|Me and Nawa'a, Uapou, Marquesas, 2011|
(Photo by Fr. Moki Hino)
I am happily married to my best friend Randy Nawa‘a Wichman who is Native Hawaiian and a historian of Polynesia (among many other subjects!), especially of Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i. He is well-versed in Kaua‘i genealogy, place names and legends, following a family tradition of several generations. He has been very influenced by the teachings and advice of his grandmothers, Gladys Kamakakūokalani Nāwa‘a Kanuha ‘Ainoa Brandt and Juliet Rice Wichman, as well as his parents. He is truly a "walking encyclopedia" filled with a wealth of historical details.
Randy is very active with Hawaiian historic preservation, especially with heiau. He serves on several historic preservation councils, commissions, non-profit land and cultural stewardship boards, and a Kaua‘i Hawaiian civic club.
We live a very adventurous life together.
In the 1990s, Randy and I sailed with Hawaiian voyaging canoes throughout the Hawaiian Islands, which is how and why we first met. As many people can testify, the canoes have an interesting way of bringing people together. At the time, we were both involved with canoes and sailing worlds on different islands until eventually our voyages literally "tied-in" together.
We sailed with Hōkūle‘a, Hawai‘iloa, and Makali‘i as part of the "1995 Nā ‘Ohana Holo Moana" trip to and from Tahiti, Societies, Cooks, Tuamotu, Marquesas, and Hawai‘i with Polynesian canoes from New Zealand -Te‘aurere, and the Cook Islands -Takitumu and Te‘auotonga. These six traditional voyaging canoes, plus a reed canoe from Rapa Nui, along with Karem Cowan's va‘a Tahiti Nui, gathered ceremonially at Taputapuatea, Ra‘iatea to "lift an ancient tapu" between the Māori of Aotearoa and the Māohi of Awarua, Ra‘iatea. We sailed as a fleet (except for the reed canoe from Rapa Nui) to Tautira, Tahiti, then Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou, Marquesas, and returned to Hawai‘i with all but the va‘a Tahiti Nui.
Along with an amazing multi-national talented crew, we lived an incredible four-month voyage of adventure, culture, science, and friendships. And although Randy is an expert Hawaiian wa'a kaulua Kapena (double-haul sailing canoe Captain), we were designated "rovers" of the fleet by Nainoa Thompson and the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) because he had a well-designed fast and lean sailing yacht (Swan-47 -"Rizaldar"). Randy is the perfect professional Captain, trained in the European/East Coast top-notch classical, as well as traditional Polynesian wayfaring. He designed and wrote the PVS fleet safety manuel and was also a liaison between the PVS and the Tahitian government. Since he speaks fluent French and lived in Tahiti for some years, he is often called upon for both oral and written translations. We were also in charge of the canoe fleet logistics, keeping regular role-calls twice daily with each canoe's individual escort vessel, but our prevailing mission was safety and rescue.
We were faced with a few challenging incidents but one notable was about a tiny nasty biting flea. At the end of our voyage, our boat was forced to rendezvous with the US Coast Guard off-shore of Hawai'i Island to fetch air-dropped canisters of pesticide to be delivered to each vessel of the fleet, both canoes and escorts (ripping and hand-sewing our mainsail at the same time! Mahalo to Kelvin Ho!). It was suspected that one of the canoes had accidentally transported the dreaded nono fleas (no-see-ums) from Nuku Hiva (which wasn't the case - turned out to be fruit flies!). But, better safe than sorry, and there could have been nonos we weren't aware of (horrible creatures - I have too many ugly nono stories!).
Articles of our 1995 voyage are well-recorded via links below: