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Sailing canoe visits Hull Springs Farm

A Polynesian voyaging canoe in the middle of a five-year trek around the world without modern technology sailed into Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County recently.

The double-hulled canoe, named Hokule’a, arrived at Hull Springs Farm, a 662-acre farm on Virginia’s Northern Neck owned by Longwood University, on May 11 to a crowd of more than 100 invited guests. Upon arrival, the captains of the boat, Nainoa Thompson and Kalepa Baybayan, requested permission from Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV to come ashore. A welcoming ceremony followed with guest speakers including state and local dignitaries.

LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY  Nainoa Thompson, right, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Master Navigator of the Hokule’a, stands with Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV.

LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY
Nainoa Thompson, right, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Master Navigator of the Hokule’a, stands with Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV.

On May 12, tours at Hull Springs and of the Hokule’a were offered, first to 150 students from Westmoreland County schools, then to the general public. 

Longwood’s jazz ensemble, directed by Dr. Charlie Kinzer, was on hand for a midday performance.

“The story of the Hokule’a fits very nicely with the kind of faculty and student research into environmental biology and sustainability that’s thriving at the property,” said Sherry Swinson, executive director of Hull Springs Farm. “During their two-day stay, crew members were involved in discussions about their journey, while Longwood faculty members shared information regarding their important research projects. In the two days, we hosted more than 200 visitors and schoolchildren eager to learn about the canoe’s incredible voyage. This opportunity allowed us to showcase some of the important research we are doing at Hull Springs, and to link to the world voyage of the Hokule’a, which is inspiring millions of people around the world.”

LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY  Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV, right, stands with Hokule’a Captain Kalepa Baybayan Pwo.

LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY
Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV, right, stands with Hokule’a Captain Kalepa Baybayan Pwo.

Eschewing modern technology for traditional navigation-by-the-heavens, the crew of the Hokule’a began their voyage in Hawaii in 2014 to spread a message of global sustainability. When their five-year journey is complete, the vessel will have completely circumnavigated the globe and making hundreds of stops along the way.

The Hokule’a — which translates to “Star of Gladness” — was modeled and constructed in the mid-1970s after traditional double-hulled sailing vessels used thousands of years ago by Polynesians to push exploration beyond coastlines. It has logged more than 150,000 miles, and its current mission to circumnavigate the globe is its most ambitious and lengthy voyage to date.

Several Longwood faculty members and students who have research projects underway at Hull Springs Farm were in attendance to discuss ongoing projects.

“This visit was a fantastic opportunity to connect visitors and school groups to some of the fascinating and important work we are doing at Hull Springs Farm,” said Dr. Mark Fink, associate professor of biology who has led numerous research projects at the property. “Our environmental biology program is growing and there are lots of opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in this kind of research.”

Hull Springs Farm is a 662-acre farm in Montross, bequeathed to Longwood University by Mary Farley Ames Lee, a 1938 Longwood graduate. The farm is bordered on the north by a tributary of the Potomac River and is a short distance from the Chesapeake Bay. With more than 8,400 feet of tidal shoreline and numerous archaeological sites, the farm offers Longwood students a unique opportunity to engage in environmental studies and anthropology research.

“It was an honor to have Hull Springs selected as one of the Hokule’a’s ports of call,” said Swinson. “This experience has allowed for a special connection between Longwood and the Hokule’a, and it will be exciting to see where that connection leads us.”