Imagine you are out for a late afternoon/early evening sunset paddle in your home waters…maybe somewhere on the East Coast where the turning Autumn trees still have a bit of brilliant fall color lingering in their leaves, and the marsh grasses are subtly morphing into a more muted, golden shade of loamy green.

As you paddle with a friend, you see it. A massive, 62 foot, 22 feet wide Hawaiian deep sea voyaging canoe! In your backyard! Half a world away from its island home!  For any paddler, seeing the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s flagship Hōkūle‘a would be amazing in any context, but if you paddle outrigger, seeing her moored as you are out for your workout, well…as the saying goes “I can’t even.”

This exact experience happened to Barry Blackburn and Harrison Deisroth Thursday in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. The guys were just “paddling around” in their OC-1’s when they caught site of the unmistakeable craft, which is making its way back down the eastern seaboard after a summer touring from Florida to Maine.

So incredibly blessed! ” Barry wrote on his Facebook page. “Harrison and I could not believe that the Hōkūle‘a was in our home waters! Such aloha was shown to us. The Hawaiians were stoked to see us in our Puakea canoes! We were immediately invited onboard. We held hands with the crew for a prayer and shared a meal. Incredible hospitality.”


Harrison, who by the ripe old age of 16 was already an accomplished OC paddler with extensive experience racing in Hawaiian waters also wrote about the chance encounter:

“We had no idea that she and her crew were resting here for the night and  we came across the canoe only by chance. We were graciously invited aboard, got to meet the crew, share a meal, and talk story. It was a special moment for me as I have now seen the Hōkūle‘a  in three separate locations while on her worldwide voyage. Those places being, Hawaii for her send off, New York, and now here at home in North Carolina. I feel connected to the canoe and her crew, and I am truly blessed to have had this experience.


“A big Mahalo goes out to crew member and new friend, Kawika Crivello for being so kind and inviting us aboard. I’m stoked to say that he got to jump on and try out the new Puakea Designs Kahe Kai, not in Hawaii, but all the way out on the East Coast. Thank you Kawika for your hospitality and bringing your kindness and Aloha to our home waters. I wish you, your crew, and the Hokulea a safe journey home. I know we will cross paths again soon. Aloha and Mahalo nui.”

Needless to say, Barry reports that the crew was amazed with Harrison’s accomplishments and his crossings of the Kaiwi Channel. between Molokai and Oahu! 

Barry says that the crew  – in sharing their time with the paddlers  – spoke of something they called “Ohana Wa’a”- an understanding, or an instant connection because of the canoe. 

Isn’t that what it is all about?

Barry says the encounter was pure serendipity but we kind of think that maybe it really wasn’t.  It was meant to happen.

If you want to learn more about the Hōkūle‘a, visit the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s website.