Birth of Kaigani

Kaigani was transformed from tree to canoe with care and years of building experience by master boat builders John Guzwell and Jono Saunders of Port Townsend, WA. Kaigani was named after the forest where the timber was harvested for her creation (the same forest that produced the timber for the Hawai’ian Double-Hulled canoe, Hawai’iloa) located in the Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte Islands. Kaigani is a Hawai’ian outrigger canoe specifically designed for the waters of the Salish Sea. She will ultimately be rigged in Polynesian style for Canoe Sailing.


The Kaigani voyaging canoe comes to the Community and Youth of the San Juan Islands with an existing vision.


We will carry forward and continue her work. As paddlers we believe the canoe has its own spirit, a life of its own. We choose to live that not only in respect but in stewardship. Kaigani will be an ambassador of canoe culture, bringing her voyaging spirit and experience to new people, young and old.


The people who arrived in Hawai’i a millennium ago were voyagers and continue to voyage throughout the world. The Hawai’ians, Polynesians and Coast Salish First Nations are canoe people, traveling on man powered and wind powered canoes across great distances.


So, Why a Hawai’ian Voyaging Canoe in the Salish Sea?


Why the Inclusion of Hawai’ian voyaging traditions into one component of a project-based voyaging & stewardship curriculum serving the community of the San Juan Islands, connections and relationships with the Salish tribes, and Washington mainland?


There is a deep cultural and historical connection between Hawai’i, the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, BC and near coastal islands.


The mo’olelo (oral and written history) is full of stories of early Hawai’ians and their presence on San Juan Island.


We integrate the Hawai’ian Sailing Wa’a into our conservation and experiential programs on San Juan Island, Friday Harbor, WA to honor the history of Kanaka whose home is our home. What happens to the children and people on the shores of the Salish Sea, happens to the children and the peoples of Hawai’i nei.


The stories are interconnected within the current healing process of coast Salish indigenous peoples, it is interconnected to the Hawai’ian story; and more importantly the unfolding of this story in the Salish Sea is rooted in Aloha and the unconditional love that binds us to our Island Earth, all living beings, the Universe, and the Great Spirit.


Our vision for Kaigani is to connect with the natural elements of the Salish Sea while discovering the richness of canoe culture, ocean travel and awareness, through voyaging, discovery and experiential education. We enter this mission with humility and reverence of our natural world, Polynesian and Coast Salish knowledge and seek to better our understanding of past, present and future. To stand in solidarity with those that protect the sacred and honor our natural resources. Discovering the richness of wildlife, the water, the land, the trees, the elk, the eagles, the salmon, the orca, the communities, the people of today and the people who have come before.


Through voyaging we understand the importance of teamwork, community, and that each one of us is a leader and a contributor, providing assets and resources that help us all reach the next step. We discover what it means to live in the moment and disconnect from the stresses of modern life, as we stretch out beyond our comfort zone, to a place where land and ocean meet and possibilities arise...


Program Inspirations & Lineage-


Matt & Melissa Wickey are both part of the International mentor network for The Tracking Project, out of Corrales, New Mexico. We are blessed to be a part of this amazing family and to assist in passing on the wisdom and teachings passed down by friend and teacher, Uncle John Stokes.


A lot of inspiration and curriculum for the Canoe programs comes from these important teachings for our youth while integrating Polynesian Wayfinding and ocean voyaging & Hawai’ian canoe culture as passed down as Kuleana (responsibility) earned and given honor to perpetuate the teachings from many inspirations, Kupuna, Uncles/Aunties, & colleagues from across Hawai’i nei. We honor this kuleana and give humbly with grace and open hearts, with one mind, for all Children of the world.

Read more here:

Original Voyagers:

We are a group of canoe paddlers that live in and around Seattle. In 2011, Kimokeo Kapahulehua from Maui came to visit Seattle and inspired us to begin voyaging in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, when we learned that Kimokeo was to join the Tribal Journeys in the Paddle To Quinault this year, beginning in Makah, we were inspired to organize a voyage to paddle a Hawaiian Canoe from Seattle to Makah, 150 miles away. Other Hawaiian Canoes will be coming to support Kimokeo Kapahulehua and Anela Gutierrez, who are arriving July 25th from Maui with 10 youths from the Native Hawaiian cultural immersion youth program, Na Opio O Maui, to participate in the 2013 Canoe Journey, Paddle to Quinault. They look forward to connecting their children with the children from Makah and Lummi; In a cultural exchange, the children from the Makah and Lummi tribes will be able to learn to paddle in a Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe, and children from Hawaii can learn to pull in a First Nation Tribal Canoe.


This was the first time a Hawai'ian Outrigger Canoe has followed this route. We greatly respect the native culture and tried our best to follow protocols along the way. We divided the voyage into three 50 mile parts we called journeys. In each journey we would have 7-8 legs of about 5-10 miles each (maps linked below) where we would alternate crews.


The first journey was from Lake Washington to Port Townsend on June 15th (recap here ),
Journey 2 from Port Townsend to Crescent Beach on July 13th, and
Journey 3 was from Crescent to Neah Bay on July 14th.


Journeys 2 and 3 were back to back and were the biggest challenge, not only for the distance, but because of the unpredictable weather in the Strait, and the many 'unknowns" along the way, including landing locations and rugged coastlines. We had an escort on the first journey to Port Townsend, but our support boat was not able to join us on Journey 2, so we continued without. On Journey 3, Polly McCarty from the Makah Canoe Society helped us find an escort, escort capt Dwayne provided excellent support and route guidance on the 3rd day.


We are honored and humbled by the experience to paddle along this route and experience the many unique places along the Strait, along the way there where many people supporting us and helping us to get to our destination, from folks on the beach to fishermen making way for our canoe as we paddled by. I think everyone can relate to the feeling of voyaging and discovery, life is a journey in itself.


There was also help from above, a special energy that helped us along and when we thought we could not continue at certain points where there were logistical obstacles or strong tides, winds, and fog. To each of us, that support could mean something different, but it was undeniable and powerful. Upon arrival in Neah Bay, we were greeted by the Makah people who allowed us permission to land on their shores and showed us overwhelming aloha and hospitality. We would like to thank from the bottom of our hearts, the people of Makah, the Makah Canoe Society and Polly McCarty.


Here are maps of the routes and land locations:

Journey 1:


Journey 2: map:


Journey 3:


The voyage began as a way to discover and learn, what we discovered was far more then what we could have imagined. The song in this slideshow is Spirit Bird by Xavier Rudd. A song about heritage, native strugles, culture, mother earth, father ocean, life and death, the purpose of our existence, to practice cultures and share aloha. Mahalo na Kupuna for allowing us to pass, mahalo ke Akua for guidance and life. Mahalo ke aina. Mahalo ke kai. Mahalo eagle. Mahalo Makah Nation.

Mahalo nui loa to our Mentors, Sponsors, 'Ohana, & Partners!






























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