See storms out there to fightAnd treacherous reefsWith their ceaseless mocking smiles to avoid.They must decide.The evening sky is blotted out.The anchor has come aboard.They will sail.Careful, careful, O youth of adventures,The sea has a voiceAccording to our ancient literature,And it must be listened to.⌠Togetherness, togetherness,Says the voice in the still sunset sky,⌠That is your secret.--Kamalau TawaliTo Mummy, I love you lots and happy birthday.To the rest of the family and other friends reading this, I send you all big hugs and hope to speak with you soon. Ik houd mega veel van jullie en tot snel?!To the dog Ollie, who is my inspiration for behaviour, thank you. I somehow manage to get up to far too much mischief and still manage to get fed every day and receive the occasional pet on my head.To my bestie comrade Lana, I love you & I can't wait to give you a big knuffel when I see you ?.Sources that I used and you should too if you want to read/learn more:Imiloahawaii.orgArchive.hokulea.com(I downloaded these pages before setting sail!)Sil Kiewiet de Jonge (C302) (Best Watch), Deckhand

The Star Families Manaiakalani and Kalupeakawelo. Sil writes, ⌠I try to incorporate both the Hawai'i star lines alongside the Western constellations. I made one of them with Emily Bensen and hopefully they hang in the heads (toilets) on the Robert C Seamans for many more trips to come.]

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One Comment

  1. Maya Gabelberger August 6, 2023 at 19:02 - Reply

    I love your drawings and I love that you bring the sacred to the journey and share the sacred with us who journey-with but from far far away (though not as far as the stars :-D) – thank you! I listened to Paula Fuga singing Hokule’a Star of Gladness while reading and imagined being under the changing, very different night sky. I heard your love of the stories of the stars in very different traditions – Western, Island, Hawaiian. I felt the darkness and the wind blowing and the bright bright stars – so beautiful what you share with us and your encouragement to see the sacred. “they have provided me with a profound sense of place both physically in the universe and the world, but also to our mutual mother earth and my life in this spacetime.” I appreciated your acknowledgement “my ability to learn them is a direct result of their fight to keep their culture and heritage alive in the face of colonization and all the horror that has come with it and the wake of terror it has left behind. It goes without saying that learning these star lines is a privilege…” and took admonishment to recognize these truths. And I read your funny “Lupe also means sting ray, yes I drew a manta ray” and just appreciated you. Thank you for sharing!

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