A double-hulled Polynesian sailing canoe glides up to a busy dock in San Diego, California. Hōkūleʻa's two short wooden masts are dwarfed by the historic schooner that escorted it into the harbor. Dozens of small outrigger canoes trail in its wake, honoring the crew's arrival. The celebration in San Diego is partly to honor Hōkūleʻa's 2,800-mile voyage down the west coast of North America with no compass, charts or GPS. It is also about honoring this small craft's leading role in inspiring a cultural renaissance in traditional sailing that has rippled well beyond the Hawaiian shores where it was launched 49 years ago. First launched in O'ahu in 1975, Hōkūleʻa means "star of gladness" – the Hawaiian name for the zenith star used in celestial navigation, better known as Arcturus, which appears directly over Hawaii. The Polynesian Voyaging Society constructed the replica of an ocean-voyaging canoe to disprove the theory that ancient Polynesians drifted across the Pacific instead of purposefully navigating to their desired destinations. Since then, the craft has inspired many people to re-learn the traditional skill of wayfinding, navigating without instruments.

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