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Our Resident Navigator – Kālepa Baybayan

Kalepa Baybayan - Imiloa's Resident Navigator

Kalepa Baybayan - 'Imiloa's Resident Navigator

Chad Kälepa Baybayan holds a Masters in Education degree, is fluent in the Hawaiian language, and is captain and navigator of the Hawaiian deep-sea voyaging canoes Höküle’a, Hawai’iloa, and Höküalaka’i. He has been an active participant in the Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975 and has sailed on all the major voyages of Höküle’a throughout the South Pacific, the west coast, and Japan. He was the past Site Director for Honuakai, a community based experiential learning center of the ‘Aha Pünana Leo that utilizes an all Hawaiian speaking crew aboard Höküalaka’i, the newest of a growing fleet of voyaging canoes that are symbolic of the intense interest among local communities in the voyaging arts and the Oceanic tradition of deep-sea navigation. Kālepa currently serves as Navigator in Residence at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, developing wayfinding activities, curriculum, and education materials that engage learners and educators of all ages to explore their universe and realize their full potential. In 2007, Kālepa and four other Hawaiian men were initiated into the Order of Pwo, a three thousand year old society of master deep-sea navigators by their teacher, Master Navigator Mau Piailug on the island of Satawal. This opportunity allowed for the very first time, non-islanders, access into this exclusive and elite hierarchy of Master Navigators.

Got a question about sea navigation? Ask Kālepa a question by leaving a comment below!

5 Comments
  1. Don permalink

    How did navigators determine distances in an East-West direction?

  2. Dead Reckoning (DR) is the only way you can determine position on and east-west axis. The formula is (speed x time=distance), modern sailors have chronometers, ancient mariners would based upon experience and oral traditions left by previous explorers how many days of sailing it would take to known destinations. East-west sails are the most problematic for non-instrument navigators.

  3. Mitch permalink

    What do you do for back-up or emergency navigation, if anything. Celestial, GPS?

  4. In case of emergency, deep sea voyaging canoes always carry GPS, in the infancy of the modern era of the rebirth of deep sea canoe voyaging, 1970ʻs-80ʻs, canoes would carry a sextant, chronometer, charts, and almanacs to back up the non-instrument navigation. It is helpful here to define the kind of emergencies that would require the crew to use a GPS. In cases of man overboard, fire, collision, swamping, capsizing, and a gravely ill or injured crew member, it is imperative that the crew establish the exact position of the canoe emergency so that assistance can be directed to that location. In cases like a man over board you want to immediately mark the location of the incident on a GPS so that the spot is locked in electronically and rescue and retrieval operations can begin immediately.
    There have been no incident that has required navigators to use GPS to assist with navigation. Also, the canoe has an auxiliary vessel that follows for documentation purposes and can assist with any emergency. In 1987 a crew member needed to be evacuated for a medical emergency, in that case, the position of the canoe was relayed to the Coast Guard by the auxiliary vessel so that the integrity of the non-instrument navigation could be maintained until the successful completion of the voyage.

  5. Dale Randle permalink

    Chad,
    This is Dale Randle (from Pacific U.). I’m so proud of you and envy you also. I’m in Chicago, IL working in computer software for real estate. I hope you are safe.

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