WAIKOLOA, Hawaii --
It is no exaggeration to say that there is no other sailing
experience in Hawaii like an outing on the Hahalua Lele. It is
unique for two reasons: the canoe and the captain.
The Hahalua Lele
(Flying Manta Ray) is a traditional Hawaiian, double-hulled sailing
canoe. The 35-foot craft, with its Polynesian crab-claw sail, is
made mostly of native wood.
The canoes original
mast was made of hau, which is testament to the passion and purpose
of the boats builder-captain-owner, Kapena Casey Cho.
I spent a lot of
days hiking through the forest looking for a piece of hau that was
long enough and straight enough for the mast, he said.
In 1998, after a
year-and-a-half of work, Cho launched his canoe. Building a
traditional, double-hulled sailing canoe in your spare time may
seem a mite unusual, but its downright odd when the builder doesnt
know how to sail.
Thats right: Before
Cho built his boat, he didnt know tiller from tack.
Raised on the
island of Oahu, Cho went to California to see the world and ended
up studying landscaping. He moved to the Big Island in 1990. Since
then he has learned a lot about sailing and about the history and
lore of this coast. An articulate and engaging guy, he shares what
he knows and what no one knows.
Ask him about the
intricate lashings holding the hulls to the booms, and he gives you
the Hawaiian word for the booms, iako, and explains that the
up-curved booms were a Hawaiian improvement on older Polynesian
A basic outing with
Cho at the helm lasts about two-and-a-half hours and costs $95 per
Besides the coastal
cruise, youll stop for snorkeling and, during the winter months,
whale watching. Half-day and full-day cruises are available,
The Hahalua Lele
sails with a minimum of four guests and a maximum of six (children
of all ages welcomed) and is crewed by Cho and two
It departs from the
beach on the grounds of the Fairmont Orchid Hotel.
call (808) 885-2000. For more information, visit the Web site at www.hawaiiankineadventures.com.
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reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].